Materials

Selecting the best material for your tent or tarp is an important decision. We work with Dyneema, SilPoly, and SilNylon.


So which material should I choose???

Each material has advantages and disadvantages that you should consider, the most important of which are outlined below.


Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF)

Formerly known as "cuben fiber," DCF is a nonwoven laminate of Dyneema yarns sandwiched between two polyester films. We offer .51 oz/yd2 and 0.8 oz/yd2 variants for our tarps and rainflys. Our DCF floors use a 1.0 oz/yd2 variant.

When comparing the 0.8 oz to the 0.51 oz, expect the 0.8 to last measurably longer and be much stronger. This is due to a much higher number and density of the Dyneema yarns. (0.8 oz should not be confused with .74 oz that is sometimes used in tents but has the same yarn count as the 0.51 oz)

Advantages:
  • Very strong for the weight
  • High waterproofness
  • Very low stretch helps to sheds wind better
  • No sag; will not relax when temperature drops
  • Does not require seam sealing
Disadvantages:
  • High price
  • Louder 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.
Comments

Though the following shouldn't significantly influence your material selection decisions, there are a few characteristics of DCF that 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.

SilPoly

Our SilPoly is a 20D Ripstop Polyester with a silicone coating. It weighs 1.1 oz/yd2 prior to coating (about 1.3 after) with a minimum hydrostatic head of 2500mm. It's used both for our rainflys and floors.

Advantages:
  • Lower price than DCF
  • Won't sag when when temps drop (eg. when rain cools the fabric)
  • Polyester is Hydrophobic, meaning less water retention
  • Holds up to UV better than nylon
  • Lower stretch than our SilNylon
  • Compresses smaller than DCF
  • Overall lower environmental impacts than nylon with greater potential for recyling
Disadvantages:
  • Not as strong as equivalent weight Nylon
  • Requires seam sealing
Comments

Please keep in mind that some of the above information is specific to the specific fabric that we're using. Some characteristics, like being hydrophobic and having 'no Sag' are innate characteristics of all polyester fabrics, while other characteristics, like how stretchy it is, and how strong it is, can vary between polyester fabrics. You should not broadly project the above traits to all SilPoly fabrics.


SilNylon

Our SilNylon is a 30D Ripstop Nylon 6.6 with a silicone coating. It weighs 1.1 oz/yd2 prior to coating (about 1.3 after) and is used both for rainflys and floors. Nylon 6.6 is stronger than the more common Nylon 6.

Advantages:
  • Lower price than DCF
  • Stronger than equivalent weight polyester
  • Polyester is Hydrophobic, meaning less water retention
  • Compresses smaller than DCF
Disadvantages:
  • Degrades faster in UV than Polyester
  • Requires seam sealing
  • Hydrophilic; can retain more water than polyester
  • Relaxes/sags when the temperature drops (eg. when it rains, the water cools the fabric causing it to sag)
    We use fairly aggressive curvatures in our shelters, in part, to mitigate these effects.
  • Stretchier than our SilPoly
  • More impactful on the enironment than polyester and more difficult to recycle
Comments

Please keep in mind that some of the above information is specific to the specific fabric that we're using. Some characteristics, like being hydrophilic and 'Sag' are innate characteristics of all nylon fabrics, while other characteristics, like how stretchy it is, and how strong it is, can vary between nylon fabrics. You should not broadly project the above traits to all SilNylon fabrics.