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Is CUBEN FIBRE the next BIG THING ??

9:09 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Starting to peruse the various offerings (not many, yet) of this "latest / greatest" thang -- CUBEN FIBRE material.

I am here in "sailing country", along the Chesapeake Bay.   Annapolis, Maryland is near, and several sailing yacht and sail-making companies are head-quartered there.

I understand this high-tech fabric was first developed for the America's Cup winning sails, about 1992. 

It is a non-woven laminated fabric, that is plasma-treated (?) polyethylene fibre monofilaments and polyester.   Very light, very strong, and has excellent resistance to UV light.

OK.   So what does that mean to us?

We are going to be exposed to this material in backpacks, tents, stuff-sacks, clothing (? not sure yet; probably rain gear), and other as-yet undeveloped applications.   Or ... should I say, "unannounced" applications.   Research and development on-going.

Great stuff, from what I have gleaned in my brief research.

But, at extremely high cost.  

We've seen this phenomena before.   Until is is mass-produced (if licensing is resolved), we will pay dearly to save ounces (maybe, even pounds).

What do you think, Trailspacers ???

9:39 p.m. on April 18, 2011 (EDT)
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About all I know is that some backpackers are using it to make tarps, hammocks, backpacks, and other gear I'm sure.

I just ordered a new hammock made from 1.0 nylon fabric, with a double layered bottom. It weighs 1lb 6oz. total weight. There would have to be considerable weight savings for me to pay double the price for Cuben, and even then I may not be willing to.

I'm sure in time it will find a niche market, especially if the price drops.

12:43 a.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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All kinds of companies offering cuben packs, tents, and quilts. Most on their second generation now. Just check Mountain Laurel Designs, Six Moon Designs, Z-Packs, Lightheart, and a host of others. Oops..............my bad, did I just name some UL companies on this forum, potentially sending someone to certain death?

2:10 a.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Is cuben the next big thing? Yes. Certainly. There's always a next big thing, and I love innovation. If one wants to spend the money, a genuine 2-person hybrid double-wall cuben fiber tent can be had at just over a pound and a half. That's incredible. I know of at least one: The Big Sky Cuben Mirage; for a few ounces more, though perhaps a bit more wind-unstable, a true double-wall can be found in the Easton Kilo.

Then again, don't forget the Brooks Range Rocket tent...

12:04 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Soooo ....

What does this mean?   Are we assessed a 50% cost premium for so choosing this material/ product, over-and-above the "next best"?

Or, is my 50% figure not accurate?   Our 'trout-dude' says it was double (100% premium), in his example.

Yogi Robt

1:11 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Cuben

expensive.

there are better options

5:51 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Soooo ....

What does this mean?   Are we assessed a 50% cost premium for so choosing this material/ product, over-and-above the "next best"?

Or, is my 50% figure not accurate?   Our 'trout-dude' says it was double (100% premium), in his example.

Yogi Robt

Well, I was speaking loosely Robert. Your figure may well be accurate.

11:15 p.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
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Well, the new SMD Skyscape series goes from $125 in polyester, to $225 in Sil, to $450 in Cuben (ignoring the introductory prices). So yeah, it's pricey. So's golf. So's sailing. Depends on your priorities. I'm a cheapskate, so my foray into cuben was for a drysack.

12:41 a.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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I'll have to side with Callahan on this one. He's nailed on my opinion. Like my mom said, train harder, them ounces wont mather so much then.

9:14 a.m. on April 20, 2011 (EDT)
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too expensive. sew your own. I think manufacturers who concentrate on cuben products are going to drive themselves off a cliff. splat.

11:51 a.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Well, it seems like there is always another new "big thing."  Ultralight. Sil-nylon.  Titanium. Vintage Gear.  Zip-Off pants.  Florescent colors.  Maybe legwarmers for rock climbers will be next.

Desite the trendy factor of cuben amongst some of the SUL crowd, it's an interesting material that deserves consideration.  Granite Gear is making cuben dry-sacks that look great.  I've heard that previous generations of cuben had problems with UV exposure that have been fixed.  I've played with the material a bit and can see one drawback: it doesn't bounce back from punctures as well as sil-nylon.  It seems like the silicon in sil-nylong helps the fibers self-heal after a puncture, where the laminate in cuben just punctures.  This isn't to say I wouldn't use it - just that perhaps it would be best for a tarp where sil-nylon would be best for a ground sheet. 

Did you get a cuben hammock trout?  I would LOVE to see some pics of that in action!

