- Apr 9, 2019 at 3:16 pm #3587891Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Ryan, I assume for your uses you would go with a mid like a Duomid or Ultamid 2? I think either should be able to hold up to that forecast. Does the Dirigo not hold up as well as a traditional mid?Apr 9, 2019 at 5:22 pm #3587909James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Ryan, yeah, I would mention swirling winds, too. A 30knot swirling wind can be the death of most “summer” shelters up in the ADKs. Few b’packers even use them. It is either a lake, pond, wetland, or, hill…always up hill, of course. Sometimes the trail is actually a small spring stream.
I agree, You have to survive a storm, further, you have to sleep through a storm. Many of the 3-season shelters can be VERY loud in a rainstorm, with or without a wind. The old Zpacks really needs ear-plugs to sleep well. Beyond that, they must be light enough to carry comfortably, as you say. Carrying a 4pound tent for a week is a &itch.
The biggest issue I see is the tremendous difference in requirements across most of the USA, indeed most of the world. From Arctic conditions in Alaska to swamp conditions in Mississippi to deserts in the southwest to tropical areas in Florida, to heavily forested areas of the NE to impossible winds on Mt Washington (you simply cannot stand up in 180mph winds.) Each requires a different breed of tent with a lot of overlap due to seasons. There simply isn’t one “best” for all conditions.
We really need a good set of parameters that would let define/choose a shelter based on the conditions we expect to encounter.Apr 9, 2019 at 5:30 pm #3587910Dan DurstonBPL Member
“The biggest issue I see is the tremendous difference in requirements across most of the USA, indeed most of the world.”
It’s too bad so many people don’t realize this, so they think if a tent works for them then it should be recommended to anyone, anywhere.
I did a lot of my formative backpacking in coastal BC and after experimenting with single walls in those sloppy conditions, I thought they were totally inappropriate designs. Later I hiked more broadly such as in SoCal and realized there are conditions where they work well. So now I try to be more aware of the context when recommending gear.Apr 9, 2019 at 10:33 pm #3587965Franco DarioliBPL Member
Reminds of the helpful suggestions like “you don’t need a mat, just use duff under the sleeping bag ” or “no need to carry poles, just pick up a couple of sticks” …Apr 9, 2019 at 11:45 pm #3587986James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Hay, hey, yeah, done that a few times. Always with the assumption the damn user knows his own needs better’n me.Apr 10, 2019 at 3:02 am #3588025
helpful suggestions like “you don’t need a mat, just use duff under the sleeping bag ” or “no need to carry poles, just pick up a couple of sticks” …
Ah yes, very helpful suggestions.
Duff – I have heard of it.
Sticks – finding straight ones over 100 mm long can be difficult.
Truly, it depends on the circumstances.
CheersMay 30, 2019 at 12:50 pm #3595413JCHBPL Member
@pastyj-2-2Sep 3, 2019 at 7:39 am #3608727Max NealeBPL Member
@maximumdragonflyLocale: Anchorage, AK
I shared some reflections on my experience reviewing the Dirigo and watching other media outlets cover the tent. If you’re interested, see here.Sep 3, 2019 at 6:22 pm #3608789Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
If you have been interested in purchasing a Hyperlite Moutain Gear Dirigo 2 tent, may I second what Max has presented before you do.
Max’s Reflections on how to buy things
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Long-Term ReviewSep 3, 2019 at 9:44 pm #3608842
Max’s Reflections on how to buy things
An utterly ruthless and really illuminating article.
CheersSep 4, 2019 at 7:03 am #3608898Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
When this thread began, passed on it due to the tent’s more obvious drawbacks. Only returned to it now, after five pages of posts; and while found it exhausting, was fascinated by the discussion of drawbacks (and some good points) that was like a tutorial in what is needed in a tent. Thank you to all, and to BPL for that.
