Ultimate Guide to Preventing Groundsheet Leaks

Aug 3, 2023

Let's talk about a rare but annoying problem that some of you may have encountered while camping with your family tent – water coming up through the sewn-in groundsheet. Now, don't worry; this doesn't mean your tent is a leaky disaster. In fact, your tent is probably just fine and waterproof. It's just that water can be quite sneaky and find its way through the groundsheet under certain conditions.

Imagine your tent as a sturdy piece of fabric, carefully treated to repel water. It does a fantastic job in normal circumstances, but it has its limits. If the water pressure exceeds what the tent is designed to handle, it may eventually start to allow water to pass through.

The groundsheet of your tent is a crucial part of the equation. It's meant to protect you from the damp ground below. The groundsheet is designed to be extra waterproof, with a higher Hydrostatic Head, to deal with the pressure from the ground. It's different from the flysheet, which faces the open air and lets water run off easily.

But sometimes, things can go awry, leading to water seeping through. Let's look at some of the reasons this can happen and how you can prevent it:

  1. Not Using a Footprint Groundsheet: A footprint groundsheet is an extra layer of protection that goes under your tent. If you skip using it, especially on wet or boggy ground, the pressure from inside the tent (people, gear, etc.) can force water up through the groundsheet.

  2. Ill-Fitting Footprint Groundsheets: If your footprint is too big and overlaps the tent, water can sneak in between the two groundsheets. On the other hand, if the footprint is too small, your sewn-in groundsheet may be exposed to wet conditions.

  3. Water Trapped Between Groundsheet Layers: Pitching your tent on a footprint while it's raining can lead to water getting trapped between the layers of groundsheets. This trapped water, under pressure from the weight inside the tent, can push through the fabric.

  4. Camping on a Slope or Uneven Ground: Water can run down between the groundsheets' layers in these conditions, creating the same issue as above.

  5. High Water Table: If the ground is completely saturated and flooded, there's nowhere for the water to go but up through the groundsheet due to pressure and time.

  6. Age of the Tent: If your tent is a bit older, its waterproofing protection might have worn off. Giving it a coat of waterproofing every 12-24 months can work wonders.

So, how can you avoid this soggy situation and enjoy a dry and cozy camping experience? Here are some handy tips:

  1. Treat and Reproof Your Tent: Every 12-24 months, give your tent some love by reproofing it with a waterproofing agent.

  2. Use a Footprint Groundsheet: Always use a well-fitting footprint to protect your tent's groundsheet and extend its lifespan.

  3. Check for Dryness: Before pitching your tent, ensure the base groundsheet is completely dry to avoid trapping water underneath.

  4. Mind Your Camping Spot: Avoid setting up camp on lower ground or boggy areas to reduce the risk of water infiltration.

With these precautions and a bit of tent care, you can stay dry and cozy during your camping adventures, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. Happy camping, everyone!