Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Review
Jan 21, 2022 at 9:00 am #3737559Mark WetheringtonBPL Member
@markwethLocale: Western MontanaJan 21, 2022 at 1:20 pm #3737581Ben KilbourneBPL Member
Mark, you have the Neoair Allseason too? great pad
tent looks excellent tooJan 21, 2022 at 5:15 pm #3737599Lange JorstadBPL Member
Two observations and a tent pitching question:
Unless I’m having a brain fart, don’t the dimensions above indicate that the X-mid Pro 2 footprint is a little larger than X-mid pro, in both length and width?
Also, minor error in the specs comparison table: the floor width of the Duplex is reported as 45 inches (122 cm); 45 inches is ~114 cm.
Finally, and I appreciate this was alluded to in the review but wasn’t tested, is there anything about the geometry/design of the guyout points of the X-mid Pro 2 that would make it difficult to pitch this tent by tying off to rocks? (or at least, more difficult than a Duplex?).Jan 21, 2022 at 8:33 pm #3737619Brad RBPL Member
The specs are reversed in the review. From the Durston website, the X-Mid Pro 2 is 80″ x 100″ and the X-Mid 2 is actually 88″ x 102″. I have the X-Mid 2 and have had no issues with different types of tie-offs. I installed longer lines on the corners for versatility. You can also use the peak guy-outs to help take tension off of the corners if necessary.Jan 22, 2022 at 7:02 am #3737629
The description on Durston Gear explains:
Optional peak and side panel guyouts plus six additional stake points around the base can be used for harsh conditions
My question is, what is the total stake count? 14? (4 corner stake outs, six additional perimeter stake outs, plus four more for the two side panels and two apex guyouts).
Interesting to compare the X-Mid Pro 2’s 14 tieouts to the 16 of monopole mid designs like the LG Khufu and the MLD Duomid. The TT SS Li only has 6. In an ideal world there would be a protocol for testing wind resistance of mobile shelters.Jan 22, 2022 at 9:55 am #3737642
Sorry that description on my site is wrong. Fixing now. There are actually 16 possible stakes, not 14:
– 4 corners (essential)
– 4 midpoints of each side (optional)
– 4 stakes at doorways (2 doorways x 2 stakes ea)
– 2 side panel guyouts
– 2 peak guyouts
You wouldn’t really use 2 stakes at both doorways since you couldn’t really get in and out, so you’d probably never have 16, but you could put 2 stakes at the door on the windward side because there is a loop on both sides of the zipper.Jan 23, 2022 at 3:27 am #3737778
The X-Mid Pro 2 has 16, not 14, stake points. Good to know.
Would one never use all 16? Often where I camp, there is no clear single windward side. Doors with zips (esp #3 zips) might need stake points at both sides of the doors to prevent the zip from getting stressed. So maybe some users in some conditions would use all 16.
12 of the 16 stake points lie along the perimeter. Going back to our discussion about DCF deformation, I wonder how using all or most of the perimeter stakes would subtly stretch the DCF along the hemlines over time?Jan 23, 2022 at 12:39 pm #3737809Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Excellent well illustrated, detailed review. Thanks.
The only other 2P Dyneema tent I see as a close competitor is the Tarptent Stratospire. I really like the higher floor walls of the Durston X-Mid 2 P tent and the fact that it has a silnylon floor is to its advantage. I’ve already had a few tiny punctures in the Dyneema floor of my Tarptent Notch Li. I should have ordered the silnylon floor.
I think this tent, in either Dyneema or sinlylon, will sell very well. Smart design.Jan 23, 2022 at 12:43 pm #3737810Mark WetheringtonBPL Member
@markwethLocale: Western Montana
My apologies for getting the specs for the X Mid 2 and X Mid Pro flipped around — glad the context was able to make it clear which is which, but I still really regret the error. Sorry about that, I will work with BPL to get that updated ASAP.
Ben, yep that is a NeoAir All Season and is one of my favorite pads! I saw you had this pad in your Gear Picks for this year and meant to say something about it then. I’ve had mine for 10 years now, probably 200 nights on it, and never had any punctures or other issues. It’s one of the best pads I’ve owned and is so comfortable — I pretty much just use it in winter the past few years, and it gives me something to look forward to when winter camping and having 12+ hours in the tent . Along with my 2006 Honda Element, this is perhaps the other big piece of gear I’m dreading having to replace when it finally wears out : )Jan 23, 2022 at 2:52 pm #3737824Bruce KolkebeckBPL Member
@cjcanoeLocale: Uhwarrie National Forest
Where is this product made?Jan 23, 2022 at 4:28 pm #3737845
Bruce: There is really only one tent factory in the world that is excellent with DCF and they are in China. They worked with DSM (makers of DCF) on the best bonding process, and now basically every good DCF tent comes from them. We use them and also Locus Gear, Samaya, TarpTent, Big Agnes and some others. Any other place you’d get a DCF tent built would use cold tape or sewing, which aren’t nearly as good.
