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sewing with spinnaker
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Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
sewing with spinnaker on 10/01/2005 16:26:06 MDT Print View

time to make a new family tent. for those here who don't know my story from other forums, a quick rundown: i'm a mom to a 3.5 year old and a 3-month-old. yup, we take them backpacking. we live in s. CA and tend to do high country in summer, deserts in winter. just over 2 years ago i sewed a rough copy of the Kifaru 4-person tipi. i made it with silnylon. 2 years later i'm a much better seamstress and i have also seen the genius of Titanium Goat's tipi design. i'm planning out my own version with a few changes, and i'd like to make it as light as possible without worrying about my babies' safety every time the wind starts to roar at night.

i'm looking for input on spinnaker fabric and maybe even this nano-tarp/cuben stuff that i know nothing about. if the cuben stuff is all transparent like in Bill Fornshell's pictures, then i'll have to rule it out - no transparent tents for us.

is spinnaker working out pretty well for tents & shelters? is it suitable for the sort of single-pole cone structure i'll be making? what is it like to sew? i have a gossamer gear spinnaker groundsheet; does the fabric stay that crinkly and noisy forever?

the weight savings over silnylon are tempting, but this my family we're talking about. thanks a million times over for any input that y'all can give me.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
UL Tipi on 10/01/2005 18:15:13 MDT Print View


Making a Tipi huh, sounds like fun! I’m not familiar with the Titanium Goat's Tipi design, if you get a chance could you attach a link.

As far as materials I would recommend Thru-hiker at:

They carry different lightweight / waterproof sil-nylons and spin-tex materials. The customer service dept. is helpful and the prices are fair.

I would recommend the 0.8oz. SpinnTex its lighter then the 1.1oz. Sil-Nylon and stronger then SpinnTex 0.7 oz.

The down side is SpinnTex cost around $16 a yard compared to $5 for Sil-Nylon.
If durability is your most important feature stay with Sil-Nylon.

My experience with Cuban Fiber Corp. hasn’t been so positive and has required more patience. Perhaps it had something to do with the quantity of material I’ve was purchasing or the fact I wasn’t using it for sailing.

Also Cuban fabric is also more translucent the SpinnTex.

Anyways there’s a few ideas to kick around, Best of luck with your project.


Tipi on 10/02/2005 06:56:41 MDT Print View

Here are the links to the two lightweight tipi manufacturrs that I know about.


AK Hiker
(akhiker) - F
Tipi on 10/02/2005 12:39:54 MDT Print View

Do you have any pictures of the tipi? I am really interested in making one. It does not seem too complicated either.

As fair as spinnaker goes, I have no experience but will be ordering some in the next week and sewing something up in December.


Tipi on 10/02/2005 19:34:59 MDT Print View

Here is a picture of the tipi and the stove.

Tipi on 10/02/2005 19:36:04 MDT Print View

Here is a picture of the tipi and the stove.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: sewing with spinnaker on 10/02/2005 20:04:01 MDT Print View

Don't overlook the GoLite Hex as a template. It's proven in windy conditions.

IMHO the neatest teepee designs ever were the Moss Superflys. Very strong, but so dramatically curved they impinged on interior space. I'd love to try the Ti Goats to see how close they come to the Moss designs.

Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
Re: Re: sewing with spinnaker on 10/02/2005 23:07:40 MDT Print View

i've never used a Superfly. i do own a TiGoat Vertex 5 (i tested it for, but it's a 2-person tent and although we can fit 2 adults & 2 small children inside it starts getting tight, and hubby and i can't sleep on the same side of the pole (and therefore cannot share a 2-person quilt).

based on what i have seen of the SuperFly the TiGoat is constructed very differently. The SuperFly has more in common with Kifaru's tipis, save the integrated floor and the windows. it is constructed with triangular panels which all converge at the peak. the TiGoat is made like a traditional tipi - straight strips sewn into a half-circle and then rolled into a cone. not nearly as much flare as the SuperFly walls.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: sewing with spinnaker on 10/03/2005 17:41:16 MDT Print View


My 2Cents is that the .8 thru-hike,com spinnaker / Spinntex (.97 oz sq/yd) is the best all around out spinnker and proven lightweight tarp / tent material avialble and that's why I use it.

However, making something as large as the tipi you are envisioning is definatly stretching the limits light spinnaker fabric's potential.

I suggest sticking to the 1.35 silnylon. Acye at thru-hiker should have some nice silnylon that would be around 1.25 oz/sq/yd or so.


Colleen Clemens
(tarbubble) - F

Locale: dirtville, CA
Re: sewing with spinnaker on 10/10/2005 10:32:58 MDT Print View

thanks to everybody for your input. i am going to stick with good ol' silnylon (or possibly even DWR nylon, which would work well for a tent like this), mainly because of cost. this tent will take a substantial amount of fabric. i'll revisit spinnaker in a few years when we feel like our kids are ready to be under a tarp (right now, the oldest would just wander off into the woods and get lost).

as far as sharing plans, please don't take this the wrong way but i don't feel right about helping somebody else do a knockoff. if it was my own design i'd happily share, but i feel i'd be on ethical thin ice with somebody else's hard work. that siad, it's not at all difficult to figure out from looking at pictures and doing some very simple math. for conical/pyramid tents, it's all about A squared plus B squared equals C squared.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: sewing with spinnaker on 10/12/2005 12:41:42 MDT Print View


The silicone coating adds tear strength over uncoated, dwr, or urethane coatings. Pretty much
doubles it or more.

There are a couple of different kinds of nylon
with type 66 being the strongest and the kind
used in the standard 1.35 oz silicone nylon
parachute cloth. I do not know what spinnaker
fabrics nylon is of.

Usable space is another consideration. A rectangle
shape or trapazoid shaped base will provide more space with less weight than a circle.

I've used a pyramid in Eastern Oregon winter winds
that stayed up when a NorthFace dome tent collapsed with broken poles and one hiker was
blown away while in a another small dome tent. If the stakes are in well, a mid should hold up. I have used rocks as big as you can carry, pitons, ice screws as well as building wind breaks around the bottom out of snow when in extreme conditions.

Height of a pyramid or tepee will have an effect on
wind load but also snow load as a taller shelter will
shed snow as well as condensation on the inside better (it tends to roll down the fabric rather than
dripping off onto the users).

Zippers are usually the weak spot on tents, so if
your design can eliminate them thats better.

Cat cut is key to a tight mid.