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Cuben fiber
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Doug Hus
(Doug.H) - M

Locale: Ontario. Canada
Cuben fiber on 10/16/2010 06:54:05 MDT Print View

What is the current state of cuben / cubic fiber for us folks?

Is it going to go into a more main line tarp / tent manufacturing?


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 10/16/2010 15:27:14 MDT Print View

It's been steadily going more mainstream, but it's still mostly cottage manufacturers. Granite Gear makes some stuff sacks out of it and Terra Nova has introduced a cuben tent lately. I suspect it will grow a bit more mainstream yet, but it won't take over the mainstream because it's too expensive and it feels a bit too delicate to sell to a traditional user. I doubt you'll see cuben tent fly's from TNF, MSR and Mtn Hardware any time soon.

To have a serious chance of really taking over the mainstream, Cubic Tech would likely need to drop their prices by half. Even then, it's hard to say if gear makers would want to sell something to the masses that feels more delicate than heavier nylon tents etc. There might be a middle ground where gear makers would use heavier 1.2oz cuben for a lot of stuff like tarps and tent flys if the price was lowered. I also suspect mainstream manufacturers would balk at having to change their production techniques after sewing everything for decades.

A typical 2 person tent fly uses roughly 8 yards of cuben, which is $200 from Cubic Tech. There's no way mainstream manufacturers are going to pay that. If they were doing this, they'd also want carbon poles and cutting edge materials for the inner tent, which would probably bring their cost for the tent to near $500, which means it would be on sale at the local store for $1000. You see this with the Big Sky Cuben Mirage tent at $999 MSRP.

As it pertains to us lightweight hikers, there is getting to be a huge number of options. Makers of cuben stuff that I can think of are:

- Mountain Laurel Designs (tarps, mids, stuff sacks, poncho tarp)
- Zpacks (tarps/packs/tarp tent, stuff sacks)
- Hyperlight Mtn Gear (tarps/tents, pack, stuff sack)
- MountainFitter (stuff sacks, dry bags, custom tarps by request)
- BPL (Stuff sacks, Tarps)
- Terra Nova (1 person tent)
- Big Sky (2 person tent)
- enLIGHTened equipment (quilts)

The only cuben gear that I'd like that isn't currently available is clothing. I'd like a 2-3oz cuben rain jacket to carry as back up on trips where the forecast looks too good to carry a heavier rain jacket. I'd also like cuben gators (1.2oz cuben) and rain pants. Other people would likely like cuben vapor barrier clothing.

Edited by dandydan on 10/16/2010 15:36:21 MDT.

Jeffrey List
(jlist) - M

Locale: Cape Cod
Cuben Jacket on 10/16/2010 18:21:56 MDT Print View

2.5 oz Cuben jacket:

$195. Hood +$65.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
mountaineering on 10/16/2010 19:21:33 MDT Print View

i think youll see more cuben in areas where weight is critical ... namely shelters

usually the leaders in the move to lighter weight are those sports where every ounce counts ... adventure racing, mountaineering, etc ...

already you are seeing what cuben can do for shelters with the brooks range rocket tent (a genuine sub 2 lb mountain tent) and the hexamid (3.2 oz tarp) ...

eventually this will go more mainstream once the costs come down

durability will always be an issue with the lighter cubens ... i dont see that as a huge issue for tent/tarps ... no more than selling down jackets with 7d-20d shells... chances are you're not going to be abrading yr tarp against rock every day

i dont see cuben being used too much for packs in the mainstream ... a lot of the pack weight is the suspension, and all the goodie features ... note the move away from "simple" packs (where did the ion go?) ... for daypacks weight isnt a huge deal ... for bigger ones, youll likely need a tad more durability and no one outside crazy BPLers or psycho climbers wants a simple pack anymore ... they want features

clothing ... not gonna happen except for the occasional VB layer ... breathable is the name of the game

maybe stuffsacks .... if the cost is kept low

the other "problem" for cuben is that it looks like some cheap plastic semi- transparent wrap ... cant have all them cool designs and logos ... well nobody is doing that yet ... and yes people do care about that ...

the best thing for cuben would be to yuppiefie it ... you know having all those yuppie wanna bes wearing their cuben puffies while drinking their lattes .... that will really bring it mainstream

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: mountaineering on 10/16/2010 19:25:31 MDT Print View

It seems the Brooks Range Rocket Tent is really 2 lbs 4 oz.


