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cuben fiber, is it worth the extra money.
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Brian Kelly
cuben fiber, is it worth the extra money. on 09/21/2012 08:40:15 MDT Print View

First i just want to say plz forgive if this offends anyone i do not mean it to. i am just new to all this and i am truly curious bc id like to justify getting cuben fiber to my wife lol.
I am curious about cuben fiber backpacks,tarps and even sleeping bags. I know they are lighter and water proof but are they more durable. I am concerned about the life of these objects bc they are so light and the only knowledge i have is from what i have read being i have no experience in the field. I have heard many times that we sacrifice durability for weight, for example if i spend 500-600 on a tarp system or get a cuben fiber quilt bc they are light will they last at least a few years or bc they are such light weight ill be lucky to get one season out of it b4 having to spend another 600 dollars?

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Not that expensive on 09/21/2012 08:51:30 MDT Print View

You are way off on pricing. Take a look at the hexamid solo it's $300 with bug screen. Weighs 10oz.

Fly creek ul1 costs the same yet weighs 32oz.

That's nearly 1.5 pounds saved with no added cost.

Do you need bug protection? You could get a poncho tarp that is triple use (rain jacket, pack cover, tarp) for about $180 and weighs 5oz.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 09/21/2012 09:00:36 MDT Print View

You're asking a pretty general question, as there are quite a few variants of cuben and a wide variety of applications. So on one exteme, a backpack using 0.33oz cuben is a failure waiting to happen, while on the other extreme, a tarp made of a 1.5oz is unbelievably durable.

So for a tarp, one might say that:
0.33oz = highly specialized piece of gear, not suitable for typical use
0.51oz = good in reasonable conditions when used by someone with basic skills to use it properly
0.74oz = durable in virtually all conditions
+1.2oz = extremely bomber, difficult to damage even in extreme conditions and with significant user error.

For a backpack, you typically need more abrasion resistance than a tarp, so 1.2oz is about the minimum, 1.5oz is good in reasonable use with reasonable care, and 2.92oz cuben hybrid falls more into the highly durable catagory, while being short of bomber.

Cuben is being used for a huge variety of applications, with varying suitability. Tarps are one of the best applications, as cuben is very strong and not subject to a lot of abrasion (which is its achilles heel) and cuben is a lot lighter than the other options (ie. 1.3oz silnylon). So you can save weight without any major downsides.

With a sleeping bag, you can also use lighter nylon fabrics (as light as about 0.6oz), so you're not really saving significant weight unless you opt for 0.33oz cuben, which is fine for the baffles and okay for the shell, but user care is definately required. The opportunity here isn't nearly as strong as it is with tents/tarps.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
re on 09/21/2012 09:02:35 MDT Print View

I haven't tried cuben yet, but I'm open to it.

From what I have been able to gather from other users, it is very good for shelter canopy use because it doesn't stretch and is completely waterproof, and doesn't absorb water like silnylon can. Makes for a light and tight-pitched shelter canopy. I think this is the best use for it.

It isn't the best item for uses that include abrasion potential. Or for uses that might see a likely puncture. I personally would not seek out a cuben fiber groundsheet, for example. But some do.

One very good characteristic is that repair tape will stick to it, so that easy repairs can be done in the field. Silnylon doesn't take tape fixes, because tape adhesives don't stick very well to silnylon.

I think it can be an excellent fabric that is(IMO) application specific to be at its best. Other applications can be possible with extra care.
I would have no hesitation to pick cuben fiber for a tent canopy or tarp.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
depends on 09/21/2012 09:20:45 MDT Print View

I havent bought any cuben yet. One of the reasons is that i dont need it to reach baseweights that allow me to hike for a week at 25 lbs. So do you need it to do what youwant to do

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Cuben on 09/21/2012 09:33:12 MDT Print View

Dan said it well. It is confusing, because Cuben Fiber comes in so many different varieties. It is hard to make a generic statement as to whether it is worth it or not. It is much easier to compare particular items.

For example, the Skyscape tent, from Six Moons Designs, comes in three different materials. Generally speaking, the trade-off is between money and weight. The material used for the Skyscape X, Cuben CT2K.08 (.74 oz.) is probably the most common type of Cuben used for tarps or tents. It has a good track record. For the bottom of the tent, some folks have raised concerns. Personally, I'm not worried about it, and just add a thin ground cloth to my kit (which has its own advantages). Others wished the same tent came with a heavier bottom (whether made out of Cuben or another material).

