Is a groundsheet really necessary?
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/14/2013 10:23:06 MDT Print View

Last night, I went to work making a polycryo groundsheet for my new Tarpent Rainshadow 2. To my knowledge, the tent comes with a 30D nylon floor. The groundsheet weighs in at 2.82 oz in its cuben fiber stuff sack. But then I got to thinking: Do I really need a groundsheet? So long as I don't plan on camping on hard, rocky ground, and am careful with site selection, can I do away with it? I really will only use the tent for the occasional weekend trip with my wife and daughter. No thru hikes planned right now (my daughter hasn't turned 3 yet!). I would say that 95% of our camping will be on dirt, which may have the occasional root or so. We are usually careful in removing whatever twigs or rocks happen to be lying around.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/14/2013 10:30:00 MDT Print View

With tarptent no. The only reason I can see is if you cowboy camp in good weather. The groundsheet then has a use.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/14/2013 10:37:53 MDT Print View

David,
IMHO no ground sheet is needed, and often creates problems by trapping water.

Assuming you have silnylon Tarptent -

If after a season or three you find you have leaks, simply mix up some silicone and mineral spirits (about the consistency of hot honey) and paint the bottom. You will add about 2 ounces of weight and will be good for a few more years.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Is a stuff sack necessary for your tent? on 07/14/2013 10:38:33 MDT Print View

I suppose I should add this related question as well. If your tent is wet, do you still stuff it in your pack? My tent is too large to fit into the outer pockets of my pack (and weight distribution will be affected as well). I use a pack liner from Gossamer Gear for my down insulation and clothing, but of course there would be the worry that a wet tent might leak moisture into my pack liner if the conditions just so happened to be right.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Is a stuff sack necessary for your tent? on 07/14/2013 10:48:59 MDT Print View

If you want to keep the tent in the main bag, just don't put in it inside the liner. If you do want to separate it from the other items inside the liner try a turkey oven bag. They are cheap, light and tough, waterproof, and easy to put things in.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/14/2013 11:26:44 MDT Print View

I'm with Greg on this. No groundsheet is necessary for a decent tent. In fact, I haven't used one in years. It's just something else to carry. Even cowboy camping, with a closed cell full length pad, you don't need a ground cloth. An inflatable or half length pad is a different story, of course!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Groundsheet on 07/14/2013 12:27:36 MDT Print View

I don't use one. Reasonable care can replace one, and then you don't have to worry about rain landing on bits of the groundsheet sneaking out from under the tent, which then runs under the tent and creates a waterbed. I only use a groundsheet if I don't have an inner tent. (ie. a groundsheet is good for staying off wet ground under a tarp - especially with an inflatable pad.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Depends... on 07/14/2013 13:33:20 MDT Print View

When I camp in southern Utah's canyons, yes, it keeps the fine "dirty sandy dust" from imbedding into the floor's silicon coating.

When I camp in a forest the dust is not an issue, only occasional dampness, so no ground cloth.

For my solo tent I've used a clear recyclable trash bag cut along the sides and opened lengthwise and trimmed 2" smaller than the footprint all around. That 0.75 mil protection weighs next to nothing.

I think for the Scarp 2 in campgrounds I'll use painter's cloth plastic.

Edited by Danepacker on 07/14/2013 15:43:19 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/14/2013 15:23:56 MDT Print View

I have never used a separate groundsheet under my current tents, anywhere. But remember that my current tents all have bucket groundsheets.

My very early 4-man dome tents had separate plastic groundsheets inside the tent, but the tent did not have a floor. The PU-coated nylon of those days was not waterproof enough for a floor.

A full-length wide foam pad might be enough on clean pine duff. It would be a bit pathetic on wet or muddy ground though.

My 2c
Cheers

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 00:14:05 MDT Print View

We don't use a groundsheet on snow, but we do on sand, dirt, etc.
Much cheaper to replace a groundsheet than a tent floor :)

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 08:30:25 MDT Print View

Roger,

Do your tents use a 30D silnylon floor? The stuff feels rather thin, so I've always used a groundsheet in the past to help with abrasion, but it seems that the consensus here is that it isn't really required.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 10:12:26 MDT Print View

I have never used a groundsheet and I backpack a lot.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea to rely on the waterproofness of a tent floor to keep me dry. When I cowboy camp I never use a groundsheet, so I usually have no floor at all, although sometimes I might sleep on the floor of my shelter, if it has one.

