Can I dye a white hybrid cuben pack?
May 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm #1317423
I recently scored a new Zimmberbuilt Quickstep pack from GS. It's 3.3 oz hybrid cuben. I love the pack. Fits great and has adequate volume for my SUL/summer trips.
My only problem with the pack is the white color. I often stealth camp and prefer muted colors for my backcountry activities. You may ask why I bought a white pack then. Fair enough. It was a great deal on GS and the Zimmberbuilt website was sold out of the Quickstep pack. When I asked Chris if he could make me a similar pack, he told me it would be at least a 4-week wait. I was eager to try the pack and didn't want to wait.
I don't want to post this pack on GS and go through the hassle of buying another pack that I may or may not like. Hence this thread. (I actually did post a for-trade thread for an MLD Burn, before thinking of the dye route).
So, has anybody dyed hybrid cuben fiber? Were you happy with the results? Has the dye proven durable? What brand did you use? Did you follow the manufacturer's recommendations or invent your own super secret process that you are now willing to share on a public forum?
The pack is white, and I would like to dye it forest or Army green, similar to what Zpacks offers. Do I have to dye it in progressive stages to achieve my desired color, or would one pass suffice?
Thanks for any feedback.
J DosMay 31, 2014 at 1:09 pm #2107515
I would be willing to dye the pack black in order to reduce splotches or discoloration.May 31, 2014 at 1:43 pm #2107531
To add, I have been reading other threads in which users dyed their packs. But I have found nothing conclusive regarding cuben, or hybrid variations. If dye does not work, is there another DIY process by which I may achieve the same end result? Or, must cuben be professionally treated at the time of its construction to achieve satisfactory results?May 31, 2014 at 1:54 pm #2107535Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
You could contact the pack manufacturer. If a lot of that fabric has been used, then they would know if any sort of dye will work. If that fails, then contact the fabric manufacturer and ask.
–B.G.–May 31, 2014 at 2:15 pm #2107537
Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I shot Cubic Tech an e-mail earlier this morning, along with e-mails to a few cottage companies that make cuben packs.
I received this reply from BPL member Nathan Meyerson, who made me a beautiful pack a few weeks ago.
"Dying Hybrid Cuben shouldn't be an issue. The White outer fabric is a woven Polyester, unlike White spectra fibers which tend not to take dye easily, the white face fabric shouldn't have an issue taking RIT dye or the equivalent."May 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm #2107538Greg MihalikSpectator
It depends on the face fabric.
From the Rit Dye FAQ –
"Fabrics made of 100% polyester, acrylic or acetate cannot be dyed with Rit as the fibers will not absorb the dye. Polyester is a plastic fiber derived from oil that is washed in a permanent finish to create easy wash and wear. This process creates a moisture barrier that prevents soil from penetrating the fabric as well as the dye. If polyester is dyed, it sometimes tints on the surface only, which results in a light or off color."
Of course, YMMV.May 31, 2014 at 2:56 pm #2107542
Thanks for the reply. Your post echoes the concerns I have after reading through several dye threads. I wonder if there is another way to bond the dye to polyester.
I'm curious what Cubic Tech will have to say on the matter. Once I receive their reply, I will post it here on this thread.May 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm #2107546
Found this on Wikihow.
"To dye polyester, you need to purchase what are called disperse dyes. Disperse dyes consist of a finely ground dying agent suspended in a dispersing agent, and they are sold as either paste or powder."
Does anybody have experience with this type of dye? If so, what brand? I found iDye Poly Black on Amazon.May 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm #2107553
Back in Prehistoric Times (i.e., the early 1980s) I made some punk DIY t-shirts that were "spray painted" using acrylic art paint thinned with water. The fabric I used was a 50/50 polycotton. I'm wondering if you might be able to try something similar… For a pack, I'd probably paint it on with a foam brush, rather than using a spray bottle.
