I have decided that it is time to drop those extra pounds. I am building a G4 backpack and ditching my 6 pound pack. I packed away my Whisper Lite Internationale and aluminum cookset and made a gramweenie kitchen like Tinny sells. (sorry Tinny, I perfer to make my own.) I am making my own tarp, and I was wondering about a ground cloth. do I really need one? If so will 2.2 oz ripstop nylon be good enough?
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
You don't need much for a ground cloth. I think 2.2 oz ripstop is overkill. In my view (others may disagree) a ground cloth serves mostly to keep moist earth from making your bag wet from the underside. So you want something waterproof, not necessarily rip proof.
I'd go with a temporary solution like a thin sheet of plastic. Just use it until it wears out and then get another. Gossamer Gear sells some that are amazingly thin but last for quite a few nights in my experience. I've heard that you can get something just a little thicker at a paint store that is used as a drop cloth. A sheet of Tyvek is another common ground cloth and it might might last longer. Heavier than the plastic but lighter than 2.2 oz I would think.
Another option is to hang your "ground cloth" with webbing between trees to make a hammock. No need for waterproofing and way more comfortable than the ground IMO. You can make an easy hammock here: http://www.imrisk.com/testhammock/testhammock.htm
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Go with the GG med weight polycryon? stuff. Keep it out of the sun as much as you can, like pitch your shelter late in the day or in the shade. Tyvek is heavier than you think. I cut my GG groundcloth down to fit my floorless Tarptent Squall, it weights around 4 oz. The cut to fit Tyvek that Henry supplies weighs around 6 or 7 ozs. if I remember right, not at home now to reweigh it.
1. it keeps you and your gear dry 2. it keeps you cleaner, 3. it keeps little things like batteries, etc. from disappearing in the forest duff when you drop them 4. it keeps wear and tear on equipment down.
There you have it.
I'd get the lightest fully COATED ripstop you can find. You can get polyurethane coating or the lighter double coated silnylon. Avoid single coated silnylon. Avoid Tyvek - it picks up ALL kinds of tiny forest floor debris in its fibers.
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."
Loc: Central Texas
I agree with 300wmg about Tyvek; it is a poor groundsheet, not only for the reason he stated but also because the pressure of your weight will force water up through it. Tyvek is not waterproof, only highly water resistant. Great for tarps and single walled shelters, but not for a groundsheet.
Tyvex was designed as a house wrap to keep moisture out but at the same time let the house breath and let moisture escape. Otherwise the wood would mildue. I use 4mil painters plastic for ground sheets. It's very cheap and if needed you can replace it with a new piece every trip.
Another idea: cut your weight 82% and use 0.7mil sheet. It does collect moisture on the underside; but that’s manageable. And if you want real tough stuff for the low weight, use indoor window wrap (same as GG polycro ground cloth).
I avoid the lightweight thermal blankets for ground sheets as these seem to leave metal/silver/aluminum residue all over your stuff after 3 or 4 nights.
The lighter the better, but, when it gets to lightwight it gets hard to manage. Kinda like cling wrap for leftovers. In my construction work I use a lot of 6mil visqueen for vapor barrier under concrete slabs. Um. now come to think of it, the painters plastic is much lighter than 4mil. I'll have to check that. But I know it's light. And yes 4 mil is not very light. It needs to be somewhat durable to withstand being pierced by a blade of grass anyway.
“…to withstand being pierced by a blade of grass anyway.”
or that problem surprisingly.
It just does very well at keeping the tent clean and keeping ground water from soaking through.
My main problem is it is so light that a sneeze can move it. I have to put rocks down on it so it will lay flat enough for my tent. Also, I take advantage of the wind to keep my ground cloth blowing straight while I lay my tent upon it. Also, I have a problem folding it. It traps air so easy. So now I fold it lengthwise in sixteenths (and once in half widthwise) and roll it up to squish the air out.
Winny quote ____________________________________ A ground cloth is a neessity.
1. it keeps you and your gear dry 2. it keeps you cleaner, 3. it keeps little things like batteries, etc. from disappearing in the forest duff when you drop them 4. it keeps wear and tear on equipment down ______________________________________
Oh Nay Sir <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> NOT a neessity 1) huh? It does? 2) again - huh? 3) duff? under my tent floor? 4) adds wear and tear to me carrying it.
