Do I Need A Tarp Under My Tent? [ Here’s The Answer ]

Using a tarp beneath your tent is important for the safety of your shelter. Often, heavy rainfall can turn the tent into a pool of water. This can be harmful to your gear and can be troublesome for the people inside.

Tent footprints protect you from wear and tear and especially when you have not patched the bottom of your tent. Tarps are of great importance due to their numerous benefits.

And that’s why it is always advised to pack one with you on your camping trips. Tarps or footprints come in various sizes ranging from lightweight tarps for small-sized tents to huge tarps for large-sized tents.

Besides Tarpaulins, some other good options include using a Tyvek or canvas material to use beneath your tent. They are especially useful when you are backpacking and need a lightweight ground cloth.

People are often confused concerning the weight of the gear, and they think that it is important to carry along. Keep reading the article to find out whether you would need to put the tarp down under your tent or not.

Do you need a tarp under your tent?

If you’re camping in a place with good weather, then no need to buy the tarp. However, if you are driving or hiking through unpredictable conditions such as heavy rainstorms and excessive mud splatterings would be too much for your tent’s integrity; it might not last long without this added protection from the elements.

Also, if you are camping in an area where climate changes drastically, then it is a must to have that groundsheet with you.

The Five Big Advantages of Using Tarps!

Though a common tool for any outdoor enthusiast’s pack list, the tarp can provide many benefits to the user. Five such advantages are as follows:

1. It protects your tent

You will be camping above some eight-legged insects and some rocks, sticks, and thorns. And in some muddy areas, you might get some dirt in through the holes in the tent in case it is not patched properly.

That covering under the tent is a protection from the rainwater that can be pulled into your tent. So it is recommended to take the tarp with you for safety purposes.

2. It prevents unwanted Dampness

Another great advantage of tarps is the prevention of moisture and dampness in the tent. Tarps are waterproof, and they save your tent from the pooling of water.

Sometimes, when your tent is not properly ventilated, the condensation process occurs inside, creating unwanted moisture in the tent. It is especially evident in the morning dew that gets into your tent and makes the internal environment uncomfortable.

It serves as a vapor barrier between the earth and the inner atmosphere. This groundsheet acts as a shield when it rains heavily at the campsite. Now you are well aware of the significance of tarps in the prevention of moisture.

3. Simplified Tent-pitching

Tarps are lighter and easier to carry than a tent, making them a great option for those looking for an easy camping experience.

They also don’t take up as much space in your car or backpack, which is especially nice if you’re going solo on the trip–no need to measure out how many tents will fit into your vehicle!

4. Easier Washing

A big plus point of using a tarp is that it is easy to wash than a tent. The tarps come in small sizes that are easy to rinse off. On the other hand, washing heavy and bulky tents can be a huge struggle. You would be able to clean up the easy-going tarps without any trouble properly.

5. Ensures the safety of your gear

Using a nice quality tent protects your inside gear and increases life. Nobody wants their gear to get damaged by the outside moisture entering the tent.

So it is always recommended to take a durable tarp to put beneath the tent. The gear is always prone to damping, but it is still not more horrible than getting your whole tent soaked in rainwater.

What tarp size do I need under my tent?

The size of the tarp is not fixed. You can choose whatever size will adjust your tent properly. An ideal tarp would be the size of your tent. But it’s better if it is 2-3 inches smaller than the tent.

If the tarp is bigger than the tent, the rainwater can gather around the perimeter of the tent. Smaller tarps will not protect your tent and will cause damage to it.

Just remember not to place a tarp that is substantially larger or smaller than your tent. A huge tarp can turn your tent into a pool of water. Smaller ones will not be enough for protection against dirt and moisture.

A little bit of difference in size does not matter. Sometimes, the tent is unique sized, and their tarps are unavailable in the market.

At that point, you can place an order to a tarp manufacturer to design a tarp specifically for your tent. The measurements that will be suitable for an ideal tarp are 10×10. Because the tent of these sizes is adjustable to most of the tents and will come out shorter, that is always good.

How thick should the tarp under my tent?

In-car camping, when the weight is not an issue for you, you may go with a somewhat bulky and thick tarp. But if it is another kind of camping where weight is your main focus, then a lightweight ground cloth with less thickness will be ideal for you.

In the case of backpacking, the weight must be light enough to be carried easily. Backpackers who carry ultra-lightweight objects should not carry heavy tarps as they can become cumbersome.

Furthermore, the tarp is a huge-sized bulky piece of equipment that is sometimes an issue for various campers. Maintain a balance of items in your gear by packing a standard-sized tarp of good thickness that would be fine to carry.

Consider carrying a Blue Poly tarp if more weightage does not bother. It comes with a thickness of 6-10 millimeters. Sometimes a disposable plastic cloth is used which is almost 3 millimeters in thickness.

But there is shortcoming-less durability. So we recommend the blue one for better performance. The stress of carrying extra load is greatly reduced with the waterproof cloth made up of nylon. It is 2 inches smaller than the normal tarps. It is a good option for backpackers.


Although tarps are not the primary necessity of a camping trip, taking an extra layer will not do any harm. You will be at a great advantage to have extra protection for your gear.

For backpackers, lightweight footprints are ideal. At the end of the day, it’s up to your requirements. The campsite area and weather conditions together determine your requirement to have an extra layer of protection.

Tarps have been designed in a way that they not only keep us dry but also they can prevent abrasions in the tent. They protect from wear and tear to the bottom of the tent and keep the internal environment of your tent stable.

Now you are well aware of how tarps are advantageous to the campers. You can greatly manage your camping needs and will be now ready to prepare for your next camping tour.