Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Which One Is Better?

Last Updated on June 6, 2022 by admin

A tent is very important when going camping since this would be your temporary shelter. Buying a tent is a very good investment and you should choose wisely, so you can get long-lasting equipment. You can protect your tent against undesired elements using either footprint or tarp. These components help to protect you inside the tent and in the meantime the tent against damage. 

To determine which one is better, tent footprint vs tarp, make sure you know the key features of each. In this article, you will learn about the different features of these extra camping tent components as well as their significance.

This knowledge will help you to choose the right item that can satisfy your needs should you need one.

Tent Footprint  

Tent footprint is a water resistant sheet that you put underneath your camping tent so that it helps protect your tent floor against friction with the ground which can lead to constant wear and tear.

Without a tent footprint, your shelter can get damaged in the long run so you would not want to lose your valuable investment due to preventable causes. 

Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Which One Is Better?

A tent footprint is made of polyethylene or polyester and these materials are durable and resistant to friction against the ground compared to camping tent material.

What is a Tent Footprint?

Tent footprints come in different sizes so the size of your tent can determine the right product to buy. The tent footprint should be the same size as the tent or it should be a bit smaller to prevent water from collecting between the two. 

A tent footprint is waterproof and it helps to prevent water from sipping through the floor of the tent. Since a tent footprint is made of durable material, it also helps to improve the warmth of your tent.

Advantages of Tent Footprints

The main advantage of tent footprints as noted already is to protect the tent floor of the tent against abrasions. Camping tents are usually pitched on the irregular ground that can lead to increased friction leading to damage to the shelter. 

It provides an extra layer between the tent and the ground. At least you will not be stepping on the direct ground if you place a tent footprint underneath your tent. 

Why choosing Tent Footprints

When you use tent footprints, your tent will hardly come into contact with the ground that can be muddy. Therefore, this sheet is very important since it helps to keep your tent clean. Cleaning a tent is tedious so you can save yourself against this burden by using a tent footprint. 

However, a tent footprint is not a necessity but it has many advantages. It is affordable and it is also lightweight so there is no reason why you may not be tempted to use it. Camping tent prices are constantly increasing so you can carefully look after the one you have by using a tent footprint so that it can last longer.      

Advantages of Tarp 

A tarp or tarpaulin is a large strong sheet that is waterproof and is made of materials including canvas, polyester that is also coated with polyurethane. The material is also made of plastics like polyethylene. The sheet is flexible and it is used to cover the top part of the tent to protect the tent floor against weather elements. 

Why choosing Tarp 

The tarp is durable and it helps to protect the tent against weather elements like wind, snow, rain as well as sunshine. The sun might weaken your tent which leads to ultimate damage and using a tarp helps to prevent this from happening.

In case of snow, it does not weigh heavily on your tent. A tarp also helps to offer extra protection to the camper against different elements. 

Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Which One Is Better?

A tarp is affordable such that you can easily replace it than replace the tent when it is damaged by various elements. It is wise to be proactive and take preventive measures that can help prolong the lifespan of your tent than lose it. 

A tarp is multipurpose and you can also use it as a footprint. You can use a tarp on your hammock apart from using it in tents only. When going for a picnic, a tarp is also ideal for the purpose. You can use a tarp in different ways and it is easy to set up and it is also easy to clean.

Tent Footprint vs Tarp  

When backpacking, a tent footprint is good since it protects your shelter against friction with the ground which can lead to damage. It is also lightweight and easy to pack such that it does not burden you with weight. One important thing you should know though is that you cannot use your footprint as your tarp.  

On the other hand, a tarp can be used as a tent footprint but you must know that when backpacking, it can give you extra load since it is bulky. A tarp is ideal for car camping and it also comes with other benefits such as providing shade when you are relaxing in your tent. 

Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Which One Is Better?

A tarp can also help to protect you against elements like wind, rain, or snow of which tent footprints cannot do the same. Therefore, it can be said that a tarp is more effective since it helps to protect the entire camping tent against elements that can damage it.

However, this does not necessarily mean that this is insignificant. If possible, you should have both since they help to protect your tent and they are affordable. 


The tent footprint is designed to protect the bottom of the tent while the tarp can protect the entire tent though it is mainly used to cover the top part of the tent. A tarp is not ideal for backpacking since it is heavy so a tent footprint is a favorite choice in this scenario. 

Your choice between a tent footprint and a tarp mainly depends on the particular camping that you intend to do. Since the tarp and tent footprint is affordable, you can have both of them to protect your tent. If you only have a single choice, then the tarp is ideal since you can use it for both purposes.