MLD Tarps
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Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 09:02:19 MDT Print View

I was looking on MLD's website and noticed the Cuben Fiber Tarp is less money then the SpinnTex EXP Tarp and it's half the weight. Being completely ignorant of tarps, can someone explain this to me? Is the CF a weaker material or just easier to manufacturer? Recommendations?

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
MLD Size on 03/31/2010 09:40:46 MDT Print View

Peter, check the size. The Cuben Solo is made of one piece of fabric 56" wide.
The Solo SpinTex is wider. 84" wide in the front 60" wide in the rear. The Cuben is 56" in the front, 48" in the rear. More material is used to make the SpinTex.

Note that the larger Cuben Tarp uses more material. It needs a seam in the middle to get the width.

In other words, cuben comes in 56" width and the Spin probably 60", to get a tarp wider more yardage is needed. Material is sold by the yard, so to get a cuben tarp wider than 56" or a SpinTex wider than 60", one would need double the yardage. With the SpinTex, 3 yards gets you a nine foot long tarp 60" wide, but to make the tarp 120" wide ( or 84") you need 6 yards. Cut the 6 yards at the three yard mark, ie. in half, join the two pieces along their length and you get a rectangle 9x10. Take a yard off the side (18" off each side) to make it 9 x 7, but you needed to buy the extra long original piece (6 yds.) to make it work.

To make that small cuben tarp on my own I would need 4 yds. The extra yardage would be to cut out reinforcement sections for the tie-outs. Then I would need glue to fasten them, webbing, and gromets. Cuben retails for $30/yd., so there is $120 just in cuben before shipping charges. Suddenly I am only saving $29 at most from buying one better made at MLD!

Edited by rambler on 03/31/2010 10:06:49 MDT.

Peter Longobardi
(paintplongo) - F

Locale: Hopefully on the Trail
Thanks on 03/31/2010 10:02:00 MDT Print View

Excellent Response. I'd rather have a fuller coverage, but having never used one, I guess I don't know. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
go with larger tarp on 03/31/2010 10:36:29 MDT Print View

Peter, I think you would find the Grace DUO Spintex has platy of coverage for you and your gear. I like SpinTex over silnylon beacuse it does not stretch as much, holding a tauter pitch. For more coverage, look at the MLD's Solo Mid and other "Mids". For two people, I use the MLD Trail Star which has plenty of room for two and gear, but does take up more space with its shape and tie-outs.

The Gossmer Gear SpinnTwinn is very similar to the MLD Grace Duo, and look also at the SpinnShelter which I like because of the "storm flaps" or door-like options at both ends.

A nice option for bug season and a more tent-like is the Six Moon Designs, Wild Oasis.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
tarps on 03/31/2010 10:54:20 MDT Print View

"go with larger tarp"

+1

If you have never used a tarp before I would start with a larger tarp like an 8x10 rectangle tarp, the MLD Grace Duo or Gossamer Gear Spinntwinn. Also, if you haven't used a tarp before I would start out with a silnylon or spintex tarp as a opposed to a cuben tarp. Once you get a feel for your comfort level and your skills increase, you could then "upgrade" to a lighter and smaller cuben tarp. The Grace Duo and Spinntwinn are both very popular tarps and you couldn't go wrong with either. Many people recommend an 8x10 silnylon tarp for a first tarp to get the hang of it and make sure you enjoy using a tarp instead of a more standard shelter. You can get one of these for almost have the price of the MLD or GG tarp.

If you posted some more info on where you might be using it and the type of weather you expect to encounter we might be able to suggest some other shelter/tarp options too.

Edited by trevor83 on 03/31/2010 10:55:26 MDT.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
tarps on 03/31/2010 11:16:43 MDT Print View

I forgot to mention - I have a GG Spinntwinn and would highly recommend it. I have heard equally great things about the MLD Grace DUO Spintex as well. I don't think you could go wrong with either. They are a palace for one person. If you need bug protection, a bug shelter/bivy from MLD or Alpinlite would be everything you need for a large, bug proof shelter system.

James Patsalides
(james@patsalides.com) - MLife

Locale: New England
MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 11:23:45 MDT Print View

+1 on the larger tarp to start. I have a GG SpinTwinn and I think it is a perfect SUL starter tarp. Light (only 9oz for a great size dual tarp), wasy to use (line locks, grommets, shape), great construction, and really palatial size for one and a good size for two. I use my SpinnTwinn all the time for group backpacking or if I have more "stuff" to put under cover at night. I added a tiny home made (MYOG) cuben fiber tarp for solo trips, or if I'm feeling really minimalist!

I think the advice here is sound - don't jump straight to cuben as your first time tarp user, it has some interesting "challenges". Start with spintex or something like it, then adjust as you gain more experience and can make the right trade offs for your personal style & needs. Just my 2cs.

Good luck!

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 11:28:27 MDT Print View

Hmm....my first tarp usage was Cuben. What are the challenges with using it that I apparently missed?

James Patsalides
(james@patsalides.com) - MLife

Locale: New England
MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 11:44:11 MDT Print View

Wow, Chris. Great question...

I guess there are two major issues I can think of:

1. Cuben is very expensive, a beginner will probably want a larger surface area tarp vs a smaller surface area, so that you can build your expertise and make more informed choices over time, this is especially true if you're not 100% certain that you're going to stick with tarp camping.

