Tarptent Dipole Li Review
Jun 15, 2022 at 5:00 pm #3752198Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to: Tarptent Dipole Li Review
The Tarptent Dipole 1 Li and 2 Li are rectangular DCF trekking pole tents with carbon end struts to boost interior volume and stability, and a four-stake footprint that eliminates the need for apex guyline tie-outs in mild weather.Jun 15, 2022 at 6:05 pm #3752208Diego GBPL Member
Thanks so much for the review. Looks like a very well thought, livable design. Very interesting discussion with Henry Shires on the impact of asymmetric vs symmetric designs on apex stability. Charts make perfect sense from a mechanics standpointJun 15, 2022 at 7:54 pm #3752260
A note on the apex stability/number of stakes for the X-Mid:
Without getting into a time consuming physics discussion, the X-Mid is stable with 4 stakes from a practical use standpoint and that is how most people use it (e.g. a quick glance at the #xmid hashtag on Instagram shows the majority of tents being used without peak guylines). This is true because the peaks are located within the perimeter of the fly and thus when the pole is extended the various vectors will sum to zero on the peak. The 4 stake pitch of the X-Mid is quickly demonstrated here where it is obviously stable and practically useable with 4 stakes. This is quite different from the High Route where the apex is along the perimeter so there are no vectors along one side and guylines are mandatory.
The X-Mid 1 has always has very little need for peak guylines (just in high winds or to compensate for a poor pitch) which is why many users never use them (e.g. my wife hiked the 1100km Great Divide Trail and never used them once). Conversely, the original X-Mid 2 did benefit more from peak guylines in moderate winds but not because of uneven tension at the peaks but rather because the side panels are a fair size and steep which gives a larger profile to the wind. When this is combined with the greater stretch of a woven fabrics and only shallow vectors to oppose this wind force, there can be a need for a peak guyline to anchor against the wind. This is quite similar to the Dipole which also has large, steep sidewalls and only shallow vectors to anchor the apex against this. Both tents are stable in mild conditions while peak guylines are recommended for both in high winds. Also, second generation of the X-Mid 2 reduces stretch in the canopy and takes peak guylines from something people might use 30% of the time down to maybe 10%.
The closer comparison to the Dipole though is the X-Mid Pro 2, which is also DCF. With the smaller size of the X-Mid Pro 2 combined with low stretch DCF fabric, the practical need for peak guylines is much less and near zero. The tent is so stable without peak guylines (even in pretty decent winds) that we envision >90% of users will never use them and we don’t include any on the tent (just a loop in case some users want to add some). So it’s not inaccurate to say that X-Mid’s are ‘always’ shown with peak guylines and they are needed for practical use.
All of this can get quite academic, but the practical takeaways are:
1) Both tents can form a stable structure with only 4 stakes but most users will use 6 so the vestibule side of the doorways can be anchored.
2) The main benefit of a 4 stake pitch is not that more stakes is particularly onerous to put it, but rather than tents with 4 main corners require less guesswork in the pitch. Both tents share this benefit.
3) With both tents, the peak guylines become increasingly important as wind starts hitting the sidewalls. I expect the Dipole’s need for such guylines is at least as great as the X-Mid Pro 2 because it is a larger tent with a larger profile to the wind.
Anyways, I hope that clears things up. It was quite a surprise to read the X-Mid always needs guylines and it’s not practical to use it without them, when we have thousands of people out there doing exactly that.Jun 15, 2022 at 9:20 pm #3752264
> the 4 stake pitch of the X-Mid is quickly demonstrated here where it is obviously stable and practically useable with 4 stakes.
But you show it with 5 stakes with the door open — you add one more stake right before you open the door.
> I expect the Dipole’s need for such guylines is at least as great as the X-Mid Pro 2 because it is a larger tent with a larger profile to the wind.
But it’s actually a smaller profile. The Dipole 2 Li is 82 x 94 and you list the X-Mid Pro 2 at 80 x 100. In addition, there is much more faceting on the Dipole 2 and the average panel size is smaller and therefore lower wind profile.Jun 15, 2022 at 9:38 pm #3752266
In that example there is an extra stake added to hold the door flap after it is up, but it’s not required and not a peak guyline as you are saying are needed. If you want to see a 100% pure 4 stake pitch, you can see it here. I do add a stake at the door later in the video to hold the door flap in place, but that’s the same as the Dipole where it’s not needed for stability and not a guyline.
