What is a bathtub floor in a tent? Does it increase waterproofing? Do you need one?
Find out everything you need to know about a bathtub floor in this blog post.
A tent has a bathtub floor when the flooring extends up the sides of the tent walls.
A bathtub floor reduces the need for seams directly on the ground. This reduces the likelihood of water entering the tent through tent seams in heavy rain and flooding.
However, if the bathtub floor isn’t high enough, water can still enter the tent via back-splashing.
A bathtub floor is not an essential feature in a tent. As long as a tent is thoroughly seam taped, there will be no water leakage even in heavy rain and flooding.
Even if your tent has a bathtub floor, it’s still wise to use a groundsheet under your tent to minimize damage from sharp objects on the ground.
- Key Takeaways
- What is a Tent Bathtub Floor?
- How Does a Bathtub Floor Work?
- What are the Benefits Of a Bathtub Floor?
- What are the Downsides of a Bathtub Floors?
- What are Bathtub Floors Made Of?
- What Types of Tents have Bathtub Floors?
- Do You Need a Groundsheet With a Bathtub Floor Tent?
- Is a Tent Bathtub Floor Essential?
RELATED: Best Waterproof Tent
What is a Tent Bathtub Floor?
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A tent has a bathtub floor when the floor material extends up the sides of the tent walls. The height of the bathtub floor usually ranges between 5 to 15 inches for most tents.
This is what a tent’s bathtub floor looks like:
Because of the way that the floor extends up the walls, it sort of resembles a bathtub. This is why it’s called a bathtub floor. Others also call it a ‘tub floor’, or a ‘bathtub flooring’, etc.
How Does a Bathtub Floor Work?
The rationale behind having a bathtub floor is to have less seams on the ground.
Let me explain this to you.
Whenever 2 pieces of tent fabric are needed to be joined together, seams will be used to connect them together. So, when connecting the flooring to the walls of the tent, there will be seams in between these 2 components of the tent.
If a tent doesn’t have a bathtub floor, the seams connecting the tent floor and the tent walls will be at the very bottom of the tent. This is what it’ll look like:
However, if the tent has a bathtub floor, the flooring will extend up the edges of the tent for a few inches, and the seams connecting the floor and the walls will be a few inches off the ground.
This increases the waterproofed-ness of a tent, and that brings us to the next section on the benefits of a tub floor.
What are the Benefits Of a Bathtub Floor?
Having a bathtub floor has these benefits:
Increased dirt protection
With less seams at the very bottom of the tent, this prevents water ingress in the event of flooding.
Even there is a few inches of water pooling around your tent, as long as the bathtub feature is higher than the amount of flooding, there will be no leaks through the stitching on the floor, and no water will get into your tent.
Also, if your bathtub floor is high enough, any back-splashing from extremely heavy rain will not get into your tent. This reduces the likelihood of sand, dirt or grime getting into your tent, and making everything you have wet and dirty.
What are the Downsides of a Bathtub Floors?
As for the downsides of bathtub floors, the first and biggest one is that they can still leak if the bathtub feature isn’t high enough.
The best example of this that I always like to cite is my Hyke and Byke Zion 2.
This tent had the shortest bathtub floor I’ve ever seen in a tent, coming in at a mere 5 inches around the entire tent.
As such, during my extremely heavy rain test, there was a lot of back-splashing, where the raindrops hit the ground with such force that they bounced back up and splashed against my Zion tent.
And because the bathtub feature was not high enough, the raindrops bounced over the bathtub floor and got into my tent.
After a couple of hours in the heavy rain, my entire Zion tent was peppered with water droplets and small pieces of dirt and dust, and everything was wet.
One smaller downside is that a bathtub floor can add a few extra ounces of weight, as tent floors tend to have slightly heavier and hardier materials than tent walls.
This usually doesn’t bother me at all as I’m a car camper, but it may be something to take note of if you’re an ultralight backpacker.
