Nov 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm #1282344
My cuben gear is pretty new, but I only have shelters. I'm wondering how people's cuben has faired in terms of general wear over time w/ pics if possible. I'm not interested in tieouts of a tarp letting go, but more so clothing (quilts? Maybe stuff sacks?) and how it's done being stuffed a million times into your pack? Also, what weight is your cuben clothing?
I'm considering buying a cuben, insulated vest and I'm curious how it's done over time…as we all know it's not cheap stuff. Thx.Nov 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm #1804994
I took my Z-Packs Cloud Cape made of 1.26 ounce black Cuben fiber with me on my 2,180 mile thru hike of the Appalchian trail this year.
I wore my cloud cape as rain gear, a vapor barrier layer, and used it as a "door mat" when entering and exiting my Patrol shelter.
My cloud cape recieved brutal treatment that i would not expect any other material to survive and remain waterproof.
Here are some pictures I took this very hour.
I also filled my cloud cape with water and held it up so you can see that the material is still water proof enough to do so.
There is not even one hole in the cloud cape after 100 days on the trail being stuffed into and out of my pack everyday, and used as a ground sheet in the doorway of my tarp.
Before i catch crap for using Cuben fiber as a doormat.. Try getting out of a warm quilt in heavy rain and sitting your booty down on a piece of silnylon or spinnaker while putting your shoes and clothes on.
The Cuben fiber does not weep any moisture, even under the ball of a foot or elbow pressed into it on wet muddy ground.
While that was not my primary reason for carrying it, that turned out to be quite a usefull trait.
Besides my old school urethane coated poncho and the cuben fiber cloud cape, none of my WPB jackets remain water proof.
The down side is that urethane coated nylon and Cuben fiber used as clothing collect their fair share of condensation from within.
Alas, there is no free lunch.Nov 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm #1804996
Matt you rock. That's exactly the type of info I was looking for.
I think I'd opt for .74 for a insulated cuben vest, but we'll see.
Great stress test for that cape! :oNov 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm #1804997
USA Duane HallParticipant
@hikerduaneLocale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
I appreciate those pics and info. Thank you.
DuaneNov 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm #1805001
That is really impressive testimony. I didn't realize that the material could be so durable.Nov 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm #1805004
The irony is; I didn't know Cuben could be so durable either until I used it on the AT.
My tarp and rain gear were made of Cuben.
Both pieces of gear remain in perfect, if a bit wrinkled, condition.
Actually it was a gamble for me.
I am defintely NOT a rich man.
I had to work and save every penny to hike each of the triple crown trails and spending 300 bucks on a tarp and 95 on a cape were a huge commitment of funds for me.
Both pices of gear are still in near perfect condition and i would certainly take them on another long distance hike again.. I am currently working and saving every penny to do just that!
Having previously spent $300 on a spinnaker shelter and having the material lose it's water proofness after 5,600 miles I decided to invest in a lighter and stronger material.. a material that does not stretch and is innately waterproof rather than a coated woven fiber.. thus Cuben.
So far my cuben has 2,180 miles and is in much better shape than my old spinnaker was at this mileage.
I'll let you know when my cuben gear reaches, and hopefully surpasses, 5,600 miles.Nov 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm #1805012
@shattercatLocale: I dig the South.
really appreciate the info as well matt. I just invested in both a hexamid and zero pack by zpacks. The hexamid was used quite a bit before me(bought used on BPL) and it appears to be brand new. To me, cuben is the best option when looking for waterproof, durable, and lightweight fabric. I plan on working as much cuben into my gear list as possible before I do my 2012 AT thru hike. Yes, it is expensive but if it lasts for as long as Matt says, you save money when replacing old gear isnt necessary. If youre gonna do it, do it big.Nov 24, 2011 at 4:15 am #1805114
drowning in spamMember
My Zpacks cuben fiber wallet it still going very strong after two years of nearly daily use.Nov 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm #1805215
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Here are items I use the most.
The big sack on the left is used for extra clothes, food, FAK, and small items (Food, FAK, Personal items are in Ziplocs for easy viewing).
Notice the holes in the big sack. A mouse!
The Foster Keg set up is always put into this sack. Perfect size to keep it snug and the lid secure. Other than being dirty inside (Esbit residue) and out it has held up well. For long trips of several days, I keep some cash, driver license, and ATM card it it. Cuben hold us well, unless you are dragging it across abrasive surfaces.
