Technology Page - MSR Xtreme Shield Tent Coating

Sep 10, 2018

MSR's Xtreme Shield System

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Our Xtreme Shield System combines a revolutionary, durable waterproof coating with strong, prprecision stitched seams to maintain your tent’s weather protection—and quality—far longer than ever before.

The Industry-wide problem

Lightweight tent fabrics face two challenges:

  • Their waterproof coatings are more susceptible to hydrolysis, a natural breakdown caused by moisture, heat and humidity
  • Seam tape doesn't adhere as well, causing it to flake off prematurely, leaving seams vulnerable to leaking

The Xtreme Shield Solution

A revolutionary coating:

  • Specifically formulated to combat moisture and hot, humid conditions, lasting up to 3x longer

Durable, precision-stitched seams:

  • Meticulous stitching and water-resistant thread create a seam that lasts the life of your tent

Tent Care

Premium products require care. Our precision stitching creates a seam that's far more durable than seam taping. If you're a foul-weather camper, we recommend seam sealing with GEAR AID sealant for maximum waterproof defense and to create a tent with exceptional longevity.

Higher-Quality Tents Built to Last

With Xtreme Shield, our tents offer adventurers far more years of use - staying in the field longer, and out of repair shops and landfills.

Xtreme Shield System FAQ

What exactly is the Xtreme Shield System?

The Xtreme Shield System is a superior construction that combines two premium elements: a revolutionary waterproof coating that lasts up to 3x longer than standard coatings; and durable, precision-stitched seams. Working together, they create a system that ensures the weather protection and quality of your tent lasts longer than ever before.

Why did MSR develop it? 

As backpacking tents have gotten lighter, they've brought with them two challenges: Their waterproof coatings are more susceptible to hydrolysis, the breakdown of the coating due to moisture, heat and humidity - which causes the coating to become sticky and fail. Secondly, their seam tape eventually falls off, leaving users stranded with no defense.

Why is this just a problem on lightweight fabrics?

As tents and fabrics became lighter, they required thinner

How big of an industry issue is this?

Companies industry-wide cite coating degradation and seam-taping failure as one of their biggest contributors to warranties and frustrated customers. For over a decade, MSR has been researching solutions to the problem. Several years ago, we identified a coating that is specifically formulated to combat hydrolysis, and worked to refine it for our manufacturing process. Now proven in the market, we’re expanding this Xtreme Shield solution to more models.

What makes the waterproof coating different from others?

The coating formulation is unique in the industry at the molecular level. To develop it, we researched industries that required ultra-durable waterproof coatings that resist hydrolysis. This led us to our specially formulated Xtreme Shield polyurethane, which has a molecular construction designed specifically to resist degradation due to heat and humidity.

What makes the seams so durable?

For starters, we use a lap felled seam, which places one edge of the fabric inside a folded edge before it’s stitched down. This creates a very strong seam. Secondly, we use a meticulous stitching technique that creates a tiny, precise hole. Finally, we use a poly-cotton thread blend that swells when it gets wet. Together, they work to create a robust seam that lasts the life of our tent.

Do I absolutely need to seam seal the tent?

In most conditions, the Xtreme Shield System offers excellent weather protection from the elements. If you anticipate periods of heavy or extended rain, we do recommend seam sealing to ensure you won’t get any drops in your tent. In such conditions, some drops can work their way into the rainfly seams. We believe this isn’t reason enough to sacrifice the longevity of your tent for the short-lived performance of seam taping, which leaves you with a leaky tent when it fails.

By seam-sealing your tent with Gear Aid seam sealants, you'll have a tent that truly lasts.

For the easiest application, watch how to apply Seam Grip Sealant.

Why doesn't MSR why doesn't MSR seam seal at the factory?

Under most conditions, MSR tents deliver excellent weatherproof protection. From our experience and testing, water infiltration tends to be mainly on the rainfly and on small sections of the seams. By allowing the customer to apply seam sealer themselves only when and where necessary, we reduce the use of chemicals used in our manufacturing process.