So it is in China but nothing to do with cutting costs. It would be a lot cheaper to get someone else to do it, but we wanted the highest quality and only this factory can do it.Jan 24, 2022 at 8:55 am #3737893William NBPL Member
I defer to you to all things TENT. However, feel free to contact me about all things Internet. I have a son who established a presence on the Internet, about 30 or so years ago. And, yes, I am referencing your much anticipated X-Mid Pro 2 Pre-Sale. He, too, during those early days, was overwhelmed, at times. But not anymore. On the upside, it is nice to know that your Pre-Sale has been so heavily subscribed. Downside? We all love you a little less.Jan 24, 2022 at 9:43 am #3737908ThomBPL Member
@popcornmanLocale: N NY
When listing the weight 4 tent stakes is listed. You would really only bring 4 tent stakes ? It can handle storms with 4 ? What is a safe number ? Hexamid I bring 8.
thomJan 24, 2022 at 12:10 pm #3737929
You would need 6, at a minimum. 4 for the corners, 2 for the apex guylines.
I think you’d also want at a minimum the 2 mid panel guyouts. So 8, really.
Considering how Dan was previously very skeptical about #3 zippers (on his review of the Locus Gear Khufu), I’m surprised to see them appearing now on the X-Mid Pro 2. Maybe you’d want to carry a stake for each door just to take some of the load off of the zipper. Zippers are one of the places where DCF deformation occurs fastest. Or at least 1 more stake for the windward door (how strong is your confidence that the wind at altitude will only blow in one direction?)
So, 9 or 10.
Of course it depends what “storm” and “handle” mean and where the tent is pitched/used. “Handle” is especially subjective. (Man, I keep wishing that there were a widely accepted testing protocol for wind resistance of lightweight shelters).
There are still 6 more stakeout points that could be used.
I wasn’t too impressed by the storm resistance of the original X-Mid design (used on exposed sites at altitude), but the design has been considerably improved in that department since then with the addition of a lot more perimeter stake / guyline points. Based on my experience with the original, I can see how the X-Mid could use them.Jan 24, 2022 at 3:08 pm #3737985Rex SandersBPL Member
For what it’s worth, the standard for “minimum tent weight”, perverted into “trail weight” by certain large retailers, excludes stakes for good reasons.
So including four tent stakes could be seen as better than zero. At least the durstongear.com web site lists the weight of each item, so you can add up your own “trail weight”, which should change depending on the trip and conditions.
More from someone on that standards committee:
— RexJan 24, 2022 at 7:46 pm #3738027
William: Yes we have some work to do on the internet side of things. We’ll dig into a better system in the weeks ahead.
Jon: The apex guylines are only used perhaps 10-20% of the time of the regular tents, and then the very strong/low stretch DCF makes them noticeably less necessary on the Pro. If you push on one peak, it’s quite a bit harder to move than the woven tents. We’re still including the guyout on the Pro but we’re no longer including the cord because we think >95% of people won’t use them.
So the tent is fully erect and reasonably solid with just 4 stakes, but users will commonly add stakes at the doorways so the small side doesn’t flap when the door is opened. So it is 4 stake minimum but I expect 6 will be the most common setup, and then it can take up to 16 total for added reinforcement. The regular X-Mid’s are also substantially improved over time with extra stake points (most noticeably the new side panel guyouts) and revisions to the cut of the fly that makes it quite a bit easier to get tight walls (e.g. added cat cuts).
Regarding #3 zippers – I have and do prefer #5 zippers but I wouldn’t say I’ve been ‘very skeptical’ of #3. To paraphrase my old Locus Gear review, it essentially says that ‘weight geeks will like #3 but I prefer #5 for long term durability”. My critique there should be seen in the context of what that shelter was (e.g. it’s using 30D fabrics, where I think #3 is a mis-match with those fabrics and the perceived aim of that tent as an all-purpose shelter). I still feel that #5 makes the most sense for a do-it-all tent, but virtually all seriously light tents use #3 and even a lot of do-it-all tents (e.g. Big Agnes, MSR). Tarptent uses a lot of #5 but do use #3 on their lighter models. I agree with that approach – #3 zippers are reasonable trade off when the goal is to make a superlight tent. We do provide the ability to stake both sides which can reinforce them, and the sliders are really what wears out and here they are easily swapped. Ultimately they do have lower limits, but it does save a lot of weight so we think it’s an appropriate trade off for the Pro given the goal of the tent as more bleeding edge ultralight.Jan 25, 2022 at 9:00 am #3738070JCHBPL Member
I see that (Lawson’s?) reflective Ironwire is available on DurstonGear. Realizing that the X-Mid Pro 2 only comes with the 4 corner guylines, what guy material/size are they?Jan 25, 2022 at 9:09 am #3738072
Saying 95% of people won’t use apex guylines isn’t the same thing as saying that apex guylines are unnecessary.
