Reader Q || Do I need a footprint for the High Route Tent?

I don’t recommend using a footprint with the High Route. When I leave the inner tent at home, I use a mylar blanket as a groundsheet.

A question from reader Caspar R:

I just bought your High Route Tent. Do you recommend using a footprint with it? If so, which one?

I generally do not recommend using a footprint with the Sierra Designs High Route Tent 1Fl. A custom-sized footprint for it is intentionally not available, and there are no plans to offer one.

The inner tent of the High Route features a waterproof floor made of medium-duty 30d nylon coated with silicone on one side and polyurethane (PU) on the other. It is rated to 3,000 mm hydrostatic head, which is nearly as waterproof as Cuben Fiber or premium sil/sil nylons used by cottage manufacturers like MLD. It should withstand extensive use before its loss of waterproofness becomes noticeable or problematic.

If you manage to wear out the floor, you have two options. (1) You can send it back to Sierra Designs for repair or replacement. (2) Or, you can supplement its waterproofness with an ultralight groundsheet made of mylar or polycryo (i.e. window shrink wrap).

When using the High Route Tent without its inner — which is my go-to configuration in Colorado for nearly the entire year — I carry a mylar blanket to protect my gear from groundwater, keep my gear out of the dirt, and help prevent air pad punctures. This summer I’ve been using the post-race blanket that was distributed to runners at the Boston Marathon in April. Mylar blankets are not created equal. If you go this route, purchase a blanket that is marketed as being more durable (e.g. thicker, double-sided) than a standard blanket, which will tear easily.

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Posted in on August 10, 2017


  1. Russ on August 31, 2017 at 10:20 am

    How do you deal with the mosquitoes without the Inner? I have the High Route but rely on the inner when it is so buggy.



    • Andrew Skurka on August 31, 2017 at 11:12 am

      When the bugs are bad, bring the inner. When they’re not, leave it at home. That may or may not be practical depending on where you live and when you backpack.

  2. Alan on September 12, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Andrew, have you used the F1 in very rocky areas a lot? I’ve used a MSR Nook 2 for many years now. I think around year 3 I developed several tears in the floor which is 40D nylon. I’m pitching on typical abrasive Sierra granite. I think the worst is when I’m camping on solid rock. Invariably there are small pebbles between the tent floor and the solid rock and those really do a number on the floor. Even though its extra weight and space… I now carry a footprint unless I KNOW I’ll be camping on more forgiving ground.

    • Andrew Skurka on September 13, 2017 at 6:03 am

      Yes, I’ve used it in rocky areas, but rarely with the inner. If you used the High Route as you have your Nook 2, I would expect similar results. Although you’ll struggle to pitch the High Route on granite slabs because it’s not free-standing.

  3. Mark on December 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for the info! I feel like I’m always opting for footprints when I’m not solo just in case. Question: Out of general curiosity, are there plans to update the High-Route at any point in the near future? (Different materials, colorways, functions, size changes, and so forth?). Also, do you ever cut/use Tyvek for potential groundsheets? I’ve not needed one with the HR1 as of yet, but was debating on checking out Tyvek.

    • Andrew Skurka on December 19, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      No updates until at least spring 2019.

      Rather than Tyvek, I just assume use window plastic, emergency blanket, or 2mm plastic trash compactor bag.

  4. Mark Ritchie on February 4, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Hi Andrew, Do you typically use a bivy when you are just using the outer tent (without its inner tent)? I currently have the High Route and am wondering if using the outer tent with just a polycro groundsheet, air pad and quilt will be sufficient? Or do you think adding a bivy to this setup is a good idea? I’ve never owned nor used a bivy, so I’m just trying to wrap my mind around the best possible setup when using just the outer tent. I’ve only used the tent with both the inner and outer up to this point. Thanks.

    • Andrew Skurka on February 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      You can use the High Route with its inner, with a bivy, or with just a groundsheet. I have done all three, and my exact choice depends on the conditions and the trip.

      If you have heavy bugs, or bugs all night long, the inner is best. In the Mountain West, the inner gets used for 2-4 weeks per year at most.

      If you have some bugs, need a little bit of extra warmth, and/or want to cowboy camp, the bivy works well. This is a pretty common setup for me.

      If there are no bugs and your sleeping bag is plenty warm, you can use just a groundsheet.

  5. Mark on February 5, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    As always, thanks Andrew for your quick reply and passing along your tips and suggestions. I’ve leaned heavily on your website and book over the last year or so. It’s been extremely helpful. Best.

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