There are examples of guyline free X-Mid’s everywhere. Why not focus on more meaningful differences between these tents, like the greater width of the Dipole? It looks super spacious and it’s great it works with two wide pads. It looks like a nice tent.Jun 15, 2022 at 9:53 pm #3752267Tim CheekBPL Member
As a long term Ultimid user, both of these tents, Dipole and X-Mid, are appealing. My question would not depend on the number of stakes required for a pitch in gentle conditions but how they compare to a pyramidal tent in high winds above-timberline?
In other words, would Ryan give up his favored pyramid for either one in those conditions?Jun 15, 2022 at 10:18 pm #3752269
Great offerings from great company(ies). Having a construction background meant being a builder of many things. I do appreciate innovative design(s) when applied to intended application(s). And yet the bar continues to be raised. Humble bows left and right. Just some thoughts. ~RLJun 16, 2022 at 1:22 am #3752271Rog TallblokeBPL Member
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Thank you Henry for designing a tent capable of accommodating 6′ 8″ hikers who don’t like sleeping with a facefull of fly fabric and damp feet.
Do you envisage offering this design in a woven fabric at a later date, or will it be DCF only?Jun 16, 2022 at 3:30 am #3752272
What Henry calls the “faceting” of the Dipole canopy (smaller size, triangular shape, and symmetrical placement of the panels) means that it should be very good at avoiding permanent deformation and stretching of the DCF fabric due to tensioning that plagues a lot of other DCF designs. This is likely to be a big plus for long term durability and aesthetics.
My friends in Taiwan, where humidity is very high, are pretty excited about the large end vents on the Dipole.
Bravo! This looks like a really awesome, mature design. I think early adopters can buy with confidence that they will be getting a tent that is already well-tweaked.
For most users it won’t be problem, but for those who camp in sites regularly exposed to high wind, I expect that the Dipole, like the X-Mids, will still be fairly noisy, albeit certainly able to withstand the brunt of the wind force. Edit: Are there stake out points on both sides at the bottom of the door zips for really windy conditions/potential zip failure? It’s hard to tell from the photos here and on TT’s site whether there is just one stake out point on one door panel or whether there aren’t two, one on each panel? Having a dual tie out option for each panel on the side door would put less stress on the DCF wouldn’t it and provide a backup in case of zipper failure (a problem I’ve had on other DCF tents due to permanent deformation).Jun 16, 2022 at 3:42 am #3752273
I’d heartily suggest having a look at an octagonal mid design for the conditions you describe. Wind resistance is far superior to a rectangular or square mid, let alone these dual pole designs. (Not that the rectangular/square mids are a slouch by any means but they do tend to get noisy in high winds).Jun 16, 2022 at 5:43 am #3752275Niko Z.Spectator
@niko-zLocale: SE Asia, Europe
Awesome design for taller folks. A lot of thought must have gone into determining the optimal strut height. The top Dyneema panels have an angle that becomes more shallow towards the ends due to the height of the struts. Water can flow down the sides as the roof panels narrow as they extend, and pooling is avoided, but I wonder what happens with snow? Is the tent designed to be a three-season shelter, or can it take a bit of snow? I suppose one could gently tap the roof from the inside on the spot close to the struts that may be susceptible to snow accumulation in case of suboptimal pitch. Or perhaps this is just not an issue in the field. It would be interesting to find out.Jun 16, 2022 at 7:16 am #3752277Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
Great preview. It seems like we’re in a time of significant innovation in the UL tent market, which is great to see.
Reading further, I’m a bit concerned by the amount of tension required when doing a 4 stake pitch. In the article you discussed needing to use 8″ stakes in loose soil. In some areas, I’ve been forced to pitch my tent (a TarpTent Stratospire 2) at least partially on decomposed granite where I was required to anchor corners or guy lines with large rocks rather than drive stakes into the soil. My concern is how viable will it be to use rocks (and extra cordage) with such a high tension? Does adding the 4 additional stakes lessen the required tension at the 4 corners?
