Dec 9, 2012 at 11:47 am #1296897
I am looking to get a cuben tarp and am considering two, one from HMG and the other from ZPACKS.
Would appreciate comments about the differences and/or preferences. Also, should I be considering another company's offering? Any info/insights appreciated. –Mike
Info taken from each company’s website:
• 8.5 ft x 10 ft
• Constructed from .74 oz/sq yd cuben fiber fabric.
• New – The ridge seam and all tie out reinforcements are now sewn and taped for extra strength. No seam sealing necessary!
• 12 tie out loops (extra loops are $2.00 each)
• A Cuben Fiber stuff sack and the seam tape is included in the prices and weights shown.
• The material width is 54" so the maximum width with a center seam is about 8.5 feet.
• Weight: approx. 8.2 ounces
• Cost: $270.00 (includes $15.00 custom charge) with free shipping
• Dimensions = 8 ft. X 10 ft.
• Made from ultralight CF8 (.78 oz/yd)
• Fully bonded radial double reinforced tie-outs with line locs
• Fully bonded, "stitchless" ridgeline seam
• 16 Perimeter tie-outs
• Custom-made ultralight Spectra guy lines
• Weight: 8.6 ounces
• Cost: $325.00 plus shippingDec 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm #1934308
The standard ZPacks tarp is made from .51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber, not .74 oz. They will do them in .74 oz if you request it, but I suspect there will be a small extra charge.Dec 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm #1934310
Thanks for reminding me. I have edited my original post to reflect ZPACKS $15.00 custom charge and the weight increase of approx. 1.5 ounces for the .74 cuben. Thanks for that! I'm sure both tarps are excellent choices. Just wondering what others think. Hopefully I'll get some comments based on field experience too.Dec 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm #1934317
I have owned and used tarps from both companies.
You asked about other companies worth looking at. You should add the MLD CF Grace Tarps to your list of ones you are looking at. Pretty sure MLD has been making CF tarps a year or two longer then ZPacks and waaaay longer then HMG.
So here is how this works Michael:
HMG makes extremely overbuilt shelters. Their extra weight comes from larger sized re-enforcements and their custom made guy line that everybody I know removes and replaces.
MLD makes their shelters middle of the road when it comes to construction. They, I and others believe, perfected the method of how to work with cuben fiber, bonding the seams and threading.
ZPacks pushes the boundaries of working with cuben fiber in order to provide the lightest weight possible cf tarps that you can buy. The smallest re-enforcement areas, the least amount of tape and thread, yet still provide a durable shelter for all but the most horrific situations.
In the end, cuben fiber is cuben fiber is cuben fiber. They all buy it from the same company. ZPacks, unlike HMG or MLD offers the ability to have your shelter made in multiple weights of cuben fiber.
I have used 0.74, 0.51 and even a 0.34 tarp from ZPacks. None of them have ever failed me.
I have used a 0.74 tarp from HMG. Without a doubt the most bombproof tarp I have ever owned and never failed me.
I have used a 0.74 tarp from MLD. It was the finest made of all the tarps I have ever used and never failed me.
So really Michael it just all comes down to the sizes of the different shelters, the weight of material that you want to go with, and how abusive you are with your gear.Dec 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm #1934337
Thanks for your reply with a very useful overview. This is EXACTLY the kind of info I was hoping to get here. I can't believe I overlooked MLD; I thought they specialize in cat cut tarps but will look into their cuben rectangular and square tarps.
I always enjoy reading your blog. Cheers!Dec 10, 2012 at 8:39 am #1934485
@jdegraafLocale: Bay Area
Hi, I have the 9'x9' from HMG and its awesome. The only downside is that the ridge line tie out points don't have trekking pole grommets like there is on the MLD. Otherwise they both come with line locks, bonded ridge line (aka no seam sealing required), side panel pull outs. MLD and HMG are the two cuben tarp companies I have experience with and I don't think you'll go wrong with either. Bonus I just remembered the MLD tarps have hang loops on the inside of the ridge line.
JamesDec 11, 2012 at 6:43 am #1934705
if you're looking for a larger tarp, add a 4th company into the fray…
they make a smaller one as well.
i use that tarp to hammock, but would have no issues using it on the ground…Dec 11, 2012 at 8:11 am #1934717
One other option to consider is Bear Paw Wilderness Designs. They're the lowest cost of the bunch (8 x 10 is $250) and their customer service is awesome.Mar 28, 2013 at 11:12 am #1970494
Reviving an older thread.
