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I reviewed the Vango Tigris 800 tent after a disasterous holiday so I thought I should start to review the other parts that you can buy with it. The footprint was something we had never experienced before and quite frankly, never heard of.
The idea of a tent footprint is to protect the bottom of your tent from the mud and things on the ground below and to help prevent tears if you happen to pitch on something sharp (twigs and things can do a lot more damage than you'd realise!) If you're pitching your tent for the first time then it also helps you to figure out the exact sizes and you can lay it down exactly where you want the tent to be. It covers the entire base of the tent so you need to make sure you position it very carefully and remember to think about where the tent doors will end up or you'll be pulling it right up again! It is simply pegged down with 4 tpegs in the corners and a few normal tent pegs along the sides and is as easy as that. So is it worth it?
On a previous camping trip we just had our tent minus the groundsheet and to be perfectly honest it was a bit of a nightmare to clean afterwards as we'd had to pack the tent up wet after stormy conditions and you can imagine the slugs that had attached themselves to the bottom of the tent and all of the other creepies you had to avoid whilst trying to fold the tent up (if you're like me and hate creepies then you'll know what I mean!) The footprint brings the whole new element of folding and rolling a clean tent that, for the most part, is void of anything that moves and certainly means you can roll up your tent slug free! It's supposed to keep the bottom of your tent drier too but I do call that part into question. We've never experienced rips of anything due to twigs or thorns in the past but the footprint gave us that little bit extra protection from it and thus I stopped worrying about moving every last thing before I pitched.
So it has the advantages listed about but what are the disadvantages to it?
The reason I call the bit about keeping the bottom of your tent dry into question is because we seemed to form puddles between our tent and the footprint and these obviously took hours to dry as there was no direct sunlight under there. I don't know if this is how we'd pitched it or if it's a common problem with the footprints but it's probably something you should be aware of. We used it 4 times and had the same problem on each occasion.
Although the bottom of your tent will (should) remain dry, it does mean you'll have a wet and muddy footprint to deal with but it's far smaller and easier to deal with than an 8 man tent. It's supposed to be easier to clean but to be honest I'm a bit lost when it comes to cleaning something that big as it's too heavy to be thrown over a washing line but if you lay it on the ground to clean one side then it just means putting the first side on the ground. Either way, I got myself into a tangle and it was sent back along with the tent in a rather sorry state! (This wasn't a fault with the footprint and certainly not a reason to send back but it was purchased as part of a package with the faulty tent and thus had to be returned).
The other thing you need to remember is that boot space when camping can be problematic and this is just another thing to squeeze into an already compact space. It may be small when you buy it and leave home but by the time you've used it and attempted to squeeze it back into the box you're looking at a little nightmare!
The footprint for the tigris is usually priced between £20 and £30 but can be cheaper if bought in a package with the tent.
Overall I'd still recommend getting one as despite the couple of problems and the bootspace, it's certainly easier to clean a sheet than the bottom of a giant tent! I really don't know if the puddles are a common occurance or it's our complete lack of camping skills coming to light or if it had something to do with a badly made tent but the warning is there. If you're camping, buy one!