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Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up?
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Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/14/2009 10:38:19 MST Print View

I am seeing all of these packs and tarps made out of cuben fiber and I am wondering how well they really hold up. Do people who own these expect to be using them 5 years from now? Or should I just stick with my pack that weighs in the latter half of the under 1# range made out of nylon ripstop?

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/14/2009 17:30:18 MST Print View

I have several pieces of cuben gear. My oldest piece is my MLD Cuben Poncho Tarp and has seen plenty of use in the past 2 years. It is no longer a clean white color (sorta a beige/yellow), but it is completely in tact. I believe it is made of the 0.6 oz/yd.

My Z-packs blast is in perfect shape and I have literally beaten the stink out of it in the past year. Made of 1.5 oz/yd.

My MLD Cuben mid has been abused for the past year with big snow, nasty winds, and the odd downpour...still looking good except for one corner where I stupidy launched a big log into it and frayed the tieout.

I have the Refuge X but don't have enough use of it to give a long term report but I know BPL did a review of it. You'll have to check with them to see what weight the fabric is.

My 1.8 oz tarp made of 0.33 oz/yd has only been pitched a number of times so I really can't comment on the durability but I don't think it is a good option for nasty/exposed weather. Bill F has a few items made of it so maybe ask him.

All my cuben stuffsacks are working out great except for one that I keep my tent stakes in. They have worn a small hole in the bottom due to the tips. I still use it but small/skinny items can no longer go in there.

Of course, YMMV, but they are working very well for me.

Edited by Steve_Evans on 11/14/2009 17:31:39 MST.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Joes youtube fabric video on 11/14/2009 19:44:57 MST Print View

Have you seen this video:

I have a MLD Cuben Patrol shelter, but only have a few nights on it. I don't foresee any issues with Cuben versus Sil-nylon, but of course its too early to tell yet.

My Grace Solo tarps Spinntex fabric seems even thinner than the Cuben on my Patrol shelter.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Cuben Fiber on 11/14/2009 22:11:05 MST Print View

Yes but in the video he is comparing two different weights of fabric. I have no doubt that cuben fiber is more resistant to punctures but....

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Cuben Fiber on 11/15/2009 07:48:50 MST Print View

Regarding the video...

In the 2nd example it was obvious that one 'way' tore easier than the other - with the fibers.

In his 3rd example it looks like he was trying to tear it 'across' the lay of the fibers.

I believe that 1.5 is stronger. I'd just like to see a little better science and controls.

[And I'd really like to see a 'wear test' on some .60 on ground, needles, and rock and then do a leak test, al la bivy bottom or pack bottom. But I'm drifting here...]

I do have a Cuben Duomid that has seen gusts above a measured 35 mph that show no changes at tieout stitching locations.

Edited by greg23 on 11/15/2009 07:53:42 MST.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Cuben on 11/15/2009 13:22:07 MST Print View

Colin Ibbotson has I am pretty sure given up using cuben at the current time for Scottish conditions. However, there are a number of people using it in the same conditions. P{lus there are many happy cuben tarp users world wide.

I am waiting on Duomid to arrive here in NZ and ended up choosing Silnylon, as cuben for me was just too expensive for a 4oz weight saving and I was a bit uncertain about how well it would stand up to the strong winds we get.

Linda Vassallo

Locale: Eastbay
Re: Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/15/2009 13:30:23 MST Print View

Brett, My Cuben ZPack has held up well in it's first season. It is sturdy and has held up to some bushwhacking in thick thorny brush (no tears noted) and was used on two trips this summer. I did not "coddle" the pack on these trips, It was dropped, dragged, submersed without any damage noted. I expect it to last for some time.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/15/2009 16:54:16 MST Print View

Hi Brett,

I've had a bunch of Cuben stuff and have had great results with one exception:

Shelters and tarps- great results: My Refuge X held up great to serious storms. My two cuben tarps have been great. No problems here at all, but I also seal the stitches (those are the weak points)

Stuff sacks- good results: I have stuff sacks from 3 different companies. All have been fine. But you have to watch the sharp objects- Cuben is not very puncture resistant. Still, these have been fine compared to silnylon bags and more durable than spinnaker.

Packs: good results: I have a first gen MLD cuben Revolution. Great pack- LOVE it. But when bushwacking I put a couple small holes in it. Easy to fix but again, abrasion is not Cuben's friend. My Zpacks bag is much thicker Cuben and it's really, really tough. Far more durable than silnylon.

Overall, I've been very impressed with Cuben fabrics. Non-abrasion situations are where it is the best- especially shelters. In packs it is great in non-bushwacks and in the heavier versions, I think you're good most anywhere. In ground sheets, it will have less longevity. Great in stuff sacks.

Other benefits over silnylon or spinnaker- Cuben stretches far less, high tensile strength, and of course wicked light. Seal the seams for strength and treat with reasonable caution and you're good to go!

Hope that helps- I love the stuff!


