The Seedhouse 2
The Seedhouse 2 (courtesy, Big Agnes)

What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking tent floor to prevent early wear?

What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking tent floor to prevent early wearing out of the tent? Big Agnes sells a Seedhouse 2 tent with a rated trail weight of 3 lb, 14 oz. It sells a Seedhouse SL2 tent—the se size and design except for different materials—with a 2 lb, 14 oz. trail weight. One difference that saves weight: a 1,500 mm polyurethane-coated floor for the Seedhouse 2; 1,200 mm for the SL2. Marshall Atlanta, GA

The Seedhouse 2

I don’t really know if there is a “minimum” recommended thickness. It all depends on how much you abuse a tent, and your tolerance for some premature wear and the possible need for replacing a tent.

The Seedhouse 2 The Seedhouse 2

Big Agnes deserves a nod for including coating information—that is indeed helpful information. In this case, even the coating for the Seedhouse 2 ($219) is on the light side. But that’s also because it’s a tent that, while well made and well designed, is competing a little bit on price. The Marmot Swallow 2P, by comparison, has 3,000 mm floor coating. But it also costs $339.

(An aside, what we are talking about here is not the thickness of the coating, it’s how much pressure from a vertical water column the coating can withstand before allowing leakage. The bigger the number, the taller the column, the more pressure the material can resist.)

Obviously, a floor with a lighter coating can save weight—all other things being equal. Marmot’s Aura 2p ($299) weighs about half of what the Swallow weighs. It’s also smaller, has a lighter (hence cooler) mesh fly, and uses various other weight-saving strategies. But it still has a 3,000 mm floor.

Myself, I wouldn’t agonize too much over it. What really helps is to get a roll of 4 mm clear plastic at the hardware store. Cut yourself a piece that is slight smaller than the footprint of the tent. Then pitch the tent atop that—that saves a TON of wear as you grind the tent into the dirt while sleeping. And there is a very small weight penalty. Just make sure none of the ground cover sticks out from under the tent, as otherwise it will catch rainwater and funnel it beneath the tent.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, Big Agnes