I have a Cuben quilt, and it still looks new because I baby it. Cuben seems to soften over time too.
As far as clothing, I would not recommend it unless you have used VBL garments and are okay with them. I have to vent the quilt at times. I recently bought a Cuben poncho and it has rained almost every weekend, so I have a lot of experience in a very short time. Very happy with it, and the sides and front zipper work to vent it.
One other thing, a couple weeks ago my wife and I did a loop in the rain and decided to hike back to our car through town. I asked her if I looked like a homeless person in a trash bag with an unkempt beard, and she said yes… so we stopped at Starbucks. They were not super friendly towards me :(Nov 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm #1805273
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
"I think I'd opt for .74 …"
Matt's cloud cape is made of 1.26 oz. cuben that incorporates much thicker mylar than most of the 3/4 oz. cuben. In Richard Nisley's tests, reported on this site, the thicker mylar cuben maintained good water resistance. The thinner mylar material did not.
You may be able to obtain a sub one ounce cuben with the thicker mylar. However, more likely it will have the thinner mylar. The material with the thicker mylar often has a ".18" suffix after the product code.Nov 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm #1805300
Note that the shelter Matt mentioned above that he used on the AT is of the .08 style cuben. (The cape is a thicker version.)
I think the one person home test Samuel refers to is a lot to do about nothing. I really can't believe how often it gets cited as universal fact- I guess that's just how the web works.
Why do I say this?
99.9 % of all the cuben shelters out there are of the .08 style ( .75 oz sq/yd or less)
I think a very conservative number might be 10,000+ shelters in use the world over from all the companies and all the DYI'ers over the last 6 -7yrs. Figure that out to maybe 150,000+ nights of use. I could make a Huge list of folks using them well over 5,000miles of thru hiking in all types of weather including Himalaya high altitude, Pacific Tsunamis and hard prolonged AT Spring rain cycles, hot desert, deep cold, etc, etc, etc…
If that material was iffy and leaked – like that test rambles on and on about – Where are the all the reports of failures in the field? That are virtually none.
My conclusion is based on extensive customer feedback and research over many years + personal field and lab experience and reports from users all over the world. It works great and any speculation or conclusion based one one person's indoor test (never even used in the field) is just not taking into account the HUGE amount of common sense info we have on that subject.
If it was not working well in the field, wouldn't we would see Lots and Lots of reports about that? Hummmm…I guess maybe it is pretty good.Nov 24, 2011 at 9:18 pm #1805306
I've got 3 cuben stuff sacks that I've been using a lot over the past 3 years. I'd guess I've got ~100 trail days on each.
1) Clothing Stuff Sack
My clothing stuff sack is made of 0.48oz cuben and it's sewn with flat felled seam (made by another BPL'er). Thru all this use, there is zero damage to this stuff sack. Since a clothing stuff sack generally doesn't get dragged all over your campsite and because it contains non-pokey objects, I'm very happy with 0.33oz or 0.48 in this application. I made my wife one this spring with even lighter 0.33oz cuben and she's used it all summer with no damage. 0.48oz cuben has a larger margin for error, but if you take care of your gear and you're pinching grams then 0.33oz is totally fine in this application.
2) Zpacks Blast Food Sack
This 1.5oz cuben food sack has been used a lot and see a lot of hard use. The only damage on this food sack came one night in the alpine where a bad storm rolled in (raining, windy, about 33F). I was above tree line and I was really getting cold, so I just tied the stuff sack to a shrub away from camp despite being in a meadow area full of Marmots. When I retrieved the sack in the morning it was obvious a marmot had been chewing on it trying to get to the food. There was some obvious chewing marks all over one corner and a small hole, but the marmot was unable to actually get it and get any food. That was over a year ago and I continue to use this sack with good results. 1.5oz cuben is bomber stuff if a marmot with it's huge sharp teeth can't even get through.
3) MYOG 'Ditties' Sack
I made this pot sack with 0.74oz cuben and 3M tape. No damage except after a couple seasons of setting on it rocks and just generally tossing it around camp, it has some pinholes.
