Archive for 2012

Terra Nova Laser Competition Cuben Fiber Pole Sleeve Cover

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

We’ve all done it, gotten our new Terra Nova Laser Competition (available in the USA for much less from, opened it up, then scratched our heads wondering what that black thing in the bag is. Here you see a the black thing, covering the center pole.

The black thing is the pole sleeve cover, designed for several purposes: 1. To make it possible to sell a silnylon tent without seam sealer requirements. 2. To strengthen and reinforce the tie-outs that go from pole to ground. 3. To cover the zipper on the fly, and thus avoid having to create a waterproofed zipper or zipper covering.

However, unlike the rest of the Laser Competition, for some inexplicable reason, the pole sleeve cover is not ultralight. In fact, it’s not light at all. The only light part is is the tie out cord and cord lock. The rest is regular coated nylon and 3/16″ nylon cord. All that together weighs in at a fairly hefty 2.7 ounces, give or take.

Since I was looking to do a Cuben Fiber project to get the feel for that new high tech material, I decided that replacing the nylon black pole sleeve cover would be a great first project. Not too hard, but will result in a savings in the end of 1.45 ounces. For a cost of about $12 US for the cuben. I had the other materials lying around, but if you order them, you’ll have to spend a bit more of course, but everything else is really worth having in your toolkit in my opinion anyway.

Why Cuben Fiber?

Besides my wanting to try sewing it? – by the way, most people who deal with cuben recommend using special double sided cuben tape to tape the seams, then sew them, but I decided that wasn’t necessary for this project. First, Cuben Fiber does not stretch or shrink. This makes it a much better choice than Silnylon. Second, it’s totally waterproof, until the mylar sheeting breaks down over time, of course. This also makes it a better choice than silnylon. Third, for the same weight as silnylon, it’s radically stronger, and far more tear resistent. That’s because of the embedded dyneema fibers sandwiched between the mylar like sheets of clear plastic. This weight (1.5oz/yd) of Cuben Fiber is the same weight as 1.4 oz silnylon, but far stronger, and thus makes a good choice for a reinforcing sleeve cover/tie out support.

Materials List

Here is a list of the materials I used for this project, and links to where I got them. All of the sources were from cottage industry suppliers, so these links may not work in the future.

  • – Cuben Fiber CT5K.18 1.50oz – Lawson, aka mountainfitter, had a sale on 1.5 oz per yard cuben fiber ($10 US a linear foot), sold by the foot. I got one foot. The rolls, after trimming off the ends without the fiber, are about 54″ long. So that means I got a piece of usable cuben 54″ x 12″. This is enough for the project, and leaves some over for tarp tie-out reinforcement patches. You could also try this with his 0.74 oz / yd cuben, but I don’t recommend it for high stress tasks like this.

    If Lawson is out of this cuben fiber, you can email Joe at z-packs and ask him if he will sell you a foot of his 1.5 oz cuben. He has a wider range of cuben fiber, so you could also use the 1.0 oz I think for this project.

  • – Reflective Glowire 2mm dyneema core, dacron covered cord. Works with LineLoc 3 Line Adjusters. 1 yard or less should be enough, unless you want to use this for the entire project.
  • – 1.25mm and 1.5mm spectra cord To make this is as light as I could, I used 1.25 mm z-line spectra cord for the tie-out cord, 1.5mm spectra for the main length in the pole sleeve cover, then tied about 12″ of the Lawson Glowire cord to the ends to use with the LineLoc 3 Line Adjusters.
  • – LineLoc 3 Line Adjusters, Micro Line Loc Guy Line Adjusters Get a lot of these, they don’t cost much each, and you can always use these for other things. I’ll add a Terra Nova mod page in the future, but I recommend picking up at least an 8 pack. You can get these with 1/2 grosgrain loops attached, but you won’t need that for this project. The micro line lock adjustors work for cords that are less than 2mm thick, like the 1.25mm and 1.5mm cords you got.
  • – 1/2 inch Grosgrain ribbon Get a few yards of this, you’ll end up using it for other things, and then you’ll have some to spare.

Note: if you want, you can substitute the Micro Line Adjusters for the LineLoc 3 adjustors, and just buy one 50 foot length of zpack cord. It’s not as elegant and easy to adjust that way though. You can also use any other cord that is 2mm or bigger, or use smaller cord and tie them together, as you will see below.

Obviously, you can use materials from anywhere, and in Europe, it might be easier to use a European based supplier for these materials. But I have used and can recommend both z-packs and Lawson outdoor equipment, nice people who do a good job.

Now we’re ready to go.

Equipment Needed to Make the Pole Sleeve

Cuben is quite easy to work with, here’s what you will need.

  • Razor blade, sharp. Do not try to cut Cuben with scissors, it’s too tough, and too expensive to ruin that way.
  • Wood surface to cut on
  • Ruler, ideally steel, to cut against
  • Lighter or flame, to seal the cord and grosgrain ends from fraying
  • Sewing machine in good working order, capable of sewing between 6 and 8 stitches to the inch, and of sewing slowly.
  • Number 10 (70) sewing needles. If you have 9 (65), use those if you can get them threaded. The smaller the better with cuben.
  • Good thread, like Gutterman. I found the medium gray blended very nicely with the Cuben semi-clear color.
  • Patience

Building the Cuben Fiber Terra Nova Laser Competition Pole Sleeve Cover

Key Points: I folded over the cuben to form the channels, and sewed on the patches, to the side of the cover that will face DOWN. The 3 cord grosgrain attachments are sewn on this down facing side, and the 2 grosgrain tie out loops are sewn facing up. This leaves as little surface as possible to get wet or leak as you can get. I don’t believe it’s important to seam seal this, but you can seal the patch and grosgrain seams if you want. The two V-shaped tie-outs point to the ends of the sleeve cover, ie, the V points to the end of the tent pole.

To make this easier to follow, I took pictures of the process. The descriptions will be under each picture.

Cut the 1 foot piece of Cuben, after trimming off the clear plastic end pieces, into one piece 12″ x 41″. This will leave you about a 12″x12″ piece to make reinforcements out of for this and future cuben projects. Cut that 12″x41″ piece into two 6″ strips, each 41″ long.