Thank you, JCH, for the links to the Section Hiker articles that summarized the issues. Immediately printed out the chart, “Comparable DCF Tents,” and will read more about them when there is time. But for now, am reconfirmed in the belief that SIL/PU coated nylon is the best canopy material, for the reasons that have been discussed and debated on other threads, and no doubt will be again.Sep 4, 2019 at 8:11 am #3608904
am reconfirmed in the belief that SIL/PU coated nylon is the best canopy material
Well, so was I, on the grounds of strength and elasticity, but Mike Cecot-Scherer (owner and operator of TheTentLab) has put up a serious argument in favour of polyester over nylon, on the grounds of nylon’s shrinkage when going from dry to wet. It is at
Mind you, we do not normally go from ‘dry’ to ‘wet’ here in Oz: maybe 80% to 95%, which is not as bad, but all the same …
What I HAVE noticed is how useless nylon guy ropes are when they get wet: they really slacken off something awful. These days I use either Spectra or Dacron-sheathed Spectra for guys. I go for the sheathed stuff because Spectra is so difficult to grip, but Dacron is fine. Only problem is, I have to make the sheathed stuff myself: I thread the Spectra up the middle of Dacron tubular string. You will never break it though!
CheersSep 4, 2019 at 11:54 am #3608915
Roger – I’ve chatted with Mike about this. I take his point that polyester will perform better in wind because it doesn’t stretch in the wet and flap. But I do wonder about the strength of 20d silpoly PU – a number of reviews stress how easily it punctures and rips. I can’t find a single vendor, mainstream or cottage, that recommends it confidently for big wind. It’s notable that manufacturers like Hilleberb just don’t use it. Nordisk do make a mountain tent in poly but use a much heavier denier fabric compared to the same design in silnylon. They do a lot of wind tunnel testing, so I presume they have their reasons.
The compromise alternative is nylon 6.6. It stretches a bit more than poly, but significantly less than nylon 6, and it’s much, much stronger at the same weight. Both RSBTR and Extrem are offering a 6.6 these days, so it’s a practical option. But it’s quite costly, which is why you don’t see it much on commercial shelter, I’m guessing.
If you combine the modest stretch of 6.6 with a design that makes it easy to re-tension from inside the shelter, you have something that’s strong, light and convenient. My approach is to keep both hiking pole supports inside the canopy at a bit of an angle. If I need to re-tension, I can simply straighten the poles a bit. No need to get out of my pit and brave the storm.Sep 4, 2019 at 3:14 pm #3608929Greg MihalikBPL Member
“My approach is to keep both hiking pole supports inside the canopy at a bit of an angle. If I need to re-tension, I can simply straighten the poles a bit. No need to get out of my pit and brave the storm.”
Thank you.Sep 4, 2019 at 3:31 pm #3608931JCHBPL Member
My approach is to keep both hiking pole supports inside the canopy at a bit of an angle. If I need to re-tension, I can simply straighten the poles a bit. No need to get out of my pit and brave the storm.
This is precisely the reason I replaced my fixed length poles with adjustable when I transitioned to a trekking pole supported shelter…once setup, most fine pitch adjustments can be made from the inside by changing the pole length. You can only change the effective length of a fixed length pole a small amount by angling it. With adjustable poles, the shelter can be pitched anywhere between sky-high and slammed to the ground.Sep 4, 2019 at 4:25 pm #3608942
Yes – I would use the adjustments on the poles to set the overall height of the pitch, which could be anything from 130cm (heat wave) to 85cm (armageddon) plus a few cm for the slope. Then I would use the slope for fine adjustment to re-tension after the canopy got wet and stretched.
It’s difficult to get enough tension by extending the length of the pole – it works better to keep the pole the same length and simply straighten the slope. This is a pretty old trick I think – I certainly didn’t invent it.Sep 4, 2019 at 10:46 pm #3608990
Nylon 6,6 vs polyester? It is not simple.
Polyester is cheaper than nylon 6,6 and does not stretch as much when going from dry to wet.
Nylon has greater strength than polyester and greater elasticity and recovery.
So, if you are making cheap pop-ups for Walmart and the unskilled novice market, then polyester may be a clear choice. They won’t be using the tent in extreme conditions and a sloppy pitch won’t matter if it rains. Most of Mike’s designs are for pop-ups.