I NEVER carry nor use a ground cloth, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> ever, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> its a good way to get wet, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />adds weight, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />adds complexity <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> and is just plain SISSY <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
In the old days a ground cloth was a piece of cloth - canvas - and you put in on the ground because tents had no floors. It did not hold water. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" /> foot prints are marketing hype - like "care for fries and a coke with that sandwich". Its a ways of getting money from people.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
I fear you have been doing too much credit card/motel camping as of late.
Ground cloths are made to: COVER THE GROUND. (Amazing, huh?)
The ground may be: wet or damp dirty full of creepy crawlies covered with abrasive rocks
It is these things, my dear fellow, against which one must fortify oneself with a... GROUNDCLOTH! Not to do so is simply ungentlemanly/ungentlewomanly. Egad! Not using a groundcloth - SO uncouth. One must alwaus be couth when in the wilds
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."
Thank you everyone. I would agree with Jim on the use of ground sheets/footprints when using a tent. I never have, and my tent is nearly fifteen years old. Granted I do not thru-hike major travels, but it has been on several multi-day trips. My concern was due to my switching to a tarp, and that question was thoroughly answered. Once again, thank you all for you help.
And to go along with the uncouth cleanliness idea:
1. I have some dirt-stained tent bottoms because of no ground cloth <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />. Who wants to see their $300 tent get dirtied up? 2. Silnylon floors will soak through. Ground cloth stops that. 3. During a lunch/rest break, in muddy areas, ground cloths (dual use here folks) keep your clothes from getting muddy. 4. In the morning, the ground cloth is soaked on the underside. The tent is not. It is easier to let the ground cloth dry on your pack than the tent. 5. Along w/ #4, it’s easier to roll up your tent on a dry groundcloth instead of a wet/dirty ground.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I do not use a ground cloth under my tent. That's what the tent floor is for! Tent floors are, after all, quite washable if they do get muddy. I've never had silnylon floors soak through, either, even on a recent trip where there were several thunderstorms (think cloudbursts) each evening. It is quite important to select a site where you're not going to be in a lake in case of a hard rain. I learned that lesson the hard way; that was the same occasion when I learned that a sopping wet synthetic bag is no warmer than a sopping wet down bag. I have had (back in the bad old days when I packed a 5-lb. tent and put a ground cloth under it) water get between the tent floor and the ground cloth, which means you might as well not have the ground cloth.
If I were tarp camping, as the OP is, I'd want either a ground cloth or a bivy. I certainly don't want either my sleeping bag or my air mattress sitting directly on the ground. I like the GG polycro. You can get lighter and thinner and cheaper (1 or 2 mil painters dropcloth) but it is like handling plastic wrap.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
“I have … water get between the tent floor and the ground cloth, which means you might as well not have the ground cloth.”
I haven’t had that problem (because of ground cloth shape).
Oregon, you’re still lucky water hasn’t soaked through your silnylon floor. Of course camp selection helps. But other times, Mother Nature is going to drench your campsite, and that ground cloth sure saves the day. In my GG Squall Classic during heavy night thunderstorms, my floor is soaked where the ground cloth is NOT touching (around edges), and perfectly dry where the ground cloth IS touching. The wet silnylon does not seep to the ‘dry’ areas—at least in the 8 hours I’m in bed.
Also, silnylon tent bottoms wear faster w/o a ground cloth (i.e., thinner; becomes more porous) because of the sanding effect.
Moreover, even though we clear our campsites of debris, our eyes sometimes miss that incredibly sharp stone. That ground cloth will take the major blunt while protecting the expensive tent.
In the end, you may save weight but at a cash cost.
Go ahead and get a ptarmigan bivy and save yourself the learning curve. A tarp is great, but mist and splatter will find their way to you and your bag. Of course you could make your own bivy if need be. Mine weighs 12 ounces - it has a pu coated bottom, a dwr top/ the upper 1/3 of the top is noseeum with a zipper from one side to the other about chest high. In the summer I usually fall asleep on top of my sleeping quilt and then in the wee hours of the morning when it starts to get cool I end up in my quilt. I have a tyvek bottom, full dwr ripstop top bivy that I use in winter. Its purpose is to keep my underside dry and to add warmth to my sleep system. In summer I use an 8x10 Equinox tarp (16 oz). In winter I switch to a Sierra Designs Oragami (28 oz)- It provides more shelter than a tarp and can handle snow loads very well, and after 33 years of backpacking I must say that it is the most versatile shelter I have ever owned.
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