Does DCF actually save weight?

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Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby crollsurf » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 4:49 pm

The question really comes down to pack-ability and pack size/weight.
Sure, a DCF shelter is lighter by a couple of 100 grams, but the vids I've seen, it really doesn't pack down well at all. Compared to Silnylon or others UL materials, it appears to take up about 2-3 times the amount of space.

If you need a bigger pack to fit your Cuben Fibre/Dyneema/DCF shelter, are you actually saving any weight, or are you transferring the weight by needing a larger pack?

Interested to know what other people with DCF shelters have found in this regard. I currently do 2-4 days in a 36L pack but can't see myself finding room for a DCF shelter unless I up-size.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Zapruda » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 5:15 pm

I have been using DCF shelters for years and while they are definitely bigger than other materials when packed I really don’t find them that much bigger and have never thought I needed a bigger pack to accomodate them. I think the packed size of DCF gets a bit overblown on the forums sometimes.

When stuffed inside my pack they compress and flatten quite a bit, especially if you have folded and rolled it properly. I get 5 night trips done with my 30L pack and either an Altaplex or Duplex.

Here are some pics comparing a packed Altaplex against a packed 15d sil poly OP 4midable. The last pic shows how the Altaplex can be compressed.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Aardvark » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 5:19 pm

crollsurf wrote: I currently do 2-4 days in a 36L pack but can't see myself finding room for a DCF shelter unless I up-size.


A 36Lt pack is called a daypack for a good reason.
For a daypack to carry the sort of load required for 2-4 days, it usually needs a harness to support the load and distribute it to the right parts of your body.
If the harness is compromised, you're really working against yourself. You don't see many supportive harness under 40lt.
I recall, decades ago doing a throughwalk with a 30lt pack. In fact it sat on my back like a ball. There is no way there was the back length to allow me to carry weight on my hips.
Remember, you can make a big pack smaller but you can't make a small pack bigger.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Zapruda » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 5:28 pm

Aardvark wrote:
crollsurf wrote: I currently do 2-4 days in a 36L pack but can't see myself finding room for a DCF shelter unless I up-size.


A 36Lt pack is called a daypack for a good reason.


I respectfully disagree. If your gear is light and minimal enough a 30 litre hipbelt-less bag can get you a long way. This is the Ultralight sub forum after all.

Follow the link to see my gear for summers in the high country. 5 nights is completely doable with that size pack - https://lighterpack.com/r/6k2ru8
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Mark F » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 5:33 pm

I currently use a ZPacks Solplex (430g) and before that a Hexamid Plus fly (370g with net inner) for below treeline use and also have a smd Haven (760g with inner) in DCF for times my partner comes along - the Haven and Hexamid are/were used with net inners. I don't notice a particular problem with volume - I tend to roll them up rather than crush it into a stuff sack. When I compare these to my Nordisk Telemark (810g) and Terra Nova Comp 1 (1Kg) which are about the same volume but are double skin - The Terra Nova would be the largest of the one person tents and the Telemark equivalent to the Solplex although I don't try to crush the life out of any of the tents. Whichever tent I choose,they are close enough in volume to not cause me to change the volume of my pack - about 40 litres for 2-3 days and 50 litres for longer, colder trips. Each pack weighs a bit under 600g so I would have the ability to add about 400g (60%) to the weight of my pack if my Solplex was massively larger than my Telemark before my total weight increased.

Aardvark - you can get small capacity packs with suitably long back lengths for comfortable travel. If you are only carrying 4-8kg there is little need for a hip belt and as long as the pack has a longish back it will carry quite comfortably.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Lamont » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 6:09 pm

I respectfully disagree with aardvark also, I have the Sonder and the Duplex (I also Had the Western Mountaineering Megalite at the bottom in a dry sack-not a quilt) and pack it at the top. It is my weather above 2-3 degrees walking I suppose-which for me is most of the year.
If Crolly you imagine the point at which your shoulder strap makes contact with the back panel, as I know you have the Sonder also, my packing for a day and a half does not go above that. In fact I nearly went below and had to ease up and leave it all a bit loose inside.
If I had 4-5 days food it might just go above that by about 3 cms I reckon.
There was NO barrelling
I have no back padding in the Sonder and it is comfortable on my back. No burrito mat inside, no foam back panel.
I did not need the outer mesh pocket at all (I carried my rain coat 200 grams and thin rain wind pants things-70 grams inside the body of the pack and used them to pack out the gaps/holes-there was NO rain forecast, I also carried a 150 gram Borah gear down hoodless jacket and a light fauxdini 75 grams windshirt) I used no hip belt.
I carried the hip belt out of habit, it was completely unattached from the slider though and in placed the mesh pocket, just in case.
I have it if I get to around the sacks max weight 9 kgs-but that would have me carrying 4-5 days food, I reckon.
Yes, it is a bit more bulky, when you first roll it, but I squash it (Duplex) down a bit and shape it square which you can do. Zaprudas pic shows what I see happen to my Duplex as well. Excellent.
I am firmly in the DCF camp now. I can fit 3-4 days stuff in easily -water food and all.
I understand from Zapruda the Altaplex is much more storm/windworthy and looking at the design and comparing it with my Duplex, if I had my time again, and they still sold it, I would get the Altaplex.
The DCF is excellent for shape and moisture management. It doesn't hold water, wipe it down and it is almost as light as when dry. Yes there may be condensation, but you can at least remove it. Used it a month ago in solid rain, about 2C, on light grass, all done up, no doors open-negligible condensation.

