Materials and Technology

Terra Nova Equipment has unrivalled expertise in the development of specialist fabrics and materials for its award winning products. The company has always been at the forefront of technical development; it produced the first PU/ Silicone coated flysheet fabric in the 1990s and more recently was the first to use bonded seam technology in commercial tent production. Our fabrics are specified from the first polymer stage, through to final fabric production. Working together with specialist fabric manufacturers we create exclusive, bespoke fabrics which provide optimal performance for specific tent models.

How Fabrics are created

Nylon and polyester fabrics start life as polymer granules. The polymer is heated and extruded to produce an ultra-fine filament. These filaments are twisted together to form a yarn, which is then used to weave the finished fabric. The thickness of each yarn is measured as ‘Denier’.

1:Polymer Beads

1:Polymer Beads

2:1 yarn showing filament construction

2:1 yarn showing filament construction

3: Preparations of yarns prior to water jet weaving process

3: Preparations of yarns prior to water jet weaving process











What is Denier?

Denier is a unit of measurement that is used to determine the fibre thickness of individual threads or yarns used in the creation of textiles. Textiles with a high denier count tend to be thick, sturdy and durable. Textiles with a low denier count tend to be fine and lightweight. Woven fabric used for tent construction is often referred to in terms of denier. 10 or 15 denier are amongst the lightest tent fabrics, 70 or 100 denier fabrics are amongst the most robust tent fabrics. By contrast the human hair is around 20 denier.

How is a denier measured?

Denier is defined as the mass in grammes per 9000m of yarn. Therefore 15 denier yarn weighs 15g per 9000m. The denier measurement originated from a natural reference: a single strand of silk is approximately 1 denier.

Weight and Durability

In the quest for lighter fabrics tear and tensile strength are equally important considerations. To ensure the balance of weight and performance Terra Nova Equipment develops fabrics with:
• An optimised ripstop weave
• Using the best polymer
• Construction providing the best strength to weight ratio

Materials Testing

Terra Nova Equipment tests materials in its own laboratory, in commercial test houses and in the field. A range of tests are carried out on new fabrics, existing fabrics are also subject to regular QA tests.

Tests include:

Water Impermeability

Fabric Water Resistance
Fabric water resistanceA fabric’s ability to resist water penetration is expressed as its resistance to a vertical column of water over a given surface area. This test gives the ‘Hydrostatic Head’ measurement and is a good indicator of the waterproofing performance of a fabric. So a fabric with a Hydrostatic Head measurement of 3000mm, can support a vertical column of water 3000mm tall, without leaking. There are several test methods, but Terra Nova Equipment uses the ISO method because the applied pressure acts over a larger surface area and is therefore more severe. This gives a better representation of long term performance than a test carried out over a small area such as the Mullen test method, which is preferred in some countries.

Tear,Tensile and Bending Tests

Fabric tensile Strengh                Tent Pole Bending Test

Fabric Tensile Strength Tent Pole Bending TestOur internal test equipment allows us to conduct comprehensive tear and tensile tests for our fabrics when new and after ageing. In addition our 4 point load pole bending apparatus gives valuable feedback concerning the flexing, recovery and ultimate yield strength for all our tent poles.



Weathering Tests


Weathering TestSome of many fabrics exposed
on south facing frames set at 45 degrees

In addition to long term weathering tests outdoors, Terra Nova Equipment also conducts accelerated weathering tests to ISO standards in order to give a complete picture of a fabric’s performance.


UV Degradation

UV light is one of the major causes of the reduction in flysheet performance. UV light degrades fabrics by cutting the molecular bonds that hold the fabric together. The effect of UV light is reduced in a number of ways:

• UV inhibitors
• Silicone elastomer coating on the outer surface provides additional protection
• Fabric dye colours are selected to give maximum UV resistance

Tents that are subject to a greater degree of UV light, such as base camp tents, have flysheet fabrics specified to provide more UV resistance than backpacking tents which tend to spend less time pitched during daylight hours.

Longevity of Fabrics

Long term weathering tests carried out in the laboratory and outside are an important part of the development process. When specifying fabrics Terra Nova Equipment not only looks at the performance of the fabric when it is new, but more importantly how performance can be maintained.

Bonded Seam Construction

Terra Nova Equipment is a pioneer in the use of bonded seams (without sewing) technology and amongst the first to use it on a commercial scale for tents. In tests our bonded seam construction is stronger than the fabric itself. All bonded seam construction takes place in our UK factory.