Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $205
Pros: Sheds wind and snow very well, stable in high winds, easy to pitch, fits in small campsites, reinforced watertight zipper and zipper flap, two fabric options.
Cons: Relatively small for two people, not adaptable, not as light as flat tarps.
Best Uses: Travel in exposed areas, ski touring, mountaineering
Manufacturer: Mountain Laurel Designs
The DuoMid is a bombproof safe house for year-round backcountry travel in exposed areas. This is one of the best pyramid shelters we've tested and it's ideal for people that mostly venture solo or want to go ultralight with two people. Ordering the DuoMid is not convenient becuase it is not available from major retailers, and only directly from the small manufacturer in VA (made-to-order, involving a 1-4 week delay in delivery). Our highest rated shelters immediately available from retailers are the Rab Element 2 and the Black Diamond Beta Light.
The DuoMid is the smaller version of the company's SuperMid, which our testers prefer for use with two or more people because it is much larger, more comfortable, and weighs a modest 8 oz. more. In our research and backcountry encounters we find that most people use the DuoMid primarily as a solo shelter and occasionally with two people. The interior can be cramped for two people, especially two tall people, so our testers prefer a larger shelter for most trips that warrant the protection of a mid.
If you have tons of cash check out our highest rated two-person pyramid, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltraMid. See how all of these shelters compare by checking out our Ultralight Tent Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Pyramid Tarp
The DuoMid is a pyramid style single wall tarp that pitches with one pole (trekking pole, paddle, or any sturdy long object). Pyramid tarps like the DuoMid have steep walls that shed snow and wind from all sides. They are the most storm resistant type of ultralight shelter and are suitable for the worst conditions imaginable. Smaller mids like the DuoMid make tank-like backpacking and skiing shelters and larger mids are great for winter expeditions and use as a group shelter.
Two Fabric Options
The DuoMid is available in two fabric options: silnylon and cuben fiber. This review assesses the silnylon version, which we believe is a better value. See the bottom of this page for more details on the pros and cons of each material.
The DuoMid is made of the best materials available, designed and fashioned with an impeccable attention to detail, and is safer in serious storms than any tent tested in our backpacking tent review. This is a true four-season shelter than can be used nearly anywhere on the planet. The top of the pyramid, where a pole rests, is reinforced with ultra burly 210D dyneema grip ripstop. The DuoMid's zipper closure is the strongest and most weather resistant of any tent of any type we've ever tested! It uses a watertight zipper that's covered with a waterproof stormflap, and has a buckle-style clip and a snap at the base to relieve tension from the zipper. Higher up two snaps help to keep the storm flap in place during high winds and reinforce the midlevel guypoint. The DuoMid has a significant advantage over two-pole mids: its lower profile design catches less wind, which is a big bonus if pitched in unprotected areas with high winds.
The DuoMid is tight with two people and luxurious for one person. The shelter is as livable as possible given its 54-inch peak height (which can't be increased further while still pitching with a single pole). There's plenty of space to sit upright near the pole and less room as you move away from the pole. There's a single door on one side, which makes it necessary to crawl over the other person in order to get out--bummer. We prefer larger mids, like the SuperMid and UltraMid for extended trips with two people or if we don't mind carrying the extra weight.
Of all shelter types of mids are the most vulnerable to condensation. The DuoMid has a vent at the top, unlike other mids such as the Black Diamond Beta Light, which helps to promote airflow. Playing around with pitching configurations, such as elevating one side or one end, can significantly reduce condensation. We believe the benefits of the DuoMmid's, and all other mids', storm resistance far outweigh the increased susceptibility to condensation.
Of all the shelters and tents we've tested, pyramids are the easiest and fastest to pitch. Loosely stake the four corners, insert a pole, tighten the corners, and guy out additional points if necessary. It's ridiculously fast compared to self-supprting tents and modular tarp systems, such as the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II.
The DuoMid is available in a 30 denier silicone impregnated ripstop nylon with a warp break strength of 15 lb/in. This is far stronger and more durable than ultralight fabrics found in self-supporting backpacking tents (the Brooks Range Foray 15 denier polyurethane/ silnylon fabric breaks at 7 lb/in). For an additional $200 the DuoMid can be cut from 0.75 oz./ sq. yd. cuben fiber that saves four ounces and is significantly stronger (105 lb./ in. warp break strength!), and more durable than silnylon.
Weight and Packed Size
The DuoMid is lightweight given its incredible storm resistance. When fitted with the stock guyline our seam-sealed silnylon DuoMid weighs 22.4 oz. The cuben fiber version saves 4 oz.
Mids are the least adaptable type of shelter. The DuoMid doesn't respond well to campsites that require a suboptimal pitch. Flat tarps are the most adaptable type of shelter and therefore our preferred shelter for backpacking.
Fast and light adventures in any season, anywhere.
The silnylon DuoMid is an exceptional value if you need the protection of four walls. The Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp costs half as much and will perform very well for three-season backpacking in all but the most exposed conditions.
Is the cuben version worth the additional $200?
The cuben DuoMid is far superior than the silnylon version; it's lighter and more durable, and cuben doesn't absorb water or stretch. But for many people the four ounce difference (less than two Snickers bars) may not be worth the cost. That is, spending $50 per ounce is a very expensive way to reduce weight. Unless you already have a top-tier sleeping bag, stove, pack, etc., we don't believe the cuben DuoMid is a cost efficient way to reduce weight. More importantly, if we were to cough up the cash for a two-person cuben mid we'd choose the Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltraMid because it's considerably larger and more comfortable.
The $165 DuoMid InnerNet turns the DuoMid into a bomber two-pound double wall tent. The DuoMid comes with a 6" Pole Jack (0.7oz) that can be used to increase the height of a trekking pole. We recommend using this with most trekking poles.
The $170 SoloMid is smaller and the $295 SuperMid is larger.
How to Get It
The DuoMid is not sold by major commercial or online retailers. Get it online at
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 12, 2014
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