Selecting the best material for your tent or tarp is an important decision. We offer shelters made from Cuben Fiber, SilNylon and SilPoly. The information below will help you make an informed decision when selecting your shelter.

Our General Recommendation

Everyone is different. For most people, we feel that partnering a 0.8 oz Cuben Fiber rain fly with a SilPoly or SilNylon floor provides the best balance and results in the longest lasting shelter. Using Cuben Fiber for the rain fly takes advantage of this premium material's advantages where they make the most impact without the cost of a shelter made entirely from Cuben. Other combinations may suit you better depending on your priorities.

Cuben Fiber
Cuben Fiber from DSM Dyneema A laminate of UHMWPE fibers sandwiched between polyester films and all fused together. Unlike other fabrics, it is not woven together. The specific variations of Cuben Fiber that we use are below.

Advantages

  • Incredibly strong for the weight
  • Great waterproofness
  • Very low stretch (sheds wind better)
  • No sag (does not relax when temperature drops)
  • Does not require seam sealing

Disadvantages

  • High price
  • Loud when it rains
  • Low stretch means the shelter has a tighter 'sweet spot' where it will pitch well and reduces flexibility in tweaking the 'shape' of your pitch.
  • Less compressible than nylon or polyester.
0.8 oz Cuben Our top choice for tarps and rain flys.

Advantages

  • Better durability and longevity than 0.5 oz

Disadvantages

  • Heavier than 0.5 oz
0.5 oz Cuben A good choice for tarps and rain flys when weight savings are the highest priority.

Advantages

  • Lightest of the materials we offer

Disadvantages

  • Lowest durability of the materials we offer
  • Lowest longevity of the materials we offer
1.0 oz Cuben The weight that we choose for our Cuben Fiber floors. We can also make bomber tarps from it!

Advantages

  • Great durability for the weight
  • High waterproofness
  • Does not require seam sealing

Disadvantages

  • Not as much weight savings per dollar as the Cuben Fiber we use for rain flys & tarps.
Comments Though we don't feel like the following should influence your material selection decisions, there are a few characteristics of Cuben Fiber that we feel you should know about.
  • Shrinkage - The material will shrink slightly over time as it is worked. After a while, this will cause the zipper to have a wavy appearance because the zipper has stayed the same length while the surrounding material has shrunk a little bit.
  • Deformation - Localized pressure points can deform the fabric (like using a thumb to cram a shelter into a stuff sack). This shouldn't compromise the shelter, but we want you to know so you can avoid it.
  • Creep - Under load, the material can lengthen over time. For example, a tarp's edge, pulled taut between stakes, may gradually lengthen. This can slightly change how the shelter pitches.
Woven & Coated Fabrics
SilPoly 20 Denier Ripstop Polyester 1.1 oz/yd2 before coating Silicone coated, both sides

Advantages

  • Won't sag when wet or when temps drop
  • Hydrophobic - Doesn't absorb water which means less water retention
  • Lower stretch than Nylon
  • Slight stretch allows more wiggle-room for stake placement compared to Cuben Fiber
  • Lighter than our SilNylon
  • Better waterproofing than our SilNylon
  • Compresses more readily than Cuben Fiber and our SilNylon

Disadvantages

  • Not as strong as equivalent weight of Nylon
  • Slight stretch tends to collect more wind than Cuben Fiber
  • Requires seam sealing
SilNylon 30 Denier Ripstop Nylon 6.6 1.1 oz/yd2 before coating Silicone blend coated, both sides

Advantages

  • Great all-around material
  • Stretch allows more wiggle-room for stake placement
  • Stronger than equivalent weight Polyester
  • Compresses more readily than Cuben Fiber
  • Made in the USA

Disadvantages

  • Sags when temperature drops, such as in rain (note: we use aggressive curvatures to help maintain a taut pitch even as nylon relaxes)
  • Stretch can collect more wind
  • Lower UV resistance than Polyester
  • Heavier than our SilPoly
  • Hydrophilic - by nature, Nylon wants to absorb water
  • Lower waterproofness than our SilPoly
  • Requires seam sealing
Comments It can be tricky to compare various fabrics comprehensively. Different coatings can affect the properties of a fabric, making it stronger or weaker, stretchier or stiffer, etc. The information above reflects the particular fabrics and coatings that we are using. Generally, it should hold true for most silicone coated nylons and polyesters of equivalent weight, but the lines often blur.