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 11/15/2009 20:34:49 MST Print View

An option with cuben packs is to put a durable pack cover on if you've got some serious backwacking planned. In my mind, it makes sense to buy a lighter cuben pack and then add a durable cover if needed, rather than buy a heavier pack which gives you no flexibility is this regard. Because cuben is waterproof, you can seam seal it and then go really light most of the time and still add a durable cover if needed.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
"Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up?" on 11/16/2009 07:00:35 MST Print View

What are you guys using as seam sealer on cuben? Does the sealer actually make sewn points stronger and more durable?

I've got a small 0.6 weight cuben cat tarp that Joe Valesko made me. I haven't had any problems yet at any of the sewn seams, but if adding a little bit of sealer at the tie out seams will extend the life of the tarp, I think that's a fair trade off for whatever little bit of weight it adds.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: "Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up?" on 11/16/2009 07:21:14 MST Print View

"What are you guys using as seam sealer on cuben? Does the sealer actually make sewn points stronger and more durable?"

Ron Bell recommended undiluted Seam Grip on the more recent cuben items I've purchased from him. So my Revelations(both Spinntex and Spectralite) and DuoMid seams are coated with the full strength stuff. The only piece of gear I haven't done, yet, is my Spectralite Grace Solo. So far I've had no problems, and I use the Revelation for almost all my treks.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: "Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up?" on 11/16/2009 07:47:38 MST Print View

I diluted Seam Grip with mineral spirits when I did my Cuben Revelation, and Cuben Patrol. Makes it much easier to apply, IMHO, anyway.
I always apply seam grip to to bar-tacks and major stress points , on all of my gear, mainly packs and tarps.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: "Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up?" on 11/16/2009 07:50:02 MST Print View

Thanks guys. Sounds like seam grip is the ticket.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Silnet or GE silicone for Silnlyon on 11/16/2009 09:04:50 MST Print View

Note, most of my tarps required using silicone based sealers, being they were silnylon. Anything that's silicone impregnated will require a silicone based sealer. For PU coated gear, and other non-Sil gear, only use Seamgrip.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
current on 11/16/2009 22:21:51 MST Print View

My current pack is made out of 1.9oz PU coated ripstop and 330 Cordura. Cuben Fiber would still be better?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 11/16/2009 23:09:24 MST Print View


Edited by dandydan on 11/29/2009 11:06:16 MST.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Re: Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/24/2009 20:18:49 MST Print View

My MLD Grace Solo Tarp made out of Cuben Fiber that I bought in January of 2008 is still going strong and I just finished thru-hiking the PCT with it last month. I see no reason why I would replace it anytime soon.

Now the cuben-fiber stuff sacks that I used as a food bag did have some issues toward the end of my PCT journey. The fiber started to unravel in one place on the bag. My understanding is that Cuben Fiber isn't very abrasion resistant. Probably got snagged to many times by the handle of my long handle spoon being shoved in it while it was full of food. But the bag is still usable.

Edited by Miner on 11/29/2009 13:22:20 MST.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/29/2009 01:13:49 MST Print View

I've got a cuben MLD Patrol, no signs of wear after approx 18 months and probably approaching 100 nights of use. Cuben is really well suited to shelters, it's very strong and there isn't any abrasion wear to worry about. IMO, durability shouldn't be a factor when using it for a shelter, as long as it's been properly constructed and reinforced where it's been shown (eg MLD).

I would definitely expect to be using it in 5 years.

I also have a cuben-bottomed MLD Soul bivy, and I was a bit more unsure about how it would last: but it's still going strong after having used it every night with the Patrol. I generally have a foam pad under at least the torso (outside the bivy), and I don't sleep on rocks though.

Cuben stuff sacks, no signs of wear, no reason to think these won't last for years.

I haven't used a cuben pack, but packs get a lot of wear compared to a tarp etc. My MLD Zip is a mixture of silnylon + dyneema + mesh, and I've beaten it almost to death in under 2 years of intermittent use, so a cuben pack would have died even quicker. But even a full dyneema pack wouldn't last 5 years of constant bushwhacking.

So, short answer, tarps, stuff sacks and maybe even bivys made from cuben: yes they hold up very well. Packs much less so, too much abrasion.

*edit: to be fair, I did a lot of off-trail with the Zip, which was pretty tough on it*

Edited by adrianb on 11/29/2009 01:16:42 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/29/2009 12:08:02 MST Print View

My Refuge-X had a tie-out fail under less than gale conditions, but it was clear to me this was due to poor design/sewing rather than the fabric itself. I have reinforced the tie-out points and haven't had any further problems, but I am pretty wary now of taking the refuge-x if I can't be certain of high winds. MLD cuben poncho is holding up really well, but it has less stress points than a Refuge-X, and appears to be made of heavier cuben.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Are cuben fiber packs and tarps holding up? on 11/29/2009 13:18:45 MST Print View

"My Refuge-X had a tie-out fail under less than gale conditions, but it was clear to me this was due to poor design/sewing rather than the fabric itself." From my research this definitely seems to be where the issue lies. I also think it is likely that different designs e.g flat tarp vs a mid may put different levels of stress on certain areas. The main reason I didn't get a cuben Duomid was cost.