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  1. #1
    Winter 35R & Catskill 3500 Club Starvin Marvin's Avatar
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    Default Tent floor material

    If you had a choice in material for a tent floor, which would you choose and why.

    - prefer it to be light weight, yet somewhat durable.
    - waterproof enough to be used on snow.

    Open to all suggestion and opinions. TIA.
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  2. #2

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    Totally waterproof and durable. Think Hilleberg Kerlon 1800 numbers---triple urethane coated, 70 or 100 denier. Of course, Hilleberg makes the best tent floors I have ever seen.

  3. #3
    CDT - 2013, PCT - 2009, AT - 1300 miles done burger's Avatar
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    Silnylon is standard for floors in a lot of lightweight tents and tarptents, but it's not really waterproof. Fortunately, you can make silnylon waterproof by treating it with silicon seam sealant. Just follow these instructions: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html

    Alternatives else will be much heavier (like polyurethane-coated nylon) or fragile (like Cuben).

  4. #4
    Garlic
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    I've been using silnylon floors for over a decade, without a ground cloth, and have never had a problem.

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    Now that I've tried cuben I like it better because it is not as slippery as sil. I painted silcone stripes all over my previous bathtub floors and pads and still slid all around.

  6. #6
    Winter 35R & Catskill 3500 Club Starvin Marvin's Avatar
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    Thank you Tipi Walter. That Kerlon material is an interesting read. Sounds weather worthy, and also a little heavier than the other available choices. Which tent do you use during the winter?

    Does anyone know of a supplier for this material? ( without buying the whole tent )?

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starvin Marvin View Post
    Thank you Tipi Walter. That Kerlon material is an interesting read. Sounds weather worthy, and also a little heavier than the other available choices. Which tent do you use during the winter?

    Does anyone know of a supplier for this material? ( without buying the whole tent )?
    Actually, the floor is not Kerlon but is instead some type of proprietary Hilleberg urethane-coated fabric which they may part with if you ask them nicely. Otherwise, to purchase just Kerlon in yards may be possible with some research and another call to Hilleberg.

    My winter tents are mostly heavy Hillebergs with an MSR Fury thrown in for variety. Hilleberg Staikas and Keron tunnels. Too heavy for 99% of the backpacking world. My faves, though. Once a shelter is in your Circle of Trust and has been "combat" tested, it has earned its place and the weight is secondary.

    Or as Whiteblazer Venchka says, "It's cheap and light when the going gets tough."

  8. #8
    Winter 35R & Catskill 3500 Club Starvin Marvin's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link Burger. After reading that info ( 2005 ) a quick calculation shows that a polycro ground sheet will be lighter for providing the waterproofness. Maybe not as durable, but easily replaceable. However, it doesn't address the slipperiness of the floor. Thanks.
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    Winter 35R & Catskill 3500 Club Starvin Marvin's Avatar
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    Garlic08, how often do you set up directly on snow? You've never had any moisture come through the floor?
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  10. #10
    Winter 35R & Catskill 3500 Club Starvin Marvin's Avatar
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    jimmyjam, I'm guessing you are referring to the 1oz cuben. This seems like a good choice, just concerned about durability.


    Does anyone have have any experience with cuben fiber as a floor, set up on snow?
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starvin Marvin View Post
    Garlic08, how often do you set up directly on snow? You've never had any moisture come through the floor?
    Most lightweight tents have 30 denier floors which is thin and doesn't have a high hydrostatic head---fancy word for letting in ground water/wet snow water when your weight is sitting on it. It sponges up thru the material. Not good. I've run tests in the backyard on the grass with a water hose and made a puddle and places various fabrics atop the puddle and sat on top for 5 minutes. Everything leaked except for my Hilleberg floor and your standard heavyweight silver/brown walmart tarp.

    So I cut out a section and now use one for the inside of my tent as a ground cloth and to further protect my inflatable pads. And if ANY water comes into the tent or thru the floor, this tarp keeps it between it and the floor.

  12. #12
    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Most lightweight tents have 30 denier floors which is thin and doesn't have a high hydrostatic head---fancy word for letting in ground water/wet snow water when your weight is sitting on it. It sponges up thru the material. Not good. I've run tests in the backyard on the grass with a water hose and made a puddle and places various fabrics atop the puddle and sat on top for 5 minutes. Everything leaked except for my Hilleberg floor and your standard heavyweight silver/brown walmart tarp.

    So I cut out a section and now use one for the inside of my tent as a ground cloth and to further protect my inflatable pads. And if ANY water comes into the tent or thru the floor, this tarp keeps it between it and the floor.
    I'm going to make a bathtub floor for the Hooch. The one Z-packs has is way too expensive. The one Bearclaw has is half the price. So I'm thinking of getting out the needle and thread. I've been searching and searching for a good material. Being an Ultra-loader, as you know, I just may go look at that Wal-mart tarp and give it some thought. I will field test the many pieces we have at home already, for waterproofness(?)!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by coach lou View Post
    I'm going to make a bathtub floor for the Hooch. The one Z-packs has is way too expensive. The one Bearclaw has is half the price. So I'm thinking of getting out the needle and thread. I've been searching and searching for a good material. Being an Ultra-loader, as you know, I just may go look at that Wal-mart tarp and give it some thought. I will field test the many pieces we have at home already, for waterproofness(?)!
    Yes, it's fun and easy to run the Puddle Test with fabrics---as there is no lying then about what works or not. Plus, remember the walmart style tarps come in different millimeter thicknesses---try to find the heavyweight stuff. I think it's the silver/brown.

