Introduction

A tent is pictured with one door open.
The X-Mid Pro 2 is an ultralight, two-person, dual-door, dual-vestibule, side-entry Dyneema Composite Fabrics shelter supported by two trekking poles and requiring a minimum of four stakes to pitch. Photo: Durston Gear.

The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 tent (20.4 oz / 578 g, MSRP: $639) is an ultralight, single-wall, two-person, double-door, double-vestibule, side-entry, trekking pole-supported shelter made of Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF). It requires two trekking poles and a minimum of four stakes to pitch. The design combines the headroom and spaciousness of a classic double-pole single-wall shelter with the stormworthiness and simple set-up of a pyramid-style shelter.

The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 is a compelling product in the somewhat narrow category of ultralight, two-person DCF shelters. The silpoly Durston X-Mid 2 is already a popular tent and is Highly Recommended by Backpacking Light. That makes the lighter, updated DCF version particularly intriguing.

The Durston X-Mid series of tents has become a favorite among ultralight backpackers, and demand for these shelters is very high. A recent sale of the Durston X-Mid 1 sold out in three minutes. Company founder Dan Durston notes there that there will be a better supply of the X-Mid Pro 2, but it seems unlikely that they will remain in stock very long following their initial launch.

This First Looks review is based on our initial hands-on evaluation of a pre-production sample of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Tent.

Review Update Log:

  • March 25th, 2022: Backpacking Light founder Ryan Jordan and Backpacking Light canine-in-chief Sierra recently had a chance to spend some time with the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 in the field. The new photos are at the end of the review, in the Photo Essay section. Click to jump straight there.
  • August 22nd, 2022: We shot a video exploring the features of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2. You can find it below.

X-Mid Pro 2 Review Video

YouTube video

Highlights

  • shelter: 20.4 oz (578 g), plus 4 stakes and two trekking poles
  • height: 46 inches (117 cm)
  • floor width: 48 inches (122 cm)
  • floor length: 90 inches (229 cm)
  • floor area: 30 sq ft (2.78 sq m)
  • vestibule area: 21.5 sq ft (2 sq m)
  • packed size: 12 x 6 inches (30 x 15 cm)
  • rectangular design allows the tent to be pitched with four stakes
  • dual peak vents help manage condensation
  • bonded construction instead of sewn construction
  • offset pole design allows for easier entry and increased interior volume
  • two doors with dual vestibules, waterproof zippers on vestibule doors
  • 15 denier nylon floor doesn’t require a footprint in most conditions
  • floor lays taut when pitched and tensioned properly, instead of simply hanging
  • vestibules provide ample room for storing packs and other items not brought into the shelter
  • door zippers are easy to operate one-handed
  • magnets allow for the vestibule and/or the mesh tent door to be easily rolled up
A tent in a stuff sack is shown next to a one-liter water bottle.
The packed size of the X-Mid Pro 2 in the included stuff sack should allow it to fit in most low-volume (40L or less) packs without issue.

Testing Context

A tent is shown pitched on snow.
The X-Mid Pro 2 pitches easily – only the tiniest amount of re-tensioning and adjustment of poles was needed to get a solid pitch the first time. On subsequent pitches, no adjustments were needed since the learning curve is very fast and the pitching process is intuitive and user-friendly.

This review was conducted using a working prototype provided by Durston Gear founder Dan Durston. Our test sample is the closest working prototype to the version that is to be released. The only difference that currently exists between the tent reviewed here and the version that will be for sale is that our review sample used a slightly heavier version of Dyneema Composite Fabric (0.7 ounces/yd2, a.k.a. osy, instead of 0.5 osy) due to supply chain issues. This difference should not have any meaningful impact on this review, which didn’t involve field testing of this tent, since the design, set-up, and dimensions are identical.

Since this tent is not designed specifically for winter backpacking, and since backpacking in Montana in December and January involves winter conditions, I have not yet been able to test it on a backpacking trip. I was able to set it up, inspect its features, take a brief nap inside of it, and generally get a feel for its design and how it compares to other tents in this category.

This is a first look at new gear that recently entered our review pipeline, and hasn't yet been subjected to rigorous field use. Learn more about the types of product reviews we publish.
A tent is shown pitched on snow with another tent in the background.
The geometry of the X-Mid Pro 2 tent not only allows for an easy pitch, but is designed to shed wind as well. The height and tautness of the ridgleline can easily be adjusted and additional guy-out points can provide stability in exposed locations.

