The Importance of Tear Strength
Greater strength equals greater safety. It is that simple. The stronger the fabric on your outer tent is, the less likely it is to tear because of bad weather, rough handling, or inadvertent mistakes.
And Hilleberg’s Kerlon outer tent fabrics are strikingly strong. Kerlon 1800, used in our Black Label models, and Kerlon 2000, used in some of our Blue Label tents, have a minimum tear strength of 18 kg/40 lbs and 20 kg/44 pounds, respectively. Kerlon 1200, found in our Red Label collection, has a minimum tear strength of 12 kg/26.5 lbs. Even the family’s lightest member, Kerlon 1000, used in our lightest weight, three season Yellow Label tents, has an impressive 8 kg/22 lbs minimum tear strength. Even better, this strength comes in impressively low weight packages. In real life usage in the field, that combination of strength and light weight translates into tents that, in our opinion, outperform those made with other fabrics. Indeed, many common tent fabrics today, especially those that are polyurethane coated, have a tear strength of 2 to 3 kg (4.4 to 6.6 lbs)
The Silicone Connection
In 1975, Bo Hilleberg received a sample of a new, lighter, more waterproof fabric. When Bo cut the edge of the sample and tried to tear it, he couldn’t. The fabric, Bo learned, was coated with silicone, rather than the usual polyurethane. And while this new fabric was indeed very light and waterproof, it was also exceptionally strong. It was exactly what Bo had been looking for, and our Kerlon fabrics were born.
Not all silicone-coated fabrics are created equal, however. Our Kerlon fabrics are coated, on both sides, with a total of three layers of 100 percent silicone. Certainly they are completely waterproof and very light, but our process also imparts a strength to the base material that is an order of magnitude greater than is possible with the more common polyurethane coating process. Perhaps more importantly, our coated Kerlon fabrics are also far, far stronger than so-called “siliconized” materials, which typically employ a coating mixture of silicone and other compounds.
This means that we can start with lighter weight base fabrics and still produce outer tent materials that are stronger overall, and, in the case of Kerlon 1800, 1200 and 2000, that are stronger than a great many of the so-called “expedition grade,” heavy duty tent materials on the market (even our lighter Kerlon 1000 fabric is more robust than some of those fabrics). The result: if your outer tent does suffer a puncture, our high tear strengths make it far less likely that the puncture will develop into a trip-ending slash.
Such high tear strength is like insurance: It is much better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, especially since this “insurance” adds no extra weight, and increases the durability and longevity of your tent, as well. Read more about our materials and the specifications of our fabrics here.