    And if you do an online search on tarps, you'll find hundreds of options with some very heavyweight things and some using different fabrics. Check out---

    http://www.tarpsplus.com/heavy-duty-poly-tarps.html

    And check out the Vinyl tarp option (which I believe is rated to -40F)---The neat thing about all this is that you can get one and cut it precisely to size w/o needing a hem or further sewing---unless like in your case you're going to want a bathtub floor.

    http://www.tarpsplus.com/heavy-duty-vinyl-tarps.html



  14. #14
    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    Thanks for the links Walt! I'll send you pics when it's done.

  15. #15
    Winter 35R & Catskill 3500 Club Starvin Marvin's Avatar
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    Thanks Tipi Walter for the input.

    Vinyl tarps...Wow, 10 oz sq yd. Looks like the waterproofness and durability aspects are covered.

  16. #16
    Registered User 1234's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coach lou View Post
    I'm going to make a bathtub floor for the Hooch. The one Z-packs has is way too expensive. The one Bearclaw has is half the price. So I'm thinking of getting out the needle and thread. I've been searching and searching for a good material. Being an Ultra-loader, as you know, I just may go look at that Wal-mart tarp and give it some thought. I will field test the many pieces we have at home already, for waterproofness(?)!
    I am thinking the same thing. One thing I see lots of folks do is set up in the bald spots around shelters. They are bath tubs. When it rains lots of the tents leak. I try to set up on a slight mound on the leaves, I even use foot to push leaves under the tent. I want the water to run away not be sitting in a puddle. When I pack up the leaves that stick to the poly cro that I put down first, I just shake off most but not all. The mud never comes off so I try to avoid setting up in dirt at all cost.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1234 View Post
    I am thinking the same thing. One thing I see lots of folks do is set up in the bald spots around shelters. They are bath tubs. When it rains lots of the tents leak. I try to set up on a slight mound on the leaves, I even use foot to push leaves under the tent. I want the water to run away not be sitting in a puddle. When I pack up the leaves that stick to the poly cro that I put down first, I just shake off most but not all. The mud never comes off so I try to avoid setting up in dirt at all cost.
    "Lake Effect" happens on occasion if you're outside enough and so I put great stock in having a shelter which works well in ground water or sheeting ground water. In fact on my last trip after the Polar Vortex I was at 5,000 on Whiggs Meadow and got hit with a "hurricane rainstorm" which the wee'tards (weathermen) said had 60mph in the mountains and so a tremendous amount of rain came down in buckets---a deluge. My site was off the bald a bit but still the tent needed all 14 pegs and the ground I was on eventually became saturated like a sponge. See pics.

    Good tent floors are meant to be set up on wet snow, in puddles on occasion, and during hellish rainstorm with sheeting ground water. You're not exactly in a creek but you're almost in a creek. No tent floor should leak, and if so the hydrostatic head is too low, the floor is too thin, or the coating ain't right.




    Of course I didn't set up directly in the lake but the ground was saturated anyway under the tent but had no leaks. Having a non-leaking tent floor is one of the basic criteria of a good tent.

  18. #18
    Registered User HeartFire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burger View Post
    Silnylon is standard for floors in a lot of lightweight tents and tarptents, but it's not really waterproof. Fortunately, you can make silnylon waterproof by treating it with silicon seam sealant. Just follow these instructions: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html

    Alternatives else will be much heavier (like polyurethane-coated nylon) or fragile (like Cuben).
    Not all PU coated nylons are heavier. The PU coated/ silicone coated fabric I make the espresso brown rain jackets is rated as high or higher than most plain silnylon and it weighs the same - it's a 30D ripstop nylon, silicone coated on one side, PU coated on the other and finished weight is 1.4 oz - this is the same as the sil for the tents.- oh and it's rated over 2000 mm HH, compared to domestic sil at 1200mmHH and compared to the Big Agnes tent flys of 1200 mm HH.

  19. #19
    Garlic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starvin Marvin View Post
    Garlic08, how often do you set up directly on snow? You've never had any moisture come through the floor?
    Silnylon is fine on snow. I camped on (relatively) warm, wet snow a couple of times on the AT, and a couple more times on cold dry stuff in the Rockies. Tyvek will freeze hard to extremely cold snow after sleeping on it, but I haven't noticed that with silnylon.

    Silnylon is not suitable for saturated ground. I've never had difficulty finding higher, well-drained sites.

  20. #20
    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    Silnylon is fine on snow. I camped on (relatively) warm, wet snow a couple of times on the AT, and a couple more times on cold dry stuff in the Rockies. Tyvek will freeze hard to extremely cold snow after sleeping on it, but I haven't noticed that with silnylon.

    Silnylon is not suitable for saturated ground. I've never had difficulty finding higher, well-drained sites.

    I have no experience with Tyvek.....of course we wouldn't set up in a low spot.........but how waterproof for how long is it?

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