DCF Shelter failure during a hailstorm in Alaska – Skurka video
Aug 16, 2022 at 12:06 pm #3757474Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Has anyone seen this video that Andrew Skurka posted where they had a pretty nasty hail storm on one of his guided Alaska trips and it truly shredded a DCF shelter. Reports are that the Silnylon and Silpoly shelters were fine. As someone who owns a shelter made of all of those materials (a Spinn shelter also) I find this very interesting and I’m surprised there hasn’t been any discussion on it here.Aug 16, 2022 at 12:26 pm #3757475Brad WBPL Member
But he saved 3oz in his Lighterpack!Aug 16, 2022 at 12:46 pm #3757476Erik HagenBPL Member
@ewh100Locale: SF Bay Area
Looks like a Z-packs shelter which uses, I believe, .55 DCF. I’m not really surprise, always been leery of DCF’s puncture resistance. In addition to hail, I’m generally concerned with falling pine cones or tree branches. I think those could also be problematic although, hopefully, not in the magnitude of a substantial hail storm. I do carry a fair amount of repair but certainly not enough for what that guy was dealing with.
I’ve only been in one thunder/hail storm in a HMG Ultamid which uses .75 DCF and it held out fine. Friend was in MLD Duomid without any issues as well. Hail probably lasted around 15-20 minutes and was very small, certainly not as bad as video shown. I own several DCF shelters and spent hundreds of nights in them over the years with minimal issues and no fly failures. It a strong yet delicate material and understanding limitations is important.Aug 16, 2022 at 1:21 pm #3757483dirtbagBPL Member
Had my Hammock Gear DCF tarp SHRED to garage during a winter storm with strong winds a few years ago in the Catskills. Thankfully I had my eVent bivy with me and a shelter not too far away! Since then I only use silpoly or silnylon.. if it does shred, at least i save a LOT of money!!! I also always carry my bivy with me.. well, thats all I really use nowadays, but in winter I will always carry my eVent bivy even if im sleeping in a tent!Aug 16, 2022 at 1:38 pm #3757485
Yeah, that’s way outside the scope of what a 0.55 DCF canopy should be expected to cope with…
We’ve had a huge monsoon season in the Rockies this year with a lot of hail. I’m getting constant forecasts with my inReach and communicating with people back home in stormy conditions and making very conservative decisions anymore about camping in the open with ultralight shelters.
Big hail has always been a legit concern but it’s one of those elephant in the room type of conversations.
In 2017 I was on a group trip above the treeline in a hailstorm that brought dime to quarter sized hail and only the silnylon shelters survived without damage. Holes in both DCF .55 and silpoly…Aug 16, 2022 at 1:44 pm #3757486
So, does that mean that 0.55 DCF falls into the stupid light catagory?Aug 16, 2022 at 1:55 pm #3757487
No of course not. “Stupid light” is not a particularly useful label although it has some sound bite quality.
Saving weight, or adding weight, should be considered in the context of the problem you’re trying to solve. To that end, even a polycryo tarp has some utility.Aug 16, 2022 at 2:43 pm #3757488Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Does .75 cuben like MLD and HMG use have more mylar layers than the .51 stuff that Z-Packs and TT use? For some reason I thought the mylar was the same and it just had more kevlar fibers.
I used an MLD DCF Duomid on two trips in Alaska and it seemed pretty bomproof, but we didn’t see hail that big. I did see some hail in WRR last year with a Silpoly X-Mid, but not that size hail. Silpoly has a lot of advantages and I have grown to prefer it over DCF or Silnylon for shelters, but in a situation like that, I’d feel more comfortable in a Silnylon shelter I think, maybe even something like my old GoLite Shangrila 2 that used thicker Sil – That was bombproof.Aug 16, 2022 at 2:52 pm #3757491Brad WBPL Member
@Ryan Jordan Ryan, what shelter would you take if there was a chance of hail?Aug 16, 2022 at 3:04 pm #3757492
Would 0.55 DCF survive a pinecone falling on it? I am sure that it would depend upon the size and weight. How about something the size and weight of a walnut (in the shell)? I mean there are probably practical situations that most tents should be able to survive. The video of the shredded tent was pretty dramatic. My 2 cents.Aug 16, 2022 at 3:09 pm #3757493
I spent 8 days in the Colorado Flattops this summer during monsoon season – it’s one of most hail-famous destinations in the Rockies.
