Choosing the right material for hiking gear is super confusing. A lot of factors need consideration to have a satisfying experience.
Cuben fiber and silnylon are the most used materials for making tarps, tents, or backpacks. These are the typical hiking gears that everyone needs. But it’s really not easy to choose between these two.
So people ask the question, “How to choose between Cuben Fiber vs Silnylon?”
Cuben fiber offers better water resilience, UV and tear resistance than silnylon. Plus, it’s easily repairable which is absent in silnylon. On the other hand, silnylon offers abrasion resistance at a low cost with good durability.
Well, these were just the overview of different features of them. We’ll discuss which features you should go for in detail in our article. So stay with us for the next few minutes.
Quick Comparison: Cuben Fiber vs Silnylon
Now let’s see some quick comparison between cuben fiber and silnylon.
|Build Material||Dyneema, polyester||Nylon/polyester, silicone,|
|UV Resistance||UV Resistant||Not UV Resistant|
|Stretch||Doesn’t stretch||Does stretch|
Where to Buy
There are a lot of features mentioned here. In some of them, cuben fiber is ahead and in some cases, silnylon is ahead. For instance, Cuben fiber is UV ray resistant but Silnylon is not. We’ve mentioned many other features regarding this at a glance.
Table of Contents
Time for the Deep Dive: Cuben Fiber vs Silnylon
Now that we’ve seen the quick comparison of both the fabrics, it’s time to go a little deeper. The next features might become the deciding factor for you. We’ll be discussing durability, abrasive resistance, extensibility, and others. Let’s see-
Build quality can be a very important thing to consider in choosing between fabrics. Here the build quality ensures the durability of the fabric. So, let’s have a look at what both of these fabrics are made of.
Cuben Fibre is basically made up of Dyneema thin threads bound in polyester film. These threads are braided straightly side by side without winding them up. These lead to extreme tensile strength and tolerance-free tension.
On the other side, silnylon is made up of a nylon layer with a silicone coating on both sides. This increases the tear strength of the fabric. Plus it also makes it water repellent.
Sometimes polyester is used in place of nylon. This material remains no longer called silnylon then. It’s then called silpoly. So in the making of silnylon, nylon, silicone, and sometimes polyester is used.
So in terms of good build quality, you can go with either of these fabrics.
If your adventure revolves around water, this segment would play an important role. There’s a significant difference in the water resilience of these 2 fabrics. Let’s have a look-
Both Cuben Fiber and Silnylon are waterproof fabrics. They are extremely handy in rainy conditions. Cuben Fiber is claimed to be 100% waterproof. So if you have a tent or tarp made of cuben fibers, you are on the safe side. It’ll have no effect of water on it.
Now, Silnylon is also waterproof. But here there are some compromises. It’s not a guarantee that the silnylon product will be waterproof. There’re cases seen where the water resistance decreases with increased water pressure.
However, we tried a bunch of tarps made of silnylon and we shortlisted two from them.
Both of these tarps were able to keep the rain away from the insides of it. However, some more color options of the tarps would have been great. We had to go through a lot of silnylon tarps to come down to these 2 that were water-resistant. So, not all of silnylon tarps are water-resistant.
So, if you ask us to select an overall winner in this segment, it’d be Cuben Fiber. It’s your perfect partner if you’re into rainy season hiking. The handiest thing here is a backpack made of cuben fiber. That’s because it’s waterproof in nature.
Here’s our recommendation for backpacks made of cuben fiber-
We know how important the accessories you carry are during hiking. These accessories can literally be life-saving during times. Here’re a few things we appreciate about Cuben fiber made backpacks-
- They are extremely handy during rains
- They are pretty good in giving protection from animal bites
- They don’t stretch/sag during cold weather.
So, if water resistance is your absolute concern, go for Cuben Fiber. It’ll provide a more consistent resistance to water. Plus you get the added benefits.
Stretchability makes the difference between sound sleep in winter and a disastrous night. If the material doesn’t stretch, it’s a good sign for hikers. They don’t need to take the hassle of re-adjusting their tent or tarp size. Let’s have a look-
Cuben fiber is such a fiber that doesn’t stretch. It means, the tarp or tent made up of cuben fiber won’t sag. Let’s say it’s a cold night and you are all tucked in. But the temperature is causing the tent to shrink.
So you have to wake up in the middle of the night to readjust the tent. You might also have a question about size of tarp suitable for camping for you. If you know the right size, this hassle of readjusting can also be reduced.
So if you’re using a tent or tarp made of cuben fiber you don’t need to take this hassle.
Here’s our recommendation for tents and tarps made of Cuben Fiber-
But in the case of silnylon, it goes backward. Silnylon, in fact, does stretch. In the case of the tents or tarps made up of silnylon, they sag at night. So on a cold winter night, you might have to take the hassle of readjusting your tarp.
The thing that makes it stretch is the nylon present in silnylon. It absorbs water and softens. This makes it stretchy and sags itself. So, cuben fiber is the winner in this segment.
Abrasion resistance is a considerable factor for hikers. That too if these fibers are repeatedly used as primary gears. If you are a regular hiker, you should select the one which is abrasion-resistant. Otherwise, there’s a chance you might get frustrated. Let’s have a look-
Cuben fiber is very poor in abrasion resistance. That’s because of the Dyneema on the inside of cuben fibers.
It makes it vulnerable to abrasion. However, it offers more abrasion resistance than other fabrics in this segment except for silnylon and polyester.
Polyester offers excellent abrasion resistance than cuben fiber. A good example is the Snugpak jungle blanket. It offers-
- Great abrasion resistance
- High insulation
Still, silnylon offers much better resistance than cuben fiber.
