Tarps are commonly placed over the top of tents, but should you put a tarp under your tent?
It’s a question that many people ask themselves when they are preparing for a camping trip and the answer depends on what you want to use your tarp for.
If it’s going to rain or snow during your stay, then yes, you might want to consider placing a tarp underneath your tent to keep the bottom of your tent dry.
If you’re looking for something to make the floor of your tent more comfortable (and warmer) you might want to look at alternatives such as tent footprints.
We’ll talk about them both in more detail below.
What is the purpose of a tarp under a tent?
A tarp provides protection from the ground and soil underneath your tent, when a tarp is placed under your tent it prevents water from seeping through from the ground through to the base of your tent.
This usually benefits campers who are going to be camping in wet, rainy or snowy conditions, on surfaces such as grass or leaves where the ground retains lots of moisture.
If you are camping in these conditions, then tarps make a lot of sense, but if not then there really isn’t much benefit to using a tarp under your tent as an additional layer of waterproofing isn’t really necessary.
Benefits of using a tarp underneath your tent
The primary benefit of using a tarp underneath your tent is to keep the bottom of your tent dry.
There are other benefits of placing a tarp underneath your tent, including;
- making it much easier to pack up your campsite because you can simply gather all your belongings together without having to worry about packing around wet ground
- preventing water build up and ensuring that the ground under your tent is protected from rain and snow
- helping to keep you dry by preventing water from coming into your tent
- helping protect the inner canvas from being blown out, resulting in less wear and tear
- protects the tent poles by reducing contact with wet soil
- are lightweight and easy to set up, they also require little space in your backpack
What is the best size tarp for camping?
The best size tarp for camping is a large one. Tent tarps come in all different sizes, but the most common size is a 12×12 tarp.
The larger the tarp, the better because it provides more coverage, which means less ground contact with water (and moisture). For extra protection you can also use two tarps that overlap each other and provide an additional layer of waterproofing. If they’re not overlapping then make sure to place them close enough together so there’s no space between them, this will create another barrier against rain or snow seeping through onto your tent floor.
Why you might not want to use a tarp under your tent
Some people might not want to use a tarp under their tent because they don’t believe it benefits them in any way.
It may be seen as an unnecessary expense, and can make packing and unpacking your campsite more time consuming.
This is especially true if you are camping somewhere dry where you don’t need the waterproofing benefits provided by an under tent tarp and instead may want to use something to make your tent more comfortable such as a tent footprint.
What can I what can I use instead of a tarp?
Tent footprints are a great alternative option to using a tarp under your tent.
Tent footprints are made from a thin layer of waterproof material, usually 30 denier nylon and have a floor area that is about the size of your tent floor.
When you set up your tent, you can place it on top of the footprint without having to worry about your tent contacting wet soil or ground.
Using a footprint can also protect against dirt or rocks being embedded into the floor of your tent, something which a tarp doesn’t do.
Many campers like using footprints because it provides them insulation on top of whatever surface they’re camping on so if you don’t mind spending the extra money then this could be a great idea for winter camping
The only downside to using a footprint is that they can make packing and unpacking your campsite more difficult.