"sub 2268 hiking" ~ John Abela

ZPacks, Aluminized Duplex

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ZPacks Duplex, Aluminized Cuben Fiber

ZPacks Duplex, Aluminized Cuben Fiber

Here is something almost nobody in the world would actually needs – a ZPacks Duplex made from aluminized cuben fiber.

First, I appreciate ZPacks being willing to order this fabric and make a Duplex shelter made with it – it is far outside the level of “custom ultralight gear” that ZPacks lives by. I am truly grateful to them.

This is not a review of this shelter, I have already published an article/review of the ZPacks Duplex, you should head over and read it if you are interested in my thoughts on the shelter itself.

Rather this post is to be a long-term, on-going, documentation of the fabric – and able to share photographs of the shelter as I am able to use it and see cause to take and share photographs.

The very few people around the world that have used this aluminized cuben fiber fabric have used it for very cold temperatures – and they seem to use it for tarps and bivouacs.

My intent of using this fabric, this shelter, is for hiking in the desert, unlike how everybody else is using it. It does seem to help, but just how much is still highly up for question and debate. My goals with it are two-fold: first is to sleep/siesta during the hottest part of the day, with hopes that the fabric will provide a lower ambient temperature; second is because it is the darkest fabric I have encountered, and while trying to take that siesta during the day, I would like it to be as dark as possible. This second factor is already something that does not need to be tested/proven, it is the darkest cuben fiber that is available.

I have previously owned and used a ZPacks Hexamid Solo made from this fabric. Check out this photograph of it. However because of my absolute love for the Duplex – mainly the larger livable space – I contacted ZPacks to see if they could acquire some more fabric and make a Duplex for me.

It just showed up today (July 13, 2015) and I got it setup to make sure everything was good-to-go with it and take some initial photographs.


To be honest, there are still a lot of questions on whether or not it will prove useful to me, when it comes to providing a cooler inside temperature while in the desert, and most folks doubt it will, but I have decided to give it a go and see just how it works out. My previous use with the Hexamid Solo indicated to me that it does work, but I was just never able to get enough trail time with it to properly document any long term temperature results.

The fabric hits the scale at 1.27 oz/sqyd and is crazy expensive… Nathan over at Cascade Craftworks offers it for sale (zpacks might as well, but it is not listed for sale on their website) — though I really do not see why most folks would want to invest the funds into this fabric.

If you look around the internet for information on this fabric, you might find a few folks who bought the very first generation of this fabric. It did not perform so well, it has a lot of delamination issues. CTC fixed those issues in their second generation of this fabric. I think what is out there right now, what I have, is their third generation of the fabric, however I have no details on specifications, and honestly do not care – it is either going to work for what I need it for, or it will not. Testing fabrics is just a part of what I do while out on the trail. Hopefully, and I really do mean that, it is going to be able to reduce the temperature  inside the shelter, during the hottest part of the day, by 20+ degrees — that is my ultimate wish — but even if it is in the 10 degrees range, that will make me happy. Oh, and obviously, no stealth camping with this shelter, lol.

Anyway, I will update this article as I am able to get trail time with this shelter and as I am able to document inside/outside temperatures, as well as if the fabric degrades at all. Some of you might also be interested in how I perform tests of samples of this and other cuben fiber fabrics, which I posted over on my facebook page.

Looking up, while inside of the shelter. The veins are typical of all cuben fiber, it is just visible in the aluminized cuben fiber.

Looking up, while inside of the shelter. The veins are typical of all cuben fiber, the aluminized cuben fiber just happens to make it all the more apparent and visible.

This shows how it handles light diffusion.

This shows how it handles light diffusion.

This photo does an even better job than the photograph above at how well it handles light diffusion.

This photo does an even better job than the photograph above at how well it handles light diffusion.

I had to take this  shelter profile photograph later in the day, because the glare off the fabric mid-day makes photographing it almost impossible.