On the other hand, the nylon in silnylon makes it pretty good in abrasion resistance. This gives a pretty good deal overall.
However, there are also flaws in some designs. Its abrasion resistance quality is more of said in a generic sense. So there’s a chance that some parts of the tent will get abrasive. But still, that’s better resistant to abrasion than cuben fiber.
So go with silnylon for better abrasion resistance.
Tear resistance means how strong the fabric will act to save itself from tearing. This is a concern to those hikers who choose extreme spots for hiking. So let’s take a look-
Cuben fiber is surprisingly good at resisting tear. Being tested with a screwdriver, it’s seen to take a considerable amount of effort to tear it down. The Dyneema with silicone coating on both sides makes it happen.
It’s vulnerable to scratches and abrasion. But it still holds itself pretty good in resisting tearings.
So cuben fiber can be a good deal for you in this aspect.
Silnylon is not behind in case either. It’s also equally but even more in some cases, tear-resistant than CF. The silicone present in it increases the energy bar required to create a crack/tear in the tent made of it.
Since silnylon is both abrasion and tear-resistant, it’s a better deal than cuben fiber in this case.
Durability is a crucial factor to consider in choosing the right fabric. Each of the fabrics has a particular shelf life too. Let’s have a look-
Cuben Fibre can last up to 5 years after purchase even for light uses. This is found by the Dyneema in it. Cuben fiber is considerably less durable than silnylon. A cuben fiber-made backpack is likely to last roughly for a 2000 miles hike. Cuben fiber-made backpacks are not like normal backpacks we see. In case you are using a rucksack, you can easily add an assault pack to rucksack that you are using.
On the other hand, silnylon is much more durable than cuben fiber. Theoretically, a silnylon made tarp will last for about 6 years if it has 50 nights per year so a total of 300 nights. It is seen that the nylon in silnylon makes it more durable than the Dyneema of cuben fibers. So, if longevity is your concern, you should go with Silnylon.
UV Resistance dictates the ability to resist ultraviolet rays. These rays can cause discoloration or fade away.
Cuben Fiber is more UV resistant than Silnylon. So it makes them less vulnerable at high UV indexes. You can easily take them up at a height in climbing a mountain with a high UV index. It will be able to protect itself from harmful UV rays and sunlight.
On the other hand, the nylon in Silnylon is vulnerable to UV rays. So they are not UV resistant. It’s not advisable to use Silnylon at high UV indexes. Otherwise, it can face some serious damages.
So, if you are a mountaineer who needs to be high in UV indexes, Cuben Fiber is what you should go with.
Okay, now the most important factor, what’s the price of these two fabrics? We’ve listed the prices of different uses of both cuben fiber and silnylon. Let’s have a look-
|Tarp||Mountain Gear||Stuff Stack|
As you can see, Silnylon is cheaper than Cuben Fibers in all 3 segments. So if you’re on a budget, silnylon is the one to go with!
The aesthetics of both of these fibers are dependent on perception. For instance, cuben fibers are transparent in color mostly. But, silnylon is opaque in nature. So it doesn’t have that much transparency in it. It depends on you which one seems more pleasing to your eye.
Ease of Repair
The easy to repair feature can act as a necessary one for you to decide between these two. The one which is easier to repair can save literally lots of time. So let’s have a look-
Cuben fiber is very much easy to repair. You can literally use duct tape to bind it together and it’s compatible. Duct tape and gorilla tape can easily be used here. It’ll hold them together.
On the other hand, silnylon is a bit harder to repair than cuben fiber. That’s because only silicone can stick well with silicone. So you need to have a silicone caulk or silicone patch to repair them.
So, cuben fiber is the winner here!
Summary: What Value are you Actually Getting?
You’ve seen a wide range of features of Cuben fiber and Silnylon so far. Each of them is ahead of the other considering different features. The important thing is, which feature you wanna prioritize.
For your ease of convenience, we’ve sorted out the advantages and disadvantages of Cuben Fiber for you-
|Tear Resistant||Very expensive|
|Waterproof||Low abrasion resistance|
|Easy to repair with common adhesive tape||Not compact while folding|
|Low absorption of water||Stiffness|
|Doesn’t Stretch||When kinked, holes can occur|
Similarly, here’re the advantages and disadvantages of Silnylon below-
|Foldable||Hard to Repair|
|Reasonable Price||Vulnerable to UV Rays|
|Tear Resistant||It stretches|
|Offers a variety of colors|
|High Abrasion Resistance|
You need to make a decision based on which feature you need the most from this table.
So, Which One is Better? Our Recommendation
There’s no “best” in the case of hiking gears. One needs to decide on his own which features he’s looking for in a gear. Here the case is also the same.
If you are looking for water resilience, tear-resistance, and UV resistance, and are easily repairable, go for Cuben FIber. On the other hand, if you wanna go with abrasion resistance at an extremely low cost, and with good durability, go for Silnylon.
Now we’ll be discussing some common questions regarding cuben fiber and silnylon-
Which tent material is best?
Cotton is the best material for tents. Cotton is a breathable fabric and the temperature is maintained under cotton. Plus, if the tent has a PV coating on top of it, that makes it waterproof too.
Why is Cuben Fiber now called Dyneema?
Cuben fiber was introduced by Cubic Tech Corporations. Later it was acquired by DSM. And now the product is renamed with Dyneema Composite Fabrics. This is now a generic name used by DSM for this product.
This was all from us on Cuben Fiber vs Silnylon. We hope we’ve been able to help you show the good things and bad things regarding both these fabrics. Now the decision is yours. You should decide which feature is important to you.
Thank you for staying with us till the end. Do let us know if you have any queries.