Here are a couple links you might want to check out:

Brian Kelly
_ on 09/21/2012 10:33:17 MDT Print View

Thanks to all your helpful replies.
Dan Thanks for all that work you did that was very helpful and also thanks for the links Ross they were very informative.
So what Im gathering is a tarp like one of these

would be very beneficial because you gain the water proof part and tearing strength, which means i can pull tarp tie downs harder without worrying of ripping it? but maybe the cuben bags like
id have to watch more carefully so not to puncture it? Or is that inaccurate because it is a cuben fiber nylon hybrid?

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Re: Cuben on 09/21/2012 10:43:30 MDT Print View

Lots of valuable advice above.

Mine is simple minded - Cuben is one of those things to look at when you're serious about dropping weight from your pack and you have already addressed all the obvious items. If you haven't already done a sensible survey of the rest of the items you carry and determined where to drop weight, probably do that first.

That said, there are some 'affordable' cuben shelters out there, ZPacks being one manufacturer to look at.

p.s. thanks for the link Ross. I need to wrap that series up one of these days.

- Jacob.

Edited by JacobD on 09/21/2012 10:44:04 MDT.

Devon Cloud

Locale: Southwest
love the stuff but not sure about all the uses on 09/21/2012 14:18:44 MDT Print View

For me, the first thing I did is read up on the pros and cons of the material. Biggest pros: very strong in wind (hense the use for saliboat windsails), waterproof, very good under tension.

Cons: it is a pieced together type of matierial that loses those same pros with the smallest of holes in the material. It is not strong enough to hold a $200 pound man for long periods of time (so a hammock-type of use is out of the question). Rubbing the material on other hard objecs will wear a hole pretty easily and cause a tear when tension is introduced.

With that said, for me I think that tents with a different matterial floor are good, tarps are excellent, bivys are okay but could puncture on the bottom, and packs are good unless you have sharp objects. Right now the only one I am using is the tarp as I am a hammock camper and I am also a big guy, so have not found a pack suitable for my size. I am using a top quilt and bottom quilt for my hammock... I would be willing to try cuben fiber for those if I could find them and ti would be cost effective.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Cuben Packs on 09/21/2012 15:30:29 MDT Print View

I have two packs from HMG, a Windrider and a Porter, and absolutely love them. The fabric is plenty durable, and since they're rain-proof I don't have to worry about a pack cover or liner. A major selling point for me was the large/tall size, since a lot of packs are too short for my freakishly long torso.


" but maybe the cuben bags like
id have to watch more carefully so not to puncture it? Or is that inaccurate because it is a cuben fiber nylon hybrid?"

To specifically address your question, the cuben/nylon hybrid is great stuff, I haven't babied mine at all and have yet to damage it. (The white does get pretty dirty though, and the blue lettering from my platy bottles rubbed off onto it.)

Edited by cowexnihilo on 09/21/2012 15:34:39 MDT.

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Working on a budget on 09/21/2012 16:00:42 MDT Print View

What I've always done, working on a limited budget to reduce pack weight, is to do a complete spreadsheet analysis of how I can save weight and what those weight savings will cost me. Then I calculate the ounces saved per dollar, and spend only where its wisest. It sometimes takes more effort than a more haphazard approach, however it means that I don't usually have to agonize over whether something is "worth the money". Obviously, durability and comfort have to be factored in too--the spreadsheet is only a starting point.

That being said, I haven't bought and cuben fiber yet--the expense typically takes it out of my price range.

As far as I can tell though, cuben fiber is a fabulous material. Justify it like this: it is not a less durable material, but instead more durable for the weight. How thin a fabric you get is a somewhat separate decision, although you know you will get the same durability with lighter fabric in case of cuben.

I suppose what I'm recommending is simply to look at individual items you're interested in, use the information available here about their durability, and make your decision based on that, not a broad sweeping judgement of the fabric.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
cuben on 09/21/2012 16:08:58 MDT Print View

Cuben is definitely not more durable. I have a cuben quilt and in the course of 2 years I've had to patch it in several places with duck tape but it weighs 15oz even with the duck tape. Will it last me a lifetime like Katabatic Palisade quilt, no.

I have a zpacks EXO which is my goto backpack for many reasons but I have to baby it and not drag it on the rocks otherwise I it will have duck tape too and get heavier.

The truth is cuben Packs have not been around for 10 years so we don't know if they will last for 10 years.

If you want a bomber backpack that will last, go with MLD Exodus full suspension. It weighs 22 oz and will last longer and take more abuse with less care.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Re: Not that expensive on 09/21/2012 16:42:56 MDT Print View

Regarding the Hexamid Solo/Fly Creek comparison:

To be fair, one is a tarp that becomes a single wall tent when you add both the mesh and goundsheet option. The other is a fully double wall tent with a bathtub floor. A more accurate comparison would be, say, a shaped tarp or tarptent, which would be quite a bit cheaper, especially when you factor in having to add the extended beak to the Hexamid to get the same amount of coverage (and bumps the price up to $360).