I have two shelters with net floors. Their floors are almost ALL holes. I have camped in them in rain and snow many, many times. Many of my old tents with floors have tiny pinprick holes in them if you hold them up to the light. I don't car. It has no negative effect on me because I'm not sleeping in pooled water. On thru-hikes I've convinced hikers to drop their ground sheets and to date people have thanked me and none have cursed me. YMMV and HYOH.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Is a groundsheet really necessary?" on 07/15/2013 10:19:06 MDT Print View

For about 2 oz. I find a polycryo groundsheet worth carrying. Necessary? No. But it keeps dirt/moisture off my tent floor. Now that I have a Hexamid with a net floor, I really like the idea of keeping pitch in particular out of the netting. However, it's great to hear from Buck, who's carried this tent far longer than me, that even without a groundsheet he hasn't had issues with the floor.

Oh yeah and I also hope that the polycryo might add a bit of protection against pine cone needles for my exped mat.

Edited by book on 07/15/2013 10:27:09 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: "Is a groundsheet really necessary?" on 07/15/2013 10:56:01 MDT Print View

I used to have groundsheet under a floored tent.

Occasionally, water would get on top of the groundsheet, pool up somewhere, and then seep into the tent. Normally when edge of groundsheet extended beyond tent so rain would fall directly on it. Obviously, this was poor technique on my part, but...

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: "Is a groundsheet really necessary?" on 07/15/2013 11:32:53 MDT Print View

I have gone both ways with the various tents I've owned. With a recent, expensive, Cuben Fiber bottomed tent, I decided to use a Polycro (clear) groundsheet. I've found three advantages:

1) Protects the expensive Cuben.
2) Keeps moisture and debris off of the tent. It is much easier to clean or shake that stuff off of a groundsheet, rather than a tent.
3) It makes picking a tent site a lot easier. I can play around with the groundsheet and get a pretty good idea of where I will sleep (how much of a slope there will be, etc.). For non-freestanding tents, this is very helpful. For freestanding tents, this isn't as big a deal (just pick it up, rotate it, slide it, etc.).

The short answer is "No". It isn't absolutely necessary, but it is nice to have.

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
good example on 07/15/2013 12:55:04 MDT Print View

IMHO no ground sheet is needed, and often creates problems by trapping water.

Assuming you have silnylon Tarptent -

If after a season or three you find you have leaks, simply mix up some silicone and mineral spirits (about the consistency of hot honey) and paint the bottom.


As logic goes, this is odd, a groundsheet is specifically designed to prevent precisely this wear and tear, so it's hard to understand how the conclusion of the wear and tear of the tent floor over a few years time meaning that no ground sheet was needed was arrived at. So rather than use a 2oz ground sheet to prevent wear and tear, apply sticky and dirt attracting layer of sil that weighs 2oz and will need renewal ever few years, building up weight. I assume the tents are not kept very long, in other words.

I'm not clear on where the idea that pu coated nylon doesn't hold out water came from, I've in the past marveled at small pools of water under my tent floor in multiple day heavy rains, pre sil tent days that is, well protected pu standard weight nylon tents. I guess it was magic since the pu couldn't hold out the water. But then again I was able to pitch them in the rain even with a removable fly, which I've read you can't do without getting it soaked, guess it just depends on who is doing the pitching...

the polycryo stuff though is amazing, I had to really see it working to convince myself that it did in fact work. If the ground sheet is cut well under the edges of the tent there is no issue with pooling to speak of, though I do agree, with the super thin and not very water proof sil 30 d material, leaks are going to be a bigger issue if you do get pooling since if you sit on it it's probably going to leak through, so that might be a time to not use a groundsheet if you find it pools in rain, I guess anyway.

One vote for simply and fairly durable polycryo, not into replacing tents or coating them with 2oz of sticky sil every few years.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 13:55:29 MDT Print View

“So long as I don't plan on camping on hard, rocky ground, and am careful with site selection, can I do away with it?”

