Alternative to Tent Carpet – Is There Any

Camping is all about getting away from things and enjoying nature how you want to enjoy it. Spending some time in the woods is, for many people, one of the most liberating feelings there is. And while camping in nature can make anyone feel like the most rugged outdoorsman, it doesn’t hurt to make your forest shelter feel a bit more like home. A great way to do this is by adding a tent carpet to your inventory list.

A tent carpet helps protect the groundsheet of your tent from damage and eliminates the annoying crunchy sound. Tent carpets may come with a specific tent model as an accessory. They add to the overall comfort and style, making the tent look more like a small apartment than a temporary shelter in the wilderness. Not to mention having a carpet makes cleaning out the tent easier.

But is it necessary? Is there any alternative to tent carpet?

Possible substitutions include all kinds of blankets and rugs. The hardcore traditionalists prefer to line their tent’s floor with army wool blankets, picnic blankets, tarps. Pretty much anything you can fold to pack and unfold to cover the tent floor for a bit of insulation and protection.

Read on this article if you want to learn more about tent carpets and their alternatives.

Benefits Of a Tent Carpet

Comfort

The first reason to buy a tent carpet that comes to mind is the comfortable feel of a home. Imagine camping in the forest or on a mountainside, yet when you wake up, the first barefoot step you take is on a soft, warm carpet. Yeah, very homely. Unlike the tent carpet, the basic groundsheet provides little luxury. Typically, it is just a rugged sheet of plastic.

A carpet on top of it can help smooth out any lumps from the terrain underneath while increasing the floor’s insulation multifold. Add to that the extra degree of waterproofing and water resistance that many carpets come with, and you have an extraordinarily comfortable living space on the move.

Insulation

Even the best tents and the best footprints offer far less insulation than a carpet. It might surprise you that most of the warmth in a tent leaks out into the cold ground. A tent rug prevents more heat from escaping through the groundsheet. Some are even made with special thermal treatment and offer an increased insulation property. The specifications usually go with the rug. 

Insulated tent

Protection Against Groundsheet Damage

We can all get clumsy. It happens to everybody, all the time. But dropping a knife or something similarly sharp can leave you with the horrible realization that you’ve just punched a hole in the thin groundsheet of your tent. Most modern tents are made of a particular fabric that is hard to find and even harder to repair. The truth is, once you’ve punctured your tent’s material, you are likely going to have to live with it or replace it.

Piercing a thicker, rugged carpet is not as easy. And even if it happens, the damage can be fixed or overlooked since it doesn’t impact the carpet’s performance. All in all, this may not be an essential plus side of your tent carpet, but if it saves your tent from damage just once, it’s already worth it.

Silence Instead of Raspy Shuffling

Not many people enjoy the sound of walking on plastic. The groundsheet can be loud and irritating to walk on or even move on. Additionally, you’ll probably wake whoever’s inside when you move in the middle of the night. Some people don’t mind it, but the silence of stepping on a carpet is a step up when it comes to comfort. 

Style

Some scoff campers scoff at style, and many don’t. Most campers aren’t interested in class when they spend their holidays sleeping in a tent, away from society. But some people like to be fashionable and keep their colors in check, even if the only witnesses are owls and squirrels. And nobody can deny that a little extra flavor doesn’t feel good.

The Downsides of a Tent Carpet

Not for Backpackers

Anyone who’s ever gone backpacking will tell you that there can never be too much room to pack everything you need. If you are going on a several-day-long trip, you need to bring your tent, food, water, and all the other supplies you will need when you reach your campsite. Of course, lugging a massive carpet on top of that is nothing but a major inconvenience. All the benefits of a tent carpet are not worth it if you have to carry it on your back for days while hiking. Therefore, a tent carpet is only really worth it for easy camping trips in the car.

Hard to Clean

While it’s not too much of a bother to wash a tent carpet, you can’t just pop them in the washing machine. The rug has to be vacuumed of any loose dirt and then cleaned. And washing it by hand is a strenuous task. If you use it often, you will probably need carpet shampoo machine to make the process easier. If you don’t have access to such a machine, spread out the rug on a flat surface to start hand-washing it. Get some sort of carpet cleaning liquid in a bowl and use it to scrub the carpet with a piece of cloth or sponge. When done, extend the rug over a fence to dry out. 

For this method, a garden hose is also necessary unless you want to spend all day doing it. A pressurized water gun and sponging with the carpet cleaning solution is ideal. Of course, there’s always the option to hire professional cleaners, but that is pricey, mainly if you use the carpet often. That brings us to what is probably the biggest con for the tent carpet – the prices.

The Cost

Tent carpets are surprisingly expensive – the cheapest start at around $25. You could get a tent for that. But that’s not all. To get some of the best carpets out there, you can expect to shell out up to $200. Now that’s 12-person tent money. The prices are so high that they outweigh all of the benefits for many campers. Some old-school campers insist that the designated tent carpet is an expensive gimmick and swear on cheap alternatives. 

“I’m reluctant to buy a carpet that costs just a little less than my tent,” one camper wrote on a forum. Another one quipped how camping “went ahead without carpets for decades before the ‘glampers’ came.”

In the camping slang, “glampers” essentially refers to people seeking their home’s comfort on their outdoor adventures. With such steep prices, no wonder so many people would rather have a plain groundsheet for their floor when on an adventure. But with all the benefits a tent carpet has, it’s also no wonder that many people look for cheaper alternatives.

Viable, Affordable Alternatives to a Tent Carpet

There are uncountable substitutions for the expensive branded tent carpets. While these alternatives don’t offer all of the benefits to the full extent, they still do an excellent job for a fraction of the cost.

Some of the alternatives to tent carpet are:

  • Picnic Blankets are very cheap, and you can easily sew them together to cover more extensive tent floors. You can clean picnic blankets in the washing machine as long as you can stuff them in. But even if you sew too many together so the makeshift rug can’t fit, you can wash it by hand with little effort hassle. Some higher-grade picnic blankets are also waterproof and water-resistant.
  • People also commonly use awning mats because they are easily washable with a pressure washer. Any dried dirt you can brush off. 
  • Army-style woolen blankets are soft and warm to walk on and have the best insulation properties. They are also machine washable, although getting mud and dry leaves before washing can be bothersome. 

Fixing a Makeshift Carpet in Place

Unlike all these replacements, the standard tent carpets often come with a layer of anti-slip rubber on the bottom. That is good for keeping your rug in place and avoiding the hazard of tumbling. 

On the other hand, woolen and picnic blankets are not easy to keep in place when walking on them. Even the rougher awning mats tend to move around. 

Despite that, by the time you’ve placed your camping gear down on top, there will be less movement. If you’re still not satisfied, you can get anti-slip rubber sheets and sew them on or place them underneath. 

So, is there an Alternative? Yes, if You Want One

A tent carpet is a great way to improve both your tent’s aesthetics and functionality. However, if you only spend the odd summer night in your tent, it may be more worth it to find a cheaper alternative that suits your needs. You can even make your own tent carpet! But, if you want to have the best-suited carpet for your tent, you will need to invest in a more expensive, brand-made tent carpet.

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