I still took a .51 DCF shelter, but was very cautious about weather forecast vs. where I spent the night. At one point I did pack up and hide in the trees during one storm that was showing hail on the radar (per my son telling me via inReach). It’s just not worth getting holes in my shelter.
I’ve used HMG and Locus Gear mids (0.75 DCF) for up to dime sized hail with some minor fabric deformation – small pock marks where the Mylar was stretched/stressed – all over and a Hilleberg Soulo in quarter-sized hail in Wyoming (just for kicks) and it was fine.
Big hail is rare but pretty serious.Aug 16, 2022 at 3:10 pm #3757494
Hail probably comes down at a much higher velocity than a pinecone…Aug 16, 2022 at 4:20 pm #3757498Mark WetheringtonBPL Member
@markwethLocale: Western Montana
I rode out a 10 minute long hail storm (part of a longer thunderstorm), with hail getting to the size of small marbles, in the Durston X Mid Pro (o.55 oz DCF) earlier this summer. The site I was in was somewhat sheltered from winds but there wasn’t much canopy coverage. I didn’t notice any damage and even with only 4 stakes used the tent held its shape well enough, all things considered. Interesting (and a bit concerning) to see another DCF shelter have such serious damage, but severe mountain weather really can be a wild ride.Aug 16, 2022 at 5:41 pm #3757499DWR DBPL Member
To me, that hail looks smaller than dime size. Hard to tell from a 28 second video clip, but from what I saw, I think that part of his storm was about the same as I went thru last month above tree line at about 11,800 feet in the
Sierra last month. My storm went on for an hour or two. I was in a Tarptent Notch Li, .5 DCF…. no rips, no tears. I wonder if the tent in the video had been left in the sun for a lot of hours over a few years??? And/or if it already had abrasions? And I wonder if some hail is sharper than other hail???Aug 16, 2022 at 7:09 pm #3757505jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“I wonder if the tent in the video had been left in the sun for a lot of hours over a few years??? ”
Good questions.Aug 16, 2022 at 7:14 pm #3757506BlackHatGuySpectator
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
““Stupid light” is not a particularly useful label”
+1Aug 16, 2022 at 7:26 pm #3757508DanBPL Member
Interesting to see that damage. I’ve weathered dozens of hailstorms in Colorado (including many in the Flat Tops, which is one of my favorite places, Ryan) in a DCF shelter. So I don’t know what was different about those conditions. Maybe the hail was extremely large and the winds were very strong.Aug 17, 2022 at 8:21 am #3757524Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
“ It [is] a strong yet delicate material”
Would you buy a family car that was rated as strong yet delicate?
“My storm went on for an hour or two. I was in a Tarptent Notch Li, .5 DCF…. no rips, no tears I wonder if the tent in the video had been left in the sun for a lot of hours over a few years???”
But for how long, and how many years?
“I didn’t notice any damage and even with only 4 stakes used the tent held its shape well enough, all things considered.”
OK, but is “well enough” and “all things considered” hedging a bit?
“I’ve weathered dozens of hailstorms in Colorado (including many in the Flat Tops, … in a DCF shelter. So I don’t know what was different about those conditions.”
“Does .75 cuben like MLD and HMG use have more mylar layers than the .51 stuff that Z-Packs and TT use? For some reason I thought the mylar was the same and it just had more kevlar fibers.”
In the past, the mylar thickness has been denominated by a suffix, but do not know if the current manufacturer has changed that. Also, have not heard of the mylar being layered in DCF. Would like to know, though.
““Stupid light” is not a particularly useful label”
But sometimes it is obvious.
Here, with so many differing accounts, in this and earlier threads, it is not obvious. And it is difficult to even reach a tentative conclusion. One wonders if different posters are stakeholders or promoters, which would be a shame, and harmful to the forums, which are otherwise a valuable asset. For me, this is a more serious issue than whether posts are grumpy or sarcastic, which I rather enjoy from time to time.
For now, the only conclusion I can draw is not to invest the time and energy designing and building a super light DCF tent for all seasons until the smoke clears.Aug 17, 2022 at 8:32 am #3757526
“ Here, with so many differing accounts, in this and earlier threads, it is not obvious.”
