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Cuben fiber failure? Any updates since 2008?
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John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Who's been in a storms in Cuben shelter? (besides the 'Hail in the Sierra' guy) on 08/27/2012 20:35:36 MDT Print View

>>> the HMG guys tested one in a Colo storm, right?

Ok, so maybe not a shelter, but how's this:

Brad Miller up at the top of Denali with the HMG Stuff Sack. (a as-generic-as-it-gets 1.14 cuben fiber backpack - I own one, it is pretty sweet. almost replaced my ZPacks Zero X-Small)

edit: ok, it appears that the URL to the photograph is too long and it breaks the BPL website... so, here ya go... copy-n-paste time lol

Now where did the popcorn and my Apple Air go.... hmmm.

Edited by JohnAbela on 08/27/2012 20:40:37 MDT.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Cuben fiber failure? Any updates since 2008? on 08/27/2012 20:49:53 MDT Print View

Eric - I have utterly nothing to add

No change there then :)

I have read a report (on an Aus form) of a Hexamid performing well in 40mph winds.

Nathan Stuart

Locale: Hunter Valley - Australia
Cuben = Good on 08/27/2012 21:00:46 MDT Print View

No official reports or testing ?? Oh well. There are a few Aussies now using cuben shelters, I'm one of them !! (mines a 0.51 sewn hexamid solo plus) I had a night of bad weather last January in the Australian Alps with 75km wind gusts. No issue with the shelter at all. My friends MH tent faired a lot worse, no breakage but it sure was sagged.

If you think a cuben tent will fail, You WILL die....That's fine. Don't use one. Why post a scare thread when so many are happy with them ??

I'll gladely use mine and have a lighter pack (and wallet).
Yes, Cuben has it's limits and the lighter stuff would be a poor choice in a summit tent. The equivilant weight cuben is a heck of a lot stronger than silnylon.
It's just we can use lighter cuben fabric for a similar strength to Silnylon.

Cubens not everyone cup of tea ?? That's fine, don't use it. But until you have don't trash it either !!

Edited by forest. on 08/27/2012 21:03:17 MDT.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Good points on 08/27/2012 23:23:10 MDT Print View


Well said and taken.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
to those that are worried about how cuben fiber holds up in the wind on 08/28/2012 08:10:09 MDT Print View

This is getting too funny. You guys wanting to see reports on how they hold up in wind, and all this other stuff (and the wierd hypothermia scare tactic)... This is pretty simple stuff here. First, you are on the site that (when dealing with the use of Cuben Fiber for backpacking) is the (or close to it anyway)most knowledgeable site on earth right now in terms of it's usability. You have a huge amount of real time users that can attest to the stuff.
That being said, prior to my hammock tarp purchase, it was very easy to find the necessary tests and articles concerning cuben fiber for me to be confident in my purchase. It seems like you guys are wanting this site to do your research for you. You are posting, so I know your fingers work and can search this stuff for yourself and don't need us to hold your hand.
In regards to your concerns about wind, all you really need to know about that is that the material was designed to make wind sails, and is what the wind sail race boats use as their sails due to how light they are and how well they can take a very forceful wind and pull a boat through water while men jerk the sail around as quickly as possible to win a race. If you need more proof than that that cuben fiber can take a large amount of wind you have a few screws loose.

Kenneth Houseal
Love my Cuben gear. on 08/28/2012 08:39:51 MDT Print View

I'm a cuben junkie, figured I'd start off by stating that. I've been on peaks 7000ft up in Mongolia and have taken some unreal winds, enough to blow my motorcycle over and my helmet away. My Cuben LHG Solong has performed admirably for over 40 nights in Mongolia, had I been in my old contrail I would have been worried out of my mind(apples to oranges I guess). Major Sandstorms, 50+mph wind, Snow storms, Terrential downpours, and hungry cuben equipment has taken it all. Not to mention my HMG windrider spent 50ft sliding on its side during a motorcycle wreck with no serious abrasion damage(no wear through), I can't say the same about my side..haha!

Happy Trails!



Just wanted to add that the only cuben gear of mine that has sustained real damage is my bush buddy stuff sack, but that was my fault sine I had duct taped the bb pot stand to the stove and the tape did a serious number on my zpacks stuff sack.

Edited by Homewardbound on 08/28/2012 08:45:45 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: to those that are worried about how cuben fiber holds up in the wind on 08/28/2012 10:56:49 MDT Print View

What's too funny is that you haven't helped to answer the OP's question without first verbally degrading him. you had an opportunity to educate him.

Questions have still not been answered.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
. on 08/28/2012 11:24:38 MDT Print View

I would say better than sil nylon, plus it's lighter.