Overall, I'm a big fan of 0.74oz cuben for shelters and 0.51oz is fine if you're pinching grams and take care of your gear. For shelter floors, you really want 1.2oz or 1.5oz cuben. You also want 1.2 or 1.5oz cuben for heavy or sharp loads like food sacks or stake sacks, but for other stuff sacks 0.33 – 0.74 is fine.Nov 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm #1805315
This is a bit outside the OP's question but since it has been brought up I thought i would repeat my water test with my MLD Patrol Shelter which also has 100 nights and 2,180 miles of AT hiking on the odometer.
My Patrol is of the .02 style or .74 oz per sq yard variety.
I used it most nights on the AT as i preferred to stealth camp rather than use shelters mostly.
I simply stuffed my patrol into it's stuff sack each morning with no particular care other than shaking the beads of rain or dew off it.
Other than that I took no special care of it.
In the above photos the flash did not fire on that yellowish one but I left it in cause it looks bitchin'.
I am not a paid endorser of any company.
I paid full price for my gear and i don't profit one bit whether you buy cuben gear or not.
I feel i got my money's worth and more out of my Cuben gear at this point already and it is still ready for more abuse.
Hydrostatic testing is something we do in the plumbing trade on sewer pipes so I understand a little bit about that from a practical standpoint.
However, common sense and my own experience with this material as well as all the thru hikers i met that used cuben on one trail or another tells me; this stuff is waterproof, for the purposes of shelter from the elements, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Let's also not forget that should a hole be punched in a cuben fiber it can be patched with common duct tape instantly and easily in the field.
Anyhow there does seem to be a lack of hard use data out there regarding cuben fiber.
I am more than happy to contribute my own honest experience with the stuff from real trail use.
The fact is; My MLD Patrol shelter made of .74 oz/sq yard cuben fiber remains water tight on the trail or in my sink after a thru hike of 2,180 miles as does my Trailite designs (Zpacks) 1.26 oz/sq yard cuben cloud cape.Nov 25, 2011 at 5:24 am #1805336
Well said Ron, well said!!
I have only been using CF gear for three years and have never had a single failure from any of it. A few threads that came loose here and there because of my own stupidity, but it would have happened with any material.
As you said the CT0.1K.08 material has more than proven itself.
I know a lot of folks out there using 0.51 for tents and while I have not personally seen any negative results (nor in my hundreds of miles of using it myself) I think it too is starting to prove itself. No where near the results of the 0.74 but I think once a person properly tapes the 0.51 (something very few cottage companies using 0.51 seem to be doing) it holds up very well.
And obviously those of us stupid enough to go out with the 0.34 are just that. Yes, I have a 0.34 cuben fiber tarp (my video on it) but at the end of the day, I just do not feel I can trust it to get me through a really bad situation. Maybe, just maybe, if I under and over taped every possible side of the sewing than it might be viable, but I think by the time you do that the added weight would not make any sense.
But all that said, you pretty much nailed it Ron. If by now cuben fiber did not have a place in the outdoor world, we would know about it. Its time to stop giving CF crap about being "untesting"… CF has thousand and thousands of miles of usage. Its proven itself. Move on people from your questioning of the durability and viability of cuben fiber.Nov 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm #1805777
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
"I think the one person home test Samuel refers to is a lot to do about nothing."
"Its time to stop giving CF crap about being "untesting"… Move on people from your questioning of the durability and viability of cuben fiber."
Why is there so much sturm and drang whenever this material is questioned?
To find out, we might consider what is going on whenever there is such a reaction to anything being questioned.
Could it mean that there is a financial or other personal stake involved that is overwhelming objective evaluation. Might there even be a tendency toward bullying behavior at work.
Whatever it is, I am very appreciative of the contributions Richard has made to this site with his "one person home test" and many other tests of not just different varieties of cuben, but also silnylon and other materials. IMO, a lot of other folks are also, and I look forward to Roger's follow-up reports if he isn't driven into the Aussie witness protection program.
This was supposed to be about pics of used cuben gear. My comment was that the item that held up so well was of a more durable type of cuben. Sorry if you can't deal with that.
Thank you, Matt, for the detailed account of the durability of the 3/4 ounce cuben shelter on your lengthy treks. That is very encouraging, as I'm about to incorporate a similar grade of material into the end covers of a shelter, and dread spending long MYOG hours on something that won't hold up.