You'd have to use a very dark green/black mixture, and try a teeny bit on some hard-to-see part of the pack, but with a couple of layers, it might work. (Plus, unlike some dyes, acrylic paint will NEVER leach color onto you later!)May 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm #2107557
Thanks very much for your comment. I was wondering about alternative methods for coloring poly. I want to use something that will not bleed on to me or my gear, and will not affect hybrid cuben's strength or durability. What prep would be required if I were to use acrylic paint? Once the paint is applied, would I need to apply a protective topcoat? Does acrylic paint stand up to long-term UV exposure?
I found a thread on Hammockforums in which a person used the ink from Marksalot markers to turn their cuben tarp into a custom camo tarp. However, they mentioned it rubbing off after a while. So probably a no go.May 31, 2014 at 9:16 pm #2107627
No prep is necessary (other than making sure the pack is clean).
No top coat is necessary.
I've only used this technique on tee-shirts, never backpacks — but there was no fading. I think the ink from markers would fade quite quickly…Jun 1, 2014 at 11:19 am #2107746
I researched this at length several months ago. Polyester is very difficult to die compared to nylon, and even using aftermarket disperse dyes had mixed results. "Mixed" meaning didn't work at all or the fabric was very faintly dyed after the treatment. I decided to not even try it.
RyanJun 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm #2107771
Thanks for the reply. I've reached the same conclusion regarding disperse dyes. I read up on the process last night for a couple of hours. They seem like too much hassle and mess. So that's a no go.
I also read up on acrylic paint last night. During college, I used to paint murals, abstract works, and surfboards to earn some extra cash for my travels abroad. I did occasionally use acrylic paint on canvas, but completely forgot about that medium when posting this thread. I think I'll pick up a couple of tubes this afternoon and give it a try. After all, what's the worst that could happen:) Famous last words.
I'll post my results on this thread.Jun 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm #2107790
Just to be clear — I am recommending that you try the paint in a very, VERY diluted solution, NOT so that it forms a thick (crackable) layer on top of the fabric (which is what you'd do if you were painting on canvas). My solution was so thin that the liquid was completely absorbed into the fabric as soon as I painted it on.
Or, at least, that's what I did back in the ol' punk DIY days…Jun 1, 2014 at 10:29 pm #2107932Nathan MeyersonBPL Member
I'm happy to mail a small piece of white hybrid Cuben to anyone who wants to experiment. I was under the impression that RIT dye was a disperse dye and should work with polyester. But doing a bit of googling, it appears that to get it to stick to polyester requires boiling, which is incompatable with Cuben( will weaken the spectra fibers).
Sorry for the misinformation.Jun 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm #2108276
I heard back from several cottage companies today, including Zpacks, HMG, ULA, Zimmerbuilt.
The general consensus was dyeing does not work, as you need to boil the fabric for it to accept the dye. This reduces the strength of the spectra fibers, which Nathan mentioned in the above post.
I did hear back from Cubic Tech as well. They mentioned screen printing as a possible technique. The customer service rep told me he would ask around to the production team and get back to me.
Last night, I studied quite a few fabric threads online and learned some interesting stuff about fabric paint and acrylic paint and how best to apply the paints to polyester. Of course, nobody on these threads was trying to paint a cuben backpack.
I'm not the most patient of fellows and I had free time yesterday. So I bought 2 packages of black acrylic paint. I thinned the paint with water until there were no lumps, then added more water and mixed again, further thinning the paint. Using a 1" foam brush, I applied a single coat to the pack. The pack will need several coats in order to look good. You must wait 24 hours between coats.
It was recommended to me, that after I have finished my last coat and allowed it to dry 24-48 hours, that I place the pack in a dryer on the 'delicates' setting for ~30 minutes in order to help set the acrylic paint.
I have no idea how durable this process will turn out to be. I've got a 2-night trip coming up this weekend. I will post pics of the pack once I am finished.Jun 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm #2108284AnonymousInactive
Glad you found something that worked.
"The general consensus was dyeing does not work, as you need to boil the fabric for it to accept the dye."