First Impressions

As with the popular X-Mid 1 and X-Mid 2, one of the most impressive attributes of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 is its unique geometric design that incorporates offset trekking pole placements. (Compare this to most shelters that incorporate two trekking poles, which use a direct-opposite placement of the poles.) In addition, the details that caught my attention include its ease of use, livability, and potential performance in inclement weather.

We recommend you read our Durston X-Mid 2 Review to familiarize yourself with some of the design features of X-Mid tents. That review will aid in your understanding of the X-Mid Pro 2 design. So we’ll just present some of those design highlights here and save the details for a future, more comprehensive review of the X-Mid Pro 2 when we can provide more insight into how the design features actually translate to performance in the field, in various conditions, and with extended use.

Shoes, a water bottle, and two small items are shown under a tent vestibule.
The vestibule of the X-Mid Pro 2 provides plenty of room for gear including a backpack.

The most obvious unique design features of the X-Mid Pro 2 include:

  • an intuitive (rectangular) pitch that requires only four stakes;
  • a spacious interior (a function of the offset poles and overall geometry);
  • integrated fly that extends further to ostensibly provide better coverage in storms than similar tents. The area covered by the fly of the X-Mid Pro 2 is 55.5 sq ft (5.1 sq m), compared to the Zpacks Duplex whose area covered by the fly is 48.6 sq ft (4.5 sq m).

The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Tent is designed to be pitched using two trekking poles. For hikers who don’t use trekking poles, or for bikepackers and packrafters, Durston Gear is developing a lightweight, folding pole kit that will be compatible with the X-Mid Pro 2 as well as other similar shelters.

Shoes, a water bottle, and two small items are shown under a tent vestibule.
The vestibule of the X-Mid Pro 2 provides plenty of room for gear including a backpack.

“The X-mid Pro 2 can offer more space and function for the weight because it uses genuinely more efficient geometry (e.g. fewer seams, less fabric for the volume, etc.) so we can put more weight into things that matter,” said Dan Durston.

What’s the difference between the Durston X-Mid 2 and the Durston X-Mid Pro 2?

Compared to the X-Mid 2, the X-Mid Pro 2’s footprint is smaller:

  • X-Mid Pro 2: 80 x 100 inches (203 x 254 cm)
  • X-Mid: 90 x 102 inches (229 x 259 cm)

This allows the X-Mid Pro 2 to more easily fit into tighter campsites. The headroom is almost identical between the two shelters. The floor width of the X-Mid Pro 2 is only 2 inches (5 cm) smaller than in the X-Mid 2. The most obvious difference between the two shelters is that the X-Mid 2 is a double-wall shelter and the X-Mid Pro 2 is a single-wall shelter.

A tent and background are pitched on top of snow with mountains in the background.
The X-Mid Pro 2 sets up quickly, has a small footprint, and doesn’t take up a tremendous amount of room in your pack. I can easily pack it into a low-volume pack like my Pa’lante V2.

Is the Durston X-Mid 2 Pro easy to pitch?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to test this tent in inclement conditions (our loaner period was very short). There were no swarms of biting insects to avoid, although the mesh would’ve handily kept them at bay. There were no earth-shaking thunderstorms to endure, but the DCF and waterproof zippers seemed well-prepared for such an event based on our experiences using this combination in other shelters from Tarptent, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and ZPacks. Perhaps the only aspect of its performance that I can comment on fairly in this particular review is its ease of setup.

Using only four stakes and two trekking poles, I was able to have this tent pitched in just a few minutes and without having to readjust anything. It almost seemed too good to be true. There was no fiddling with pole height, moving stakes around, or tensioning (and re-tensioning) guylines. These iterative steps are often required when pitching trekking pole tents. The zippers – both the waterproof fly zippers and the zippers for the body of the tent – operated smoothly.

A woman reads a map inside a tent.
With ample headroom and a spacious design, there’s plenty of elbow room in the X-Mid Pro 2. The mesh door and the fly door can be rolled up and stored out of the way.

In soils where staking is more difficult than in my yard, it would likely be a bit more challenging and perhaps require longer guylines or other adjustments to the pitch. However, given how straightforward the mechanics of erecting this tent are, it should go up without any issues even in rocky terrain.