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Cuben Jkt on 10/16/2010 19:29:15 MDT Print View

Regarding that cuben jacket, that is basically what I want. The problem is that I don't want it bad enough to spend the money. With a hood and pit zips it's $300. I'd make one myself with some spare cuben I have on hand, but I need to buy another sewing machine first since mine broke. You'd only need 1-2 yards ($25-$50) of cuben to make that.

Edited by dandydan on 10/16/2010 19:35:26 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
brooks range on 10/16/2010 19:30:04 MDT Print View

someone measured it at sub 2 lb

that probably didnt include the trekking poles i would use though

dan ... couldnt you tape the cuben ... i remember people doing no sew cuben items ...

which incidently is why i WOULD buy a cuben tent/tarp .... if i can fix it with some tape, cuben patches and glue

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/16/2010 19:31:34 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Tape on 10/16/2010 19:34:44 MDT Print View

Regarding tape...yeah I could tape (or use a liquid adhesive) and I would do that, but I still need a sewing machine to sew in the zipper. The only way around that would be to make it a pull over and then use a snap or two...hmm...

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Cuben on 10/16/2010 19:48:45 MDT Print View

With the new breathable stuff coming out soon you might end up with a few lightweight bivys, single wall tents and rain jackets but I think the stuff is too expensive to ever go mainstream. When cuben costs $20+ a yard and Asian Silnylon cost $2 a yard there really is no hope.

I mean hell Gore-Tex and eVent are half the price of cuben and these materials are used on the most expesive gear available. With mainstream cuben versions your talking $1,000 tents, $400 bivy's, $300 rain jackets. I just don't see a market for this expensive of gear.

I do however have a prediction of whats going to happen. Some company is going to realize there is a huge demand for a really lightweight strong materials at an affordable price. The material will become a huge success and will go mainstream.

Edited by Mountainfitter on 10/16/2010 19:51:56 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
prices on 10/16/2010 19:54:42 MDT Print View

i think a lot of the premium on goretex and event stuff is marketing

when you have a cabela goretex jacket at 99$ ... and a dead bird one at 500$+ ... which basically do the same thing ... the material costs probably isnt biggest issue there

the questions is does cuben have enough of an advantage over silnylon to offset 10x the material costs ...

for mountain tents and racing tarps ... sure ...

for the rest ... i doubt it

dan ... velcro?

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/16/2010 19:58:47 MDT.

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Re: "Cuben fiber" [help me understand] on 10/16/2010 20:04:01 MDT Print View

Help me understand how this works, please. In the link provided in an above post ( to the cuben fiber jacket, the page makes the following claim:

"This is the perfect accompaniment to wear over one of the newer down sweater pieces such as the Nunatak Skaha. It turns such a piece into full functioning layer even for extended trips as the down is kept dry and clean!"

Now my first instinct says that doesn't make sense, because if your vapor can't escape your torsos environment, then it has to collect somewhere. Wouldn't that somewhere be you down jacket in the example above? Could someone please help me understand, or am I correct?


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Spectral Jkt on 10/16/2010 20:39:53 MDT Print View

Yeah that sounds wrong to me. Wearing a vapor barrier 'over' your down jacket would ultimately trap your bodies moisture inside and eventually it would collapse the down over the 'extended use' that they speak of. You'd be better to wear the vapor barrier underneath the down and then another waterproof layer over top of the down if needed.

Regarding the cuben jkt....I'm just going to make one and see how it goes. I started whipping it up 30 min ago but it's going a bit slow because all I have are a ton of scraps. I need to bond the scraps together to form larger panels, and then cut and bond those together to form the pull over jacket. I'm going to try a simple V neck with no zipper or snap. If that doesn't work I'll add a snap. For venting I'm going to create some permanently open underarm vents. I should be done in a few hours.

EDIT: Jacket is half done. I'm leaving the rest for tomorrow to give all the seams time to dry. I've created the 2 halves of the jacket. Tomorrow I'll bond the two halves together in sheer, hem the edges and hopefully devise something clever for the neck opening.

