If you camp in rainy conditions, then you would have to dry your tent before packing it for storage once you get home. Drying a tent is a hassle itself, and what makes it even more problematic is the tent’s base where air can barely access—knowing how to set up your ground cover while camping would save you from this trouble.
A ground cover, also known as a footprint or a groundsheet, could be a necessity depending on your camping site’s weather and location. If it’s raining or the camping spot is a bit damp, then it’s mandatory to station a groundsheet before you erect the tent. Some campers prefer placing a ground cover regardless of the weather.
If you have never used a ground cover before in your camping trips, this article could be a useful read for you. We will show you how to set up your ground cover, the best material you can use as a tent footprint, how to prepare a DIY ground cover, and discuss a bit more about why you need a ground cover in the first place.
How To Set Up Your Ground Cover?
Using a ground cover is the simplest yet the most productive tactic you can deploy to safeguard your tent floor from rough surfaces and keep it dry. Different terrains require different ground cover approaches. You have to consider a handful of factors when you attempt to place a ground cover.
Setting Up Your Ground Cover In Non-Sandy Surfaces
When you camp out in the woods, in an open field, or the mountains, make sure that the ground cover does not extend beyond the floor of the tent. If a portion of the ground cloth stays outside the tent roof, it will collect runoff stormwater and dew. Gradually, this pool of water might seep into the tent.
Setting Up Your Ground Cover In Sandy Surfaces
Sand absorbs water faster than the ground, so you might not have to use any ground cover at all. Even if you do, you will have to be mindful that you can’t keep any part of the ground cover outside the tent. The runoff water will make its way into your tent if you do. Fold the ground cloth along the edges if it doesn’t fit inside your tent.
Setting Up Your Ground Cover In Windy Or Rainy Conditions
Besides setting up a cover under your tent, you would have to use an extra sheet over the tent during weather extremities. To nullify strong winds, you will need an added coat of safety around the tent walls, and a surplus sheet of ground cover can provide that. You can also use it over the tent during heavy rainfall to keep the tent dry.
Pick A High Spot To Pitch Your Tent
Always try to pitch your tent in higher areas where water can’t stand for extended periods. In doing so, your ground cover would have a much simpler task at hand during rain as the water would drain out much faster. On the other hand, lowland areas have higher water retention properties, so they are not ideal for camping.
Why Do I Need A Ground Cover?
To Extend The Tent’s Durability
The primary objective of a footprint is to provide a protective cover for the floor of your tent. A tent floor goes through excessive abuse throughout the lifespan of a tent. When you sleep on the floor, you put your entire body weight on it. In doing so, you pin the floor to the ground, which puts the floor material at risk of sustaining damage.
So, you can see that a tent floor is subject to severe wear and tear. The floor deteriorates as you keep on using it, and the process accelerates when you don’t opt for a buffer surface between the floor and the ground. A ground cover can provide that insulation and extend the longevity of your tent.
You will have to replace the ground cloth after a certain amount of time. But, it is way more economical to buy a new groundsheet rather than throwing out your entire tent. Tents don’t come cheap, so the smart thing to do is using a ground cover whenever you go out on a camping trip.
To Keep Water At Bay
During or after heavy rainfall, the ground soaks in plenty of water and acts like foam. When you step on the ground, you can see water oozing from it. If you are camping in such conditions, you have to make arrangements to keep the floor dry. Trust me, sleeping inside a wet sleeping bag is not an experience you would relish.
Even the dew can make the camp floor uncomfortably moist. Besides compromising your comfort, you would be exposing your tent to hazards like mildew and fungal infestation. Using a ground cloth can bail you out of all these inconveniences. It would absorb most of the dampness, so your tent will be as comfortable as you would like.
To Insulate You From The Ground Temperature
When you lie down on a sleeping bag, your body will experience the ground temperature. If the bag lacks thick padding, you would feel how hot or cold the ground is. The exposure to ground temperature is incommodious because it would disrupt the thermal condition your body feels comfortable in.
But, carrying a bulky sleeping pad is not easy. Many campers find it as a hindrance and opt for lighter bags instead. A ground cover allows you to pack light and sleep comfortably at the same time. It serves as an additional layer of insulation, so it will prevent the ground temperature from penetrating your bedding.
Ground Covers Simplify Pitching
Some tent models would give you a hard time pitching as you would struggle to locate the corners. This is particularly true for larger tents. If you use ground covers that have been made explicitly for the tent model you are using, you will figure out the positioning of the corner pegs in no time.
What Are Ground Covers Made Of?
Some tents ship with a footprint, but you would have to buy the footprint as an accessory in most cases. You can also make the ground cover on your own, which we will discuss in more detail in the following section. Nylon and polyester are the most popular choices of fabric when it comes to ground cloth.
Both nylon and polyester have their share of pros and cons. Nylon lasts longer than polyester and is more stretchable. The downside, however, is its inferior water resistance abilities. So, polyester ground covers can do a better job keeping your tent floor dry than nylon ones. Polyester sheets are a bit heavier, but they offer superior resilience against water and UV rays.
How To Make Your Own Ground Cover?
You can purchase tent-specific ground covers, but they can be pricey. DIY ground covers can match the utility you would get from a factory-made footprint, but it would cost you substantially less. You can custom pick the material and fine-tune the dimensions to your liking. Follow these simple steps to make a ground cover for your tent:
- Select the material for your ground cover. You can choose painter tarp, polycro, or Tyvek to make a homemade tent footprint. You can purchase these at any hardware store.
- Lay the sheet on the ground and put up your tent atop of it. Since you already know how to set up your ground cover, this step should be relatively easy.
- Take a marker and draw lines along the edge of the tent floor. If you already know the dimension of your tent floor, then skip steps 2 and 3.
- Cut the sheet two inches smaller than the floor dimension across all sides. The goal is to make your ground cover a bit smaller than the tent floor to trap runoff water. If your ground cover captures water, it might slowly flow under the tent and make the floor wet.
Tent Denier Count & Thickness Of The Ground Cloth
Do you need to use a thick ground cover for your tent? The answer to that particular question relies on the denier of the tent fabric. Denier is a term that represents the thickness of textile fibers. Therefore, a tent with a higher denier count is better suited to tackle wear and tear. It also promises to be more water-resistant than lower denier tents.
For example, if your tent floor has a rating of 60 deniers, it would hold up better against water than a tent floor rated 20 deniers. The lower your denier rating is, the more protection you would need to make it last longer. For this reason, you would need to use chunkier pieces of ground cloth for tent floors with lower denier counts.
It would help if you learned how to set up your ground cover because it would minimize abrasion on your tent floor. A ground cover would also keep your tent floor dry and cozy in damp and wet conditions. So, buying a ground cloth or making one by yourself would be worthwhile.