Monday, April 11, 2016

Making Footprints

Mom's tent look like an alien. I'm jealous.
I'm not talking about footprints in the sand (though I love the beach and wouldn't mind being able to make that sort of footprint); I'm talking about a footprint for a tent.  The term footprint was relatively new to me.  Basically, it's material that is cut to the shape of the tent and placed under it to protect the bottom of the tent from moisture and sharp rocks or sticks.  Basically what I always used a tarp for when I went camping at camp grounds.  But, since a tarp has some weight to it, most backpacking tents have a footprint made by the manufacturer.  And sometimes, like in my case, the footprint is not available so you make your own.  My mom also had to make her own.
We looked at 2 different possible materials to use to make the footprint.  One was Low-E Insulation which is lightweight and offers insulation.  You can find rolls of 2'x25' on Amazon.  The other option was Tyvek house wrap.  After weighing the pros and cons, we went with the Tyvek which I purchased through Ultralite Outfitters.  I was able to get a 5'x16' piece to make 2 footprints.  I'm a little torn about recommending Ultralite Outfitters 100% because there was an issue with my order.  At first they said they didn't have enough Tyvek available to cut the 16ft I ordered.  I ended up telling them to cancel the order and refund the money (about $35), but I ended up getting an email saying they were able to fulfill the order and it had shipped.  I received it very quickly, and the response about the problem was prompt, but I was slightly irked about the snafu.   Anyway, I got what I needed and ordered and all was good. 
The reasons we went with the Tyvek over the Low E were 1. Tyvek is lighter and packs smaller (Low E is lightweight but has more bulk to it) and 2. With insulated sleeping pads, we didn't need the added insulation.  I think it might be nice to have a piece of Low E to line the inside floor of the tent or as an extra insulator under your sleeping bag if you're backpacking in colder weather, but for now the Tyvek is good enough.
Despite the crazy weather this weekend (it snowed), we were able to get the footprints cut by setting the tents up in the living room. We simply set the tents on the Tyvek and cut around them.  The most important thing is to make sure your footprint doesn't extend past the edge of the tent.  If your footprint goes past the outside edge of the tent and it rains, the water will collect on the footprint and run under the tent and you'll be floating on your sleeping pad.  Really.
So we managed to get the footprints finished, and we ended the weekend with a trip to REI.  I exchanged my leaky valved sleeping pad and got the smaller waterproof compression sack for my sleeping bag.  We purchased some of our food and got the last minute odds and ends that we needed from REI.  I need to dehydrate some things and pick up the rest of my meals at the store and other than clothing I'll be set (still waiting on the weather forecast). 
Only 11 days to go!

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