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Cuben Fiber - what's not to like?
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Packman Pete
(packmanpete) - MLife

Locale: Rainy Portland
Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 07:00:07 MDT Print View

Hey guys, I've been using cuben tarps for a few years, and am considering going back to silnylon or home-made polycro tarps. Why? There are some inherent qualities about cuben fiber that I just can't stand. I wonder if anybody else feels this way. I'm going to start this thread and list one frustration I have with cuben, and I would expect any other commenters to also list one. let's see where this goes...

It does not 'stuff' into a stuff sack. It's not compressible and slippery like silnylon. You must fold it and roll it as tight as possible to make it fit into tiny included stuff sacks. It leaves wear marks where it is folded each time, and takes two people to get it right. Hate it!

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 07:21:58 MDT Print View

The price.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 07:50:50 MDT Print View

It does not take abraision well without leaking.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 07:59:37 MDT Print View

I have cuben (0.74) stuff sacks and they are still completely waterproof and they get compressed, twisted, and stuffed in my pack.

I have never used cuben for a shelter, however.


Edit: damn Iphone

Edited by FamilyGuy on 05/03/2013 09:06:15 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 08:13:57 MDT Print View

Hmmm...

I have no problems whatsoever stuffing my cuben hexamid into its teeny stuff sack. Then it compresses even more when it's in my pack. So far I love the stuff.

I even like that weird chemical smell it has ;)

Packman Pete
(packmanpete) - MLife

Locale: Rainy Portland
Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 08:22:20 MDT Print View

I can't get mine to fit back into their stuff sacks to save my soul. I have to do this ridiculous and meticulous fold-up procedure each time. Drives me batty. I like to cram and jam!

Jeff McConnell
(Catalyst) - F
Re: Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 08:27:03 MDT Print View

Sounds like you just need a different stuff sack ;)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 08:54:23 MDT Print View

While I generally do a fold/roll with my cuben shelters, I have just stuffed 'em into a stuffsack when I've been in a hurry. Never worried about it, so it's certainly doable. There was a thread on here, I think a couple of years ago, about folding/rolling vs. just stuffing. I think the general consensus was there was no appreciable difference.

And I've always just stuffed my cuben quilts, never a fold/roll. Slightly different than a shelter, I know, just adding info.

What's not to like? No phosphorescent colors. I like things nice and bright. Other than that, as Tim said, the price. And, perhaps, the fact that Henry won't make any of his shelters with it.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
The Price on 05/03/2013 09:00:37 MDT Print View

It is too expensive to suit me. I figure that I can have a base weight of 7 pounds or so if I want to go pretty minimal without spending much. With a few Cuben items to replace my silnylon ones, I could save a few more ounces at the cost of 100's of dollars. It doesn't seem like a good deal to me, so I'll pass for now.

Since I am too cheap to buy Cuben fiber stuff I can't speak first hand to it's disadvantages.

Andrew Zajac
(AZajac)

Locale: South West
cuben stuff sacks on 05/03/2013 09:13:12 MDT Print View

+1 to getting a larger stuff sack. However, my current strategy is to go without the stuff sack. I don't have much long-term experience with this method, but I usually just fold my 8x10 tarp until it is pretty flat and shove it into my pack between my pack liner and pack to avoid wetting my stuff while still protecting the tarp. I don't know if this will affect its durability, but I seem to remember an article on BPL discussing damage and failure rates for people using different tarp/tent stuffing methods. I haven't given it a thorough read, but it looks like it could provide some answers.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=31071

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 11:53:22 MDT Print View

“You must fold it and roll it as tight as possible to make it fit into tiny included stuff sacks. It leaves wear marks where it is folded each time, and takes two people to get it right.”

Oh oh. No one told me this. But I have never folded Cuben. I have the Hexamid and I just stuff it. Joe’s sack is big enough. I think on his website, he folds it though.

When I pack a tent, here are the easiest to hardest:
1. Hexamid – Cuben; extremely easy to stuff
2. GG squall classic – Spinnaker; fold, roll, and slides easy into tube bag (also of Spinnaker). That is nice stuff.
3. Tarptent Rainshadow – Sylnylon; fold, roll, and it’s hard to get in bag! Especially if there’s any dampness on it. That’s another thing; silnylon hangs onto moisture in humid environments and then bloats. That’s hard to get in a bag.

+1 on needing a different stuff sack.