Walked last weekend with day and a half food, 2 litres water 6.8 kgs total weight it was like like walking on air.
Yes, this is UL, a so called day pack can be a multi-day pack and a DCF shelter makes that even easier.
Last edited by Lamont on Sat 20 Oct, 2018 7:58 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Aardvark » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 6:17 pm

Where there is a will, there is a way.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby crollsurf » Sat 20 Oct, 2018 8:46 pm

I think I've finally been convinced to pull the trigger on some DCF.
Good to hear the Sondor and the Duplex combo worked out Lamont, particularly seeing as I have a Sonder as well.
And Aardvark, you're right, they are just day packs except you don't have to get back to the car at the end of the day. You get to camp somewhere beautiful and go for another day-walk the next day.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Lamont » Sun 21 Oct, 2018 7:30 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUElTQK49hc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukPJQntSUmU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBtBkh82YKQ
The Plexamid-tickle your fancy crolly?
I think the Duplex may pack a bit big for your set up, or be prepared to put it in vertically, but the Plex is smaller when packed and might do the trick depending on your height and the space you desire.
Or of course the solplex would work. Zpacks have discontinued several shelters recently. Maybe see what they currently sell before you search reviews.
Good hunting.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Nuts » Sun 21 Oct, 2018 9:39 am

Iv'e never bought a DCF shelter, ordered a duomid but then cancelled the order (life is short). Personally i'm not sure I would buy one now but it's not for the saving weight, the one stand-out advantage.

CS, iv'e been finishing off (building) a DCF shelter that may help answer your question. It's .7oz DCF and the shelter is a pentagon (trailstar) with 3m 'radius' including valance. ..So it's roughly covering the same area as our 4.5x4.5m 30d nylon tarp. It weights around half and packs to around 2/3rds the size, i'd imagine it would still be smaller than, or perhaps equal to (there'd not be a lot of difference), the lightest si-nylon.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby crollsurf » Sun 21 Oct, 2018 10:47 am

Cheers Nuts. I also like the way DCF doesn't sag like Silnylon.

I'm thinking the Plexamid too Lamont. Mainly because I don't always carry a trekking pole and never carry two. Zpacks seem to have it over the competition ATM for price and weight.

The 8.5 x 10 tarp would be my preference along with a S2S Nano bugnet and a Polycryo groundsheet. Unfortunately I had a bit (no pun intended) of a problem with a Python once using a tarp. Didn't freak my out at the time but yeah, haven't slept under one since.

I've just bought a regular Tarp so I'll see how I go with that for at least a few outings before deciding to go tarp or Pleximid.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Zapruda » Sun 21 Oct, 2018 11:19 am

crollsurf wrote:Cheers Nuts. I also like the way DCF doesn't sag like Silnylon.


This is one of my favourite things about DCF. In the alps where I do most of my walking, it’s very uncommon to have a dew free night and with Sil I always had to get out of the shelter at some point and tighten it back up. A minor inconvenience but still a pain.

One thing I don’t like about DCF is how the water seems to stick to it. It doesn’t absorb it like Sil bit it sort of beads up and is very hard to shake off. After one wet morning I did the usual shake to get the water off, packed it up and came home. I weighed it to see how much water it had retained and found that my 500g shelter fattened to a whopping 1100g!!! I never had that much water retention with Sil.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby PedalRoll » Sun 21 Oct, 2018 3:07 pm

Good to see some Sonder love! Mine is packed and ready to go for next weeks Cape to Cape walk. Packed with 6 days food it rolls up about 4cms above the shoulder straps. Carries so nicely.

And yes, it has my DCF tarp in it. My first DCF tarp. Custom MLD Monk (slightly wider) I got from Wim a couple weeks ago. It packs to the same size as an 8x10 sil tarp but weighs so much less. DCF for life now.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby AlistairB » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 1:21 pm

Another Sonder fan here. I fit a few days of gear in it easy. After carrying lots of heavy stuff in the military, making the move to lighter-weight stuff has been a revelation. My old military pack was just over 4kg empty!