A “superlight tent” marketed as being not “cramped, delicate and/or lacking weather protection” while offering “unprecedented stormworthyness” is vying for consideration as an “all-purpose shelter” just as much and probably more than an unoriginal rectangular mid from LG. Maybe #3 zips are just a good trade-off for any tent. Or maybe #5 zippers are a more responsible choice for a number of reasons but don’t sell as well in today’s market where consumers look at numbers and product image above all else.
These are really interesting questions. Alas, I am forced to conclude that we should be having this conversation when marketing/purchasing a new product isn’t the main context. Good luck with the sales, Dan. Enjoy your new purchase, everybody!Jan 25, 2022 at 11:19 am #3738096
My takeaway in the end is that this review basically represents the UL equivalent of the myth of the free-standing tent, lol.Jan 25, 2022 at 6:26 pm #3738120
The stock cord is all 2.5mm normal reflective cord. The Lawson cord is something we sell separately as a premium accessory because it’s expensive and overkill for most. Where it shines is under snow loads where the sheer weight of the snow stretches out regular cord while this prevents that stretch/deflection.
When people talk about stakes requirements they can be concerned about a lot of different things. Some are concerned about ease of pitching, others about weight, and others about stormworthyness. For someone concerned about ease of pitching, a shelter that pitches with 4 stakes and then they can add 4 more later to beef it up, is much more attractive than a shelter that collapses until it has all 8. Whereas to someone worried about weight it could all be the same.
What stakes are ‘required’ depends on some definitions (e.g. required to get it standing? fully erected? required to beef it up for the worst weather)? The most common definition of the minimum number of stakes is almost always taken to mean whatever # of stakes is needed to fully establish the shape of the tent. Thus, we say that 4 stakes are the minimum because the shelter is fully erected with 4 stakes. Virtually all gear companies use this definition, so we use it as well as it provides a simple way to compare for people that don’t want to dive into the fully detailed weight breakdown (which we also provide). We aren’t trying to be sneaky or salesy here – it’s just the common definition.
Of course with any tent there will be weather circumstances where a greater number of stakes are appropriate. Thus, certainly there are circumstances where 9 or 10 stakes are appropriate, but I wouldn’t say they are the minimum because that is now how the term is commonly used.
Zippers & All Purpose Shelters
A lot of this comes down to the priorities of the user and what trade offs they want to make. Two shelters can both be all purpose shelters but make different design choices because they are aimed at different types of users. For someone very concerned about weight, the ideal all purpose shelter could be a small/delicate/feature stripped tent because to them those trade offs are worth it. Whereas to someone less concerned about weight the ideal all purpose shelter would be something more spacious, durable and functional. So yes all of my tents could be said to be all purpose tents but they make different trade offs because they are aimed at different types of users.
The regular X-Mid tents are aimed at light to ultralight hikers that want to go as light as they can while still having a high level of space/durability/function. Then the Pro version is aimed at a different mindset of hikers who are willing to give up a bit more for weight savings. These things are a trade off so you can’t have both (e.g. the lightest tent will never be the most durable). I don’t think there is one right answer for a do-it-all tent – it all depends on what trade offs people want to make. For a lot of hikers I think #5’s are the ideal tradeoff but for the type of ultralight hiker willing to shell out hundreds extra for DCF I think #3 are probably the good trade off for them since they have lower limits and require a bit more thought during use, but the payoff is nice weight savings.
With all of this, I emphasize the importance of making trade offs consistently to achieve a coherent end product (see my philosophy page for more on this). #3 zippers can make sense when you’re also using light fabrics, weight efficient design etc, but they don’t make sense on an otherwise beefy tent.Jan 26, 2022 at 3:40 am #3738142
Coherence is a beautiful idea in the designer’s head but the absence of publicly accessible data for component materials across the board makes it highly impressionistic, at best.
For example, to evaluate coherency claims for the X-Mid Pro, we would need to know the respective durability periods for each of the component materials and their specific applications. Rather than going through the whole list, I’ll just focus on a few key items. Minimally, we would need to know the estimated durability period for: 15D silnylon when used as a floor, #3 zippers when used on DCF with or without stakes, and finally the bug mesh used on the inside when bonded to DCF and silnylon (note: neither Durston Gear nor the BPL review gives any specific information about the type of mesh used for this application. The product page on DG doesn’t even list mesh among the materials used).
