Dyneema v.s. silnylon tent floors

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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Dyneema v.s. silnylon tent floors

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    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    I’m likely getting a Dyneema solo tent this summer. Some come with the option of either Dyneema or silnylon floor.

    Which of the two would be most puncture resistant? Wear resistant?

    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    Silnylon will be more puncture resistant by far and I think more durable overall.  The only downside is that it’s slick and you have to paint stripes on it with silicone to keep your pad from sliding around.

    Jon Solomon
    BPL Member


    Locale: Lyon/Taipei

    The only advantage (besides weight) that DCF has is that it is easy to repair in the field.

    Based on my own use, silnylon is more durable. I’ve had DCF floors that leak even when there is no visible puncture, providing anecdotal evidence for Dan Durston’s assertion that DCF develops micro-perforations over time. There are a lot of testimonies around forums saying that DCF floors have lasted for multiple thru hikes. Mine haven’t been that durable, and given a choice, I’ve come to prefer silnylon, but I’m not a zealot about it, and I use both.

    The thing that gets me, though, is the increasing use of DCF sewn-in floors (see the new HMG Dirigo and Tarptent’s Aeon Li). Wear on the floor and wear on the fly are bound to occur at different rates. Something to think about before buying a shelter with an integrated DCF floor. Maybe not a show stopper, but good to evaluate before you buy.

    Of course, it all depends on the weights being used. I have some silnylon bathtub floors (floor only) made in 70D that are incredibly robust, not slippery, and kind of heavy. They are excellent protection against the abrasive arrow bamboo that carpets a lot of Taiwan’s alpine regions, for instance, but too heavy for most stuff in the Pyrenees.

    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    Eric, I would stick to SilNylon. Both can be prone to punctures. Depends on the weight. Like Jon says, there is a lot of abrasion on a floor as opposed to a fly, and that abrasion will usually require repairs at some point. Depending on your hiking terrain, you might be happy with either.

    Taking a normal spec from most good tents (not UL, and not, cheap ones) you will find that floors are roughly 2-4 times heavier than fly fabric. I expect that 3x would be a more realistic average, offhand. So if you have a 30D fly, you are looking at at least a 70D floor usually double coated. A good fly will have a HH of around 5000mm. A good floor will be close to 20,000mm. (Hildeberg) Other manufactures have lesser numbers but the proportions are roughly similar. What this says to me, is that a tent will take wear at about 4x on the floor as on the shell(fly.)

    In the interest of loosing weight, the first thing to look at is the floor, as the heaviest single component. Next is the fly.

    So, cutting into the weights with UL fabrics, like UL DCF/cuben, leaving the floor detachable (and replaceable) makes a lot of sense. But this means a lot of fiddling when you set up a shelter. (I am ignoring the inner tent.) A simple set-up is with the floor already attached, usually with 8 stakes (say for a ZPacks Plexamid.) A more complex set-up means staking out the floor after setting up the fly and more stakes (say for a MLD Solomid.) The floors are reduced to about double (or less) the thickness of the fly. When you wear one out, you replace it.

    But, this is not the very lightest option, nor the least fiddly option. Easier to use is a single piece of fabric sewn in to a fly, usually bathtub style. Much simpler and less fiddly. But, you cannot easily replace the floor when damaged, despite the manufacturers using light weight materials, say a .51oz fly and .74oz floor. The floors simply do not hold up to the fly material. (Zpacks had a good idea with the old Soloplex tents by simply using a surrounding net. This forced you to utilize them as a ground cloth under them, too.) A sewn in floor is generally a bit lighter, though. So, for UL people, we generally adopted this. Along with the higher cost of sooner replacement. Good idea for weight, not so good on the wallet.

    But generally, most tents in the UL/Lightweight ranges adopted the 1:1.5 formula knowing that the fly would still be good when the floor was gone. It was considered the lesser of the “bads” when compared to having a dry roof.

    Soo, back to your question. You cannot find a good tent made with DCF upper and a silnylon floor, unless you go to a component (modular) system. I have looked. I prefer a silnylon floor because I CAN repair it. I can simply patch small punctures or leaks then seam-seal them. If the whole floor is worn, I can recoat the floor with caulk/mineral spirits solution. It will be good for another three to five years. If I had DCF, I could not do this. And nylon has a lot more abrasion resistance than DCF. Nylon is NOT all that slippery, depending on what you get…some is. But again, this is easily fixed with a coat of caulk/MS. IFF you get a PU coating, this cannot be easily repaired, either. Though, some of the newer formulations of SIL/PU can be recoated. Even the 1.3oz nylon will have better resistance to abrasion and punctures than DCF and have a MUCH greater longevity (including repairs.) I don’t consider repairs to be a problem…everything needs maintenance. I worry more about the things that I cannot repair, only replace.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Colorado

    “Which of the two would be most puncture resistant? Wear resistant?” …

    Silnylon in my experience, and the other folks make good points, but I love my DCF tent, so with careful site selection and a piece of polycryo I don’t even think about it.

    Jeff Hollis
    BPL Member


    I would go with the lightest weight floor and use a polycryo ground sheet. The ground sheet will add 1-2 oz but certainly lighter than some of the heavier floors.

    I find 30D silnylon durable but the waterproofness suffers with long term use and the DCF may suffer microscopic holes, but I have very limited experience with DCF.  Both will increase weight when wet but silnylon probably twice as much at DCF.

    I think a 1 oz DCF floor with the polycryo ground sheet would be my choice for durability and weight savings.

    Flat Hat
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Eric I sent you a PM

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Thanks gents.  I wondered since Dyneema is strong laterally.

    I have had 4 Tarptents with only one silnylon floor tear (not a puncture).

    I have learned to re-coat my floors with a 5:1 ratio of (by volume) 5 parts odorless mineral spirits to 1 part GE ckear silicon caulk. Roll on with a small, low knap roller, wipe down with blue shop towels and let dry 2 days.

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