I use 8 stakes on the SS2: 4 for the corners, 2 for the vestibules, and 2 for the peak guy lines.
I’m not sure TarpTent can patent the ability to stand with 4 stakes. Durston did it first (yes, I read Henry’s comments). Regardless, for me it’s quibbling over a bullet point on marketing material as I will almost always carry the extra stakes for storm worthy protection. That being said, I think the 10 or 12 stakes required to make a Duplex storm worthy is too much, and this combined with the steeply sloping sides has ruled out me ever purchasing a Duplex. (I still own one of the original TT Hexamid Twins, but it mostly takes up space in my closet now.)Jun 16, 2022 at 7:50 am #3752279
> Do you envisage offering this design in a woven fabric at a later date, or will it be DCF only?
We’re not none with this design by any means.
-HJun 16, 2022 at 7:54 am #3752280Rog TallblokeBPL Member
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
Good to hear. Thanks Henry.Jun 16, 2022 at 7:55 am #3752281
> I’m not sure TarpTent can patent the ability to stand with 4 stakes. Durston did it first (yes, I read Henry’s comments).
The patent is for the overall geometry which includes the symmetrical tension lines (for 4-stake stability) and the end strut system for volume enhancement and faceting. As I understand it, the X-Mid patent has to do with relative positioning of interior to fly geometry and not for the fly geometry (which is actually just a widened SD High Route design sufficient to angle an interior).Jun 16, 2022 at 7:59 am #3752282
>Are there stake out points on both sides at the bottom of the door zips for really windy conditions/potential zip failure?
Yes.Jun 16, 2022 at 8:58 am #3752288
“[The X-Mid Design] is actually just a widened SD High Route design sufficient to angle an interior.”
Please cease with the misinformation about the X-Mid. It is not just a widened High Route to rotate the inner. There are other core differences such as in the relative peak position (along the edge versus internal) which give further differences in stability, panel slopes, stake and guyline requirements etc in addition to the differences in the floorplan.Jun 16, 2022 at 9:51 am #3752295Scott HBPL Member
I like where these designs are going. I have owned several small tents, the REI Flash Air 2, a Marmot tent albeit 3 person and the Tarptent aeon LI. I am finding that the aeon is on the extreme for me personally as the area on the ends is very minimal for head and foot space when you use an inflatable 3 in ch pad as I do. Both of these are very good options for what I will do next as after my coming trip I will sell my aeon and make a switch to one of these. I am really impressed with both companies and very thoughtful designs.Jun 16, 2022 at 2:57 pm #3752310
Whelp, there ya go. Design an Aeon with dipole end struts and yur all inJun 16, 2022 at 9:25 pm #3752322Darryl CBPL Member
My first backpacking trip was in 1971 and since then I have gone without a tent most of the time. With the kids finishing college I have purchased 6 tents over the past few years. One of these tents was the original Drop Xmid p2. I’ve used it on the Wonderland trail and Trans Catalina Trail as well as a few short excursions in the Cascades – once when it snowed. Only once did I feel the need to use a ridge guy line. That was a very windy night on the beach anchored in sand. Thus I was quite surprised to read so much about the Xmid’s need to use apex guy lines for stability. So surprised that I felt a bit uneasy while reading the review.Jun 16, 2022 at 11:59 pm #3752326Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Everyone has different tolerances for what constitutes “mild”, “moderate”, and “heavy” winds. My tolerance is pretty low when it comes to ultralight shelter stability. Having spent the majority of my wilderness camping nights during the spring and fall in the Northern Rockies of CO, WY, and MT, wind is a norm rather than an exception. After reviewing what we wrote and how we presented the review, I totally understand why @dscramer (Darryl C) is confused. As reviewers, whether for BPL or for any other place online, we need to qualify our claims. I hope to clarify this a bit in the rest of this post.
Here’s my experience with both the Tarptent Dipole 1 & 2 Li:
I generally consider “mild” wind to be steady wind less than 10 mph and gusts less than 15 mph. In this case, the Dipole 1 Li, Dipole 2 Li, and the Durston X-Mid Pro do “OK” (not awesome) without apex guylines. All three tents are pretty wobbly and noisy when it gusts to 15 mph. The Dipole fares *marginally* better than the X-Mid in this case, in terms of noise and the perception of deflection. No data here though, so take this claim with a grain of salt.