-Barry

Corbin Camp
(heycorb)

Locale: Southeast
For some things, CF can't be beat on 05/03/2013 12:19:45 MDT Print View

The price is definitely the biggest issue. I use a cuben dry bag for my EE quilt. My last trip was through an absolute monsoon. Even with the pack cover, everything was soaked... except the stuff in my cuben bags. What I paid for the cuben bag wasn't much more than a comparable sized sil or eVent bag and certainly weighs less.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 12:36:10 MDT Print View

It's silly, I know. My biggest complaint lies with the aesthetics of cuben. There is absolutely room in backpacking gear for the luxury of style preference. Cuben as a material currently doesn't make my list.

Cost is what it is. I don't have to pay the premium so I'm not going to knock it for that reason. I understand why folks pay the premium for cuben, it does excel in some areas where other materials performance depreciates.


Cuben is to silnylon what carbon frames are to steel in cycling. Pick your flavor and be happy.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 13:03:58 MDT Print View

"Cuben is to silnylon what carbon frames are to steel in cycling. Pick your flavor and be happy."

I want a cuben fiber frame for my bike, and I won't be happy until I get one....

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
cuben on 05/03/2013 13:16:38 MDT Print View

I fold my hexamid over lengthwise so that the screen is on the outside, and the cuben on the inside, about the height of the sack

Then roll up
Then cram into the stuffsak

Nothing meticulous about it, takes a minute

It is rather bulky for the weight. Without the screen, it would be much much less.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Aesthetics on 05/03/2013 13:34:48 MDT Print View

I'm with Eugene. I don't like the look or the feel of the stuff.

And cost. Saving ounces isn't worth that much to me.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Aesthetics on 05/03/2013 13:45:06 MDT Print View

"Saving ounces isn't worth that much to me."

Yeah, I can appreciate that. In the beginning I bought cuben to save some weight, but that stopped being a major reason quite some time ago. Now, for me, it's really just about playing with different stuff, some cuben, some not. I'm that way in most aspects of my life, not just backpacking.

Edited by idester on 05/03/2013 13:46:16 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Aesthetics on 05/03/2013 13:45:25 MDT Print View

"Saving ounces isn't worth that much to me."

Easy for you young bucks to say.

Check back in 30 years and talk about it - of course I will have checked out by then :)

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Saving ounces... on 05/03/2013 14:01:08 MDT Print View

I am not exactly a young buck (62 next month) and I think saving weight needs to be looked at with the right perspective. It isn't too hard for me to get to 10 pounds base and with some more serious trimming and no luxury items to 7 pounds with no Cuben fiber. So the last few ounces at the cost of hundreds of dollars just isn't worth it to me.

I am not knocking Cuben for those who choose to spend on it, but I might snicker a bit at folks who spend lots of money to save a few ounces when they have not yet trimmed the easier cheaper weight. To me once I get to sub 10 pounds, anything I trim just doesn't have all that much impact.

The bottom line for me is that the lower hanging fruit should come first and once I do that I am already pretty light. I'll happily trim ounces or even fractions of ounces, but it has to be a reasonable bang for the buck.

Packman Pete
(packmanpete) - MLife

Locale: Rainy Portland
Stretch on 05/03/2013 14:06:11 MDT Print View

Initially I liked cuben vs silnylon because the latter stretched when wet. I find that I kind of miss the stretch when setting up the tarp. It allowed a nice tight pitch if you tugged hard enough. Cuben doesn't stretch and requires a perfect pitch to really get tight. If not, there are ripples in the panels that won't go away.

Know what I mean?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 16:32:29 MDT Print View

It's ugly and translucent. Looks like wax paper. Those who own it can sometimes be elitist snobs. Then there are those who wind up like Doug. Too expensive.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 17:27:16 MDT Print View

"It's ugly and translucent. Looks like wax paper. Those who own it can sometimes be elitist snobs. Then there are those who wind up like Doug. Too expensive."

I may be ugly and translucent, and look like wax paper, but I am NOT expensive. Pretty cheap, actually.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/03/2013 17:30:36 MDT Print View

Cost is an issue for sure. When I purchased a Duomid a few years back the savings per ounce were not worth it to me. However, I did eventually get a cuben fibre Trailstar, as I thought it could be my one and only shelter. However, I soon found that the lack of stretch meant it wasn't as flexible in its pitching options as the silnylon version, so back it went. Interestingly Colin Ibbotson recently posted a very detailed review of the MLD Cricket and again the silnylon version was more flexible in terms of its pitching options. The stretch in silnylon can definitely be a benefit sometimes.

I do now have a cuben fibre shelter, the Hexamid, and so far I like it.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Cuben again on 05/03/2013 23:04:12 MDT Print View

Now that lighter polyesters and nylons are becoming available, and more waterproof coatings are coming from Asia, it is hard to justify Cuben, especially at the price.
I still prefer woven fabric, so long as it is in the one ounce range like Cuben.

