Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid Review
Cons: Heavier and less versatile than flat tarps, relatively heavy for backpacking with two people
Manufacturer: Mountain Laurel Designs
Our Analysis and Test Results
Updated Version for 2016/2017
The newest version of the Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid sports several functional updates. With new 30d Pro SilNylon fabric, the SuperMid is an overall 3oz lighter and stronger. It is also available in Cuben Fiber, weighing in at 19oz. The vent is larger and has two stiffener wands, as well as four additional tie outs at the main corner seams, making for a total of 17 tie outs.
The Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid earned a perfect ten for livability — it has a much larger footprint than all the other shelters we tested — and can sleep four people. It is the most unique of the models we tested for this updated review; it sleeps more people and is the only center pole pyramid we tested. Over the years, we've found center pole pyramids for two people aren't as livable as 'duo-mids' that use two poles. Two folks can fit on either side of the SuperMid's center pole. When securely staked out, and guyed from all mid-panels, this nearly six-foot-tall shelter is one of the most stable in severe weather including snow.
The Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid provides fantastic weather protection; it is the only product we reviewed this year recommended for winter use and serious snow storms. It suits just about everything: backpacking, ski touring, mountaineering or as a shelter for cooking or gear storage on expeditions or while base-camping. This model is our testers' favorite tent (out of all ultralight tents and four season tents) for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering trips.
One of the significant advantages of the SuperMid, compared to other single pole mids, is the well-designed catenary cut that makes it very stable and quiet in high winds. Most other unipolar mids don't pitch as tight and flap around more in high winds. Eight perimeter LineLocs (at the corners and mid-side) allow for a quick pitch and immediate tightening after initial setup. (SilNylon stretches more than Cuben fiber, especially after getting damp.) Four guy-out points (mid-panel on the sides and one at the peak) should be well secured for wind resistance in exposed sites.
The SuperMid's door is the most bombproof of any pyramid tarp we've tested. It uses a urethane coated watertight zipper that's covered with a waterproof flap with snaps to secure it in high winds. The bottom of the door has a reinforced plastic clip that relieves tension from the zipper. These features make the SuperMid's door far more durable and weather resistant than the vast majority of other pyramid tarps.
With all the included guy lines attached, the SuperMid weighs 32 ounces. This figure is very light considering the tarp's fantastic weather resistance and that it can sleep four people. If you want to save more weight, the four-person Cuben fiber version weighs 10 ounces less but costs $455 more. We don't feel that's an affordable way to save a few ounces per person.
The SuperMid is relatively heavy for backpacking with two people. In comparison, the ZPacks Duplex weighs only 13 ounces and has built-in bug protection, but only sleeps two. That said, the SuperMid's four-sided weather protection and generous comfort, which make it better for winter use, offset its substantial weight.
Tent with guy lines = 32 oz
Stuff sack = 1.1 oz
Stuffed snugly into the included sack, it measures 10" x 9" x 6"
The SuperMid measures 8.9 ft. x 8.9 ft. x 5.75 ft. tall and has 70 sq ft. of floor area. This shelter is a great lightweight winter option, and this is more than twice as much floor area as the average four season tent! With the tent pitched close to the ground for maximum weather resistance, there's headroom for someone about 5'2'' to stand in the center near the pole. When pitched on snow, a little digging will create standing room for tall folks. A fairly large vent at the peak helps to reduce condensation inside, and it can be closed up tight for foul weather.
The SuperMid is palatial for two people. When traveling with two people, we use the back side away from the door for sleeping, and the front for cooking and gear storage. Alternatively, each person can claim one side and have a luxurious amount of space. With two folks on each side of the center pole, four people fit fine in the SuperMid, but this does use up all the floor space. With three, the sleeping space closest to the door makes a great gear and pack storage area. However, this space comes at the expense of weight and packed size; if you're looking for a floorless mid for two people three-season backpacking, we prefer the Six Moon Designs Haven Tarp, which is remarkably roomy for two, and about half as heavy.
The largest drawback to a pyramid, relative to tarps, is their limited adaptability. The SuperMid must be pitched in the same configuration every time — making it much less versatile than the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp, or the A-frame Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo for that matter. Being floorless is a big advantage, though. You can pitch this shelter over a rock or stump if necessary. You might even find the perfect rock — a big flat cooking platform for the front leaving sleeping space for two in the back.
The SuperMid is extremely durable; MLD's attention to detail during construction is top-notch. The largest threat to longevity is snow loading during winter storms; be aware of how much is accumulating and if it's coming down heavy set alarms to remind you to clear it off. As always, be sure to secure the guy lines well for high winds. Use the factory installed bungee cord loops on the mid-panel tie outs. This shelter is large, and the bungy attachments help to distribute the force of powerful winds.
Ease of Set-up
Like all single pole pyramid tarps, the Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid can pitch very quickly with just the four corner tie outs. Our trial set up in the backyard took 3 minutes (we used a 6-foot yard rake that was handy). Subsequent set ups lashing two trekking poles together also took about 3 minutes. With some practice, stakes in hand, and soft soil, it can go up in less than a minute for two people. If you are using the SuperMid as a multi-night basecamp shelter, keep in mind you'll need a pair of your trekking or ski poles. It is not a bad idea for a group to carry an extra pair of poles on a backcountry ski trip anyway. Tying things out in a stormproof fashion while camping on snow takes considerably longer, but even so, pyramid tarps are generally the fastest and easiest type of shelter to pitch. When it's nuking out, the near-instant protection is very nice. We found that we got the tightest set-up by erecting the SuperMid in a square, rather than pulling too hard on the mid panel ground-level tie-outs.
Eight stakes minimum are necessary, and you will have to provide them. Guy line comes in the package, but in one large coil. It took us about 10 minutes to cut it to length and add it to the LineLocs. A tube of SilNet comes in the package, and you should seal the seams before your first trip. The SuperMid's primary drawback, related to set up, is that it takes up more space than most other tents and shelters; the footprint is much larger.
Exposed areas and in winter with relatively large campsites. The main benefit of a single pole pyramid is bombproof wind and snow protection in exposed areas, and lots of headroom. Pitched on the snow, you can dig a trench around the inside, leaving a bench seat around the perimeter, and a cooking platform in the center to support the pole. This model is a super roomy shelter for ski touring and makes a perfect basecamp cooking shelter with standing room and seating for six when you trench and bench. We love a large pyramid for canoeing and rafting trips as well. It's super easy to set up with an oar or paddle.
At $355, the SuperMid is a great value for a bombproof foul weather shelter. If like most of us, you do the majority of your backpacking in protected areas, a center pole pyramid shelter is not necessary (and is heavier and costs more than other types of tarps). For most three-season backpacking applications we feel the Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo offers the best value.
A large, center pole pyramid is the roomiest, most stormproof shelter for all-season use, and the Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid in SilNylon is the best value available. As an ultralight backpacking shelter for two, it is palatial for two people and weighs only 32 ounces.
- One person pyramid shelter
- Cost - $235
- Weight - 15.5 oz
- Floor area - 30 sq ft
- 52 inch peak height
- Two fabric options: silnylon and cuben fiber
- One to two person pyramid shelter
- Cost - $240
- Weight - 24 oz
- 54-inch peak height
- Ideal one person, but possible for two
- Two fabric options: silnylon and cuben fiber
— Brandon Lampley & Max Neale