Long a favorite of cottage industry outdoor brands focused on selling gear to ultra light backpacking enthusiasts, Cuben Fiber is quickly going mainstream. Appearing in dry sacks from Granite Gear, packs from CiloGear and Hyperlite Mountain Gear, packs and tents from Terra Nova, Cuben Fiber has now moved on up the chain to gear from some outdoor industry heavyweights such as Sierra Designs and Easton Mountain Products.
Cuben Fiber, long used in the sailing industry, is a flexible non-woven laminate made from Dyneema fibers. Dyneema is a super strong polyethylene that offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than steel and up to 40% stronger than Kevlar, both on weight for weight basis. Dyneema floats on water and is extremely durable and resistant to moisture, UV light, and damage from chemicals.
Cuben Fiber’s lightweight, durable, tear resistant, flexible, and waterproof properties far exceed those of traditional woven nylon and polyester fabrics. All these increased performance benefits come at a price, however. Just as sails are one of the most expensive items on any racing sailboat, outdoor gear made from Cuben Fiber can cost 2-10 times the nylon equivalent, depending on how much of the fabric is used.
For 2013, Sierra Designs is on a mission to deliver backpacking gear that is both comfortable and ultralight. Catering to the truly ultralight and new technology obsessed, Sierra Designs created the Mojo UFO. Made using carbon fiber poles and Cuben Fiber, the Mojo UFO weighs only 1lb 11oz. and will stand up to just about anything.
The Mojo UFO features the new Sierra Designs ExoFusion tent technology. Designed with external pole configurations, an integrated fly, and superior ventilation capabilities, ExoFusion tents are fast to pitch, weigh less, set up dry even in a downpour, and keep your comfortable with more internal space.
The Sierra Designs Mojo UFO will be available in limited quantities and retail for a hefty $1799.
The Easton Ultra Light Expedition is a four-season tent that combines Cuben Fiber with a waterproof-breathable eVent membrane to enhance breathability and cut down on condensation problems. The Ultra Light Expedition weighs 2lb 9 oz., so quite a bit heavier than the Mojo UFO, but offers close to 29 sq ft of livable space. The tent uses Easton’s ION carbon fiber poles to create a quick pitching external frame.
Available sometime late Spring 2013, the Easton Ultra Light Expedition tent retails for an even heftier $2000.
Any ultralight fanatics out there willing to pay these high tent prices just to shave ounces or even a pound off their backpacking kit?