Cuben Fiber is a high-performance, non-woven, rip-stop, composite laminate developed in the 1990s by a nuclear weapons physicist and an aerospace composite engineer. Originally designed for use in world-class sailing, it is ideal for certain applications in lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear due to its unmatched strength-to-weight ratio.
Technically speaking, Cuben fiber is a laminated fabric made using patented technologies with unidirectional prepregnated tapes of in-line plasma treated fibers that are spread into mono-filament level films. In more simple terms, Cuben fiber is made by sandwiching Spectra or Dyneema polyethylene fiber filaments a thousandth of an inch thick, in various arrangements between thin outer layers of polyester film. The “sandwich” is then melded together in a high-pressure autoclave.
Cuben fiber is lightweight, highly durable, and is 50-70% lighter than Kevlar, four times stronger than Kevlar, and allows flex without losing strength. It is also less than half the weight of silnylon, has low specific gravity (floats on water), high chemical resistance, excellent UV resistance and is 100% waterproof.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) manufactures a line of ultralight backpacks, shelter systems and stuff sacks from Cuben Fiber, a lightweight and 100% water resistant laminate containing Dyneema™ fibers. Their high-tech products are intended for use in lightweight/ultralight outdoor adventures in conjuction with lightweight/ultralight methodologies and philosophies.
HMG has tested the various Cuben fiber weights and has determined that CF8 (.78 oz/yd) is the most appropriate variety for lightweight and ultralight shelters. CF8 is used in the manufacture of all HMG tarps and for various components of its other products.