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/ Lightweight tents with alternative flysheets

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Ramblin dave - on 14 May 2018

I bought a new backpacking tent a couple of weeks ago, and being a massive nerd, I overthought it a bit and did some reading about weights and durability of the various materials.

One major headscratcher was the tradeoff between the weight of the flysheet fabric and its life-expectancy, in particular with how quickly UV exposure will cause it to fall apart. Do you want to buy the lightest possible tent for backpacking trips and accept that that's basically all it's for because it won't last long if you also want to use it for regular weekend trips leaving it pitched all day? Or do you buy something a bit more sturdy and compromise on weight?

I ended up wondering whether there'd be a market for tents that went as light as possible but gave you the option of buying a second flysheet made of something cheap, durable and relatively heavy for use on car camping trips and so on.

Would that be economical? Sensible? Or would it be redundant because most people are happy to buy the lightest thing and then get a cheapo Millets job for car camping?

Guy Hurst - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Hmm. Let's add 25 or 30 per cent to the cost of a Hilleberg tent.

Ramblin dave - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Guy Hurst:

Would it add that much, though? I'd assumed that flysheets for fancy tents were expensive because they use cutting edge fabrics and fiddly techniques to get as much strength and durability as possible at a very light weight, so I'd have thought that without the weight constraint they could just use bog standard polyester or whatever and produce something much cheaper.

Stefan Jacobsen - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Did you stumble over cuben fiber? Originally used in the America's Cup for extremely expensive sails, the material has trickled down to ultra light backpacking where it is used for just about everything, including tents. It appears to be light, strong, waterproof and uv-resistant, ideal for tents, however the prices are double the similar ones made from silnylon. Take the MLD Supermid, it is 385 USD in silnylon and 820 USD in cuben!

Andy Hardy on 14 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

For car camping, you could just buy a cheap tarp and rig it over the top of your flimsy backpacking tent to keep the sun off.

Guy Hurst - on 14 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I have my doubts over whether Hilleberg, or any of the other lightweight tent makers, would use a cheap and cheerful fabric on their products; maybe a bit cheaper, but probably not a lot. There'd also be the other extra production costs for an extra element to each tent, which I imagine wouldn't be trivial.

Prof. Outdoors on 15 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Not convinced there would be a market for this. I suspect people use cheaper larger tents for base camps then move to lightweight ones for backpacking.

About 18 years ago I was in unusual employment circumstances. I ended up living in my Macpac Olympus tent for 7 months. Nowhere exotic. It was just outside Hinckley but it ruined the flysheet on this wonderful tent.

Did not expect to be there for 7 months and it would have been much cheaper and more comfortable to have bought a bigger family tent. (Apparently other workers bought a cheap caravan and then just abandoned it at the end of their work)

I can see the theory about two flysheets but there are a couple of factors would rule this out.

1 The cost

2 The market might be a bit too niche for any of the big name manufacturers to consider putting a cheapo flysheet on their over-hyped engineered tents.

gethin_allen on 15 May 2018
In reply to Ramblin dave:

You could effectively do this already.

Many of the premium brands have multiple options for fly sheet materials and you can buy spares. 


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