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Seeking advice on shelters made with metalized, reflective cuben fiber material
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Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: metalized cuben delamination on 09/24/2011 23:52:44 MDT Print View

For whatever it's worth I had a very similar experience with the metalized Cuben.

Richard, I had never heard of or read about your experience until this thread, so this is interesting to learn of. In my case the failure happened after only a couple of weeks and the shelter was never in the field, only in my back yard, pitched a few times. The temps did reach into the 100's during that time which may have accelerated the process. No wind or loading other than the tension from the tie outs. Due to the way the material failed it was very obvious that the problem was not due to bad construction... the stuff just started peeling apart here and there.

It's a shame because this material seems to have potential... on a sunny day it is quite blinding if looked at wrong though!

Edited by JacobD on 09/24/2011 23:58:29 MDT.

Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
Your experience with delamination of metalized cuben on 09/25/2011 14:05:17 MDT Print View


Thanks for the feedback. Which product/shelter did this happen with? Did that manufacturer use the same fabric that's used in the Rocket tent?

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
metalized, reflective cuben fiber material on 09/25/2011 20:50:50 MDT Print View

Thank you, Richard, for the reminder about your tests of the reflective material. There were tons of data, and some if it didn't stick.

Coincidentally, Warmlite had similar problems when it first began laminating reflective mylar to its tents. Don't know if they fixed it, but they still sell tents with reflective material many years later, so they probably did. Richard states it is any easy fix.

Guess that is the chance we take buying or making tents using advanced materials made by small companies developing new stuff. After a lot of hemming and hawing, and the help of a lot of info on this site, especially Richard's posts, I decided it is worth the risk, as have many others making/using cuben shelters and reporting good results. But not everyone gets to be a winner, apparently not the Rocket tent people, unfortunately. Haven't seen much of the older model, but the newest model looks to be excellent for maximum protection at minimal weight.

No doubt there is something of a greenhouse effect with cuben in a tent. On another thread about the reflective cuben, someone pointed out that many of us wanting light shelter for long distance treks use the small tents in the dusk, dark or early morning, or in the rain when there is also no bright sunshine. The cuben is available tinted, which affords privacy, and looks better IMO. So not sure there is any need for the reflective material among trekkers. Maybe it is a different story for climbers - don't know.

The only real drawback of a tent with the tinted cuben in the summer might be that when arriving at a campsite in the sunshine well before dusk, you would need to wait until later before putting up the tent. On the other hand, in colder weather, putting up the tent early would allow it to gather some heat. Not too bad a trade off.

I would not be interested in the reflective fabric, even with the defect corrected, for the same reason I don't like tents made of dark colored fabrics - way too gloomy.

Edited by scfhome on 09/25/2011 20:53:56 MDT.

Stephan Doyle
Re: metalized, reflective cuben fiber material on 09/25/2011 21:21:33 MDT Print View

Cuben has had a noticeable greenhouse effect for me. It doesn't lend itself well to setting up for some shade in the afternoon to take a nap. On hot trips, reflective cuben would be fantastic.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: metalized, reflective cuben fiber material on 09/30/2011 09:06:16 MDT Print View

I have a lot of experience using laminated metallic materials on my tent trailer. Although not laminated to cuben, I have the same de-laminating problem. These covers are popular with tent trailer owners because the provide substantial "cooling" in warm weather. A set of covers last me about 1 year before they delaminate. Most tent trailer owners get several years out of theirs, as they do not camp as often as I do. Most years we are out for about 100 days in our camper. This usually includes several trips of 1 -2 weeks in duration, when the the covers are exposed to the elements 24/7.

I think a couple factors are at work here. The repeated folding of the material and heat. I do not fold mine but just stuff it inside the camper during take down.

The materials used for these covers are a light vinyl base (similar to a blue tarp, but much thinner, with metallic laminated on top. I also use a similar cover on my telescope when it is set up during the day, to limit the swings in temperature.

I had a metallic/tyvek tarp made for desert hiking. It is phenomenal for afternoon siestas, but heavy at around 16 oz, so I stopped using it.

I would not be willing to risk the cost of metallic laminated to cuben, because of the cost of the cuben. Here are some pictures.

small PUGs
View of covers. They do a remarkable job of keeping inside temps down.

You probably cannot see the detail, but the metallic covering is beginning to crack and will soon de-laminate.

PUG Tarp
Tyvek/Metallic Tarp.

Lake Mead 2008
Some experimentation at Lake Mead in December of 2008. Nighttime temps below 30F. I reversed the covers to see if the reflective laminate would reflect radiant heat and help retain the heat. Results were inconclusive. However if you look at the windows, I have inserted Reflectix in all of them. In extreme heat or winter cold they are fabulous for insulating. Also work like black-out curtains. Fairly light and can be rolled up. Possible uses for BPing?

Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
draping a reflective emergency blanket over the cuben? on 09/30/2011 11:00:53 MDT Print View


Thanks for sharing your experiences with using laminated reflective materials on your tent trailer. Based on all of the comments that have been posted about reflective material delaminating, I agree that buying a reflective cuben product might not be the best investment (at least at this point).

Lately I have been wondering if it's possible to use one of those superlight reflective emergency blankets draped over a cuben shelter in warm weather to help cut down the heat. I've been carrying a reflective, emergency poncho for years, and if I switched to a reflective emergency tarp instead, perhaps I'd finally get some use out of it.

I found 4-packs of these weighing 1.75 oz. ea on sale here , so I ordered 2 packages of them. It will be fun to experiment with them.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: draping a reflective emergency blanket over the cuben? on 09/30/2011 11:19:34 MDT Print View

The reflective purpose of the mylar blanket works. If you drape it over a shelter, you need to make sure you do not cover up any venting areas or you will be worse off than without it. These blankets are fragile and wind is a problem. But is certain is worth a try, since they are cheap and light. Years ago I tried them as ground sheets and they would last more than a night or two, they are that fragile.

In desert hiking I often take a break in the heat of the day. When temps are over 100F I am only looking for shade, and a tarp excels in this area. I would never consider any kind of tent or tarp tent for this purpose. I only want a roof to block the sun and I want 360 degrees of open air around me.

But give it a try and let everyone know how it works out for you!!

Diana Vann
(DianaV) - MLife

Locale: Wandering
Re: draping a reflective emergency blanket over the cuben? on 09/30/2011 11:49:47 MDT Print View


Your points are well taken. I probably should clarify a bit. I was thinking that I'd only leave the reflective blanket over the shelter during hot afternoons, and that I'd tie it to my tent states to keep it from falling/blowing off. My idea is to punch a few holes in the corners of the mylar blanket, then reinforce the holes with binder-paper type peel-and-stick type reinforcements.

Edited by DianaV on 09/30/2011 11:55:40 MDT.