Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor
Display Avatars Sort By:
Joshua Abel
(Aberrix) - M
cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor on 02/13/2014 07:48:16 MST Print View

I'm getting a solo tent made with a number of custom modifications one of the possibilities is getting the tent floor done in [1oz] cuben vs. [1.1oz] silnylon. (the tent canopy is already being done in cuben) The modification would be a $60-80 increase and reduce the weight by about 1.5oz. Since I'm hoping for this to be "the" tent I've always dreamed of and wanted I'm thinking of going all in and getting all the upgrades I would ever want now.

are there any reason why I would not want to go with a cuben floor for my tent? The price upcharge is a non issue for me at this point. Thanks in advance.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
"cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor" on 02/13/2014 08:20:42 MST Print View

Cuben, by reputation, is more prone to abrasion damage than silnylon. I use a cuben fiber groundsheet with my Hexamid but the design of the tent provides a layer of netting to add some additional protection to the groundsheet.

I often use the groundsheet for cowboy camping but I take care to clear the ground of sticks and rocks.

I think you'd be fine but I'd personally use a polycryo groundsheet with it. Fortunately if you do damage it, it's fairly simple to repair.

Joshua Abel
(Aberrix) - M
footprint on 02/13/2014 08:26:52 MST Print View

I plan to use a footprint either way I go, dunno if that matters. I also clear the ground and am generally very careful with taking care of all my gear

Edited by Aberrix on 02/13/2014 08:28:01 MST.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re: "cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor" on 02/13/2014 08:59:07 MST Print View

The way I see it is the cuben will wear out faster than sil but I dont think its a problem because it will still last a long time. If I had a sil tent I would want a sil floor, cuben tent cuben floor vise versa. Cuben has a few advantages like weight and its not slippery.

If you are thru hiking for several months you might want to replace it at the end. You could always mail the tent back to the maker and have them sew in a new cuben floor ($100?).

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor on 02/13/2014 09:33:46 MST Print View

The cuben will probably wear out much faster than other materials. Whether or not that is a problem will vary by user. So you have to determine how much the lighter option of cuben is worth to you.

I think that carrying extra weight in a groundsheet to protect a tent floor kind of defeats the purpose of a tent, which is why most of my shelters are floorless. But that is my opinion, others disagree.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Floor on 02/13/2014 09:59:54 MST Print View

I would go silnylon and no ground sheet.

Cuben is sketchy as a floor material. It's okay for a while, but once it starts to fray the end isn't far off. Opting for silnylon with no groundsheet is (1) cheaper (2) lighter and (3) more durable.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Floor on 02/13/2014 10:04:39 MST Print View

Personally I would never use cuben as a tent floor. This last weekend I discovered that my 1.0 oz cuben pack liner is not even remotely waterproof after about a year and a half of use. I could only imagine it being worse for something you sit and kneel on.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re: Re: "cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor" on 02/13/2014 10:06:30 MST Print View

Has anyone actually worn though a cuben floor all the way to the point of it not being useable?

1.0 cuben is pretty tough and I honestly don't see it fraying to the point of disintegrating. I can easily see it lasting hundreds of nights.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
It depends ... on 02/13/2014 10:30:34 MST Print View

I have personal experience with this, in a way at least. What you almost never can find on questions like this is someone who has recently tried it "both ways", so there's almost always an experience bias to answers. Including mine.

Anyway, for my 2011 CDT thru-hike, I bought a cuben Lightheart Solo tent, and decided to go with silnylon floor. In part because that saved a little money, but primarily due to concerns about how cuben would last as a floor.

Post-hike (and I slept in that tent pretty much every night), both upper and lower are intact, it's still my go-to tent. What I can't know is how a cuben floor would have fared instead.

I do agree that not all cuben is alike. If the tent body (upper) type of cuben were used as the floor, I'm not confident it would have lasted. But a thicker, more abrasion proof cuben might have done fine. I presume with less of a weight savings, however, and I think for me it would have been $100 more.

