Tent footprints are used as ground cloths under camping tents to prevent the wear and tear of your tent against the ground. For example, let's say you camp on desert sand or on a sandy beach. The bottom of your tent will probably experience some minor wear and tear as a result of scratching against the ground. The elements of nature always hold surpirses and footprints offer campers both the fortification and peace of mind of tent protection as well as sleeping comfort. A good footprint will range in weight from 1-3lbs which can deter extreme lightweight backpackers from using them.
Ultimately you want to get a footprint that is either specifically designed for your brand of tent, or get one that stays within the floor dimensions of the tent you plan to use (this is so moisture coming off of the tent doesn't pool between footprint & tent floor.) Below we have a handful of recommended footprint options for specific tents & general sizes.
Specifically designed for the The Alps Lynx 1 Tent, this affordable fitted nylon footprint protects the floor from rips and holes while keeping the tent bottom clean. Attaches to the tent poles via grommets. Made from a lightweight 1.9 oz. Nylon 1500mm coating.
Weight: 7 oz
Dimensions: 4 x 7 ft (unfolded)
Premium quality camp mat featuring a double-sided, aluminum foil thermal, outer layer. The inner layer has 2 mm of waterproof, foam insulation for optimal warmth. It's compact, lightweight and rolls up for easy storage.
Weight: 8 oz
Dimensions: 78.7 x 78.7 inches (unfolded)
An all-around great footprint that comes in 3 sizes. Made with especially sturdy 20D double layer silicified anti-tear lattice nylon noth, which means the mat has water resistance level equals to PU8000MM ( it can be filled with water and still watertight! ).
Weight: 8.8 oz
Dimensions: 82.6 x 57 inches(unfolded, x-large option)
Price: $24.90 (for x-large)
A great mat specificified for Mountainsmith tents featuring color-coded loops for easy attachment to main tent body. Sized slightly smaller than tent floor to resist water pooling. Built with a fire retardant coating & very compact.
Weight: 9.3 oz
Dimensions: 52 x 88 inches (unfolded)
Another quality footprint, this one is specifically designed for the Kelty Salida 2 footprint. Made with PU Coated 68D Polyester, and DWR: 1800 mm.
Weight: 9.3 oz
Dimensions: 7ft 4 inches x 4 ft 9 inches (unfolded)
An excellent, sturdy, multipurpose footprint in 3 sizes (small, medium, large). It's about twice the weight of the previous footprints (for large version) but this is an all-around high quality tarp that has many uses. Made with high density 210D Oxford fabric construction making it waterproof.
Weight: 17.6 oz
Dimensions: 94 x 87 inches (unfolded, large option)
A superb tent footprint made by one of the best brands in the game. Specifically made for the 2p MSR Hubba Tent. Features tough design mateirals; made of 68-denier polyester taffeta with 2000mm polyurethane and DWR coating for ample water protection.
Weight: 6.4 oz
Dimensions: 50 x 84 inches (unfolded, large option)
For those who might want to try their hand at building one with materials at home, Backpacker put together an excellent video guide: