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  1. #1
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    Default Cuben Fiber Queries

    Does anyone have any longer term experience with any of the Z Packs equipment, specifically the Cuben Fiber back packs and tents? I am thru hiking in 2015 NOBO, and would like some feedback since this product is fairly expensive. Does it live up to the waterproof claims, and is it durable?

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    I have around 65 nights on my Hexamid Twin. One zipper pull broke around night 60 but I could still zip the tent from the other side. zPacks fixed this without charge. The tent appears to be in great condition and has been very effective for me in wet conditions. I also have a number of cuben stuff sacks. All of them are still in decent condition after maybe 70-75 days of use. I am particularly impressed with the zPacks Blast food bag, still in great condition after maybe 50 days of use, with maybe 20 days of actually hanging the bag. I have no experience with cuben backpacks, but can vouch for the material in other contexts. And many people on Whiteblaze say that the zPacks backpacks are durable.

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    Recommend buying some single sided cuben tape for repairs. I've only had to use this once on a stuff sack but it works great. Duct tape is supposed to work, but why use it? The cuben tape is pretty cheap and I hate the idea of temporarily slapping duct tape on my expensive cuben gear.

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    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    No experience with their packs, but I have a Hexamid Solo plus. It has about 30 nights of actual use on it and looks brand new. Several pretty windy evenings at 11,000 to 12,000 feet in the High Sierra range. Also a couple of nights of substantial rain - completely water tight fabric in that experience. Seams were all taped. Added nice feature of Cuban is that a few wipes with a bandanna or microfiber towel and the tarp is virtually dry for packing up in the morning.

    Wouldn't call my experience long-term as yet, but I have every confidence that, with proper care and attention to detail, the cuben tarp will be a long-term friend.

  5. #5
    T-Rx T-Rx's Avatar
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    I don't own a Cuben fiber tent but I do own several Cuben fiber items purchased from Z packs (blast food bag, tarp, various pouches to clip on pack. I am very pleased with these items so far and Z Packs customer service has been excellent. I have found my Cuben fiber items to very durable and completely waterproof. I am very happy with my Cuben fiber from a durability and weight savings perspective but that weight savings is expensive!

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    Thanks - I have several of the stuff sacks and the food bag - one of my favorite pieces of equipment. Also have some of the repair tape. Any particular reason you chose the Hexamid Twin over the Solo Plus? Any issues with all the staking required with these tents?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRamsey View Post
    Thanks - I have several of the stuff sacks and the food bag - one of my favorite pieces of equipment. Also have some of the repair tape. Any particular reason you chose the Hexamid Twin over the Solo Plus? Any issues with all the staking required with these tents?
    The total weight for the Solo Plus is advertised at 18.5 ounces on the zPacks site and my Twin is 20.4 ounces on my scale. One of the reasons for the small weight difference despite the Twin's larger size is that the Twin only requires 8 stakes while the Solo Plus uses 10 stakes. The cost difference isn't significant either for such a long term purchase.

    The Solo Plus can use the same ground sheet as the Twin so in theory you have the same square footage but the usable space is far greater with the twin since the use of the second trekking pole on the back of the tent lifts the canopy. I have room for all of my gear and plenty of room for myself. I can stay in the tent during storms without getting claustrophobic.

    As far as setting up, it takes a bit of practice but not that much. Staking isn't a big issue, but one big factor to consider is that the overall footprint of the Hexamid is quite large. It is difficult to use small sites. There have been several small campsites that I've passed up due to the space requirements that I otherwise would have liked to use.

  8. #8
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRamsey View Post
    Any issues with all the staking required with these tents?
    I realize you weren't directing the question to me, but I will answer this part.

    All the stakes can be a bit of a hassle, but was never a major issue. I usually had my tarp up before my hiking partner had his Notch up which takes only 4 stakes.

    Only 6 of the stakes are vital on the Solo Plus, but I always used all 10. The extra tie-outs add a lot of room under the tarp and help to stabilize it in strong winds. The added stakes were never an issue. Often times, I would secure the stakes with rocks on top, but that was generally just a precaution and rocks were so plentiful it was easy insurance against having get up in the middle of the night to re-stake. I never had to do that.

    Once you get used to a method and routine to pitch the tarp, it is very easy and fast.

  9. #9
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    +1 about the site size, it does take a relatively large site, not only for the footprint, but the guy lines as well. I chose just the tarp, not the tent. Tarp weight is about 7 ounces. I did look seriously at the Twin as well, but I'm happy with my choice.

    So many good shelter options out there today, makes it tough to decide.