Bottom line, if I were to do it again I would still go with the silnylon floor.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Floors on 02/13/2014 10:34:29 MST Print View

I agree that cuben has the advantages of (1) not being annoyingly slippery like silnylon (2) being somewhat lighter and (3) being more waterproof initially. Ideally I'd like a 30D PU coated floor.

My experience with stuff sacks is that a year down the road silnylon is going to be more waterproof. All my cuben stuff sacks leak substantially after moderate use. My 1.5oz cuben food sack was super ratty before a bear stole it this fall. I've got small misc. gear stuff sack I made from 1.5oz cuben, but I'm opting not to bring it on the PCT this summer because it's starting to fray and I think I treat it pretty nice.

I had a HMG Echo I with a 1.5oz cuben floor. There was no damage to it when I sold it, but I only had 5-10 nights of use on it. I think it theory 100+ nights is possible, but it could also be ruined by one night on granite.

I guess like all things it's really situation dependant. If you camp on nice surfaces and take care of your gear it'll last a long time.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Floors on 02/13/2014 11:17:07 MST Print View

I use silnylon bottom bivy with no other groundsheet. Used it for years. Still seems waterproof.

Seems like it defeats UL to have a second groundsheet or footprint.

If silnylon is too slippery, put a little silicone:mineral spirits. Then it's not slippery. If it loses waterproofness, this also works to fix that, although for slipperyness, you just need to put it in the middle where you sleep, for waterproofness you have to carefully cover entire surface.

AT Hiker

Locale: East TN
Cuben floor on 02/13/2014 11:18:53 MST Print View

I have had great success with my tent with cuben floor. Even after my thru hike, it is still in great shape. No leaks. I think it is a much better application than a food bag. I had to replace my cuben fibre food bag as it split at the seams. Also, cuben is very easily patched if necessary.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Floors on 02/13/2014 11:30:38 MST Print View

"Has anyone actually worn though a cuben floor all the way to the point of it not being useable?

"1.0 cuben is pretty tough and I honestly don't see it fraying to the point of disintegrating. I can easily see it lasting hundreds of nights."

After a "first time out" on 10 day JMT trip my .75 cuben floor was full of pinholes, to the point that I would collect water between the floor and my air mat, raining or not, on just damp campsite ground.

Was it "worn through"? Nope.
Is it usable? If you don't mind the potential of a wet floor and wet gear.

I don't think it's just a matter of careful campsite grooming. I believe there is an inherent flaw in the way the facing gets worked against the individual spectra fibers, on the ground and while carried in a pack. Certainly where the Spectra spacing is wide, as with the lighter fabrics. And with my .75 ounce.

Many folks thought .75 was indestructible. But until someone does some wear testing on 1.0 oz cuben, followed by Hydraulic Head testing, I'll chose something else.

(jpovs) - F - M

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: cuben vs. silnylon for a tent floor on 02/13/2014 11:35:28 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/15/2014 13:58:44 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Floors on 02/13/2014 11:40:16 MST Print View

Silnylon. If it starts leaking, just reseal it. I agree with Jerry.

Like other have said, cuben is not very abraision resistant. Floors are generally the area of most damage with a tent. It will take 3-4 times as much damage as the canopy. I would probably bite the bullit here, and simply go for the extra 1.5oz. Later, after recoating, this may be another two or three ounces. But your maintenence will only cost about $10-15. Over the same time period (about 2-3 years) you will likely need two floors, roughly, 1 per year. This would be about $200 plus shipping. Over the life expanctancy of the tent? Calling it five years, shows a huge difference in cost for only about a 5-6oz overall weight savings. (Chances are, you will only need to do it every other year if you use it for 2 months per year, anyway.)

