A New Fabric is Here to Turn Ultralight Gear On Its Head (Again)

A New Fabric is Here to Turn Ultralight Gear On Its Head (Again)


For ultralight enthusiasts, weighing in pounds is passé. Here, we deal in ounces and grams. Ultralight forums are probably the only place you’ll see people passionately debating over the weight of an empty Smartwater bottle. 

Innovations in material design keep the ultralight marketplace dynamic and generate buzz in this fast-growing segment of the backpacking community.

The steady demand for lighter, tougher ultralight textiles has produced notable standouts like Silnylon, Dyneema, and, most recently, Ultra. Now, a new player has entered the fray, set to disrupt the ultralight gear market–again.

Designed by ALUULA Composites, Graflyte is made of 100% recyclable ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWP), which is eight times stronger than steel, wear-resistant, and waterproof. Although UHMWP is not a new material (Ultra uses it, too), ALUULA uses a patented heat-bonding method that doesn’t require adding polyester film to the polyethylene material.

So how much lighter is Graflyte than its leading competitor? When compared, Ultra 200, the standard weight fabric used for ultralight packs, weighs 3.5 ounces per square yard, while Graflyte of a similar size comes in at just 2.9 ounces per square yard. 

Much to the chagrin of backpackers who prefer to make their own gear, Graflyte's market debut will follow a phased rollout involving strategic collaborations with select outdoor brands. 

This approach contrasts with fabrics like Ultra and Dyneema, which are available for purchase by the general public from ultralight fabric retailers like Ripstop by the Roll. ALUULA has already partnered with major companies like Arc’teryx and top players in the ultralight market like Durston Gear for their new Wapta 30 pack.

Photo: Courtesy Durston Gear

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