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  • Ground cloth

    When I car camp, we always bring a ground cloth to put under our tent even though our tent has a built-in ground tarp (bathtub style). I've gone backpacking a few times, and don't take a ground cloth with me because I don't want to carry the extra weight. I've been on weeds, dirt, and rock and the tent floor has worked fine without being on a tarp, but now I'm wondering if I'm doing it all wrong. What do the rest of you do?

  • #2
    my tent I use doesn't have a floor. Never have to worry about a thing. When I use my big tent doesn't have a floor either and I can put up a cot, folding chair and fold up table in there without worrying about poking any holes in the floor. The only ground cloth I use is a rubberized gum blanket that I use to keep ground moisture from coming up and getting my clothes/blankets wet/damp.


    • #3
      I use a ground cloth/pad. Two thoughts:
      1. It is likely more tear resistant than a tent floor and if it does tear, cheaper to replace.
      2. A dryer tent for packing. Without ground cloth, you might see tents turned on their sides in the morning to dry bottoms before packing. Of course if it rains...
      My $0.02,


      • #4

        For tarp tent camping or tent camping. I have been using a piece of tyvek cut just 12" over the floor or tub size of the tent. Its light weight, pretty durable, but not the cheapest. It does pack down super small, but shows the dirt. It can be washed in the clothes washer in light cycle. Matter a fact, I wash my new tarps to soften them and they lose their loud crinkle sound.


        • #5
          You put the tyvek, which is 12" larger (all around?) than the bottom of the tent under your tent?

          Doesn't that tend to cause rainwater to run under your tent?


          • #6
            Blaah, haa, ha. Sure does, especially if you don't put the fly on! Otherwise it rains right through the mosquito netting.


            • #7
              Always tuck the ground cloth under the tent otherwise you end up with an indoor swimming pool every time! Every bit of rain that rolls off the tent will get caught in the ground cloth and go under the tent! Major mistake most newbies make. I was at Centennial Jambo and walked by a contingent that obvious tented seldom in the rain. Ground cloths sticking out all over the place. I talked to the SM about it making the tuck in suggestion. He was not very courteous, kind or cheerful about the comment. After the first rain, he came back and apologized. Then he went back and helped the boys dry their things out. The sad part of the whole thing was it wasn't even that heavy of a rain, but the tent collected up its fair share of the moisture and it all ran under the tents.


              • dedkad
                dedkad commented
                Editing a comment
                Good to know. If I'm staking, I have to tuck the ground cloth under, but if I don't need to stake I've always just left the tarp hanging out to give me a place to put other things that I don't necessarily want sitting directly on the ground. I'm a fair-weather camper, though, so it hasn't been a problem yet.

              • ScoutNut
                ScoutNut commented
                Editing a comment
                You can be a "fair weather" camper and still experience rain. I have often camped with beautiful, clear days, and had a shower in the middle of the night.

                Even a heavy dew on the ground cloth can end up under the tent.

                It does not matter if you are staking down your tent or not.If moisture gets between the ground cloth and the tent floor it will cause the inside of the tent to get anywhere from slightly damp to sopping wet.

                I seems that you have just been very lucky.

                If you want to protect something left outside, get a tent with a vestibule, and put down a cheap throw rug under it.

            • #8
              I bet you care more worthless weight than a groundcloth when backpacking.

              I buy the footprint for the tents I own....and have bought them for the troop tents.....Extra cost sure, but they are the correct size and boys don't treat them like sheets of plastic


              • #9
                I have a big square tarp that fits under my biggest tent. If I'm using a smaller tent, I just don't unfold it as many times... I want it under there for protection but nowhere near the edges. I am constantly amazed at folks who love having their little "porch" surrounding the tent!


                • #10
                  We used Baker Tents... No Floors or Zippers


                  • #11
                    Kinda tough backpacking with a baker tent


                    • #12
                      Noted outdoorsman, canoeist, and distinguished Eagle Scout Cliff Jacobson recommends using the ground cloth INSIDE your tent. He says it's not a floor protector, but rather a way to insure dry gear inside your tent. Sounds logical, but I've yet to try it....


                      • Baseballfan
                        Baseballfan commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Eagle, I often do this, too. We get a lot of rain on the East Coast... majority of wetness comes from the floor of your tent... put a tarp inside and your tent floor can get wet all it wants, but the water won't come through the tarp.

                      • fred johnson
                        fred johnson commented
                        Editing a comment
                        This is what I do too. I just don't care if the bottom of my tent gets dirty or even slightly torn. The bottom of the tent is NOT to keep you dry. It exists slightly to keep bugs out and mostly to help keep the shape of the tent. Plus the bottom of most tents is a mesh and most ground clothes are solid plastic. So if water is between the floor and the groundcloth, I want the water to squirt out of the tent, not into the tent.

                    • #13
                      We and our burros carried Baker tents on my Philmont trek back in old days. I had a ground cloth (shower curtain) for my sleeping bag.


                      • #14
                        I've made footprints using a variety of materials and some grommets. It's not hard. I have one favorite tent whose floor I've protected so well that the floor is still just great even though the roof and fly are both tearing and splitting from all the sun damage, lol. Sometimes you just have to let go. Or...maybe take a piece of blue plastic instead of the fly?

                        Around these parts, we've already gotten more than our normal annual rainfall and it shows no sign of letting up. To think that a couple of months ago, agencies were arguing over whether or not there was still a drought, lol.


                        • #15
                          We use heavy duty, 4 ML plastic sheeting, both inside and outside the tent. You can buy it at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. It does not weight much, once it is cut.

                          We use black for the outside, and cut it to the size of the tent, so it does not stick out. It help protect the tent floor from rocks, roots, etc. Since it is about the same size as the tent floor, it give you a good idea of how level the ground is going to be under the tent, and if you have room there for the tent.

                          I am also a believer in what Cliff Jacobson says. We use clear plastic sheeting for the inside, and it is cut larger than the tent floor (about a foot on all sides). This is what protect you from the rain! The bottom will get wet, but not the top.

                          In 1990, I was on a canoeing trip in Northern Ontario for six days. It rained for 5 straight days. Each day, we took the tents down wet, and set them back up wet. The only thing that save us, was the plastic sheeting inside the tent. We folded up the dry side, after waterproofing our sleeping bags, each morning. During the day, everyone knew the only time they would be dry and warm, was when they were in their sleeping bag that night.