(jpovs) - F - M

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: Re: Re: Floors on 02/13/2014 11:50:36 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/15/2014 14:00:21 MDT.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Don't forget us paranoid people on 02/13/2014 11:55:36 MST Print View

I am going to make the unpopular suggestion that I will readily admit is mostly due to paranoia. I personally always have to have a ground cover, regardless of the material of my tent or bivy or whatever. So knowing that I am more comfortable always using a ground cover, be it a silnylon or Cuben tent/bivy, I took a step back and looked at the advantages of each fabric a bit differently.

The whole abrasion thing with Cuben is not really an issue if you have a ground cover. I use a double ground cover most of the time, which is a DIY job of a garbage bag and a cut up piece of space blanket with duct tape to hold them together. Plus a small Cuben stuff sack, this double ground cover weighs 88g. This gives me the peace of mind knowing that my Cuben bottomed bivy (which is what I use most of the time) has two layers of protection. Of course I am like most of us here, in that I am also careful and make sure to clear the ground and all that. I even lay my ground cover and then lay on top of it and feel around for any pieces of debris I may have missed, and this technique really ensures I do a good job clearing ground.

There is another item of gear that comes into play here, which is sleeping pads with any kind of air in them. If you use them, they also benefit from having a little extra protection with a ground cover.

But seeing as silnylon is slightly heavier, and also slippery, and I read in a few threads on here that sometimes with pressure it can seep water through, and given my personal issue of always using a ground sheet, Cuben wins out for me.

If you don't care about being extra cautious with your floor, go for siynylon and no ground cover. If you want/need to be extra cautious and will usually or always use a ground cover, go for Cuben. If you are even more paranoid/cautious than I am, go for silnylon plus a ground cover and just deal with the extra weight.

It's worth noting that ground covers are not the heaviest addition either. You don't have to be crazy like me and use a two layer one. In my 4 season kit for winter/frigid/very cold temps I use just a garbage bag as a ground cover, as I don't use a tent or bivy in these conditions, and it only weighs 42g plus a tiny Cuben stuff sack. Even a really tough Tyvek ground cover is going to be around 3-4oz I think. I think once my double ground cover gets worn out and needs replaced, I might get a Tyvek one in the future.

Good luck whatever you pick.

EDIT - fixed some typos, added a few details

Edited by PrimeZombie on 02/13/2014 12:03:37 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Cuben on 02/13/2014 12:18:15 MST Print View

"I wonder why no one goes with 1.43oz cuben for the floor? I would think this would still be lighter than the silnylon floor including seam sealent?"

At last check, HMG was using 1.43oz cuben for their floors in the Echo shelters. Lightweight nylon (30D) is about 1.1oz/yd and then with the silicone coating it ends up at 1.3 to 1.5oz/yd. So opting for 1.43oz is effectively weight neutral. Yes you might have to seal some silnylon seams, but you also have to seal or tape cuben seams.

My suspicion is that the amount of fibers used in cuben isn't the real hang up for abrasion. The limiting property is likely the outer mylar layers since pinholes can form in cuben without breaking any of the fibers. To this, >1.0oz cuben with the thicker .18 mylar is better than the lighter cuben with .08 mylar, but it's still pretty bare bones. I'd wager than a simple polycro floor would be stronger, more durable and lighter but it wouldn't have the trail-steez of cuben.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Don't forget us paranoid people on 02/13/2014 12:18:37 MST Print View

"The whole abrasion thing with Cuben is not really an issue if you have a ground cover."

There are industry standard "wear tests" used to evaluate matierals. One is a "flapper test" where the fabric is held in front of a fan and allowed to "flap" for a set amount of time. Another is a "washing machine test" where the agitation simulates wear. (Gore's choice). There are other tests.

So, no "abrasion", no "pointy things", no "kneeling".

For many samples, Cuben has failed these tests. It pinholes.

I recognize that many have used cuben for a lot of applications without seeing a problem. But when push comes to shove, testing has shown that the durability is questionable.

Edited by greg23 on 02/13/2014 12:19:58 MST.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Floors on 02/13/2014 12:22:03 MST Print View

@Dan Durston: Are you and Dena Kelley wearing the same outfit?