I had to take this shelter profile photograph later in the day, because the glare off the fabric mid-day makes photographing it almost impossible. (wind was blowing, thus the wavy fabric)

The first night out using the shelter it rained. Snapped this photo when I got out of it in the morning.

The first night out using the shelter it rained. Snapped this photo when I got out of it in the morning.


(July 14, 2015) So I out in the shelter, in my backyard, working on cutting guylines and such, and I have my laptop with me. Odd thing has happened. With the shelter completely closed, my 5.4GHz wireless is totally blocked. The 2.4GHz is about 80% but 5.4 is zero. With the doors open, the 5.4GHz is about 60%. I am running a ASUS RT-AC66U pimped out at 100% power output, and x3 9dBi antennas. So more than enough juice to push out to where I am on either GHz. In my camo cf duplex the 5.4GHz was in the 60% power range and 90% power range at 2.4GHz. So, anyway, rather interesting that this aluminized cf is destroying the higher 5.4GHz wireless range.

Temperature Testings:

Over the course of using the shelter, both at home, in the Redwoods where I live, and in the deserts where I intend to use this shelter the most, I will be recording the outside temperature and the inside temperature, to see what differences the aluminized fabric does, or does not have. Obviously they will be highly unscientific, but hey, they are something at least.

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

July 13, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Gear Reviews

13 Responses

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  1. An interesting variation on this test would be to have the first measurement be a better control such as in a simple shade (or regular Duplex) to see how much difference the Aluminized Duplex has


    July 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm

  2. John,
    At 1:28 on the video you just posted, Temp Test #2, i noticed you used the Zpacks staff as a pole for the guyline to create more head room. I have converted over to using the zpacks staff exclusively. What I am wondering is how you connected it to the guyline? I can’t really tell in the video. Did you use some specific type of knot or do you have something attached to the staff?


    July 27, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    • Hey Aaron, I just put the guyline through the hand loop, then doing a once-around-twist (like you would any stick off the ground) and it seems to hold it well enough. See this photo.

      John B. Abela

      July 30, 2015 at 3:57 pm

  3. About this Aluminized Cuben Fiber, if it is produced Groundsheets, it would be appropriate?


    August 2, 2015 at 2:49 am

    • Hello Den, I am unable to answer that question. All of my usage and testing of this product has been specifically related to using it as a shelter/tarp sun/uv barrier.

      John B. Abela

      August 2, 2015 at 3:06 am

  4. Both of you videos show a significant temperature drop and rise in humidity inside. How does this calculate for the comfort level inside with the increased humidity? I would assume that the comfort level inside would still be appreciably better even with the increase in humidity. Has this been the case?

    Mark Valadez

    August 23, 2015 at 12:59 am

    • Hey Mark, I can only guess on this issue.

      Living in the Redwoods of NorCal it is often very high humidity. My theory here is that the hotter temp is causing the humidity to decrease.

      As for being inside… humidity levels in the 70%+ is what I am use too, so it is not something I even notice. Redwood humidity is not the same as humidity in the Southern States. :)

      John B. Abela

      August 23, 2015 at 11:06 am

  5. Any more updates on this tent?

    Mark Bomhoff

    September 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    • Not at this time. Likely no further updated until after my Mojave hikes later this year.

      John B. Abela

      September 6, 2015 at 3:55 pm

  6. Since shelters are usually setup at dawn, would this really make a difference unless you liked to sleep in?

    Sean Holland

    September 8, 2015 at 8:19 pm

  7. Have you had a chance to use this tent in cold weather? I’m wondering if the Aluminized fabric would increase or decrease radiant heat loss to the outside of the tent in cold weather. I guess you’d have to test it side-by-side with a conventional Duplex to know for sure. I’d still be interested in your thoughts though.

    Dante Driver

    July 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    • Hey Dante,

      I have not as that was never the focus of my use with the fabric.

      Nathan Meyerson, from Cascade Craftworks, has worked with the fabric as much as I have, perhaps even more, and IIRC he has focused almost all of his use with it on cold weather use. He is the only person in the industry that I know of that might have a viable answer to this question.

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