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Where have all the silnylon packs gone?
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Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/17/2013 20:08:32 MDT Print View

I just bought a "new" pack, a 2010 Gossamer Gear Mariposa, in silnylon. I also have a MLD Prophet in silnylon and spinnaker, as well as a G4. Silnylon packs like these and many more used to be available from places like Gossamer Gear and MLD and were well made, light weight, and affordable. The G4 has been with me for 3 seasons and I inspected it today. It looks brand new. I am careful with my gear but not obsessive. The G4 has seen it share of overgrown trails and abuse. Granted, I don't bushwhack or climb with mine, but how many UL backpackers do? Now dyneema, VX, cuben and hybrid-cuben rule. The packs from MLD and Gossamer Gear are now heavier and lot more expensive. The G4 looks like the only silnylon pack left standing. It was not lost on me that at the same time Gossamer Gear rolled out their more expensive dyneema packs they lost the word "affordable" from their logo.

Did people really find the silnylon packs were just too wimpy for UL backpacking? Was this move away from silnylon made based on customer feed back or, shudder, focus groups? Or was it a business and marketing decision, selling on us on a level of durability we might never need for a much greater price than we were paying? Would people still buy packs like the MLD Prophet, the GG Mariposa, or the GG Murmur, if they were offered as a cheaper alternative next to their dyneema counterparts?

Edited by on 03/20/2013 22:55:25 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/17/2013 20:15:58 MDT Print View

Some of the newer fabrics are just so much better at abrasion resistance while being very light. The silnylon fabric quality has had issues through the years. Saw some interesting stuff at the GGG fabric wise. Remember wet look silnylon? Just technology marching on I think.

For me, I'll go with some extra durability on a pack. It is one piece of gear that experiences every mile of trail, or lack of with you. They are expensive enough that I want it to last quite some time as well.

Edited by kthompson on 03/17/2013 20:19:05 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/17/2013 20:37:22 MDT Print View

Dynema weighs 4.2 oz/yd2, or thru-hiker has one that weighs 3.5 oz/yd2. Sil weighs maybe 1.4 oz/yd2.

Pack takes maybe 1.5 yd2 of fabric. Sil = 2.1 oz, Dynema = 6.3 oz = 4.2 oz more.

If sil isn't strong enough and rips, then the extra 4 oz of Dynema is well worth it.

If you're using sil and it lasts long enough for you, then saving 4 oz is saving 4 oz.

Maybe sil is so generic and Dynema is the new cool thing so pack makers use it. Also, fewer complaints about fabric tearing.

Maybe you'll have to start making your own : )

Oh, and Dynema costs $27 a yard, sil maybe $6 a yard for seconds.

Edited by retiredjerry on 03/17/2013 20:44:58 MDT.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Silnylon packs on 03/17/2013 21:37:14 MDT Print View

Jerry - Was silnylon simply too fragile for packs? Are there lots of folks who just wore them out too quickly? Was there a real demand for beefier UL packs? I looked at your fabric/cost comments and looked at the GG Mariposa for an example. The switch to dyneema cost the UL consumer an extra 4 to 5 oz and about $65, if I am recalling the price of the silnylon version right. Looking over old articles and reviews, I did not see a great clamoring for more stronger, heavier UL oriented packs. When I really started following this, around 2010, ULA was already making those, McHale was making them, Zimmerbilt was making them, and then Hyperlite Mountain Gear with their cuben hybrid. Zpacks was out in front of the crazy light cuben market. Then, around 2011, like the dinosaurs, a whole segment of the UL pack market, silnylon packs, seemed to vanish.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Silnylon packs on 03/17/2013 21:45:57 MDT Print View

Cuben probably has a higher profit margin, so it may be all about the money. Silnylon packs are just fine.

Edited by jshann on 03/17/2013 21:47:10 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Silnylon packs on 03/17/2013 21:46:50 MDT Print View

I am just guessing.

Look at the posts people make about packs - 80% of them are Dynema and 20% are Cuben, no silnylon

Silnylon is just not popular - old fashioned - quaint ...

If for 4 ounces (or whatever) you can make a much stronger pack, Dynema makes a lot of sense

And people like to imagine that they might bushwack through granite and Yucca like on that parallel thread : )

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Spider silk! on 03/17/2013 22:20:53 MDT Print View

Jerry - So I should pitch my silnylon spats and cape? I heard a piece on NPR about genetically modified goats that make spider silk in their milk. The reporter said that making spider silk from goats could make it much cheaper. It is apparently crazy light and very strong stuff. The reporter talked about using it to make ballistic vests but I thought why save lives? It would make an awesome pack or tarp. I have seen the future of UL, and it is in the milk of genetically modified goats, and the revolution will be expensive. You heard it here first.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Spider silk! on 03/17/2013 23:15:43 MDT Print View

I heard that too. When it becomes available everyone will switch to it for a while : )

And there's some fish, a Gar?, that produces slime that can be processed to form some super fiber...

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
sil on 03/17/2013 23:30:22 MDT Print View

They just dont have good structure or durability...

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Re: Spider silk! on 03/18/2013 00:01:31 MDT Print View

"The reporter talked about using it to make ballistic vests but I thought why save lives? It would make an awesome pack or tarp."

Spoken like a true backpacker. I laughed!

Christine Thuermer
(GermanTourist) - F - M

Locale: in my tent
Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/18/2013 01:30:50 MDT Print View

To add another manufacturer to your list: Laufbursche in Germany still uses Silnylon for backpacks.

