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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Supplemental Seam Sealing for Single Wall BD Superlight Tents

One of the most significant advances in tent technology recently has been the use of waterproof-breathable (WPB) fabrics to produce single wall tents which breathe batter and weigh less than their double-wall competitors. Black Diamond is one of the leading innovators in single-wall tent technology and their Superlight Series (One-Shot, Hi-Light, Firstlight, Lighthouse, Skylight, and Guiding Light) use EPIC by Nextec body fabric and Sil-Nylon floors to create superlight, freestanding, waterproof-breathable, 3-Season tents.

Each tent in this series comes with a seam sealer application as well as instructions.

As an addendum to the seam-sealing instructions provided by the manufacturer of such single-wall tents, I'd offer the following:

  • Waterproof-breathable fabrics are being asked to perform to conflicting jobs: let moisture out from inside the tent to prevent condensation while keeping all moisture outside the tent from passing through.

  • These lines of single-wall tents generally use an internal pole set-up which results in the waterproof-breathable fabric being stretched tight across a frame created by the poles.

When these two factors are combined, the result is that there are some areas on these tents where the tension on the WPB fabric causes some degree of permeability. Therefore, there are a few additional areas of application I'd recommend for these tents to ensure a waterproof barrier from the most brutal of downpours.

1. Apex where the poles cross.

2. On the diagonal (where the poles lie) from the apex to below the top square seam.

3. At the first Velcro fastner joint and first pole joint below the tops square seam on front and back.

The pictures should help to identify exactly how to apply the supplemental seam-sealer. Basically, these are the spots that see the highest amount of tension in a taught pitch aside from the actual seams themselves. Hitting each of these spots may add a half an ounce, but that weighs a lot less than a soggy tent, sleeping bag, clothes, pack, boots.....

Thanks to Steve for the tip and Zack for the tent....



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