Pro-Tip: As you can see, your tent having a bathtub floor doesn’t mean it won’t leak. Read this blog post here to find out if tents are waterproof.
What are Bathtub Floors Made Of?
So far, I’ve tested over 40 different tents in the last 4 years, all of them are polyester tents (I’ve not tested any nylon or canvas tents), and here are the 2 common materials I’ve noticed bathtub floors made of:
My less budget-friendly and more expensive tents tend to have bathtub floors that are of the same material as the tent walls – polyester.
However, while tent walls are normally made out of at most 75D polyester, bathtub floors can be made out of anywhere between 150D to 300D polyester. (Most tents come in at about 150D polyester though.)
And that’s because tent floors need to be much thicker than tent walls.
Tent floors are always subject to the weight of campers standing or lying on the floors, and they’re also in contact with the hard ground that sometimes may have sharp objects like rocks poking into the floors.
As for my more budget-friendly tents, such as Coleman, Core Equipment, and some tents from Decathlon, I’ve noticed that my bathtub floors are made of polyethylene instead.
This is a budget material, which is the same material as cheap tarps that you can find on Amazon, while the tent walls of such budget tents usually come in at 68D polyester.
What Types of Tents have Bathtub Floors?
There are 2 main types of tents with bathtub floors.
The first is just your regular traditional camping tents, and all the tents I’ve tested so far over the past 4 years fall into this category.
The bathtub floor of these regular camping tents is just one part of the tent, and is connected to the rest of the tent body.
There’s also another type of tent that has bathtub floors, and that’s a tarp tent.
These are not your regular car camping tents. Instead, they’re an ultralight minimalist option for backpackers, who erect a tarp as their main form of shelter, instead of having an entire tent.
Some brands, like OneTigris, sell separate bathtub floors to go along with the tarp shelter. These tub features aren’t a part of a tent, they’re standalone bathtub floors.
To find out what these standalone tub floors look like, you can check it out at OneTigris here.
Do You Need a Groundsheet With a Bathtub Floor Tent?
A bathtub floor and a groundsheet (this is also known as a ground tarp or a footprint) have entirely different purposes.
While a tent bathtub floor is meant to protect your tent from flooding and water back-splashing into your tent, a groundsheet or groundtarp underneath your tent is to protect your tent base from any sharp objects on the ground.
If there are any sharp twigs or rocks where you pitch your tent, it would poke a hole through your groundsheet, instead of the floor of your tent.
Also, I usually like to use a groundsheet or ground tarp because this minimizes the mud and grime at the base of my floor, and I don’t have to clean up so much. (Yes, I’m lazy and I like to reduce any cleaning as much as possible.)
Is a Tent Bathtub Floor Essential?
A bathtub floor is not an essential feature of a tent.
Of the 40+ camping tents that I’ve tested over the last 4 years, only about 50% of them have bathtub features.
In fact, some of my most expensive tents don’t even have tub floors, and these include the following tents:
The North Face Wawona 6
REI Wonderland 6
REI Base Camp 6
However, I found that each and every single one of these tents were able to withstand heavy rain and flooding without leaking, because the very thorough seam taping made up for the lack of a bathtub feature.
Check out these taped seams in my Wawona 6:
Here’s also a picture of the taped seams in the corners of my Wawona 6:
So, even though it was raining so heavily that the corner of my Wawona was sitting in a few inches of water, there was no leaking into my tent, at all, and none of my gear got wet:
The same goes with my other expensive tents, check out these neat seams on the Wonderland 6:
By the way, these expensive tents are some of the most waterproof camping tents I’ve ever tested, if you’re interested in reading up about how waterproof they are.
On the other hand, most of my Coleman tents come with waterproof bathtub floors, but they’re not quite so waterproof otherwise.
Also, when camping outdoors, please be reminded to pitch your tent on higher ground where there’s more water drainage, instead on lower ground. This reduces the likelihood of flooding and provides extra security during wet-weather camping. So, your tent won’t leak even if there’s no bathtub floor in your tent.