  10. #10

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    Bought Hexamid Solo in 2010 (I think). Love the lightweightness. Our cuben fiber interior ground cloth is NOT sewn in and we like it that way. Have had it in several rains and all is fine as long as we make sure our interior ground cloth does not touch the tent walls - if it does condensation drips down the tent walls onto the interior ground cloth and can puddle and get the sleeping bag wet.

    Zipper failure around Night 100 which Zpacks fixed for free. They have been excellent in their customer service!

    Night 180 we noticed the stitching to the main support guy line began to rip through the cuben fiber and switched tents to a backup tent as we were on a long hike and did not know how long it would be until stitching completely pulled through the cuben fiber. I think Zpacks has redone the engineering on that part of the tent to make it more durable, but I am not positive.

    Also have two Zpacks cuben fiber stuff sacks that we use for food bags. After 200 Days, they have several 2"x2" areas of shredded cuben fiber due to friction, I'm guessing. There were stuffed inside a backpack on top of each other and on top of a sleeping bag. We just patched them with duct tape.

    BTW, we treat our gear with kid gloves...so none of these issues are due to abuse.

    As far as staking, we carried a combination of different type of stakes so that we could handle the different types of soil for the three main support guy lines. I think we had: nine titanium shepherd stakes and two 3-sided stakes and one V-channel stake.

    Totally agree with Coffee's comment "overall footprint of the Hexamid is quite large. It is difficult to use small sites. There have been several small campsites that I've passed up due to the space requirements that I otherwise would have liked to use."

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    Redbeard AKA Will Wood on Youtube put a comprehensive review of a Zpacks Arc Blast pack he thru-hiked with this year. I recall that it survived the hike well and although definitely showing some wear & tear was ready for more after a 7 month thru. He did note more people who routinely used the pack near or over it's upper weight limit having problems with early failure such as strap stitching coming apart, so it seems that following their weight recommendation is especially important.

    I can't comment specifically on zpacks shelters but I have an MLD Solomid in the .74oz cuben and it is most definitely waterproof. I've had it in a couple heavy rains now with no issues. I haven't yet been in a situation where the durability is really put to the test, though with a shelter it seems that a little site prep to avoid driving sharp sticks etc. through it goes a long way. The tensile strength is very high as expected with cuben though I haven't had it long enough (9ish nights) to honestly appraise how the seams and tieouts stand up to long term drum-tight pitching.

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    Thanks for all the great information. I did follow Redbeard, and saw his review. I think he is from my neck of the woods! I'm gonna keep monitoring things, but will probably get a Solo Plus in Dec/Jan.

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    4 CF items:

    1: Tent (z-pack Hex), Lasted for the thru (including as a pillow in shelters at first (what was I thinking given the ocst of then thing), Also used as a blanket in shelters when the temp dropped. Still going strong but needed repair 2x. One when I slung my pack into it with the trekking poles sticking out, the tip hit the wall, but it did not break thru, nor a total hole, but did create some pinholes, repaired first with duck tape, then with CF tape. The second was a random pinhole that I noticed at night, repaired with CF tape.

    2: Tent stuff sack: Started to fray about 1/2 thru my thru, contacted zpack - told that was saving my tent from the same fate. At the end it was threadbare in sections, I switched to a USPS priority mail tyvac envelope.

    3: CF tent stake pouch, still strong after the above

    4: CF drysack, some of it wore thru, repaired with CF tape and I think it is still waterproof, but the closing Velcro is in threads holding it to the rest by now, the sack if folded enough is still watertight.

    Overall the one piece of gear where it really matters came thru, the tent, and I do hope to have much more use out of it.

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    Just wondering. Why is cuben fiber so expensive. I assume that it is not breathable. Am I wrong about that?

  15. #15
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    i have over 200 trail nights on a tarp they made me. never a problem
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

  16. #16
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I chose the Twin tarp over the Solo+ due to the additional space for minimal weight. With the extra space I also feel that I can avoid the need for a bivy sack to protect from ground splatter.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  17. #17
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    Hiking gear durability can be a somewhat subjective matter as a User's specific real world experiences influence it. UL manufacturers typically clearly mention this especially when it comes to some of the most UL hiking gear available as ZPacks offers. Take heed of responsible UL manufacturer's advertising/comments when they say things like "you'll know if this is right for you", "this is a non returnable or non warrantied item", "this is a niche UL product", "those that use this gear should understand what UL gear use can entail", etc. These statements are alluding to and reflect the extra TLC and durability issues much UL gear can entail. We often forget or are ignorant of why these statements are made or totally ignore them especially when we get on the UL merry-go-round seeking to have the latest greatest most UL often the most popular hullabalooed UL gear or when we're neophytes to more hardcore wt saving gear.