I have some DCF arriving this week, I'm having a crack at making a variation of the MLD Monk Tarp. Being a keen sewist, I'm tempted to order a full roll of the stuff to start experimenting. I've already enquired with Ripstop by the Roll and buying a full roll, it comes down to 23USD per yard, rather than the $32 per yard retail.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Warin » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 1:44 pm

AlistairB wrote: Being a keen sewist, I'm tempted to order a full roll of the stuff to start experimenting. I've already enquired with Ripstop by the Roll and buying a full roll, it comes down to 23USD per yard, rather than the $32 per yard retail.


That include postage?
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby AlistairB » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 2:31 pm

Unfortunately not. Based on previous experience buying fabric by the roll overseas though its usually quite reasonable. I buy a lot from Europe and it usually only ends up being a dollar or two per metre over a full roll.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Lamont » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 2:54 pm

A full roll-GIDDEE UPPP!
What length is the full roll?
AlistairB can I order a tarp?
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Nuts » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 3:03 pm

crollsurf wrote:Cheers Nuts. I also like the way DCF doesn't sag like Silnylon.


That is true, it doesn't sag like other common fabrics. And the advantage is that you don't need to re-tension before bed.
There are also some notable disadvantages in not having that inherent stretch in the fabric. But it's also true saved weight isn't one of them.

I bought from the factory, not sure how easy or economical that is these days.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby AlistairB » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 3:40 pm

A full roll is just under 40 yards. With shipping it will probably be around $1500 AUD plus the obligatory GST. Thankfully fabric purchases are tax deductable for me (as a small business who retails / manufactures textile goods). Its not super cheap but we all need a hobby.

I'll see how my own tarp works out ;-) It will be .5 white dcf with 2.92 white dcf tie out reinforcements. White on white. Beastee Dee for the pole and lineloks on other tie outs.

Ive also been prototyping some of these - https://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/pods.html, made for the Sonder with some leftover xenon sil i had from making a bivy. I've got the size just right for the Sonder and will make a full set in DCF with aqua zips. My sample fits my tier gear -12c quilt, thermarest neo, s2s pillow and homemade bivy nicely and only takes up the bottom 17cm in the pack. Figure I'll make a sleep pod, food pod and ditty bag pod.

This is my MYOG bivy: https://imgur.com/a/c3AFDiT
and my MYOG POD prototype: https://imgur.com/a/J0ZhYyp

I'll keep you posted with how the tarp turns out.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Lamont » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 4:07 pm

Yes, please keep me posted.
Really nice sewing!
I use an ebay (35 grams) dry sack in the bottom of the Sonder and it fits pretty neatly, in a Nylofume (20 grams) bag but the pod you made seems perfectly shaped-what does it weigh?
I bet there is not much wasted space.
I eyed those pods on HMG a while ago but the price- youch.
Could you make something like the zpacks big dry bag-similar idea to your pod.
Genius to replicate/imitate them.
Do/will you trust them to waterproof -even with the aqua zips?
Or do you use something like a nylofume bag to ensure watertightness?
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby ChrisJHC » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 4:18 pm

Has anyone found a shop in Aus that sells ZPacks tents without needing a second mortgage?
I'd buy a Plexamid or Duplex but the Minster for Finance is unlikely to approve!
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Mark F » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 4:51 pm

Zpacks, like TT and most other "cottage" manufacturers, don't sell though shops - only direct through their web site. If you had to add a retail margin then the price really would be astronomic.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Lamont » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 4:57 pm

"Has anyone found a shop in Aus that sells ZPacks tents without needing a second mortgage?"
loans.com.au for the mortgage- 3.7%!
No zpacks only, but try BPL and the redditUL geartrade sections for used models.
I believe they do pop up from time to time.
You still pay about 90% tho'-they devalue to an extraordinarily minor extent.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby AlistairB » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 6:37 pm

Lamont wrote:Yes, please keep me posted.
Really nice sewing!
I use an ebay (35 grams) dry sack in the bottom of the Sonder and it fits pretty neatly, in a Nylofume (20 grams) bag but the pod you made seems perfectly shaped-what does it weigh?
I bet there is not much wasted space.
I eyed those pods on HMG a while ago but the price- youch.
Could you make something like the zpacks big dry bag-similar idea to your pod.
Genius to replicate/imitate them.
Do/will you trust them to waterproof -even with the aqua zips?
Or do you use something like a nylofume bag to ensure watertightness?


The Xenon Sil sample is 22g. I expect the DCF to be similar. There is no wasted space at all. The quilt, pad, bivy and pillow fill the pod and then it (firmly) slides into the pack without barrelling it out. I think with a good pack, and then the DCF and aqua zips it will be very water resistant. I'm going to hit it with the hose for an extended period when it's done to see. If I'm expecting really bad weather, and the hose test proves inconclusive, I'll just use a pack liner or cram my quilt into a garbage bag before putting it into the pod.

