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Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid Review

   

Ultralight Tents

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: March 12, 2014
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
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Mountain Laurel Designs
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ January 1, 2013  
Overview
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.

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The Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid's unipolar design (right) sheds wind better and has a higher floor area to weight ratio than bipolar pyramids (left). Bipolar mids shed snow better than unipolar mids and are best for winter mountaineering.
Credit: Max Neale
Weather Resistance
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.

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The Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid has a snap and a clip that relieve stress from the zipper.
Credit: Max Neale
Livability
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.

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Inside the DuoMid.
Credit: Mountain Laurel Designs
Materials
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.

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Size comparison for three classes of shelters: Sierra Designs LT Strike 2 (two door self-supporting tent), Easton Kilo 2 (single door self-supporting tent), and Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid (ultralight shelter).
Credit: Max Neale
Adaptability
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.

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The DuoMid's grey color is stealthy in a variety of landscapes.
Credit: Max Neale
Best Application
Fast and light adventures in any season, anywhere.

Value
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.

Accessories
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.

Other Versions
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
www.mountainlaureldesigns.com

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 12, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (3)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
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   Nov 10, 2013 - 02:49am
Bounderby · Backpacker · New Zealand
I really don't understand this review. MLD offer a cuben fibre version of this shelter but it is not considered, nevertheless it is compared against cuben fibre shelters. Is that fair? Actually 'no'. Similarly, the Duomid is (apparently) not versatile. But the comparison is with tarps rather than tents.Tents are a weeny bit inflexible too.Tarps are great, but it's really hard to keep all the wind out…can you sleep with a 10 mile an hour wind on your face?…oh yes, there's a heat loss thing we should discuss too. So, the silnylon version of the Duomid (which I own and love) is heavier than some other shelters—by the weight of a pair of shoelaces—but it is completetly weatherproof and gives privacy and protection. Also, doesn't need dedicated poles..I'm sorry, what was your point?

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Mar 12, 2014 - 05:27pm
Baughb · Fisherman · Southern California
Have had and been using this tarp tent for 2 years, about 30-40 nights out. I love it. Two hiking poles work well as an A frame allowing my wife and I room enough for both of us. At a pound in weight, it's just crazy light. I often bring it on day hikes and fly fishing days for a fast setup in case of rain. Mine is yellow silnylon with the bottom perimeter bug netting.

If there is a drawback, as it would be with any guyline and stake tarp…camping on bare rock is not possible without trees nearby.

Love it and would HIGHLY recommend it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid
Credit: Mountain Laurel Designs
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