I'm looking to trade-in by BPL .74 cuben catenary tarp for a flat cuben tarp. I want to start hammocking a bit this summer and a 8.5'x8.5' flat tarp could serve as both hammock and ground tarp.
My only real dilemma is really .51 vs .74. I have the .74 cuben BPL tarp, so I'm familiar with that and it withstood a pretty intense hailstorm in the Sierra's a couple years back. I suppose I should really just get the either the HMG or pay for the custom upgrade to .74 cuben in the zpacks for an extra oz or two, but I wouldn't mind hearing people's opinions on the .51 stuff first.Mar 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm #1970522
You may want to add Virga Outdoors to your search as well. I have their bivy and was so impressed with it that I ordered their cat-cut Wraith CF tarp as well. Good price on their products as well.Jun 1, 2016 at 3:27 pm #3406396
Have the same debate going on with myself. Anyone have closeups of tie outs?
I will probably be snowed on in this tarp at some point so 4 season is a must. Really wondering if the zpacks or bearpaw options are up to that kind of use?Jun 1, 2016 at 4:03 pm #3406403
@pastyj-2-2Locale: SE US
I owned an MLD Grace Duo Cuben and it was without doubt the most meticulously constructed shelter I have ever seen much less owned. If I were going to do the tarp thing, it would definitely be with an MLD.
Full disclosure: the only Cuben shelters I have owned are the afore mentioned MLD Grace and the ZPacks Duplex. I have nevertheless seen/played with examples of the other shelters discussed in this thread.Jun 1, 2016 at 5:50 pm #3406422
I understand that MLD and HMG are at the top of the pyramid when it comes to quality. But neatness of stitch and such is nice but I am curious if it’s $100 to $150 dollars better at function? That’s a huge price break for something that maybe just looks better. Has their ever been posts on zpacks or bear paws tie outs coming lose? Or the other guys for that matter?
HMG even charges more for the color version which is ridiculous to me. If the cheaper options are inferior in function and use, that’s what I want to know. How good something looks or perfect it is made in backpacking gear is kind of irrelevant as it all ends up getting smashed in a pack and dirty. I have no problem paying more if it’s justified and without being able to go to a store and check them out, I need the feedback from you all.
How are the top cost guys product better in the field then the cheaper guys?Jun 1, 2016 at 7:37 pm #3406437
I’m watching this thread with interest as I too am looking at cuben flat tarps. Bear Paw are significantly cheaper for their .74 cuben tarps but, as above, I’m wondering if there’s a reason for this? Do they perform any worse than the flagship tarps mentioned above? Do they sew/bond their tarps differently?Jun 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm #3406439
Simply put, what technique or function do the top dollar manufacturers provide/produce to justify the extra cost?
Looks have nothing to do with function in my opinion. I make my living up selling quality products and to be honest, the top dogs don’t spell out what sets them apart. Bear paw shows videos and has tons of info while hmg can only be bothered to put one or two pics up. I just don’t see what everyone is paying for and I want to. If they function/perform 25% – 35% better then I have no problem spending more on a better product.
Let’s get past the fluff and down to the bare bones and find out why they are priced SO much more.Jun 1, 2016 at 7:57 pm #3406441
Good point Jeff – the real test (or testament) for me comes from users who have put the products through their paces over a long period of time. MLD and Zpacks seem to have the kind of feedback (and hands-on customer service) that inspires confidence. I know very little about the outdoor industry but HMG seems to be paying a little too much attention to marketing, and promoting their ‘Ambassadors’, with lots of artful black and white photos on their blog. Still, I’ve never heard anything negative about their products so I guess it’s just a surface difference.Jun 1, 2016 at 8:21 pm #3406444
Yet another article the backpacking light staff could do…..I’ll work for you guys and do it, I just want to keep the sample tarps when done ;)
Pete, valid points for sure and brings up my concern. MLD and Zpacks have been around for some time now. They both have loyal followers and obviously sell a lot of gear to stay in business. I just don’t get how 2 identical products can have such a difference in cost? I want to know I am buying the best product for my money and not just a name or a logo.
