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Cuben Tent Fly
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Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 18:08:33 MDT Print View

I'm nearly finished my homemade tent fly made from bonded 0.7oz olive green cuben. Here's how it went down:

First I cut this large piece of cuben and draped it over the tent. The first objective was to get it attached to the ends of the poles above the doors using a grommet.


I used a hot knife (thanks Lawson!) to cut the cuben which worked great. I cut 4 reinforcement patches for the two grommet areas so it would be triple thickness.

Cuben Hot Knife

Next I cut a slit in the reinforced patches and overlapped it a bit to give it a 3D cone shape to improve the fit and glued it. Then I tapped the grommets in place.


I was relieved that my measurement between the two grommet points was accurate and I got a nice tight line of tension across the top of the fly.

Cuben Fly 4

Next I pulled the cuben tight and used a dry erase marker to draw the edges along the pole lines. Using a similar technique, I cut out a piece of cuben for each end of the tent. Then I bonded this into place with Hysol.

Cuben Fly5

Now I cut out the last two main panels for the other half of each door and the corner of the fly.

Cuben Fly 6

Next I finished the edges of the fly by folding it over about 1" and gluing it.

Cuben Fly 7

Then I did the corners. I cut a 7" x 2.5" cuben piece and folded it down to 7" x 0.5" to fit the line loc 3's. I glued this on the fly and then added reinforcement patches over it on the both sides of the fly.

Cuben Fly 8

Here's the fly attached at the corners:
Cuben Fly 8

Cuben Fly 9

Next I did basically the same thing at the doors.
Cuben Fly 10

Then I added some reinforcement patches at the top of the zipper area and sewed both zippers into placeCuben Fly 11

I added a grommet at each end of the tent for the fly stake out which is necessary to keep it off the inner tent. The original fly is like this too.
Cuben Fly 12

Here's a few more pictures of it nearly done. All I have left to do is add a guyout spot at each corner of the tent, add a way to hold the doors open and cap the grommets above the doors so rain can't leak in.

Cuben FLy 13

Cuben Fly 14

Cuben Fly 14

My sewing machine is terrible. Its pure plastic and it was $25 new at Michaels craft store. It had some troubles picking up the loop on the underside but eventually I got it sewed. The sewing isn't pretty but it seems strong.

Cuben Fly 15

The weight of my original fly was 23.0oz and this new cuben fly is 10.0oz as it currently stands. It will likely finish at about 10.5oz, for a weight savings of 12.5oz. The 10oz fly weight includes 7oz of cuben, 2oz of zippers/sliders, 0.4oz for 8 LineLoc3's and the other 0.6oz is the grommets and cordage.

EDIT: The 7oz attributed to the cuben also includes the weight of the Hysol adhesive. Since I used an entire tube of Hysol for this project. I'd estimate about 1oz is the glue.

Edited by dandydan on 06/29/2010 12:33:53 MDT.

Jeff Antig

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 18:30:47 MDT Print View

Minimal sewing--my kind of DIY!

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 18:59:38 MDT Print View

Dan - nice job!!

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 19:31:09 MDT Print View

I've been wanting to see your results- pretty cool stuff, man

Kyle Crawford

Locale: SouthEast
Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 19:31:11 MDT Print View

Nice work. And for 1/4th of the weight, I'm sure.

Edited by getupandgo on 06/21/2010 19:32:52 MDT.

Colin Matthews
(litebrite) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
nice work on 06/21/2010 19:39:39 MDT Print View

Great job Dan, that looks very clean!
Will be interested to hear how the cuben stands up to condensation issues, especially in the pacific northwest. hit us up with a report once you've used it a few times!

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Looks Awesome! on 06/21/2010 20:42:36 MDT Print View

You did a really awesome job. Don't be surprised if REI offers you a job re-engineering some of their tents.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 20:55:04 MDT Print View

Very nice Dan! When will you be setting up shop? ;-)

>> Bender <<
(Bender) - MLife

Locale: NEO
Re: Re: Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 21:52:23 MDT Print View

Dan what do the poles & inner tent weigh? Was the original fly constructed in more pieces than the Cuben one?

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 22:00:57 MDT Print View

Why the tie out grommet and not a reinforced line loc as used in other locations on the fly?

Brandon Sanchez
(dharmabumpkin) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Mtns
Cuben Tent Fly on 06/21/2010 22:41:29 MDT Print View

No vents? Could be a clammy situation....

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Cuben Tent Fly on 06/22/2010 01:46:55 MDT Print View

Awesome work my friend. Looking foreward to a trip report.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Fly on 06/22/2010 12:00:50 MDT Print View

Q) Minimal sewing--my kind of DIY!
A) I bet you could do it with zero sewing because the waterproof Uretek zippers seem to bond really well to the cuben with Hysol. I thought about doing this but I didn't want to take the risk of a zipper failure in the field as that would be quite problematic.