Very interesting. Bit of tangent, i've been thinking lately of doing my own more durable Polygiene like treatment with some of my synthetics. They told me that for their "permanent" for the life of the garment treatment, the silver chloride is added during the dyeing process of the fabric.
Now i'm wondering if i could get some disperse dye, boil a polyester garment, add the dye and homemade silver chloride solution, and get something akin to a more durable anti odor treatment? Hmmm…
Thanks for the necessary clue!May 5, 2018 at 4:31 pm #3533826
So, almost two years later, and I’ve tried my own advice on the back side of some X-Pac fabric.
Result: It works! It took me 3 coats to go from off-white to 100% black, but I’m happy with the results (note that, in the photo, the third and final coat was still wet.)May 5, 2018 at 7:26 pm #3533859
Sweet. Did you wash it with warm water to see if any came out? I wonder if using some dye fixatives would be of any benefit. That is one way Insect Shield gets permethrin to stick to polyester.
RyanMay 7, 2018 at 1:30 am #3534086D MBPL Member
@farwalkerLocale: What, ME worry?May 7, 2018 at 5:16 pm #3534156
Good find, but requires very hot water which is supposedly not good for the cuben side of things.
RyanMay 7, 2018 at 9:24 pm #3534199D MBPL Member
@farwalkerLocale: What, ME worry?
I beg to differ….. I’m a seamstress who makes custom ensembles and when clients ask for an unusual color this is my go to, and often dye lots of things from plastics to watered silk to feathers. Just let the water cool to warm and immerse for 24 hours stirring and turning every few hours for an even coat. I will add I have NOT tried this on my pack ( I happen to like the grey ) but when you can dye legos with this stuff it seems to be pretty darn effective. I have dyed coats and garments with Apex and that also took the dye along with all the plastic zippers and tracks. If I had a scrap of the backpacking material I would try it but I’m too busy hiking now. :-)May 8, 2018 at 1:58 am #3534228
I’ve not used it, I was only going by the manufacturer’s instructions to use water just below boiling. However, it gets a lot of bad reviews on Amazon about how it doesn’t work on polyester very well. Also some that it does.
Hopefully someone can actually try it and report back.May 8, 2018 at 10:56 pm #3534391
I now have my final results for my XPac dye job. I tried 2 different products/approaches, with 1 total failure, and 1 success.
(@violentgreen asked if I had washed it yet, and I wanted to wait a few days before doing so.)
Product used was Rit Liquid dye in “Black”, with vinegar added to the liquid dye solution (as instructions on bottle recommended for nylon fabrics). Used undiluted (except for 1T white vinegar) and painted onto fabric; fabric was then exposed to hot Southern AZ sun for ~2hrs. RESULT: Total failure, 99% of dye washed away with cool water. (How frustrating! So much time wasted!)
Product used was low-med quality acrylic art paint in “Black”, diluted in approx. 1:10 solution with distilled water, and stirred to completely dissolve paint. Application method was to paint the solution on to dry fabric with a foam brush. 3 coats total, with coats applied 1-2 hours apart. (Photo in my previous post was minutes after applying the final coat.) Item was then “baked” in AZ sun for ~1hr, then allowed to dry in A/C’d house for ~3 days. Just to be overly cautious, I then sun-baked it again for ~45 min, and then washed it, rubbing with a rubber glove, in tepid water. RESULT: Success! I am happy with the colour, and I believe that it won’t wash out for the foreseeable future.
Although this was XPac (“wrong” side), I have no doubt that this method would work equally well with a DCF Cuben Hybrid fabric.
I did not try DM’s method/product, but I know from dying a silicone watch bracelet that soaking something for 24 hours can change the results enormously! I felt more comfortable using this acrylic paint method because I am not a chemist, and I don’t know what the effect of very hot water, or very long soaking, might be on the waterproof membrane inside the XPac. My fears may be unwarranted, but I also thought it might be a good idea for me to try my own advice after I gave it to others!!! (LOL)May 9, 2018 at 5:39 pm #3534522
Looks great, Valerie. That may be the ticket.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.