Tent Footprint vs Tarp: What’s the Difference? (2022)

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    Packing your bag for a camping trip will likely include a tent, sleeping bag, and various supplies, but one thing you also should consider packing is some type of tent pad. This can be a tent footprint or a tarp, but what’s the difference? Today, we will explain the difference between these two types of pads and help you decide which one you should choose.

    What Is a Tent Footprint?

    A tent footprint is a large sheet of waterproof material that you place on the ground where you want your tent to go. They go underneath your tent to provide waterproofing and protection against the bottom of your tent.

    A tent footprint should be larger than the tent floor to provide enough protection for the bottom of your tent. If the tent footprint is smaller than the floor, it won’t protect the bottom of your tent from water or rugged terrain, potentially causing you to get wet or your tent to become damaged.

    Tent footprints are lightweight and easy to fold up and carry in your backpack.

    When choosing a tent footprint, you must know what size it is, as well as the dimensions of your tent’s floor, to ensure the tent footprint is big enough for your tent.

    What Is a Tarp?

    A tarp is a large sheet of material made of woven polyethylene or canvas that often has islets built into the edges of the sheet that you can use to attach it to the ground, trees, or other nearby structures.

    A tarp is great because it is versatile. You can use it on the ground underneath your tent to protect your tent floor from the wet or rugged ground, but you can also use it for other reasons, like as a shade or as a barrier of protection from the wind.

    With a tarp, you can choose to use it as a tent pad to protect the floor of your tent, especially if the ground where you are setting up your tent is wet or rugged. But if the ground is dry and smooth, you can use the tarp for other applications, like providing shade or wind protection, something that a tent footprint may be unable to do.

    Bottom Line – What’s the Difference?

    The main difference between a tent footprint and a tarp is that a tent footprint typically only has one application, and that is to place on the ground to protect the floor of your tent, while a tarp can be used for more than one purpose.

    The bottom line is that you can use a tent footprint or a tarp to protect the floor of your tent, but a tarp gives you a little more versatility and the option to use it for more than just a tent pad.

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