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Cuben Tent Question?
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Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Cuben Tent Question? on 12/09/2009 19:55:55 MST Print View

Hey Everyone,

I have been thinking about Cuben tents lately and want to see if I am on par with everyone else.

Would you prefer a freestanding or trekking pole design?

Freestanding tent: 1.5-2 lbs
Trekking pole design: 1 lb

Edited by Mountainfitter on 12/09/2009 20:06:22 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Trekking Poles on 12/09/2009 20:42:35 MST Print View

Trekking poles for sure. I really like the basic design/pole layout of SMD's new Vamp tent because it provides good headroom.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Cuben Tent Question on 12/09/2009 20:53:14 MST Print View

+1 what Dan said.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: Cuben Tent Question on 12/09/2009 21:23:55 MST Print View

I'd really like to see a cuben tunnel tent similar to the TT Cloudburst or Stephenson Warmlite. It'd shed wind really well, and with carbon fiber poles should be pretty light.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
FREESTANDING on 12/09/2009 22:05:00 MST Print View

Having owned a Contrail, and liked its design, I must confess that I like my TT Moment even better. That's why I sold my Contrail.

And yes, I did get the crossing pole so I could make the Moment freestanding on sea kayak trips where I had to camp on rocks. But for backpacking I'd never carry that extra weight.

However I'm not totally enamored of hiking poles for support if they block the entrance, even partially. That said I do feel the design of "hiking pole tents" is far from fully developed. IMHO I'd say that incorportating the use of TWO hiking poles will be part of the most successful design in the future.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Vamp on 12/09/2009 22:08:17 MST Print View

Eric...have you seen SMD's new Vamp? I'm really liking their trekking pole layout b/c it doesn't block the doors and it uses two poles to provide ample headroom and avoid having a pole in the center of your tent. A two person version of this (coming soon) should be perfect for my needs. I believe cuben versions are planned.

Edited by dandydan on 12/09/2009 22:10:21 MST.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Re: Cuben Tent Question? on 12/09/2009 22:08:20 MST Print View

Trekking pole design = reduced weight
Tent pole design = strength

I guess it would depend on the application and how big your wallet was.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Cuben Tent Question on 12/10/2009 01:00:45 MST Print View

None of us have done this because a tunnel design often relies on the elasticity of the fabric. Cuban has none.
And the seams would have to be really within 1 mm or it would be sloppy.


Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Re: Re: Re: Cuben Tent Question on 12/10/2009 08:15:14 MST Print View

I agree...

The Cuben would probably have to be cut on a some kind of CNC machine and have to be made with the up most precision. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to get a drum tight fit and as Roger said the seams would be sloppy. I wonder how a Cuben tent would hold up to a snow load since is a static material.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Cuben Tent Question on 12/10/2009 10:36:33 MST Print View

Also agree with Roger, not to mention I don't think current CF poles are adequate for use in a tight curved pole design such as a Cloudburst...I would want aluminium for that kind of design, or Roger's groovy CF pole design ;)

I do wonder if elasticity could be engineered by the use of bungy cords on the tent peg points and guylines??? But cutting and assembling a cuben tunnel tent would be the most technical bit. But they do it with sails, so it must be do-able.

Edited by retropump on 12/10/2009 10:39:38 MST.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Re: Re: Re: Cuben Tent Question on 12/10/2009 12:04:10 MST Print View

"None of us have done this because a tunnel design often relies on the elasticity of the fabric. Cuban has none.
And the seams would have to be really within 1 mm or it would be sloppy."

Well that's disappointing news. I'm glad you mentioned that issue before I tried making a cuben tunnel tent!

Edited by Hiker816 on 12/10/2009 12:04:54 MST.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Cuben Tent Question on 12/10/2009 12:58:34 MST Print View

I would go with a trekking pole design. If the hiker uses poles, they will be much stronger than typical poles. If trekking poles aren't used, they could still be carbon fiber poles. Carbon fiber is strongest when used in this manner. A design that puts stresses along the middle of a pole almost necessitates the use of aluminum poles.

As far as general tent design is concerned, I like the idea of a double walled tent with Cuben on the bottom sides and mesh on top (along with a Cuben rain fly). The Luxe X-Rocket ( has this design, but I think other, similar designs make sense. Two folks made very similar tents without trying to copy the X-Rocket:

Scott made a very interesting double walled tent as well:
The design could easily be tweaked a bit to use trekking poles (have two poles on either side). You can see it wouldn't take much to modify these designs to get various levels of coverage and ventilation (have more mesh on top, make it with a tiny cap of a rain fly, etc.).

Robert Spencer
(bspencer) - MLife

Locale: Sierras of CA
Cuben Tent Question? on 12/10/2009 22:50:22 MST Print View

I prefer shelter designs that use trekking poles as well. I would even like to see a cuben shelter made for two people that incorporates all 4 trekking poles somehow.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 12/10/2009 23:03:05 MST Print View

Using 4 poles for a 2 person setup might be neat, but it would require that you buy extra poles if you ever want to use it with one person.