2. Secondly, there are acknowledged "health care" issues with cuben - cuben is prone to punctures versus tearing so, for example, you need to be extra careful with how you stuff your cuben tarp in your pack vs a tougher spinntex tarp. I typically use my Spinntwin as a kind of big stuff sack in my backpack with my bivy & quilt inside it, I don't use my cuben tarp in the same way - I fold it carefully and put it in a little tyvek envelope to protect it from puncture in my pack.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the challenges I was referring to. Glad you were able to leap right to cuben, I am not convinced it is good general advice to suggest people do that unless they have their eyes open to the issues.

Cheers, James.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 11:52:06 MDT Print View

I agree 100% with the expense issue. My first cuben purchase was a Grace Duo so sizing isn't/wasn't an issue.

In regards to care, I treat the tarp like I do all of my gear. Anyone looking at UL gear should do so with the full understanding that you have to be more careful with it versus traditional gear.

On the upside for cuben, it's 100% waterproof (sil and spinn technically are not) and is easily patchable with duct tape.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Cuben Tarps on 03/31/2010 12:38:41 MDT Print View

"Secondly, there are acknowledged "health care" issues with cuben - cuben is prone to punctures versus tearing so, for example, you need to be extra careful with how you stuff your cuben tarp in your pack vs a tougher spinntex tarp."

I treated my Cuben like I treat my clothes: If my clothes can't take my "typical wash and dry" cycle - e.g they shrink, disintigrate, etc. they go away. That hasn't happen with my Cuben gear.

I used a .45 Cuben Speed Tarp on the JMT last year with no issues. I've used my Cuben DuoMid for about 40 nights with no issues. I've stepped on it, it's flapped into branches, it's been dried on boulders. I'm not "hard" on my gear, but it seems to withstand my typical packing and use.

It is light, watertight, and pitches tight and quiet.

Aside from cost, which IS significant, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone for "overhead" use.

Edit: Has anyone had "First Hand" experience with a puncture or tear?

Edit2: corrected Speed Tarp fabric weight.

Edited by greg23 on 03/31/2010 13:29:28 MDT.

James Patsalides
(james@patsalides.com) - MLife

Locale: New England
MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 13:11:08 MDT Print View

Greg:
Interesting... now I'm obsessing about this!

I have never had any actual issues with my MYOG cuben tarp (0.33oz/yd weight), but I have always treated it really carefully, folding and putting it into my little tyvek envelope etc... maybe it is just psychology - it FEELS like it will break because it is so thin vs my SpinnTwin which feels so much tougher because the material is thicker.

Maybe we should do a poll on this. How many regular cuben tarp users have actually had an issue with durability of their tarps? We'd have to control for people like me, who treat their cuben tarps differently, but it would be really interesting to apply some scientific method to this issue.

I'd be happy to do a little research project to get some failure rates for the various weights of cuben vs other tarp materials... do you think people would respond to the survey?

Cheers, James.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 13:15:18 MDT Print View

Well I do have 2 tiny holes in my CF Grace Solo (bought Jan '08) up near the head end. I'm guessing they formed when I tried to use a smaller stuff sack for a few weeks on the trail with the stake bag shoved in (it was a pretty tight fit). Though it could also be from a spiney shrub I tied it to in an attempt to make shade in the desert. They are very small so it took awhile for me to notice them. As a precaution, I went back to the original stuff sack I got from MLD and haven't had any problems since.

Despite having more then 2400 miles on the tarp since I noticed the holes, with use in strong winds, rain and snow, the holes have never tried to enlarge or start a tear. They don't seem to effect the waterproofness (probably too small) and even if it did leak they are only a few inches from the end and wouldn't be a big deal. So I've just let them be and rarely even think about it any more.

Edited by Miner on 03/31/2010 13:25:53 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 13:27:03 MDT Print View

I've a cuben hex tarp for my hammock which I used all last summer and even once this winter. Never a problem. And while I always use the stuff sack, I wouldn't say I treat it all that gingerly. Also a cuben quilt that saw a lot of use last year, also no problems. And I just stuff that bad boy away. No problems with my cuben Hexamid Twin, though it's new.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 13:34:12 MDT Print View

James,
I wouldn't obsess to much. I've read comments about the durability of packs made of the heavier Cuben and so believe that the "mid-weight" stuff - like a DuoMid - will stand up pretty well.

Let's see who chimes in and what we can learn. Especially if they are First Hand reports. I give Zero cred to anything less.

Greg

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 13:41:57 MDT Print View

Oh yeah, packs. used an MLD Revelation for a bit last sunmmer, I didn't baby that baby at all! No problems. I have a zPacks cuben blast now, which I've used and had loaded with about 25 pounds of stuff, no problems. No rips, tears, etc.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
sewn vs glued on 03/31/2010 13:45:35 MDT Print View

I would like to see a test done between the strength
of sewn vs glued. Both dynamic and long term forces
involved.

I may just stitch and glue something up and attach it
to my come along when I have a minute.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Cuben Gear on 03/31/2010 13:51:43 MDT Print View

David,
Fabrication issues are a different animal.

My curiosity lies with the frequency of "user damage".

Edited by greg23 on 03/31/2010 13:53:07 MDT.

James Patsalides
(james@patsalides.com) - MLife

Locale: New England
MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 13:57:05 MDT Print View

OK, here's a quick survey on this topic... let's collect some data for a few days and see what we learn:

Click here to take survey

I'll post this in its own thread too.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: MLD Tarps on 03/31/2010 14:03:00 MDT Print View

James,
Do you work for Harris? ;-)

Nice Survey.

This should be interesting.