I just can't justify drinking the cuben fiber kool-aid due to the cost. All fabrics have trade offs, and since I live where there is little humidity, the "silnylon sag" in shelters isn't a big deal. People may disagree, but I also really question the durability of the material, as Anthony talked about above.

Edited by aaronufl on 09/21/2012 17:00:49 MDT.

Brian Kelly
_hyperlite mountain gear on 09/21/2012 18:02:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the great information.
I really like the pros of the cuben fiber i am just nervous about its durability for the price.
Does anyone else have any more experience with the hyperlite echo 2 and there windrider packs that can chime in?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: _hyperlite mountain gear on 09/21/2012 18:24:58 MDT Print View

Echo 1 works good.


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Echo I, Windrider on 09/21/2012 18:54:32 MDT Print View

My wife has a windrider and until recently I owned an Echo I. Both are quite robust pieces of gear. The Echo is extremely well reinforced and I highly doubt you'd ever damage it. It's certainly not disposable gear and it would last you far longer than a few years.

The windrider fabric is also good. People do thru-hikes with 1.5oz cuben packs and the 2.92oz cuben/nylon hybrid. You wouldn't want to use it as a toboggan down a talus field, but under normal use it will hold up fine for years. A lot of well known adventurers like Roman Dial, Ryan Jordan and Forrest McCarthy are using packs with this fabric (HMG Porter).

"...which means i can pull tarp tie downs harder without worrying of ripping it?
I'd tension it down normally. The extra strength comes into play when your tarp is being blasted by high winds. I wouldn't self inflict heavy stress on it.

Edited by dandydan on 09/21/2012 18:56:04 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: cuben fiber, is it worth the extra money. on 09/21/2012 19:25:24 MDT Print View

I don't think Cuben fiber is worth the extra money.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
hexamid on 09/21/2012 22:23:32 MDT Print View

i've used a zpacks hexamid twin tarp for the last year & a half and I think its totally worth it. At 6 oz its all I bring for myself & with a partner. Its kept me dry through plenty of storms, no condensation issues, easy setup, plenty of space. So far, no noticable wear. When I bought mine I think I paid like $260 total including the beak. Even with a higher price, I still think its worth it. Its what I reccommend to my friends who want to invest in a nice light shelter.

I tend to think weight savings are not as great w/ other cuben gear. The material just seems to be well suited for tarps as well, whereas my cuben food bag got completely shredded.

Cuben on 09/22/2012 09:10:28 MDT Print View

No its not really worth the extra money, IF you already have a lightwt silnylon shelter.

You are not that far off on price. Include a cuben groundsheet and beak and the hexamid is much more expensive than another poster alluded too. SMD haven/tarp combo, hexamid twin w/beak/groundsheet, HMG echo II, all are pushing $500-600.

If you have NO shelter, it probably IS worth the extra money. Why? Becacause you will likely end up there eventually, so go ahead and save yourself some time and money from the start.

If your pack is 15 lbs, does it matter REALLY if its 15 or 16? No, it does not. Its a personal preference thing to be as light as possible.

Thicker cuben is pretty strong, it is not fragile at all. The zpacks blast foodbag, and stake bags are awesome and light. Especially the foodbag, its shaped to fit in a pack, not like other long skinny foodbags other mfgs make.

But it also doesnt stretch or sag when wet, doesnt absorb water, etc so it has advantages that go beyond just being light weight.

However, the great thing about a light pack, is the lighter your gear is, you can bring luxuries when needed and still stay in that sweet zone between 15-20 lbs fully loaded with 2L water. Heavier more luxurious pad sometimes, etc.

Edited by livingontheroad on 09/22/2012 09:26:31 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
One Calculation of Cost vs. Benefit on 09/22/2012 09:27:31 MDT Print View

I just pulled up a spreadsheet of my gearlist for finishing the CT last week. My base weight was about 9.5 pounds. I calculated the weight saved if I replaced everything possible (except my beloved pack) with a comparable cuben item from zpacks.

I could have saved about 27 oz and dropped my baseweight down to 7.9 pounds. I also would have spent $745 to do it. At this point I'm thinking that's not worth it too me, especially since 9.5 pounds is the upper limit of my gear for shoulder seasons. Its usually lighter for shorter/summer trips. Now in some cases I may start gradually getting cuban as old gear gets replaced. For example I need a new bivy at some point and a new tarp.