I've got high hopes for SMD's new Haven double wall tent which is planned to be available in cuben.

Edited by dandydan on 12/10/2009 23:04:08 MST.

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Re: Cuben on 12/11/2009 09:20:41 MST Print View

I like the idea of trekking poles used in a tents design because then your not stuck carrying extra gear but trekking poles severely limit the tents design. What about a tent that incorporated both tent poles and trekking poles?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Both on 12/11/2009 10:05:35 MST Print View

Using both could work well. I have nothing against this if the use of tent poles significantly improves the function of the tent beyond what can be accomplished with just trekking poles.

Carbon fibre tent poles might add significantly to the cost of the tent though.....and not using CF poles wouldn't really make sense if the buyer is already paying the premium for cuben.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Cuben Tunnel Tent Design Ideas on 12/19/2009 20:11:43 MST Print View

> None of us have done this because a tunnel design often relies on the elasticity of the fabric

This is certainly true with existing designs, but what if we step outside the box. Can a tunnel tent be engineered to use a non-elastic fabric that also doesn't have to be cut and sewn to high precision? This is the question I have been pondering this month. It would require that the needed elasticity be built into other parts of the tent design.

Here are a couple "out of the box" ideas that I throw out for the brilliant tent makers in these forums to think about. The ideas are not specific to tunnel tents and may lead to easier use of Cuben in other tent designs.

1. Mix elastic and non-elastic panels in the design with the majority of the tent fabric being Cuben, but critical areas prone to slack have elastic panels in them to help absorb the imperfections. Lynn hit on a variation on this idea which is use of elastic in stake loops and guys. These tie points can take out some but not all of the slop, because the poles form fixed points in the tent design. This leads to a second idea.

2. Allow the poles to slightly change length to make up for small differences in sewing of the tent body. Imagine that we have a tunnel of non-elastic fabric. And the pole hoops could expand (a bit) to pull the fabric tight despite small differences in the dimensions of the fabric. This would require the creation of longer, spring loaded joiners between CF poles that would allow the diameter of the hoop to be elastic rather than the fabric. I have begun to sketch up how to build such joiners that are still lightweight.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Either/Or on 12/19/2009 22:02:29 MST Print View

Agree that there is no reason why a trekking pole supported tent could not be freestanding with other poles added.
A not so good example wold be the old Dana Designs Javelina with an end-to-end carbon fiber pole like the TarpTent Moment to make it freestanding. But I'm sure you can do better than that.

Some other pluses to look for:
-Tent pitchable in downpour without flooding floor.
-Access & egress in downpour without flooding floor
-Sit up from lying position without head hitting canopy
-Venting at head, foot and overhead
-Single wall: netting at head,foot & sides to keep gear dry
-Poles attach easily-no need to crawl under canopy/thread
-Covered storage that does not obstruct access/egress
-Light materials not outweighed by need for many metal pegs
-Will not collapse if pegs pop out
-Access/egress without contortions
-Well vented covered area outside floor for cooking
-Covered area outside floor to don/remove wet raingear
-Enough taut slope on walls to shed snow, heavy rain
-Not so much slope on walls as to fail to shed wind
-Structure stable enough to not buckle in wind/break poles
-All poles/struts come out for storage when tent is struck.
Anything else?

Not so sure trekking poles alone can address most of the above. But TarpTent has shown that hiking poles at one end, and a hoop at the other is a workable design.

Roger, couldn't the less stretchable (diagonally to the warp and weave) fabrics be used in tunnel tents if a catenary-like seam is added at just the right point on the canopy?

"Designing tents is a form of insanity;" Jack Stephenson
Sam Farrington, Chocorua NH

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

cuben tent on 12/19/2009 22:20:53 MST Print View

Hey Al,

(It seems to work! (edited)) I have been working on a tunnel tent prototype using a pretty heavyweight sail laminate that has absolutely no stretch. I still have alot of details to iron out but I used silnylon sleeves which help to keep the precision down but give the tent some added stretch. Some of you might know this, but those of you who don't; alot of European tents makers like Vaude use shock cord for their stake loops which in my opinion help to keep the tent a little more "dynamic".

I would love to rebuild the prototype out a lightweight Cuben but at the end of the day were talking one really expensive tent.

Sam- Nice List. In your opinion which tent design best matches the list?

Edited by Mountainfitter on 12/20/2009 08:11:15 MST.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: cuben tent on 12/20/2009 07:40:17 MST Print View

> It works!

Hi Lawson,
I'm happy to hear the ideas work and that you've already experimented with a prototype. Once folks know that it works, it is inevitable that Cuben versions will be made.

Thanks for the confirmation.