But if you are making a tent for extreme conditions and for the experienced market, where the pop-up design just won’t work, the balance changes. The cost of the fabric is small compared to the cost of manufacture and the performance of nylon in a storm becomes far more important. The design of the tent handles the stretch, and the tents don’t see a full dry-to-wet transition anyhow.
Most American tents are sold to the novice market for benign conditions: pop-ups and single-pole tents. Cost matters. Our UL fringe is just that: the fringe. On the other hand, the high-end European market (and New Zealand and Aus) use higher performance nylon fabrics: survival in extreme weather matters.
Yes, you can buy American designs in Europe these days. The novice market is growing and cost matters at that end. For camp grounds (and pop festivals) such designs are OK.
But what about the DCF tents sold in America? Well, they are a bit of an anomaly: expensive fabrics used for low-end designs. That is a combination of the glamour of DCF (oh wow!) and the expectation of a pop-up or single pole design – because that is all that most of the American market knows. But we know from experience that DCF fails after a while: the stitch holes start to stretch and the fabric develops tiny holes after all the folding. The fabric shreds under high wind loading. But many customers won’t spend that many nights under the tent, so they won’t notice.
I would be far more interested in getting rid of the ripstop threads from the nylon fabrics: those bigger threads are where the coating leaks. Enough photos of that happening have been published – some from my testing. I have never seen a nylon tent fabric fail in tension in the field, so the claim of adding strength is just marketing spin.
CheersSep 5, 2019 at 1:53 am #3609011
No-one is making serious expedition tents out of silpoly, or out of DCF. I think that says a lot right there.
As for ripstop, I suspect it’s nothing more than a fashion when it comes to high end nylon. As you say, I doubt that it achieves much, and it’s a source of wear in the coating. It does seem to be workable – a good silnylon should last hundreds of nights, especially if you keep it out of strong sun. But my longest lasting tent had a flat weave – it’s my base camp tent so only gets occasional use, but it’s decades old and still keeps the rain out.Sep 6, 2019 at 6:17 pm #3609191Dan DurstonBPL Member
“No-one is making serious expedition tents out of silpoly, or out of DCF. I think that says a lot right there.”
This isn’t true. Historically, poly has been more popular than nylon on the top of everest. Serious 4-season tents have long used poly, but the lack of availability of lighter polys has kept it out of the realm of lightweight tents until recently.
“I do wonder about the strength of 20d silpoly PU – a number of reviews stress how easily it punctures and rips. I can’t find a single vendor, mainstream or cottage, that recommends it confidently for big wind. It’s notable that manufacturers like Hilleberg just don’t use it.”
A lot of that just comes down to it being a new option plus customers already accustomed to dealing with the downsides of nylon. If poly dominated the market and nylon came along with issues of sag in the rain and high susceptibility to UV, it would be unlikely to take over.
Coatings like PU affect strength a lot but aren’t specific to nylon or poly, so if we standardize that and compare 20D sil/PU poly to 20D sil/PU nylon, we’d find the nylon has about 30% higher tear strength but it gives back about 15% of that when wet (unlike poly) and gives back quite a bit more with UV exposure, so that after a year or two of use it’s likely the weaker material. Major tent companies like Nemo have said as much.
Out of the box nylon is stronger so it makes for good comparison tests and extreme conditions videos with a new tent, but it’s more important to have a tent that is strong throughout it’s lifespan, rather than really strong when new and dry and quite weak when old and wet. I don’t sell my X-Mid tents (which use 20D poly) as tents for “big winds” but they’re going to handle almost anything you could reasonably throw at them. Lots of users have had them in 35 – 50 mph winds, without issue, such as this:
So if you’re interested in extreme scenarios then some will favour nylon, but for practical use where you’re going to take reasonable actions like not pitching on a summit in a storm, poly makes a lot of sense. Poly is new but taking over with tons of companies switching. Black Diamond is getting into it, such as their new poly “Distance” tent.
https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_CA/distance-tent-with-zpoles-BD8101824029ALL1.htmlSep 6, 2019 at 9:41 pm #3609207
Are you sure about the use of poly on mountain tents? I checked out Hilleberg, Black Diamond, North Face and Crux before I posted, and everything I looked at was 40 or 50d high tenacity nylon. I could see the case for poly for a shelter that would be pitched at a high camp for a season because of the UV, but I didn’t see anyone actually using it.