    Zpacks, and some other backpack manufacturers that use CF(Hyperlight Mountain Gear for example) are currently using hybrid CF. IMO, this is a more durable CF than straight CF that strikes a good balance in characteristics for backpack material which is why it's being used in backpacks. It's a different CF than CF used in the Zpacks Hexamid, tarps, stuff sacks, etc. Those UL backpack manufacturers and cottage gear companies that do offer CF gear, such as backpacks, don't all use the same wt CF throughout their backpacks and some different construction methods using CF exist so some durability differences are naturally going to occur. CF tarps, stuff sacks, shelters, etc also come in different wt versions adding to different expected useful lifetimes. Compare carefully based on your needs and abilities!

    Zpacks and Hyperlight Mountain Gear are only two backpack manufacturers currently offering CF backpacks. FWIW, Zpacks has been manufacturing CF hiking gear for awhile now and have gained a real following in the UL hiking community so they MAY have the most CF backpack and possibly most overall CF hiking gear manufacturing experience. Plus, ZPacks founder Joe Valesko is a seasoned well traveled UL long distance hiker employing the CF gear he manufacturers. Joe also is constantly innovating improving on the UL CF gear ZPacks sells. BUT, IMHO, and I think ZPacks gear wts bear this out, Zpacks falls on the rather extreme side of UL. Carefully consider the back round of companies like ZPacks as it points to their company design philosophy. Not disparaging ZPacks, as I have a Zpacks ArcBlast which I've been extremely happy with, and Joe is much respected by the UL community including me, and this is just my opinion, but the lightest wt gear is not always the most appropriate for all people all the time under all situations.

    Yes, it was new to me too. There is a breathable CF version. Zpacks uses it in their currently offered rain jackets. From the specs Joe sent me I've seen quantifiablly decently breathable too! Zero real world experience with it though.

    ZPacks, as well as Hyperlight Mountain Gear, are both seam taping their hybrid CF backpacks. It makes their backpacks more water resistant, highly water resistant IMHO, not necessarily water proof in all day or multi day deluges AT type weather. I would still store untreated down sleeping bags, perhaps food, electronics, etc in WP stuff sacks inside my ZPack's seam taped hybrid CF Arc Blast. And, do be aware that if you are considering purchasing a used CF backpack from either company in the past these backpacks were not seam taped and different CF, non hybrid CF, which is more durable and more water resistant/water proof, was not employed during construction. Overall, what I'm saying, in regards to waterproofness, is that I need specific WP stuff sacks and no rain cover/ pack liner less often so it can save this gram weenie a bit more wt more often under specific fairer conditions. IMHO, it relates to why CF ZPacks backpacks are more in favor/employed on fairer weather hikes like those doing UL PCT thru-hikes.

    One might preview some of the UL cottage sites using CF because some give very good rundowns on various CF characteristics. Visit the Cubic Tech and Cubic Technology sites too if you already have not. It's not a fragile material per say to me but there are considerations and damn it can be expensive to save those few ounces when opting for that sexy itsy bitsy minimalist CF hiking gear. Does everyone really need to be dropping those big bucks to save those couple of ounces? IMHO, NO!

  18. #18
    Registered User Grinch's Avatar
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    Terra nova makes several tents, back packs, and tarps with cuben. It's labeled as their "ultra" fabric. I have the quasar 55 back pack and it's awesome. 30oz strip able down to 16oz! This fabric feel very flimsy. Trust me it is not. I just made my first cf tarp. If you can sew or have a family member that does you can make this in a day. Mine is 10x9 and weighs a whopping 6oz. That's with tie outs! I was lucky enough to get 15.3 yards for free. Friggin Awesome! This is the cto.6e.08 in black( more transglucent grey than black). This stuff is probably 40/yd? So that left about 40 to Dutch for cf tape, d rings, and tie outs. Then 27 on needles and thread(have enough needle and thread for several more cf projects). While prepping cf, the scissors will not cut. You have to slide cut with scissors or use razor or rolling cutters. This fabric is amazing. It is woven so micro. this is also the .31 cf not the tarp standard .51 or backpack/tent floors .8/1.5. Punctures or abrasion would be the biggest threat but any material used in camp equip would be susceptible. If you make your equip then cf becomes a very viable option. I took my fly creek back to Rei and plan on making my own cf tent. Just follow someone else's design and tweek it or balls it with your own design. I do plan on making ditty bags and the like first to gain more sewing and fabric experience b4 tackling the tent. Good luck!
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  19. #19
    Registered User Grinch's Avatar
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    Don't know why pic is flipped. Sorry!

  20. #20
    Registered User Grinch's Avatar
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    I used tape and GITD thread for seam and hems.

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