5:21 p.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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...legwarmers for rock climbers will be next.

I've been putting together my Yosemite-era Royal Robbins getup for a little while now...found a good boiled wool sweater with elbow patches...got a great pair of Pivetta P-8 boots...just trying to track down the right knee-high socks...

6:17 p.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Seth said:

"Did you get a cuben hammock trout?  I would LOVE to see some pics of that in action!"

Nope Seth, I ordered a Warbonnet Blackbird in 1.0 double layer nylon with a Silnylon tarp. Wait time is approx. 30 days.

I would love to try out a hammock made with Cuben though, but it might have to wait a while.

6:28 p.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Dude ~~  'Ya needs to check-out one of those 'boutique' shops that specializes in Celtic / Irish / Gaelic stuff.   All kinds of knee-highs ... many Argyle, etc.   You might consider the Bavarian lederhosen, to mix-it up.

Yogi Robt

...legwarmers for rock climbers will be next.

I've been putting together my Yosemite-era Royal Robbins getup for a little while now...found a good boiled wool sweater with elbow patches...got a great pair of Pivetta P-8 boots...just trying to track down the right knee-high socks...

8:14 p.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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There are design problems with any fabric.  Most are taking advantage of the ultralight properties of the fabric.  Following is a minimally edited recent response from a tent maker (I respect) about using Cuben Fiber.

[snip] "It’s resistance to bias shift is ideal for sails, much like the Mylar laminates I started [with] 34+ years ago. But that was a failure in tents then. In a tent it is essential that it can adjust to deformations due to wind forces, and neither the Mylar laminate or Cuben Fiber can do that.

"Tear resistance is very needed in a tent you must rely on in the wilderness. "Soar cloth" is the best ever developed, due to the ease fibers can shift when fabric is cut or load tries to tear it. Cuben Fiber doesn’t have that ability, which would decrease it’s bias stability NEEDED for sails.

"As for abrasion resistance, our experience with Soar Cloth (Syl-Nylon) is it is the most abrasion resistant of any found yet.

[snip] "Our 17 years use of Syl Nylon shows it as much more sun resistant than any other used in light tents. Acrylic is more resistant to sun, but too heavy and weak for lightweight tents.

"As for sewn seams, IF the fabric is HOT cut (ie, fused edges) and properly sewn, there is no problem with seams. [snip] .. if properly seam sealed (which bonds fabric and thread), seams never fail. Can’t get much better than no seam failures! As you note, seams are THE problem with Cuben Fiber, and seam bonding is only safe way. Having raced sailboats for 65 years, made and designed sails, and developed sail fabrics, I would never buy a sail of Cuben Fiber!"

10:52 p.m. on April 21, 2011 (EDT)
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As Mr. Spock would say .... "fascinating" ....

Yogi Robt

1:53 a.m. on April 29, 2011 (EDT)
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I've heard that previous generations of cuben had problems with UV exposure that have been fixed.

Does that mean it will last more than a couple years before fraying and needing duct tape to hold it together? Not rhetorical. When I read about the fraying and how well tape adheres to it, I couldn't help but think you'd quickly lose any big weight savings by using tape to hold it together; not to mention the implied short lifespan of such gear that runs contrary to my learned ideas of quality and durability. To hear it can maybe last even a decade would be a great improvement in my eyes.

4:02 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
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I am kinda torn on the whole Cuben Fiber thing. Granted the weight is admirable but does it justify the cost? I personally don't think so.

I was recently in the market for a lightweight solo tent. There were a few that caught my attention. One was the Hyperlight Echo 1(Cuben Fiber.) So for $520(list) I get a shelter that utilizes trekking poles to be pitched and a pack weight of around 1.5(lbs/oz)

I really couldn't swallow the price tag. I don't mind spending the cash on a great product but seriously... 520 beans seems like alot for a non-freestanding shelter.

I ended up with a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 and I am happy. Granted its not on the cheap end of the spectrum(around $400 w/footprint)but it is freestanding, quite roomy for a solo, and still light(3lbs w/footprint.) If I want a lighter load I am dialed in with the fastpitch setup at 2.2(lbs/oz.)

So does the extra $120 seem justified by this tech and weight savings? My simple answer is no. I am not an ultra lighter but at the same time I do value comfort and convenience just like the next person. I think I can handle the ounces better than I can swallow the dollars.

9:08 p.m. on May 1, 2011 (EDT)
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Good points, Rick.   I'm with you on those.

Yogi Robt

April 24, 2014
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