Specifically, GoLite, One Planet, Snow Peak and Mountain Hardwear, are all selling tents now with coated woven fabric well below the 30 denier we thought was the new light when silnylon first became available in the nineties. I plan to try out a couple of these using fabric in the 15-20 denier range this summer to see how they hold up. My gut tells me they will hold up fine, without any of the downside issues with Cuben.

With respect to the weight issue, even using heavier 30 denier nylon, .76 oz cuben with a denser layup of Dyneema fibers weighs about .5 oz per sq. yd. less than 1.28 oz. silnylon coming from Asia with a substantially higher HH, or water resistance. A typical solo tent will use about 6 square yards for the outer canopy wall. So the Cuben saves about 3 ounces overall. With larger tents, the savings is greater.

The chief attractions to me of woven fabrics are the superior ability to hold stitching, and the elasticity that resists punctures and abrasion, while also allowing for a taut canopy.

The sagging issue with nylon can be addressed by using woven polyester, which is less water absorbent, and by using nylon with more water resistant coatings. The sag is also less of an issue in tents with more frame support, whether they be domes or multiple hooped tunnels. Also, some of the paraglider woven fabrics are sub one ounce, and are treated to resist sagging. With better treatments for water resistance, some of these fabrics, like Porcher Sport Skytex 27 for example, would be excellent for tents and tarps.

Cuben may soon be passe.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Cuben again on 05/04/2013 07:14:50 MDT Print View

For me, honestly, it's not really so much about the weight. For that much money it really isn't THAT much in weight reduction. But having owned a sil tent and now a cuben hexamid, I simply cannot believe the difference in how it behaves in the rain. I no longer have to roll up this soggy, heavy, uncontrollable mass of wetness and shove it somewhere safe in/on my pack...

I give the cuben a few good shakes, maybe do a quick wipe down with a bandana and voila! nearly completely dry shelter to pack up. Even IN the rain.

I'm not sure ill ever have another sil shelter again........unfortunately for my bank account.....

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Cuben Fiber - beauty is in the eye of the beholder! on 05/04/2013 08:28:57 MDT Print View

I may be alone but I love the "high tech" look of Cuben Fiber when used on a well designed UL shelter (l actually like the transluecent appearance and being able to see the fabric weave, much like carbon fiber when used on high end bike frames I prefer to see the carbon fiber weave over say the same frame painted). A poorly designed shelter or one made using less than quality craftsmanship can ruin the look and performance ability of any shelter, but combine a quality material, a great design and top level craftsmanship and you have a winner. For me that material is Cuben Fiber.

In regard to storing the shelter, I designate my packs front pocket for use in storing my shelter along with items such as my ground cover and wind shell. No stuff sack required.

Edited by thomdarrah on 05/04/2013 12:55:12 MDT.

Evan Chartier
(evanchartier) - M
Negatives to Cuben on 05/04/2013 11:58:29 MDT Print View

After reading the previous posts, I can honestly say that these are non-issues for me. The cost is higher than with silnylon, so as a student that can be difficult, but by making careful purchases on BPL I believe I have been able to minimize the cost difference between sil and cuben. The benefits just outweigh everything else for me. I love the look, packability, weight, and non-stretch abilities as well.
Evan

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
not like on 05/04/2013 15:35:12 MDT Print View

Well, I did wake up one night recently and felt like I had a flashlight shining in my face. It was a full moon. The inside of my tent was almost like daylight.

Aside from that, the no-stretch is one of my likes.

Sara Dhooma
(Sara)

Locale: Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/06/2013 18:30:33 MDT Print View

"I even like that weird chemical smell it has ;)"

I love the smell too!
I'm glad I'm not alone. :)

Cuban fiber EVERYTHING!

Packman Pete
(packmanpete) - MLife

Locale: Rainy Portland
Re: Re: Re: Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/06/2013 18:49:26 MDT Print View

Some don't like the look of it
Some don't like the feel of it
Some don't like the scent of it
How about the sound of it? Crinkly
And the taste of it? Slimy

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Cuben Fiber - what's not to like? on 05/07/2013 06:50:51 MDT Print View

Agreed, the full moon came up at 2AM and I thought it was the sun. I got up, packed up and hiked. My brain wouldn't accept that it was that early.

I will say that I do like the fact that my pitch doesn't sag in the middle of the night.

I also like the fact that condensation doesn't cling to the surface of cuben the way it does with silnylon or even spinnaker. I end up with a drier bag/quilt in the morning and a drier and lighter shelter in my pack.

I don't smell the cuben anymore. Like knew car smell, it doesn't last long.

I never found cuben to make crinkly noise. That may be an aspect of the very thin versions of cuben.
I did find my spinnaker shelter to be a little crinkly, but only until it was pitched.