What is a Bathtub Floor Tent?

Last Updated on 17/11/2021

Bathtub Floor Tent

What is a Bathtub Floor Tent?

A Bathtub Floor Tent is a thicker, more waterproof floor that you will now find in most quality tents. The raised sides of the tent bathtub floor keep water from running into the tent and give you peace of mind if you’re sleeping on soft ground. Bathtub floors are extra weight to carry, though, as well as being less breathable. 

So just what is a bathtub floor? If you’re a keen camper, chances are you’ve been using a tent with a bathtub floor without even realizing it. Most tents now have a thicker, harder-wearing floor that comes up the side walls a few inches. You can even get insulated tents that have a bathtub floor.

Tent bathtub floors now come in all depths and weights. Traditionally, these were a replacement to the old groundsheet design. The higher sides of the bathtub floor prevented water splattering or runoff from the hills soaking you.

In fact, so many tents now come with either a full bathtub floor or a bathtub style floor that it’s unusual to find one that is flat-based. But what exactly is a bathtub floor and why are they so popular?

What Does Bathtub Floor Mean in a Tent?

A bathtub floor is a thicker, heavier-duty floor that comes a few inches up the side of your tent. The name comes from the fact that the floor section of the tent has the rough appearance of a bathtub or sandbox. This helps protect you from the elements that might get underneath the outer shell otherwise, even on fully enclosed blackout tents.

What are the Benefits of Tent Bathtub Floors?

There are loads of advantages of a bathtub floor tent over a traditional, flat-floored tent. The raised sides stop the wind from blowing in under the sides of your tent. It can also help to prevent sand from blowing in if you are beach camping, and will stop groundwater blowing in too.

The thicker floor gives you much better waterproof protection from the ground up. This means that if you are sleeping on really boggy ground, or a slight dip, you can still enjoy a dry night.

The thicker floor also helps to keep out insects and critters. Rodents can still chew through these floors, though, so food should be stored properly to avoid this.

What are the Downsides of Bathtub Floors in Tents?

In terms of actual use, there aren’t any negatives to having bathtub floors in tents. They are slightly less breathable. You’re likely only to notice this if you are camping somewhere really warm, otherwise, it won’t be an issue.

Bathtub floors are raised a few inches. Because of this, they can be a trip hazard. If you are walking in and out of a large tent, or if youngsters are running around campsites, it can be easy to trip over the bathtub entrance.

Getting water or sand out of a bathtub-style tent is a difficult task, especially while it’s pitched. Once you’ve taken your tent down, the best way to empty it can be to turn it inside out. A bathtub floor also weighs slightly more than a flat floor, though with a modern tent design this is negligible.

Making a Hole in a Bathtub Tent Floor

It might be tempting to make yourself a small hole in your floor to empty water and sand, especially if you’re going to be living in your tent for a long time. We advise strongly against this. Any hole in your bathtub floor will let water, sand, and rodents.

Instead, try using cloths and brushes to empty as much as possible. Avoid spills and dirt by leaving shoes in the porch of your tent and cooking and eating outside where possible.

Do You Need a Tarp With a Bathtub Floor Tent?

Usually, no. A strong tarp or groundsheet is useful if your bathtub-style floor is not quite as waterproof as it needs to be. It is worth checking the hydrostatic head rating and making your decision.

The hydrostatic head rating of a material is the measure of pressure necessary for water to pass through. We come onto this slightly in a moment, but basically, the groundsheet is put under more pressure by our weight as we sleep or sit in the tent. If your bathtub floor has a low hydrostatic head then consider a groundsheet.

Many trekking tents now come with a bathtub-style floor, but they are often very thin to save on weight. A groundsheet, many of which are tent-specific, can prevent small thorns and rocks from piercing the floor of your tent. It will also increase the lifespan of your tent and limit water seepage.

Why is the Bathtub Floor on a Tent Thicker Material than on the Outside?

Thicker material is usually more waterproof. It also tends to be more hardwearing to withstand sticks and rocks.

By increasing the thickness of a bathtub floor, you increase the hydrostatic head rating. This means that even with the pressure of you sleeping on the floor, it’s unlikely that water is going to seep through in the night and soak you from the ground up.


Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

  1. […] appropriately and give you enough ventilation to avoid condensation buildup. A tent with a bathtub floor will keep you dryer than one without, especially in long grass or wet […]

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