People say that cubebs downfall is abrasion. But perform he same tests with sil nylon and I bet cubeb will still be stronger.

Cuben is great because it's light not only in itself, but makes your wallet lighter too so it's like killing 2 birds with one stone.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
@ David on 08/28/2012 14:09:59 MDT Print View

actually David most have answered him... they are wanting to know sustainability in wind and real tests of the material unless I am mistaken? it has been answered time and time again, in not just this post, but a bunch of other posts that they can search. Do we need to search for them what they can search for themselves? the info is out there I found it... must I find it again for them? Sorry, but I have better things to do, especially after these questions have been answered even in this thread at least five times already, some with links to the info they are looking for. They are the ones that are saying that the answers are not good enough.. fine, then go find the answers they are looking for. The material is proven, has been for a couple of years now and the info is out there for them to find.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Try here... on 08/28/2012 14:21:08 MDT Print View

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: to those that are worried about how cuben fiber holds up in the wind on 08/28/2012 14:36:39 MDT Print View

David Olson's .51cf vs 1.3oz silnylon test:

Here is one by Joe Valesco from zpacks:

Good field use report by Tony (also read the comments):

James Klein

Locale: Southeast
Re: Cuben fiber failure? Any updates since 2008? on 08/28/2012 15:34:20 MDT Print View

Franco, its not always so simple.

Nylon expands when wet AND it losses elasticity when wet...I have seen (somewhere) that nylon will stretch twice as much for the same load with ~2% water absorption (by weight).

The amount of water weight it picks up is a function of environmental conditions (humidity, temp,) and time the in those conditions.

So maybe someone could hike in the rain all day and have an already saturated tarp...set it up taught and not have to worry much about retensioning.
I could also imagine someone hiking in dry conditions, setting up a tarp just as taught. Then waking up to a flapping tent b/c humidity increases through the night (increasing moisture content) so then they retention....then later a storm blows in and further saturates the tarp so they have to get and retention again....

Regardless, I still think it is very manageable, just not something to blow off as inconsequential.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Re: Cuben fiber failure? Any updates since 2008? on 08/28/2012 18:14:24 MDT Print View

I would just like to come forward and say that if I have offended anybody by my comments within this thread, that I extend my apologies to you. BPL is not a place to get all huffy-and-puffy with other hikers and if I have done that in any way to anybody out there, well, bad on me!

Obviously this issue has been one of those "trash talk" issues at BPL for many years and most of us should just know better by now to stay away from such questions/posts - bad on me for jumping in on this one.

Kevin (the OP) seems like a nice guy. Obviously his whole hyperbole (good word btw, whoever used that first) about cuben fiber == hypothermia was/is rather commical (I do not mean that in a rude way, its just funny, for as I said above thermoregulation is not based on one singular aspect of your gear.)

I will just leave this post with the very comment I made when I got involved in this. If by now, after probably 100,000+ miles of cuben fiber being used by hikers around the world, it had "problems" (and I will let each of you decide what that word can be described as) than hikers simply would not be using it, and the cottage companies out there would not continue to be making gear out of it as it would cost them more in the long run to make, sell, and be forced to take it back because of failures.


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Silnylon failure? Any updates, ever? on 08/28/2012 18:33:44 MDT Print View

Why don't we see threads like this for silnylon? Silnylon was not designed to be waterproof, and testing shows that it is in fact not waterproof. Silnylon stretches when it's most inconvenient. It's very difficult to repair. It absorbs water.

It does have a few qualities. It's cheaper. It hides sloppy design and manufacturing. It's opaque.

Where is the data and official results for silnylon?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
John and Silnylon Failures on 08/28/2012 19:04:23 MDT Print View

Thanks for the post John. In hindsight I might have worded a few things more carefully too so if anyone feels like I stepped on their toes I apologize.

For the record I haven't been completely satisfied with 1.1 oz nylon either. I recall a very long thread about silnylon and its lack of complete waterproofness and the fact that its waterproofness degrades over time.

Jacob Blumenfeld
(surfingdwedge) - F

Locale: Northern California
No Material is absolutely perfect on 08/28/2012 19:11:46 MDT Print View

First of all, OP I think it is unfair to automatically associate cuben fiber material with getting hypothermia. I am sure there have been reports of silnylon failures.

I have personally experienced some pretty good storms using a cuben fiber Zpacks hexamid plus(0.51oz). I have also used the shelter during the seasonal California Santa Ana winds with gusts up to 40+ mph with no issues. I am using the older Zpacks model that has sewn sections, the newer version is all taped and bonded, and should be stronger.

