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  1. #1
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    Question Fabric Question - xpac vs cuben fiber vs dyneema

    Hey all,

    I'm looking at a couple UL packs, and I keep getting tripped up on fabrics. I'm coming from an osprey pack, so all of this lightweight fabrics all pretty much sound the same at face value.

    Can anyone tell me the difference between xpac, cuben fiber fabrics, dyneema?

    I want something that's going to be tear/abrasion resistent (I'm not particularly rough on gear, but I don't have to worry about it, especially in heavily vegetated areas or along tight rocky squeezes). And I really don't love the crackly feel of some fabrics. If it's a difference of an ounce or two for an entire pack, no biggee...I'm not gonna be counting grams, but I am looking to drop a couple pounds from my 4.5lb osprey.

    Thanks for the help!

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    here's a starting place: https://www.hillpeoplegear.com/Forum...s/Default.aspx

    Realize all these fabrics come in different versions and/or weights. When researching reviews note this as you want like comparisons that relate accurately to the specific fabric materials you may be considering for backpack use.

    Basically all these fabrics have shown areas of promise and use based on individual uses and preferences. People have favorites, and sometimes financial incentives, though which play into opinions.

  3. #3
    Registered User Engine's Avatar
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    Based on the criteria you mentioned, it sounds like you've ruled out cuben fiber already. It has the crackly feel you mention and it is not very abrasion resistant. Since you mention an ounce or two is not a deal breaker, I would consider dyneema. The Zpacks Arc Blast in cuben is 21 ounces while the Arc Haul is really the same pack in dyneema comes in at 24 ounces and is definitely a tougher pack. I don't know what size Osprey you have been carrying, but the Arc Haul is a 49 liter bag with an extra 13 liters of external pockets. For 24 ounces you get a pack capable of carrying a weeks worth of food and gear while saving 3 pounds on your current pack weight.

    The ULA packs are dyneema as well and while not as light as the Zpacks gear, they are still half the weight of what you're currently carrying and they cost 2/3 of what the Zpacks stuff does. I've never used one, but I hear good things...

    I have no experience with xpac, so someone else will have to chime in on that.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

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    Quote Originally Posted by Engine View Post
    Based on the criteria you mentioned, it sounds like you've ruled out cuben fiber already. It has the crackly feel you mention and it is not very abrasion resistant. Since you mention an ounce or two is not a deal breaker, I would consider dyneema. The Zpacks Arc Blast in cuben is 21 ounces while the Arc Haul is really the same pack in dyneema comes in at 24 ounces and is definitely a tougher pack. I don't know what size Osprey you have been carrying, but the Arc Haul is a 49 liter bag with an extra 13 liters of external pockets. For 24 ounces you get a pack capable of carrying a weeks worth of food and gear while saving 3 pounds on your current pack weight.

    The ULA packs are dyneema as well and while not as light as the Zpacks gear, they are still half the weight of what you're currently carrying and they cost 2/3 of what the Zpacks stuff does. I've never used one, but I hear good things...

    I have no experience with xpac, so someone else will have to chime in on that.
    Thanks, Engine. You confirmed what I thought about cuben fiber, but I've never laid hands on it, so I wanted to be sure the crinkly, fragile fabric thing was as true as I thought.

    I'm definitely leaning towards dyneema and have been checking out some of the big names like zpacks and ULA. That's probably what I'll end up doing..

    (I currently have a 65L ariel, in an extra small it carries about 57-59L, so I'm definitely looking to downsize that as well... have only really needed that capacity once for a winter trip).

    Thanks again!

  5. #5

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    +1 on the Dyneema over the CF for a pack. Cuben Fiber makes a great shelter...I have a tarp on the way and I already own a Duplex...but I don't personally like it for a pack. I have found the Dyneema on my Arc Haul to be pretty tough stuff, although I do tend to baby my gear more than some people, and two ozs for much better durability is worth the minor weight penalty.

  6. #6
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I thought Dyneema WAS Cuben fiber, and in fact, "cuben fiber" is now called "dyneema composite". Where am I confused?