A corner of a tent is shown with the guyline stretched tight.
The design of the guylines stabilizes the height of the bathtub floor. The mesh and fly are designed with downward sloping angles to allow condensation to drain to the bottom of the mesh and not land inside the tent.

The DCF used for the body of the tent has been used extensively in many other tents by other manufacturers and will last a while for users who care for their gear with intention. The most common failure point of DCF shelters is sewn seams; the seams on Durston X-mid Pro 2 are entirely bonded with no sewing. (You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of bonded vs. sewn seams in the Dyneema Composite Fabrics episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast.)

A tent vent is shown near a zipper.
Dual peak vents allow for condensation management and are designed to function in all but the most horrendous weather, such as sideways-driven rain (where drops could bounce up into the vent) or blowing spindrift (snow). In those cases, they can (and should!) be closed.

Why does the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 have a nylon floor?

A 15 denier nylon fabric was chosen for the floor with the idea that a footprint wouldn’t be necessary for most situations if reasonable precautions are taken with campsite selection. However, hikers using it in conditions where punctures would be more likely (such as rocky terrain or desert environments, with their plethora of spiky things) might want to bring a ground cloth in those specific conditions. The 15 denier floor is similar to the fabrics used in other lightweight tents, including many of those made by MSR and Big Agnes. Many hikers forego using footprints with those tents without experiencing any issues in normal use cases. When asked why the X-Mid Pro 2 uses a 15 denier floor instead of DCF, Dan cited the advantage in packability as one reason.

“We think a 15 denier woven floor is a better choice because it is a similar weight but far less bulk and debatably more abrasion resistant and waterproof in the long term,” said Dan. Using the 15 denier nylon fabric is also less costly than DCF. “Cost is another advantage, although the cost savings are largely offset by our more expensive hot bonding construction process,” said Dan. “We would have used 1.0 osy DCF if we genuinely thought it was better.” The choice to use 15 denier nylon over 1.0 osy DCF results in a less expensive shelter that packs smaller.

A tent and background are pitched on top of snow with mountains in the background.
When set up for solo use, the X-Mid Pro 2 provides luxurious livability.

Other similar shelters, such as the Tarptent Stratospire Li, use an offset pole design. One of the advantages of the X-Mid Pro 2 is that it has such a simple pitch in addition to the benefits of having an offset pole design.

When asked how this was achieved without resulting in other trade-offs in performance, Dan said The X-Mid uses a rectangular base to simplify the pitch (compared to a hexagonal tent) and combines that with two trekking poles (to improve headroom compared to a single pole pyramid). The classic challenge faced by other tents attempting this is locating the poles. Prior tents have positioned them around the perimeter which results in flat walls that catch the wind and mandatory guylines, or they have positioned them along the centerline where they interfere in the sleeping area and/or doorways. The X-Mid uses a new floorplan, where the poles are placed on a diagonal and then the sleeping area passes between them on the opposite diagonal. From the overhead view, these crossing diagonals form the “X” in the X-Mid name. From a functional perspective, they provide a good [larger] living space while avoiding all the common pitfalls (e.g., poles in the doorways, poles in the living area, mandatory guylines, flat walls).”

A tent and background are pitched on top of snow with mountains in the background.
It’s easy to achieve a tight pitch, even when only using four stakes. In the dozen or so times I set it up, I only ended up having to re-adjust about half those times, and those adjustments were very minor (i.e. tightening up one or two guidelines to the stakes a bit, or adjusting pole height, or both). Photo credit: Mark Wetherington

The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Compared To…

 weightMSRPwall design (single-wall vs. double-wall)floor dimensionsmaximum peak heightfloor materialcanopy material
Durston X-Mid Pro 220.4 ounces / 578 g$639single48 x 90 inches (122 x 229 cm)46 inches (117 cm)15 denier nylon0.5 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric
Zpacks Duplex19.0 ounces / 539 g$699single45 x 90 inches (122 x 229 cm)48 inches (122 cm)1 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric0.55 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric
Tarptent Stratospire Li27.5 ounces / 780 g$699double45 x 86 inches (114 x 218 cm)45 inches (115 cm)1 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric0.51 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric
Gossamer Gear The Two23.5 ounces / 666 g$375single42/48 x 84 inches (107/122 x 213)43 inches (109 cm)10 denier nylon ripstop10 denier nylon ripstop

On paper, the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 bests many tents in its category (two-person, two-door, side-entry, dual-vestibule trekking-pole shelters) on a number of metrics. It is either lighter, roomier, less expensive, and in certain cases, all of those things. But how a shelter looks in a table is only part of the equation – one which we are increasingly less inclined to emphasize as shelter builders shave ounces at the expense of other important factors. Craftsmanship, quality control, user-friendliness (ease of pitching), livability, stormworthiness, and aesthetics all come into play. These are the performance metrics we’ll be testing heavily as we continue putting this shelter through its paces in the coming year.