Q) When will you be setting up shop? ;-)
A) This thing took a ton of time to build. I was really careful with all the measuring etc so I probably put about 30 hours so far into it. I had virtually no experience with any of the skills needed for this project, so anyone with some patience could accomplish something similar.

Q) what do the poles & inner tent weigh?
A) The original poles are 450g (15.9oz) and the inner is 594g (21oz). I've ordered some Fibraplex poles for this tent which should weigh half of the stock poles. Cuben Fly + Carbon Poles + Inner should be approx. 39oz or 2lbs 7oz. Under 2.5lbs for a double wall, 2 person, dual door, dual vestibule, decently spacious, freestanding shelter was my goal.

Q) Was the original fly constructed in more pieces than the Cuben one?
A) Yes, my large initial panel that angles across the top of the tent was 4 pieces in the original fly. The end panels are the same and the last corner/door panel was 2 pieces. So my fly is 5 pieces instead of 10.

Q) Why the tie out grommet and not a reinforced line loc as used in other locations on the fly?
A) I didn't think it was necessary. The grommet is lighter than a LineLoc3 and there is very little load on this grommet. I just need it to prevent the fly from touching the inner under wind deflection. I use 2g Terra Nova stakes for everything with this tent except for the vestibules where I use 8g Ti stakes. The grommet is 1.3g and a LineLoc3 plus reinforcement patches and a folded cuben strap is ~4g.

Q) No vents? Could be a clammy situation....
A) The original fly did have two vents. I might add these but honestly I've never noticed a big difference when using the original fly with them opened or closed. Last summer I had a MSR Carbon Reflex 2 which is a very similar shape with no vents and I had no excessive condensation issues.

Edited by dandydan on 06/22/2010 22:19:26 MDT.

Brian Martin
(xiled1) - MLife

Locale: AZ
Re: Fly on 06/22/2010 17:27:53 MDT Print View

How much Cuben did you order and how much did you end up using. What was the standard width on the roll? I've been tossing around doing this same thing for my CS UL2.


Hugh Teegan
(hteegan) - MLife
Re: Fly on 06/22/2010 18:15:57 MDT Print View

Awesome! Am learning the vagaries of Cuben on my own little project. One issue you mention in your project caught my eye -
"My sewing machine is terrible. Its pure plastic and it was $25 new at Michaels craft store. It had some troubles picking up the loop on the underside but eventually I got it sewed."
I had this problem too when sewing cuben - switching to Microtex needles (specifically for thin materials) solved it for me - may be worth a try if you are doing more cuben sewing.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Cuben Fly on 06/22/2010 22:20:31 MDT Print View

Cuben is sold by the meter (39") rather than the yard (36"). I ordered 18 meters to be safe for this project. I sold 5 meters right away and finished with 4.5 meters left, so this fly required 8.5 meters of material. That works out well because Cubic Tech only sells cuben in 9 meter increments. As you can see in the pictures, I wasn't super careful with not wasting any cuben because I figured I could always use the scraps for stuff sacks etc. I probably could have done this fly with 7.5 - 8 meters if was more careful.

The roll is ~53" wide of usable cuben. There is another inch or two of mylar on the sides without any fibres in it so you don't want to use that. You can sorta see this clear bit at the edges of the fabric in the first picture in this thread.

For the sewing, I ended up just sewing it one stitch at a time. I would tap the pedal to sew one stitch and if it didn't catch then I would move the fabric back and re-try that stitch. It was slow going (about 4 hours total sewing time for 2 zippers) but that worked okay since I rarely sew. I'd want to resolve this problem if I was doing much more sewing.

>> Bender <<
(Bender) - MLife

Locale: NEO
Re: Cuben Fly on 06/22/2010 22:55:00 MDT Print View

I'm remaking a fly out of sil-nylon and I can get away using 8.2 linear yards. Then tent is very similar in design and size. If in doubt get out the measuring tape!

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
timing is everything on 06/23/2010 10:40:25 MDT Print View

A needle not picking up the bobbin thread is usually a
timing issue. The needle is not in the proper position
to the bobbin hook when it comes around. Also the thread
can stick to the needle and prevent the hook from picking it up on some materials.

1. try lowering the needle a millimeter. If this helps,
then you can have the machine re-timed to work properly.
The wrong length of needle can also be a problem. You
may need a longer one.

2. if the thread seems to be sticking, try putting a little
sewing machine oil or silicone lubricant on the spool of
thread so the thread is pre-oiled.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Sewing on 06/23/2010 13:28:43 MDT Print View

I think a big part of the problem was that I was sewing when the adhesive wasn't 100% dry. I sewed the first zip only a few hours after gluing it and it was a major pain. The second zip I sewed the next day and it worked a lot better. There was still the occasional miss (ie. 5% of stitches) but it was nowhere near the 50% or so miss rate of the previous day.

Jason Hung
(moma-moma) - F - M

Re: Cuben Tent Fly on 06/24/2010 07:30:57 MDT Print View

Very nice work!!
i like to know what kind of glue do you use to glue the edge of the folded tape?