A ‘footprint’ or ‘ground sheet’ is a piece of material that provides a barrier between your tent or sleeping mat and the ground below. This barrier performs a number of functions including:
In addition, it’s part of the ‘tent system’ created by some tent manufacturers create that allows the tent fly and the footprint to be used without the tent inner if protection from bugs isn’t required.
Footprints are an optional peace of equipment and we don’t always use them. Really it depends on what the expected ground conditions are going to be like. The rougher and riskier the expected tent sites the more likely we are to use a footprint.
Tent ground sheet