In any case, it’s a bit academic, I guess. The practical dilemma is how far you can push the new 20d silpoly, especially with the PU coating that gives it a more confidence inspiring HH in Richard’s tests, but also weakens the fabric quite significantly.
A few reviews on RSBTR stressed how easily the silpoly PU4000 tore, which was a bit concerning, while the 6.6 nylon is pretty tough stuff, at least before the UV gets to it. There’s a big difference between nylon 6 and 6.6, and an even bigger difference between the 6.6 and the silpoly PU. I suspect your figures are for nylon 6, not 6.6?
Nordisk offer a number of tents in both nylon and poly. The nylon is 40d but the poly is 68d. That concerned me, as they do a lot of wind-tunnel testing so must presumably have their reasons. Plus TrekkerTent, who do a lot of practical testing in Scottish conditions, only recommend their 20d silpoly for sheltered camping and do a heavier nylon for 3/4 season use. Yama told me that they are nervous about customers using their 20d silpoly products on exposed sites and don’t recommend it, though they haven’t had a reported failure. MLD don’t offer it at all, and they do a lot of testing too. So there isn’t anyone I trust actively recommending it for exposed use.
On the other side Mike Cecot-Scherer of Tentlab makes pretty much your argument for poly – lower stretch which means the shelter retains its wind-shedding shape in storms, better UV resistance, and enough strength provided you reinforce the stress points properly. But he mostly seems to have been designing Hubba-type consumer tents, while I’m looking for something that could stand anything that Scotland or Scandinavia could throw at me in situations where there may be no shelter within reach – and that could mean well in excess of 60mph. So it’s hard to know how much weight to give to his position.
We can agree that for typical trekking use 20d silpoly will do the job. But given that this is a safely issue, it would be reassuring if there were makers who are using and recommending 20d silpoly for exposed 3.5 season use. I can’t find any, and I really don’t want to be a guinea pig.
For the same weight I could use something like the RSBTR 30d Mountain 6.6 silnylon, which I suspect will be a lot stronger than the 20d silpoly PU4000 even when wet and weathered. And while it stretches more than silpoly, it stretches a lot less than nylon 6, and I’ve taken that into account in my design.
Cost isn’t an issue for me, as I intend to use the shelter for 100s of nights. I’m looking for the best solution. Are you really arguing that for exposed use with some risk of snow load the 20d silpoly PU 4000 would be a better choice?Sep 7, 2019 at 1:11 am #3609245
A lot of these arguments are imho going past each other rather than making a direct comparison.
The UV issue is widely quoted by the poly supporters, but is it relevant? My silnylon tent has seen hundreds of nights in the mountains, but I don’t have it up in the day when there is a lot of UV around. It does not seem to have lost any significant amount of strength. (Daytime, it is in my pack, traveling.)
Cost is a factor, as I have already said. It makes sense to use the cheapest fabric for the consumer mass market. When a novice’s tent gets trashed in a storm, they seem to regard that as exciting – at least, judging by the YouTube videos. That does not work so well in the mountains and the snow on a multi-week trip.
Pitching location: sure, it makes sense to pitch in a sheltered spot – IF you can find one! There have been plenty of times for us when the concept of ‘shelter’ has been a bit of a joke. I am sure I have posted plenty of photos to illustrate that.
How much a nylon tent will sag or distort when it gets wet is also a bit of a strawman. To be sure, going from ‘dry’ (5% RH?) to wet (100%) will let the nylon stretch a bit, and this can be made to look bad in photos. But how often does the humidity vary over that sort of range in a day? And of course, if your tent design has zero tolerance for any stretch, you have a problem – with the design of the tent! Consumer-grade tents are rarely designed for high performance (regardless of the marketing spin).
By way of practical example, I have pitched one of my silnylon tunnels (I have a few) in high wind and bad weather and had zero sag in the walls next morning – because the design handles that. Loops of 4 mm bungee cord at the LEE end maintain the tautness very well. But they are not consumer-grade gear.