Edited by dandydan on 10/17/2010 00:13:46 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Cuben fiber on 10/16/2010 20:44:01 MDT Print View

"It turns such a piece into full functioning layer even for extended trips as the down is kept dry and clean!"
It depends I think on how you read that.
In my mind it would not work if you are walking, however it could very well work at camp, in other words a situation where it could be cold and wet but you are not moving much.
I have used a rainjacket over my WM Flash jacket

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
VBL under on 10/16/2010 21:49:17 MDT Print View

doesnt make sense to me putting it over the down ... if you sweat the VBL will trap the moisture on top of the down and get the down soaked

everytime ive tried to hike in down i get soaked from sweat ... with or without a shell ... note that i havent been in day temps muchlower than -30 C ... but even then you sweat, the sweat gets into the down and then you get cold when you stop ... much better to keep the down dry but wearing the puffay when you stop ...

if youre at temps where you need a VBL shirt ... you dont needs a shell over yr down puffay

Edited by bearbreeder on 10/17/2010 00:15:12 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Cuben on 10/17/2010 00:10:30 MDT Print View

"With the new breathable stuff coming out soon..."

Lawson do you know anything more about the breathable cuben? All I know is that Big Sky is reportedly using some in their new cuben Mirage tent. That tent is a hybrid double wall/single wall and the breathable stuff is supposedly used in the areas where it's single wall. I've also heard that it's more expensive than regular cuben.

I imagine Cubic Tech is replacing the mylar membranes with thin wp/b menbranes...mostly likely PU (polyurethane). They might be doing something else as well to protect it. I would guess this would be heavier than an equally strong variant of regular cuben, but lighter than current wp/b textiles that are laminated to nylon. This could open the door for some great, lightweight rain gear.

Edited by dandydan on 10/17/2010 00:11:54 MDT.

Matthew Thomas
(caramelmarx) - F

Locale: Southern California
Cuben Fiber is hitting the mainstream. on 10/17/2010 10:03:09 MDT Print View

Doesn't seem like many mainstream backpacking suppliers have picked it up but it has hit the market in a new way!

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Cuben Fiber is hitting the mainstream. on 10/17/2010 11:16:18 MDT Print View

I have been planning a small cuben tarp for my hammock. However, I've been shocked to find out that the cuben tape weight 3.5 grams per yard for 1/2" and twice that for 1" tape. A small hammock tarp has a permimeter of 10 yards plus 3.5 yards of ridgeline ... that's about 2 to 3 ounces per tarp (depending on the tape width). The cuben fabric for the tarp would weigh under 5 ounces. In orther words, the tape weighs half of the what the tarp material weighs.

Now, I've decided that the premium price for cuben fabric isn't worth if due to the excessive weight of the tape.

Here is a link to Quest Outfitters that shows teh tape weight near the bottom of the page ...

Lawson Kline
(Mountainfitter) - M

Breathable Cuben on 10/17/2010 19:31:15 MDT Print View

I have no knowledge of any details about the breathable cuben besides whats been on the forums and backpacking blogs. Sorry..

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: Cuben fiber on 10/17/2010 21:50:39 MDT Print View

Unless the price of cuben comes way down, I don't think we will be seeing it in the mainstream any time soon. On the positive side, for us MYOG folks, we get something way cooler than the "traditional" backpackers.

Cuben seems to be way more waterproof than any silnylon I've worked with. And the 1.5oz stuff I purchased from zpacks has worked extremely well for the backpacks I've made. The "hey, that looks like a paper that one of those ultralight packs?" comments are always funny. Meanwhile I'm walking around with a 4.6oz, 3,00c.i. pack that is tougher than any mainstream "ul" packs I have found at 4-20 times its weight.

"Breathable cuben fiber"...seams like an oxymoran to me.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Cuben Fiber on 10/17/2010 21:59:40 MDT Print View

Im purchasing some .33oz and .7oz. .33oz for quilts, .7oz for tarps. Its a big investment, but i will start small with easy things like stuff sacks, mitts, waders and liners. Then work my way up to tarps, then eventually quilts That way i wont be screwing up large chunks of fiber. I've not really made much other gear, but there are enough resources online to do these projects. I've had people say its more expensive to DIY cuben than to buy it. I will find out i guess. Always seemed cheaper to DIY everything than to buy it. Wish me luck.