Here's a link to a video that I took earlier this month while on the JMT. Encountered lots of thunderstorms and some large hail. Hailstones grape to quarter in size pelted the shelter; the material and seams held up. Wish I could give you the lbs/sq inch of force that the hailstones hit at, but I can tell you that it hurt to get hit and could of potentially left us with some welts had we not been in the shelter. Could have really damaged a persons eye had they been hit directly in the eye. I had to re-stake the tent afterwards because the force of the hail hitting the shelter partially pulled up some stakes and shifted others. Half of the stakes had 2-10lb rocks on them in addition to being staked in the ground.

In the video, the person who retreated into our shelter due to tarp failure had an MSR silnylon tarp. Was an error in pitch though, no rips or seam failures.

Was a little scary especially since I was concerned that the ultra thin cuben might fail and leave us exposed to the elements. It didn't though. Pretty awesome. If being able to take that kind of a beating doesn't deem a shelter as 3-season bombproof I don't know what does.

Cuben is definitely more susceptible to abrasion than silnylon...that has been my experience in the field. This doesn't matter for shelters though.

Also, one other thing I like about cuben > silnylon is how easy it is to dry after a wet night of rain or condensation. Just shake it out or lay in the sun for just a few minutes. The material itself absorbs little to no moisture unlike silnylon.

Edited by surfingdwedge on 08/28/2012 21:55:52 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: No Material is absolutely perfect on 08/28/2012 21:11:45 MDT Print View

Great video!

I felt like I was there. Exciting and scary.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Silnylon failure? Any updates, ever? on 08/28/2012 21:40:18 MDT Print View

"Why don't we see threads like this for silnylon? Silnylon was not designed to be waterproof, and testing shows that it is in fact not waterproof. Silnylon stretches when it's most inconvenient. It's very difficult to repair. It absorbs water."

There several hundred pages here at BPL on silnylon. Some available is highly waterproof and in fact, moreso than some cuben samples. Look up Richard Nisely tests for an eye opening discussion. Some cuben had a HH of well under 1000 mm. Some was well over 3000 mm. The same with silnylon samples.

Silnylon will not absorb appreciable water. It may have water cling to it, but not absorb.

It is incredibly easy to repair with seam grip, even in the field.

Stretching when it is inconvenient? Please expand (no pun intended).

For the love of God, quit generalizing.

Samuel C Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Cuben agan on 08/28/2012 22:23:59 MDT Print View

To answer your question - if that is OK given the level of passion on this issue - and if you are still following this thread that you started - as an avid follower of the gear and myog forums, I've really seen few if any more recent reports of failure, and lots of reports of Cuben weathering lousy conditions. Matt Edwards' reports impressed me the most, given the length of his treks. Eb Eberhart doesn't post on this site; but he has been using his own Cuben version of the Nomad design for years of long distance trekking since before the cottage manufacturers began making them. However, on May 13th, Brendan Swihart reported on myog that his 1.5 oz. cuben pack quickly developed a couple holes from light abrasion. (That caught my eye, because I am planning to use the 1.26 oz Cuben for a tent floor. The alternative is the Thru-Hiker silnylon, which is kind of on the slippery side for a floor, compared to other less water resistant silnylons.) But no reports of failures of Cuben tarp or tent canopies. The last one I can remember involved a goat (mountain goat?) landing its hoof on a Cuben canopy wall with a BANG!, and even something like that could be patched more easily than silnylon to last until better repairs could be made. So the evidence suggests that you would be fine with something from one of the companies that has gained experience using the material and a good reputation evidenced by the company reviews on this and other sites.
The whole business of the stitch holes is very worth noting; however, a number of the small companies, like Lightheart Gear, are taping sewn Cuben seams over the stitches to address this. Seam construction and bonding are big issues for myogers, as they should be; but if you are going to buy something already manufactured, you might have little interest in getting into all the minutiae that involves.
Hope this is at least somewhat responsive to your OP, which seemed reasonable enough. Agree with family guy's comments 100%.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Silnylon failure? Any updates, ever? on 08/28/2012 22:41:29 MDT Print View

Now hundreds of pages on BPL on silnylon are facts and data, but you still ignore the same thing regarding cuben. Yeah, now we clearly see your agenda.

There are countless reports of misting with silnylon fly's misting and silnylon floors wetting through. Not so much with cuben.

Does seam grip dry incredibly fast? No. It is not an incredibly easy repair. It is a rather inconvenient repair, and maybe impossible repair, when there's weather.

Stretching is well documented. It's a fact found in many technical publications regarding silnylon.

Fact is, silnylon was never meant to be used as a tent fly, which is why it has these undesirable characteristics. Good silnylon is the worst for fly's. Bad foreign silnylon is better because of poor quality.