In what I identify as “moderate” wind, which I consider to be steady wind of 10-20 mph and gusts up to 30 mph, both tents *absolutely* need the apex guylines. As with every other 2-trekking pole tent I’ve used, accessory guylines at these wind speeds are essential. In this condition, if *just* the apex guylines are pitched, and *just* the four corner stakes, the Dipole is “a bit” more stable than the X-Mid Pro (again, in terms of noise and perceived deflection).
In *heavy* wind (steady 20+ mph and gusts to 40+ mph) – I only have ONE data point for each of these tents. On the X-Mid Pro, I staked the four corners, the 2 apexes, and the vestibule zipper (which was a different stake-out point than the apex). On the Dipole 1 and 2, I staked the four corners, the apex and vestibules (same stake), and the end struts. The Dipole 1 was the most stable (kind of obvious, it has the smallest fabric area here). The Dipole 2 was less noisy and had less apparent deflection than the X-Mid Pro, but the differences aren’t going to be noticed, and users probably won’t care if:
They purchased one over the other and don’t have side-by-side experience with both.
Again, I want to reiterate that both of these are great tents. Either one will serve you well in any condition appropriate for a trekking pole tent – which is *not* extreme winds or severe storms. Look elsewhere if you need shelter for those conditions!Jun 17, 2022 at 2:02 am #3752327
Ryan’s comments are very helpful. Especially the definition of windspeed. This has been one of my gripes about previous reviews on BPL, especially of the X-Mids. So it’s very helpful to have numbers.
I’ve always considered 35 – 40+ mph as the lower end of the category of heavy winds. In Ryan’s terminology, winds above 40 mph would be considered extreme. Personally, I leave that term for winds above 60 – 70 mph, the point when most lightweight tents start to fail catastrophically.
Ryan’s comment about the conditions appropriate for a trekking pole tent is generally true, but there is an exception. Probably because it is an exception to the rule, it is predictably underrepresented (basically non-existent) on the market and not generally recognized as such. My own early experience suggests that a trekking pole supported small octagonal mid has best in class wind resistance and punches way above its weight, palpably superior to a rectangular mid like the Khufu or the Duomid. Since I now have three of these small octagonal mids (one in DCF, one in 30D silpoly, and one in 10D Korean silnylon), I hope to gradually collect data, with the use of a wind meter, to support my hypothesis/assertion.
As for the comparison between the Dipole 2 and the X-Mid Pro / X-Mid 2, seeing as how both designs are not intended for heavy winds but are rather intended as comfortable allrounders with good weather resistance, useability, livability, and weight, the choice between them really comes down to comfort, which is ultimately subjective and to be defined in multiple ways. Personally, I’d give the edge on paper to the Dipole. The symmetrical design is just so much nicer for a couple, the interior floor space accommodates two wide pads and then some, the ventilation looks very effective, the views out of the tent when both panels on both doors are rolled completely away will be great, etc.
There have been many debates between Henry and Dan over the past few years. The best response to a competitor’s product is to come up with your own design that trumps the other.Jun 17, 2022 at 8:01 pm #3752660Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I came back to BPL to see what was up with the Dipole…I’m in the market for a double-dog shelter (yep…TWO adventure pups!) and am struggling with my decision.
I for one, having not been seriously backpacking in a few years, am super excited to see all this healthy competition! Henry and Dan both make amazing shelters, and frustratingly you guys are really just making my decision so. much. harder.Jun 17, 2022 at 8:18 pm #3752674
One for you. One for the dogs. easy peasy.Jun 18, 2022 at 6:35 am #3752693StumphgesBPL Member
Ryan, thanks for taking the time to put together your post on the behavior of tents in the wind. This is difficult information to come by, and your posts over the years (e.g. this one) have been some of the only information available to help predict how various tents might fare in high winds.
For comparative purposes, how do the DR Li, Khufu DCF and Duplex do in mild, moderate and heavy winds?
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