Yep. I haven’t had near that luck in the Rockies though (or Midwest). So I take the ‘indoor’ polycro groundcloth.
On sopping wet ground, your kneeling pressure will wick water through and soak your bedding. But with a ground cloth, it will not wick through.
I’ve never had problems of a ground sheet trapping water.
Desert areas are a different story.

Also, most mornings my ground cloth is soaked from ground condensation. Otherwise it’s a drag rolling up a wet tent with grime sticking to it.

And I regret putting silnet or the other mixture on my Rainshadow (I was making slip-resistant stripes). It just collected dust after about 2 nights. Forget about trying to clean that dirt off; isn’t worth the time.

It’s easier and safer cleaning pine gum off the ground cloth than off the tent.

The dual-use of a ground cloth is handy if you want to lay out your pack contents w/o getting them soiled.

“One vote for simply and fairly durable polycryo, not into replacing tents or coating them with 2oz of sticky sil every few years.”
+1

-Barry
-The mountains were made for Tevas

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 15:05:19 MDT Print View

I think you need to ask your three year old.

For the bulk of the camping I've done with my kids, I can't tell you how grateful I was to have brought along a set of kiddie snap together foam pads to protect the underside of our tents. It's also far more comfortable. Nowadays, I use Reflectix under the tents.

Ground "cloths" have always been more about protection, than waterproofness, but sadly this gets lost in translation. If you don't believe the extra protection is warranted, and are fine with the occasional hole, then don't lug it along.

I do agree that I have seen more miss-use of them than anything else, and people seem to forget that the tiniest amount of exposure will run the risk of allowing water get inbetween the floor and the groundcloth. In that situation, water will travel the path of least resistance, typically up through the floor of the tent.

Furthermore, you want to truly test the durability of a tent, just leave it up to anyone aged ten and under. The first thing my kids always did was jump up and down on anything squishy- like a $100 t-rest.

And no matter what, have fun camping with the little one!

Matt

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 15:36:35 MDT Print View

Hi David

> Do your tents use a 30D silnylon floor?
I use standard silnylon, from Westmark. Yes, it feels fragile, but my experience has shown otherwise. Yes, I too had my doubts at the start!

Cheers

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 17:04:00 MDT Print View

> My 2c
> Cheers

I thought Australia demonetized their one- and two-cent coins 20 years ago. So I think the smallest bit of advice you can now offer is 5 cents.

Back on topic: I don't use a groundsheet while backpacking. I often do while car camping because then I don't care about the weight and it perhaps reduces the wear & tear a bit.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 17:10:14 MDT Print View

Maybe he doesn't have the sense to have good cents.

--B.G.--

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 17:12:03 MDT Print View

Oh, I suspect that after a long trip, Roger has a lot of scents.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 17:29:56 MDT Print View

"So I think the smallest bit of advice you can now offer is 5 cents."

Hmm... so are taxes rounded up to the nearest 5 cents? That would be a lot of money. Seems like someone made a movie about that.

Back on topic. I never use a ground sheet with a tent. Half the time I don't use one with a floorless shelter, I use a water proof ground pad to sleep on. In desert I use a polycro ground sheet to keep sand out of everything when floorless.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 07/15/2013 17:36:24 MDT Print View

I figure if the bottom of my 30d tent wears out the worst thing that will happen is water/ drops will get in, and I have a pad.

A groundsheet is just not my style, I use my gear, if it wears out I can always get a new tent or get a new floor sewn in.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 17:52:57 MDT Print View

I think Nick's point is that you first need to define what a ground sheet is expected to do.

In some cases, you have rough ground, and you are trying to put a ground sheet in there firt to protect the bottom of the tent from puncture and wear. In some cases, the ground is damp, and you are trying to put a ground sheet down first to stop the moisture from moving up into the tent. In a few cases, you might be trying to use the ground sheet as extra padding for your sleeping, although that isn't efficient. It does tend to make air pockets in there, and that might help the temperature insulation situation.