Everyone says HMG is bomber. In pics on their sites, the tie outs almost look identical to my eyes(HMG and Zpacks). Seams like there is a bit of comparison to do and it’s been years in the making at this point.
While I am not new to this site by any means I have been away awhile and a lot has changed. Never heard of HMG before and can’t find anything beyond fan boy talk of why it’s better. No proof in the pudding. Everyone that buys one can say it’s better because they spent the money and they want it to be. Show us it’s better and not only will more people buy it, the resale value will be way better. Kind of like an old Toyota truck, they proved the could outlast the competition and even non running models fetch a fair penny.
Guess if no one can speak up soon I will try my luck at a lower cost item as I don’t see the benefit right now to paying more for an identical product.
The fact HMG charges more for a color upgrade kinda tells me you are paying for the brand with them because as far as I know, all color cuban (for the same weight) costs the same. I have never heard that colors take special needs for fabricating either.Jun 1, 2016 at 8:25 pm #3406446
@dgpostonLocale: Texas / Colorado
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but…no company is currently outdoing ZPacks when it comes to weight. I love HMG too, but ZPacks seems to always have the lightest gear in every category (pack, sleeping bag, shelter). They are excellent quality, too.Jun 2, 2016 at 2:24 pm #3406592
“The fact HMG charges more for a color upgrade kinda tells me you are paying for the brand with them because as far as I know, all color cuban (for the same weight) costs the same. I have never heard that colors take special needs for fabricating either.”
Once upon a time, the colored cuben was 10% more expensive from CubicTech which would explain the difference in pricing for HMG. I don’t know if that policy is still in place with DSM. Granted, even if it was, that would mean other manufacturers are just eating that 10% whereas HMG is passing it along.
RyanJun 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm #3406599
@jimothyLocale: Georgia, USA
MLD and Locus Gear also charge extra for green (or black) Cuben fiber, though the difference is not as great as HMG charges.Jun 2, 2016 at 3:18 pm #3406603
I agree that HMG could put a little more thought into their pictures on the website. Jeff, if you want closeup pictures of an HMG tarp I would be happy to help – I’ve got an 8×10 that I adore. It is overbuilt (bomber, if you will), heavier than Zpacks, and the quality is impeccable – which is exactly why I bought it.
I have a lasting impression from a few Zpacks stuff sacks I bought years ago: that of sloppy stitching. When it came down to ordering a flat tarp that stuck in my mind so I chose HMG and couldn’t be happier.Jun 2, 2016 at 3:47 pm #3406611
Dylan, that’s the size I am looking at. Would love any pictures you feel like taking. I am up in redding and from the bay area, if we cross paths soon I would be down to buy you a beer and check it out in-person.
It’s acceptable to pass on the price, but the exact price IMHO. I emailed a gear company about a quilt and they wanted double the price of material for the upgrade I wanted so I’ll pass. In the day and age of Internet only companies and with how picky/informed us buyers are, I don’t see how people think they can up charge extra for no reason. Just my personal opinion and I doubt my one sale loss hurts any company but if others think like me well then maybe they should think on that.
I have learned to be extremely transparent in my own business pricing. Contractors and homeowners appreciate it and understand I am only charging for the work I do. Seems simple I know but it’s lost on a lot of business’s.
Websites are their only sales tool besides these forums and Facebook groups. Some of these companies would probably see an increase in sales just by adding 20 pictures of the gear from every angle and closeups of the important/proprietary areas.Jun 2, 2016 at 5:55 pm #3406631
It’s entertaining to read opinions questioning pricing and business decisions of various vendors on these forums. How and why prices are set has a lot more to do with a brand’s positioning etc than just the cost of materials and manufacture and sales costs.
Price is also often used to manage demand; a very important tool for small manufacturers who cannot easily scale production in the face of surging demand. Most of these vendors employ a relatively small number of people – hiring and training new workers could lead to compromises in quality.Jun 2, 2016 at 6:37 pm #3406643
I like the idea of an article comparing construction details between the manufacturers but I would think we could manage to do that ourselves. Almost everyone on the forums has a smartphone and if everyone would take photos of the guyouts, tie-outs, ridgelines and hems we’d have a good starting point for comparison, wouldn’t we?Jun 2, 2016 at 7:46 pm #3406658
– -K.T.- –Participant
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