It might also be cool to know — or at least raise the question of knowing — how stake use potentially accelerates deformation of the DCF. Of particular concern on the X-Mid 2 Pro would be to know — or at least raise the question of knowing — how use of the secondary midpoint stake points along the perimeter baseline creates triangles in the panels along the bias that accelerate permanent structural deformation — stretching — over time.
Knowing these things, we could then evaluate claims for design coherency based on durability. If we had additional data on the durability range of #5 zippers we could then compare that with the estimated service life of the other key components. Perhaps we would discover that while there is a difference between #3 and #5 zips, either choice could provide values high enough for a multiplicity of designs. Or not.
Anecdotally speaking, we do know some things. Ron Bell estimates the service life of DCF CT2E.08 at 200 days vs 400 days for 20D silnylon. It seems reasonable to assume that the service life of DCF CT1E.08 (used in the X-Mid 2 Pro) is even shorter. He also questions the durability of DCF that is bonded but not additionally taped to limit inevitable stretching.
For their part, LG have been using #3 zippers for almost a decade. They must have a pretty good idea of the number of zipper failures and, hence, their ratio of occurrence, by now. Additionally, they must be in a position to confirm or modify common knowledge about the conditions that usually precipitate zipper failure (such as sand and user error). They might even be able to know whether zipper failure is more common on DCF models than on models made with silnylon. Although we don’t have access to this information, we do know that LG hasn’t over the years changed the zipper they use on any of the various Khufu models, a fact from which we could safely infer that #3 zipper failure just hasn’t been an issue — at least from a commercial point of view where the manufacturer balances reputational costs against customer service costs. Having said that, we should note that MLD has moved over the years in the other direction, going from using a #5 zipper to using a #8 zipper now on their mids.
It’s just surprising to me that BPL would publish a review, on the eve of a feeding frenzy, that doesn’t raise in sober fashion any of these questions, doesn’t call for eventually one day evaluating various manufacturer’s claims based on data, and doesn’t even call attention to key information missing from the manufacturer’s product page (e.g. type of mesh used, number of stake points provided [that information was corrected on the manufacturer’s product page after BPL’s review was published in response to a question I posed here]).Jan 26, 2022 at 8:46 am #3738155
Certainly coherence is complicated and not something that is simple to implement. That’s why I present it as a philosophical design goal. As I went into on my last post, it depends heavily on the intended use. LG and MLD may use different zippers not because they see different things in the data but rather because their shelters are aimed at different use cases.
Regarding the review, please note this is simply a ‘First Look’ review and not a full ‘Performance Review’. Perhaps that could have been stated more clearly. For years BPL has done both types, where a First Look review is just some quick first impressions after taking a bit of a look, so it wouldn’t normally go into the type of questions you raise. If BPL does a full performance review it would dive more into that.
Also please note these seams are both bonded and additionally taped. We explain this in the FAQ on our product page. I agree with Ron this is important and have been a big advocate for this in the forums. I agree less that the service life of 0.7oz DCF is meaningfully longer but that is a long discussion.Jan 26, 2022 at 9:21 am #3738159Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
Zippers – I had 3 of the 4 sliders on my TarpTent Stratospire 2 bugnet inner fail after just a single week-long trip to Death Valley in January 2020. I tried babying them along for another year by cleaning the coils with the GearAid zipper cleaner/lubricant stuff and pinching the sliders back together, but they were never 100%. I wound up replacing the sliders last summer.
I now find #3 zippers annoying, like they’re a ticking time bomb. How much weight is actually saved between a #3 and a #5 compared to all the other material considerations that go into a lightweight/UL tent?Jan 26, 2022 at 9:35 am #3738161
A big part of zippers wearing out is corners. There’s way more wear on a slider as it goes around a corner, versus on a straight run. The X-Mid Pro fly should fair quite a bit better since the zipper does not have corners, and it is a fairly short run (again less wear), and it is easy to swap the sliders since they can be released at the bottom edge. But of course the inner zippers are still #3 with corners similar to your Stratospire. Most light tents are #3 on the fly and near 100% #3 on tent inners because there tends to be less stress yet a lot of zipper on an inner so it is a substantial weight difference (about 2oz on an inner). For some use cases #5 or #8 could be better (deserts are very hard on zippers), but for most people it seems like #3 is preferred trade off and then maybe the sliders do need to be replaced eventually.Jan 26, 2022 at 9:55 am #3738165JCHBPL Member
Everything in life is a tradeoff…but then again…
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