If you let the ground sheet cover a light depression, and if the ground sheet extends an inch beyond the tent or shelter, then rain will roll off the tent, hit the ground sheet, and collect underneath in the center. This may or may not be desired, just depending on where you are and what your water situation is. If you don't want to collect water this way, then make sure that the ground sheet is completely underneath the tent and not visible.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 18:05:48 MDT Print View

Methinks the thinking comes from the big tent makers who sell footprints for their tents. Last time I was at REI they had more footprints than tents. And they weren't cheap either. Create a need, sell the need.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 18:16:15 MDT Print View

A full-length wide foam pad might be enough on clean pine duff. It would be a bit pathetic on wet or muddy ground though.

Yep. Tried that. It was pathetic. ;-D

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 18:29:32 MDT Print View

From my experience on trips in the BWCAW, we took Cliff Jacobson's advice on placing the groundsheet on the inside of our tent. If you add an additional 6" to each dimension of your shelter's footprint, you end up with a fully waterproof bathtub floor. If your camping areas are often in established sites with depressions you won't get wet from pooling water.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 18:37:45 MDT Print View

I have a almost 50 year old tent that has seen a lot of use without a ground sheet. The only real damage is a couple spots I dripped DEET on the floor.

rei tent

rei 2

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Is a groundsheet really necessary? on 07/15/2013 19:34:52 MDT Print View

Nick, this tent so explains your choice of hiking shoes.....

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Groundsheets on 07/15/2013 19:49:26 MDT Print View

May I suggest -- weed-block fabric.

I didn't think I needed a waterproof footprint underneath a waterproof floor, but I did want protection from punctures and abrasion (spruce needles) if the floor was going to remain waterproof. My father, a smart man, suggested the weed-block fabric.

This solved a problem I had with waterproof footprints: my climate is damp enough that I sometimes had condensation form on the underside of the tent floor, wherever there was an air pocket, and that moisture was trapped by the footprint. And then I'd put pressure on the trapped water from inside the tent. Same thing with occasional runoff finding its way between the two layers.

Weed-block fabric allows moisture through, but is very tough. Puncturing it is difficult. It doesn't wick, absorbs very little if any water (it doesn't get heavier when wet), and dries very quickly.

I wish I could tell you how much it weighs, but I don't have a scale that registers something so light.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Groundsheets on 07/15/2013 20:08:45 MDT Print View

Weed block fabric like this?

http://www.amazon.com/Dewitt-100-Foot-Barrier-Landscape-PBN3100RF/dp/B0016APS6E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373940276&sr=8-1&keywords=weed+block+fabric

If the 3oz means per square yard, it isn't all that light. Maybe there are other versions? The idea is interesting.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Groundsheets on 07/15/2013 20:19:42 MDT Print View

Hi Stephen, I don't think that's quite the same stuff, Amazon says it's "black on one side". What I'm using is all black, and it's possible to see light through it in the centre of the meshes. Has a slightly fuzzy texture. Sadly I have no idea what brand I'm using, just that it's the cheapest kind in Canadian Tire. But it isn't the thick shiny 'professional' stuff I see in city parks. If that's any help. :P

Edit to add, my best guess is maybe 3 ounces, for a piece cut to fit a Copper Spur 1. It does weigh a bit less than the custom footprint for the Spur (4.5 oz), which I also have. Of course, that's with no grommets. Haven't bothered to add them as I originally planned, the stuff doesn't move once you've put it down.

Edited by Islandized on 07/15/2013 20:28:49 MDT.

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
Groundsheet on 07/16/2013 09:23:37 MDT Print View

I agree with most of the posts, I have rarely used a groundsheet. Never used one under my tarptent. The only time I used one was for a few days while I was hiking the PCT in 2010. At that point I used it to cowboy camp with a thermarest zlite. Since then I have used the neoair and bivy combo. However, I am wondering if I shouldnt try out the polychryro groundsheet, xlite, tarp combo? I really only use my bivy to protect my pad, and perhaps the polychyro can do the same job for 4 ounces less?

Thoughts?
Evan

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Weed-blocking fabric on 07/16/2013 09:38:02 MDT Print View

There is a very heavy version, more properly called "geotechnical fabric" used during road construction or under sand/ gravel in a playground. There are much lighter weights in small rolls (3' x 50') at the garden center.