It’s still a limited data set, so we can expect to see experiences across the board. This isn’t likely to resolve anytime soon.
I use DCF shelters, accept their limitations, and am looking forward to whatever replaces it someday – a fabric that is as light, doesn’t sag, but has better long term durability (no creep, puncture-resistant). I was hoping that would be some type of silpoly, but it’s just not quite there.Aug 17, 2022 at 8:32 am #3757527California PackraftingBPL Member
I’ll be interested to see what Durston has to say about this.
Personally I prefer to carry a tent that I can pitch in a storm in an alpine basin above tree line, but I guess that’s always a risk. I have the xmid pro 2 coming next week…I didn’t realize I had order something that was so much less durable to hail than silnylonAug 17, 2022 at 10:51 am #3757536Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Ryan Jordan, Admin:
Thank you, Ryan. Your comments are helpful and informative.
I think the jury is still out about DCF, and that was the intent of my post. Many backpackers are more than satisfied with the lighter .55 oz material and have posted about that. MYOG is much more than buying a tent, due to the great deal of work involved, including errors and disappointments that require partial or complete redo’s which can be very discouraging and a tremendous waste of time and effort. The payback comes when enjoying a meal and a peaceful night’s sleep in your own creation while the weather is raging outside. So great care must be taken with design, construction and yes, materials. And silnylon has its own problems due to nylon’s absorption of moisture somehow right through the waterproof sil coatings, creating a loose canopy that is especially vulnerable to high winds, and heavy and wet to live in or pack. And silpoly is as yet unproven. There have been posts about permanent distortion of the fabric, for example; and the issue of durability is unclear; probably because “polyester” covers a wide range of fabrics. So there is risk involved no matter what.
Readers please note: I apologize if my reference to “stakeholders or promoters” offended anyone. The reference was intended to be about folks who promote or denigrate gear while posing as neutral without disclosing their financial or other beneficial interests, and I should have made that clear. I’m all for everyone posting on BPL, including those professionally involved with backpacking and gear, and their posts are often very helpful. Thanks.Aug 17, 2022 at 11:53 am #3757544Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I use site selection to add safety and comfort to my shelter. There wasn’t much you could do regarding site selection in the Arctic tundra to make up for the limitations of the shelter. It’s all exposed.Aug 17, 2022 at 1:19 pm #3757556
Peeling the layer off of an onion, if you look at Andrew’s Facebook posting, it provides additional information.
Tyler and his Alaska 2A group, led by Mary and Dave, got whacked by a severe thunder and hail storm that caused flash floods and even debris flows. It also put holes in every DCF shelter (sil shelters were fine), forcing the group to “Swiss cheese” their shelters together (ie layer a wrecked one over a less wrecked one) for the remaining two nights of their trip.
Note that the hail put holes in every DCF shelter. He does not state how many DCF shelters there were, but this probably eliminates a 1 off error. That and the Sil shelters were fine. My 2 cents.Aug 17, 2022 at 4:43 pm #3757578DWR DBPL Member
“Tyler and his Alaska 2A group”
I don’t know what this group is or what that means. But if this was a professional guided trip, and if the guide service supplied the DCF tents, it is possible that the whole lot of DCF tents had a ton of days in the sun and a lot of abrasion (especially if they had been abused by clients that did not know how to take care of them) that had weakened them. On the other hand, if the DCF tents were brought by different clients, then maybe they had varying degrees of abrasion and solar degradation (maybe… maybe some relatively new?)…Aug 18, 2022 at 5:20 am #3757593nunatakBPL Member
Tent damage, whether from user error, material defect or construction flaws, is arguably the gear failure most likely to develop into a serious situation.
It will often occur during conditions where the stakes are high and when attempts at emergency fixes put the user at further risk.
The daytime incident here was a group setting with presumably experienced leaders and diverse shelter designs likely oversized for one person occupancy. This likely helped deescalate and move on with an acceptable margin of safety, although “it put holes in every DCF shelter”.
Many of us solo hike in remote areas with exposure, and often during off seasons. This is a scenario very different from a guided tour, and steer my shelter choices somewhat away from the ultralight principles I comfortably use to judge the rest of my gear.
Several seasons ago I selected one of the strongest and most storm worthy DCF shelters for my summer use. However this and other reports of hail damage does put a damper on my Dyneema enthusiasm, even with a 0.8 oz canopy.
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