    Here's the first paragraph from the hyperlite mountain gear "cuben" page:

    "Dyneema® fibers are the fibers from which Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (formerly Cuben Fiber) are made, and are the foundational technology for all Hyperlite Mountain Gear products. The following is an explanation of the differences between Dyneema® fibers, woven Dyneema® fabrics, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, and Dyneema® Composite Fabric Hybrids (aka Cuben hybrids) which Hyperlite Mountain Gear uses. To read more about DSM Dyneema changing the name of Cuben Fiber to Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, please visit our blog".

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    Registered User Engine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I thought Dyneema WAS Cuben fiber, and in fact, "cuben fiber" is now called "dyneema composite". Where am I confused?

    Here's the first paragraph from the hyperlite mountain gear "cuben" page:

    "Dyneema® fibers are the fibers from which Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (formerly Cuben Fiber) are made, and are the foundational technology for all Hyperlite Mountain Gear products. The following is an explanation of the differences between Dyneema® fibers, woven Dyneema® fabrics, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, and Dyneema® Composite Fabric Hybrids (aka Cuben hybrids) which Hyperlite Mountain Gear uses. To read more about DSM Dyneema changing the name of Cuben Fiber to Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, please visit our blog".
    You're correct, but until recently Cuben fiber and Dyneema have been differentiated between the woven Dyneema and the composite Cuben fiber. I feel it actually made for less confusion than referring to it all as Dyneema of one type or another as companies are starting to do now.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    ULA uses a fabric that they call Robic for parts of their packs. Robic is a nylon fabric with a diagonal grid of Dyneema threads. The ULA Catalyst that I used in September had at least 3 different fabrics in it: Robic, Cordura and generic nylon.
    The Catalyst impressed me. It handled 35-40 pounds with ease at altitude in Colorado.
    It would help if you told us which packs using which fabrics you are looking at.
    Zimmerbuilt packs, Seek Outside and virtually all of the bikepacking bags are made with XPac materials in various weights.
    All pack materials come in various weights and corresponding durability. Cordura nylon comes in 1000 and 500 denier (probably others as well). The 1000 fabric is heavy and bulletproof. The 500 is somewhat lighter and slightly less durable but still very sturdy.
    Fabric is a science unto itself. It can be bewildering. Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I thought Dyneema WAS Cuben fiber, and in fact, "cuben fiber" is now called "dyneema composite". Where am I confused?

    Here's the first paragraph from the hyperlite mountain gear "cuben" page:

    "Dyneema® fibers are the fibers from which Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (formerly Cuben Fiber) are made, and are the foundational technology for all Hyperlite Mountain Gear products. The following is an explanation of the differences between Dyneema® fibers, woven Dyneema® fabrics, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, and Dyneema® Composite Fabric Hybrids (aka Cuben hybrids) which Hyperlite Mountain Gear uses. To read more about DSM Dyneema changing the name of Cuben Fiber to Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, please visit our blog".
    Dyneema is ultra high molecular wt polyethylene fibers.
    Cuben...is composite of alternating layers of mylar and ultrafine dyneema fibers.

    DSM, maker of dyneema bought Cuben tech about a year ago and is changing name of the cuben products
    I predict everyone will still call it cuben, like we call tissues kleenex.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-02-2016 at 10:30.

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    I was the proud owner of a Seek Outside Unaweep Divide for a month. I didn't like the feel of the pack - just seemed so much different than anything I'd had before. It is very stiff, almost like a heavy duty paper bag. I realized pretty quickly that the stiffness was a real positive about this fabric, since it gave the pack more structure for not much weight. And of course it's water resistant (waterproof with seam sealing, which I never got around to), which rules.

    It felt durable to me, but feeling it with my hands and using it on two trips doesn't mean much. People put this stuff to heavy use on packs made for serious hauling off trail and in canyon country, and unless it's the very lightest version it tends to do very well. Some companies use it as reinforcement on tension points in shelters. I think it's cool, but it might take getting used to just because of the novelty.

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    The Divide pack is Xpac, by the way. Probably something I should've mentioned in my post.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuneElliot View Post
    +1 on the Dyneema over the CF for a pack. Cuben Fiber makes a great shelter...I have a tarp on the way and I already own a Duplex...but I don't personally like it for a pack. I have found the Dyneema on my Arc Haul to be pretty tough stuff, although I do tend to baby my gear more than some people, and two ozs for much better durability is worth the minor weight penalty.
    ^_______ perfectly stated

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