For you folks who prefer to purchase your gear ready made, please consider the advantages of asking questions that may encourage the use of more durable UL materials in the products you are paying for. If you receive sturm and drang-like responses, my advice is – buy elsewhere.Nov 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm #1805796
I was with these guys when they had their cuben stuff sacks blow out. He wasn't being very rough it. Saw several other cuben stuff sacks fail as well on the PCT this year. Didn't see or hear of any shelter failures though. Clothes should be fine as long as they are not worn too often under a pack. Maybe use a tougher fabric on the shoulder area.
I can't imagine the significance of weight saved with a cuben vest would be that great unless you really want a VB vest. We have some pretty awesome breathable fabrics at our disposal now. Seven D, Momentum 50/90.Nov 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm #1805811
@ckrusorLocale: Northwest US
I think you make a good point, Ron, about the growing body of real world testing that seems predominantly to support the use of cuben in shelters. I'm also amazed that you are aware of people who have used cuben shelters through tsunamis.Nov 26, 2011 at 7:09 pm #1805821
I was investigating because I am considering Cuben VB vest and pants to wear in camp during the winter.Nov 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm #1805835
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
I'll dig out and photograph this if you really want me to, but just a "word picture" for now: the cuben stuff sack for my (cuben upper, silnylon floor) lightheart designs solo tent is somewhat shredded. I carried it in the external side mesh of my pack on the CDT this year, and after I noticed it getting torn up I started putting it inside just a very light plastic grocery store shopping bag. Note that Judy told me that she no longer does the stuff sacks in cuben; good idea, methinks.
The tent itself is just fine still after 5 months of use this year, so no worries, and the stuff sack is in sufficiently "adequate" shape that I'll still use it. I'll just wrap it in that oh-so-professional looking grocery sack on trips of any length.Nov 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm #1805877
This is interesting.
I know a few of these folks and i totally respect and believe they are having the "blowouts" they say they are having with cuben stuff sacks.
Why is it that cuben shelters and rain gear show none of these problems?
Is there a connection with the physical distortion of the cuben spectra fibers as used in a stuff sack versus a shelter?
Is the wear associated with stuff sacks exposing the main weakness of cuben; abrasion?
Common sense says there should be a difference between the abrasive wear a stuff sack gets compared to a tarp.
Yet stuff sacks are the lightest variety of Cuben and shelters and rain gear tend to be the heavier varieties.
There is a threshold here of acceptable wear for each category of gear.
I am thinking anything .75 oz/sq yard cuben and heavier is better for stuff sacks and tarps.
1.26 oz/sq yard cuben is best for rain gear and stuff sacks where abrasion is more of a concern.
It would be most helpful to know what material weight of cuben fiber most stuff sacks, that are showing failures, are made from.
I am thinking that there may be a lower threshold of strength and waterproofness of cuben over time, abrasion, and force applied.
In fact I know there is.
I am an amateur marksman so the closest analogy i can muster is;
If a 1/4 inch plate of steel stops a .22 bullet and a 1/8 inch allows it to pass.. somewhere in between the bullet stops cold, yet still dents the plate.
Where is the limit for Cuben of various weights and when does it change over time and how does wear affect them both?
Hey Gadget.. Please bring out that picture. There is precious little info on cuben gear "in the wild" so lets add to the knowledge good or bad.
Thanks- iceaxeNov 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm #1805880
My thoughts on this discrepancy between "lab" testing of cuben and real world conditions is related to having to maintain a certain, apparently quite low water pressure on the cuben for a reasonable length of time to get leakage. In shelters, a rain drop hits with considerable force but this is very quickly dissipated, so no leakage. When the water is held against the cuben for several seconds at quite low pressure – the water head testing method, it is able to force a path through. In rain there is an almost zero pressure film of water over the cuben which will assist to dissipate the higher pressure but very brief rain drops.
Sorry – no evidence, but to me at least this explanation makes sense and validates the differing findings of both the testers and the users.
Personally I think that cuben is the best material for lightweight shelters. I have a MDL Grace Duo tarp and am expecting delivery of a Hexamid Solo Plus in the next couple of days.Nov 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm #1806048
When people mention blowouts, maybe they can define wether it is a seam blowing out or the fabric itself. I agree Mark. The pressure test method does not seem to tell us about the real usefulness of the fabric.
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