Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silnylon Tent Fire-Test Results

To the casual day hiker, this video seems to serve no purpose.

For some reason, comments at Youtube have ranged from, "Excellent, thanks for sacrificing your tent to make this" to, "Whats the Point? If you cooked under your couch it would catch fire too." to " I totally would have bought that tent from you".

I've been working with silnylon, sometimes called parachute cloth, soarcoat, or siliconzied rip stop for over 10 years.

I've created everything from tarps and tents, rainsuits, stuff sacks, water sacks, ground cloths, gaiters, you name it.

The backpacking community has postulated on burn time.
We all knew it would. Heat sealing has shown us that it will catch fire. Some claimed it would go up like "napalm".

Question: How easily could a silnylon shelter catch fire, and how devasting would, or could, the results be?

My tents are silnylon, as is most of my gear.
I carry the alcohol stove exclusively, sometimes known as the pepsi can stove,or beer can stove.
I've used nearly every imaginable fuel in or on that stove. Check my homepage at Brawny's Homepage to read my trail journals.

Check out the fuels listed on my The Female
webpage for full list and personal notes.

September 1, 2010 I wrote about why a person would ever think of using a stove inside a tent at my Why Cook In a Tent

The test was done by placing one ounce of fuel into a standard soda can stove and placing it inside the silnylon tent. Eventually, it ignited and continued to burn in a steady manner. At no point did it begin to rage. Amazingly, this small tent took 10 minutes to burn.

I noted that the smell should wake a person, but perhaps the first real danger is falling flaming fabric onto one's face.
Of course, no amount of burn damage is acceptable, and many viewers were able to make good conclusions.
Don't camp too close to a large fire. Watch for burning embers. Take care when cooking near silnylon. Indirect flame sources can cause damage as well.

This video is NOT aimed at eliminating silnylon in any way, shape or form.

Next question: What is the burn time/damage in pouring rain?


  1. Smell will NOT wake up a sleeping person.
    Smoke will cause a person to fall further asleep, which is why smoke detectors are a must in all homes near the bedrooms.

    I'm a fire fighter involved with a fire prevention and education program, I don't want to take away from the valid display but I also can't allow the myth of "I'll smell it" to be propagated.

  2. Interesting observation, DJ. I've woke at night smelling something , and I always investigated it. My fire instructor always taught us that smell is the first sense to go, so never lay in bed if you smell something weird. Some people are much heavier sleepers, the young especially. A person definitly can not rely on smell.

    Good points, thanks for writing, my boyfriend agrees with you!