Two sleeping pads are shown inside a tent.
Two long (78 inches / 198 cm) sleeping pads fit well in the X-Mid Pro 2, although the fit will be tight if both of them are wide (25 inches / 64 cm), rectangular pads. There is plenty of room at the ends of the pads for extra layers, stuff sacks, or other items.

Final Thoughts

If I were in the market for a new two-person tent, or simply wanted a roomier tent for solo use, there is no other DCF tent on the market that I would consider right now. The combination of price, design, and materials leave little to be desired – based on my limited hands-on experience. Unless long-term use reveals as-of-yet unknown deficiencies it seems that this tent might be my go-to shelter for some time to come.

Editor’s Note: Look for our Performance Review of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 in late summer of 2022.

 

Photo Essay

a single wall shelter sits in a field with the sun coming over the horizon

a two-peaked shelter sits in a grassy field
A taut, elegant pitch is one of the most noteworthy features of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2.
the durston x-mid pro 2 with both doors open
To maximize living space, the parallelogram bathtub floor is set at an angle from the fly footprint. The fly is 80 x 100 inches (203 x 254 cm) and has an area of 44.4 square feet (5.15 sq m). The packed size of the shelter is roughly 12 x 6 inches (30 x 15 cm).
Magnetic door toggles allow for quick and intuitive storage of the door material when not in use. Tarptent is the only other major shelter-maker using this design.
a close up of the bonded peaks of the durston x-mid pro 2
DCF is difficult to work with. One reason is the fabric doesn’t close up around needle holes as more stretchy fabrics like silpolyester or silnylon do. Durston Gear compensates for this by hot bonding, instead of sewing, fabric panels together.
a close-up of the construction of the corner guyouts
Corner guyouts have an extra layer of fabric and are double bar-tacked into place.
a man's hand pulls out the corner of a shelter with a dog in the background
Sierra supervises pitching.
A close-up of the peak vent on the Durston X-mid pro 2
An advantage to dual-trekking-pole supported shelters is an opportunity for dual peak vents. The peak height of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 is 46 inches (117 cm).
a medium shot of the Durston x-mid pro 2 with one door and vestibule open
The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 features two doors and two vestibules. Individual vestibules are 11.6 square feet (2 sq m). That works out to 23 square feet (7 sq m) of total vestibule space.
a close-up of a trekking pole handle pushing up against the apex of the tent
Utilizing a tip-down design on the supporting trekking poles has the advantage of keeping the pole handles clean and dry when conditions are wet and muddy.
a close-up of the zipper on the durston x-mid pro 2
The inner mesh features a YKK #3 zipper.
a close-up of the zipper on the outer fly of the Durston x-mid pro 2
The outer fly utilizes a YKK #3 AquaGuard water-resistant zipper.

a close-up of the bathtub floor pull-out system

A close-up of the bathtub floor material of the Durston X-mid pro 2
Durston Gear paired the 055 oz Dyneema Composite Fabric fly with a 15D silnylon floor. The reason for this design choice, according to Dan Durston, is packability and longevity. Make sure you read the “Why does the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 have a nylon floor?” section of our review.
a medium shot of the Durston x-mid pro 2 showcasing the livability of the
The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 has a floor width of 48 inches (122 cm) and a floor-length of 90 inches (230 cm), giving it a total area of 30 square feet (2.8 sq m). It can handle two wide tapered pads.
a medium shot of a golden retriever sitting inside the durston x-mid pro 2 shelter
Or it can handle one wide pad and one wide dog.
a wide shot of the durston x-mid pro 2 review in a field
The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 has three obvious unique design features. 1) An intuitive rectangular pitch that only requires four stakes. 2) a spacious interior (a function of the offset poles and overall geometry). 3) An integrated fly that extends further from the bathtub floor than similar competing shelters. Read our full First Looks review (above) for more details.

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