CheersSep 7, 2019 at 2:08 am #3609255Pierre DescoteauxBPL Member
Just for the record, Kelty made the WindFoil II and III and the Typhoon II in polyester back in 1998-2000. (They use to make good tents!) I still own the WF III. The lack of sag is very nice when the tent is set up for a few days in expeditions where the temperature changes as it too influences sag. I do not remember the Denier of the fabric but it definitely is not even close to a 20d! Dare I say 70D?
After making a few tents (Cuban, Silpoly, Silpoly/pu, Silnylon) and using big brand ones for much longer, I would not trust low denier Sil/pu treated polyester. The stuff I got from RSBTR felt really nice but any holes in the fabric quickly ends up in long tears. I simply makes me too worried! But my use (if and when I can get out!) is mainly for climbs in more challenging wind/temp then most.
Mostly because of cost I would now use 30d or 40d Silnylon (Can’t afford Cuban) but I would love to do some informal tear strength testing of high quality 40d Silpoly. (No pu!)Sep 7, 2019 at 3:52 am #3609272Sep 7, 2019 at 4:09 am #3609275Pierre DescoteauxBPL Member
Tears only done by hand with the various fabrics and laminate I have on hand. Nothing scientific but plenty enough for me to lack confidence in certain fabric. I like to sleep at night and not worry at every wind gust!Sep 7, 2019 at 7:33 am #3609293Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Roger, & all:
As often noted, I’ve had the same experience with polyester tearing easily from pinholes along the grain, but it was on the very light ‘membrane’ from RBTR. Hearing about tearing with higher denier polyester about wraps it up for me.
Am puzzled how all seem to know what is 6 vs 6.6. How do you tell? And don’t say ask the vendor – else I’ll need to spout horror stories, and maybe get sued. Since I spent a lifetime in courtrooms, staying out of them is a big priority now. Also, the designations are from Dupont, and I would expect there are grades of Sil and TPU nylon now made in Asia that may not conform to Dupont’s grading. I have some of RBTR’s ‘mountain’ nylon, and it is more durable on inspection, but also heavier. It may be from Asia, and where it falls in Dupont’s grading is not clear. Still, I think it would might make a good tent floor; but so would some lighter silnylon from Thru-Hiker, and specifically represented by Paul Nanian to be Dupont 6,6.
Roger, a number of posts, including yours, have mentioned the TPU coatings for nylon, and also the coatings that are sil on one side and PU or TPU on the other. But not much more information. What I do know is that I sent some sil/PU 15D mini ripstop nylon to Richard N from a Sea to Summit Escapist tarp and found that it tested over 3K HH on his report posted here.. Then I stretched it in a plastic embroidery loop and exposed it to numerous cycles of rain and sunshiine. And there definitely was not anything like the degree of sagging seen before on silnylon. At most it was like the 15D silnylon on my One Planet (Australian) tent that develops wrinkles, but no sagging, during rainstorms and until it dries out.
So the only further question I have is how strong it is, and I’ve not the equipment to measure that in any scientific way. So will probably go ahead and use the nylon rather than the 20D polyester from RBTR. Am surprised to hear about the reports of the 20D polyester’s lack of durability, but they are caution enough, not to mention that it is significantly heavier than the S to S 15D nylon. Also,my tent design limits the amount of sagging with nylon, and that also will help.
In addition, would note Stephen Seeber’s report recently posted about the 20 D silnylon from Extrem Textil that I sent him, and his recent report on this forum. The micro graphs show very little woven material between a checkerboard of rectangular areas. It is hard to ignore the supposition that the material is susceptible to tearing in the sparsely woven areas. This sounds a lot like the issues with the 20D silpoly reported in the above posts. Before I use the S to S material, think I’ll buy a microscope and take a look. It would be a shame if the issues with both the Extrem Textil nylon and the RBTR polyester are due to poor manufacture, and not the thread being used.
Lastly, thought we on BPL had converted to spectra core cordage long ago. Rather than gizmos, I just use a tautline hitch, with the modification suggested on BPL by Daryl & Daryl, and have had no problems. As we say here, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
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