I have been using both Dyneema (Golite Gust) and Silnylon (Gossamer Gear G4) for years.

I did not find Silnylon too delicate. I get about one year of continuous use out of a G4. What breaks first is usually not the fabric but the stitching. The only problem with Silnylon is that once you have a hole or a tear you have to fix it quickly or it will rip further.

I had not noticed that Silnylon packs are disappearing and I find that unfortunate. No matter what UL fabric you use it is pretty vulnerable so price is essential. I don't want to invest hundreds of dollars into a pack that will break within a year - no matter what material. Even my Dyneema packs were pretty beat after one year of continuous use. I would and will happily buy Silnylon again.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/18/2013 10:38:44 MDT Print View

Here's a previous thread on the subject of pack fabric.

previous thread

I'm currently using a myog backpack made of uncoated ripstop nylon that weighs about 3/4 ounce per square yard and it is working fine with loads up to about 35 lbs. It's not for everyone, however.

I'm not prepared to run naked through thorn bushes or slide down a granite slope with it. If I was I would add the 4 ounces of weight (see Jerry's post) and go to a heavier fabric. (I'd also put some clothes on).

Edited by lyrad1 on 03/18/2013 10:40:04 MDT.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Durability on 03/19/2013 22:24:36 MDT Print View

I have read a lot of accounts of how silnylon packs have held up well over time. If used as intended, on trail with loads within the stated pack limits, they seem to do fine. Does anyone have an account of silnylon packs, especially quality made ones from places like Six Moons Design, GG, or MLD, failing when being properly used? I am trying to get a handle on whether the durability issue is real or perceived.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Laufbursche on 03/19/2013 22:42:22 MDT Print View

Mein Gott in himmel! I had never looked at Laufbursche packs. They are good looking packs and make a lot of use of silnylon. Once I did the Euro conversion they were spendy, and that is before shipping to the US. Would the Germans, with their legendary fondness for over-engineering, use a wimpy, inferior fabric? I think not.

Christine Thuermer
(GermanTourist) - F - M

Locale: in my tent
Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/20/2013 03:25:16 MDT Print View

as I am probably one of the people on this forum who use their gear the most I can assure you that Silnylon packs do not fail when used properly. I am just about to "bury" my second GG G4.
The first one "died" in Alaska when the material ripped in the collar region which was basically my own fault. The pack had a tear there already that I had not properly repaired. When I tried to lift the pack from the collar the tear ripped further and damage became too big to be properly repaired. At that time I had continuously used (and abused) the pack for over a year!
My second GG G4 is now about to be buried after a similar period of use. The stitching has come off at various places and I'd rather throw it away now than risk an accident in the field where repairs are more difficult. In this case I have not had ANY problem with the Silnylon material - only with the quality of stitching.

Martin Clark
(Marty_Mcfly) - F

Locale: Southeast US
Silnylon Pack shortage on 03/20/2013 03:44:14 MDT Print View

I for one become particularly fond of gear. I'm still using a golite breeze, and a golite gust I purchased here on this forum. And I remember during 07 and 08 when purchasing a new dyneema pack limited you to either the ULA packs or six moon designs. While I would like to tell you that I am a fan of sil nylon packs, I actually believe that its worth the extra 4oz taken on by carrying a dyneema pack. I absolutely LOVE my breeze and if I could use it the rest of my life I would. I do feel like this is just where the market went, likely due to a higher profit margin, but largely because thats were the customers decided it should go. The good news is that people like Ron at MLD would likely make you a custom pack if you wanted one.

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Silnylon Pack Durability on 03/20/2013 08:09:59 MDT Print View

Just to set the record straight, Six Moon Designs does not produce a silnylon pack. There used be be a number of 30D silnylon packs available along with a few spinnaker packs. I've even made a few for personal use on different hike.

However for our commercial packs, we use 70D silicone nylon only (except for some internal pockets). Even then it is currently only used for extension collars or the backing of the Pad Pockets.

While I have not doubt that some could successfully use a light silnylon pack. In reality they are few and far between. Most people would trash them pretty quickly and you pretty much have to sale them with no warranties available.


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/20/2013 15:42:23 MDT Print View

I stopped using sil packs after I sliced one while stuffing some gear into it. Normally I'm pretty careful but I slid something with a sharp edge down into my pack and it sliced the sil very easily. I was able to patch the hole so it didn't let me down but after that I didn't trust sil anymore for packs and now have Dyneema Grid Stop packs. I've made modifications to a couple of the Dyneema packs and I can tell you they won't slice open (I could barely cut that stuff with my scissors!).

Edited by skopeo on 03/20/2013 15:42:55 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Where have all the silnylon packs gone? on 03/20/2013 15:49:57 MDT Print View

Is Dynema waterproof?

Most silnylon is not. If I have, for example, an insulated garment inside against fabric, it will wick rain water in and the garment will get wet. If I coat the inside with mineral spirits/silicone, then it is waterproof, and the seams are also sealed.

Andrew Zajac

Locale: South West
silnylon durability on 03/20/2013 18:57:12 MDT Print View

I have the riksak by GG and have not been too impressed with silnylon durability. I have taken it on many day hikes and used it as a stuff sack for clothes. Due to its small size, I haven't loaded it up much. However, it still has a bunch of patches and little holes. I plan to replace it with something a little heftier whenever it finally bites the dust.