Seedhouse SL2 Tent
Seedhouse SL2 Tent (courtesy, Moosejaw)

What is the recommended thickness for the coating on a tent floor?

What is the minimum recommended thickness for a backpacking-tent floor? Big Agnes’s Seedhouse SL2 tent has a trail weight of two pounds, 14 ounces, with a 1,200mm polyurethane floor coating. Should I instead opt for the similar Seedhouse 2, which has a 1,500mm floor coating but weighs three pounds, 14 ounces? Marshall Atlanta, Georgia

Seedhouse SL2 Tent

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

Seedhouse SL2 Tent Seedhouse SL2 Tent

In this case, even the coating for the Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 ($200) 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 3,000mm 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 (and cooler) mesh fly, and uses various other weight-saving strategies. But it still has a 3,000mm floor.

Myself, I wouldn’t agonize too much over it. What really helps is to get a roll of 4mm clear plastic at the hardware store. Cut yourself a piece that is slight smaller than the footprint of the tent, and 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 weigh 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.

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is now online. Go ahead, get everything you wish you had gotten over the holidays.

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