Whats better is the cost to make them from a materials perspective is around $5 aud paying retail for the DCF version. The Xenon is only like a $1 or $2. They go together like tennis ball if that makes sense. Just two rectangles of material. I'm sure a roll top version would be doable.

I can kind of understand why the cottage makers charge so much (to a degree - Hyperlight seems to have a lot of margin). The materials are relatively expensive, and from experience, its actually really hard to find people who can sew well and consistently. You would be really surprised. I also think they would have a pretty big customer service and returns burden. While the materials are cutting edge, they do require special care and I can see many of these makers getting lots of warranty issues after incorrect user use.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Lamont » Mon 22 Oct, 2018 7:30 pm

Interesting alistair, thanks for that.
I am about to get a sewing machine, hence my interest.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Nuts » Tue 23 Oct, 2018 5:39 am

AlistairB wrote:A full roll is just under 40 yards. With shipping it will probably be around $1500 AUD plus the obligatory GST. Thankfully fabric purchases are tax deductable for me (as a small business who retails / manufactures textile goods). Its not super cheap but we all need a hobby.

I'll see how my own tarp works out ;-) It will be .5 white dcf with 2.92 white dcf tie out reinforcements. White on white. Beastee Dee for the pole and lineloks on other tie outs.



(Maybe you should make some Aussie 'duplex's? :wink: )

This is probably the best option, to take advantage of the lightest DCF, doing it yourself makes repair & replacement much easier to take. And includes reasonable weight savings.

Some thoughts i'd have after having made a few cuben things (and keeping an eye on developments) would be:

-To consider much lighter reinforcement. Seeing/as the tie-out failures don't have much to do with reinforcement material thickness as the failure happens either at the edge/transition to fly fabric/ sewn line, or on the fly itself. Using the same (eg. .5oz) material for the tie-outs etc would be more than enough. Same for the seams, if reinforcing, a similar or even lighter dcf (than the fly fabric) would be ideal. Same same for peaks in peaked shelters, or tarps with 'pole points', it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense for this to be any/much heavier than the fly other than abrasion layer on the inside.

-Consider good tape and minimal sewing.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby PedalRoll » Tue 23 Oct, 2018 9:15 am

Hey Alistair,
I will gladly buy one of those pods for the Sonder once you trial a DCF version.
Although not truly UL I am interested to see how it affects my packing. I haven’t used stuff sacks for a few years.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby AlistairB » Wed 24 Oct, 2018 1:01 pm

Some thoughts i'd have after having made a few cuben things (and keeping an eye on developments) would be:

-To consider much lighter reinforcement. Seeing/as the tie-out failures don't have much to do with reinforcement material thickness as the failure happens either at the edge/transition to fly fabric/ sewn line, or on the fly itself. Using the same (eg. .5oz) material for the tie-outs etc would be more than enough. Same for the seams, if reinforcing, a similar or even lighter dcf (than the fly fabric) would be ideal. Same same for peaks in peaked shelters, or tarps with 'pole points', it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense for this to be any/much heavier than the fly other than abrasion layer on the inside.

-Consider good tape and minimal sewing.


Thanks Nuts. Package arrived today so I'll hopefully get a start on it tonight. I'm definitely going down the tape route and will avoid putting stitches into it wherever possible. Being a MLD monk clone there are no joins and its just the single piece of .5 dcf. The idea was that I would only stitch into the 2.92 if I had to as that won't tear. I was going to do the tie outs in grosgrain but i'm thinking i'll do them in 2.92 instead (which might even add weight over the grosgrain??) but will give a cleaner look. Its a tricky balance between aesthetic, durability and weight. I'm ditching the beastee dee and will just use a larger tie out for my trekking pole i think.

More planning and thinking and maybe a start tonight :-)
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby Nuts » Wed 24 Oct, 2018 2:20 pm

Yeah, I used 1.4oz for the reinforcement on the last tarp, it just occurred to me while building that this wouldn't be doing much, given it wasn't sewn through (as you mention).

Just used the heavier (1.4) DCF to make a kind of 'barbell' shaped tie-out patch and folded it through (50mm versions of) these: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/20pcs-Plast ... 1eecd032d5 .. with a piece of nylon-backed DCF inside the loop to stop that part abrading. I did sew a zig zag across the patch on the edge of the tarp, figuring that if the glue didn't hold the stitching may, if not only a small chunk would rip off.

Good Luck :)
"The guides are all complaining there's mobile reception and hot showers," Godfrey laughs.
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Re: Does DCF actually save weight?

Postby AlistairB » Sun 28 Oct, 2018 4:31 pm

Well after a couple of evenings tinkering I mostly have my tarp done. Just a couple more tie outs to add. Did a quick test pitch today and it worked better than I could have expected. Really really happy. The white on white is just perfect. I'll do a proper write up in the MYOG part but here is taste. Image
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