Podcast Episode June 10, 2022

Episode 62 | Dan Durston Talks X-mids and More

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In this episode, Andrew chats with gear designer and biologist Dan Durston. Dan is an accomplished backpacker and longtime Backpacking Light member. He went from gear enthusiast to gear tester to successful gear designer and small-business owner in a remarkably short time. His most recent shelter, the X-Mid Pro 2 (see our Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Review), is one of the buzziest ultralight shelters to hit the market in quite a while. All this despite the fact that Dan doesn’t have a background in engineering or design.

In this wide-ranging interview, Andrew and Dan talk about design philosophy, the difference between designing for shelters and packs, his journey from tester to designer, upcoming projects from Durston Gear, and more.


  • 0:00:34 – new public vs. members only podcast format
  • 0:01:38 – introduction; Who is Dan Durston?
  • 0:02:44 – the story behind Durston Gear, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and a minimalist philosophy to tent design
  • 0:06:54 – the process of bringing the first X-mid from design to production
  • 0:11:47 – What makes an X-mid an X-mid?
  • 0:12:56 – first principles design philosophy
  • 0:14:56 – using polyester in a shelter design
  • 0:16:56 – Dan’s shelter hierarchy of needs
  • 0:21:00 – weight savings vs. usability
  • 0:22:42 – talking backpacks with Dan
  • 0:27:38 – Ultra fabric

— Members Only Begins here —

  • 0:30:18 – the X-Mid Pro Series
  • 0:35:42 – What is coming soon for Dan and his designs?
  • 0:41:42 – How do your personal philosophies inform your design philosophy?
  • 0:44:44 – company values and vision
  • 0:50:01 – wearing multiple hats in the field
  • 0:51:50 – podcast wrap up


  • Check out the articles Dan Durston has written at BPL here.
  • Johnathan Davis interviews Dan Durston as part of the Faces series in 2015.
  • Mark Wetherington recently wrote an article analyzing the Supply Chain economics of being a cottage manufacturer which includes discussion with Dan.
  • Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Review
  • Curious to learn more about Dan’s thoughts on design, standards, and testing? Check out Rex Sander’s Standards Watch article written after a chat with Dan!
  • To peruse Durston Gear’s tents, backpack’s and more, check out their website!

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(Updated April 9, 2024)

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Home Forums Episode 62 | Dan Durston Talks X-mids and More

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Author
  • #3751657
    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: Episode 62 | Dan Durston Talks X-mids and More

    Andrew has a wide-ranging interview with gear designer Dan Durston about X-mids, shelter and pack design, and more.

    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians


    BPL Member


    “why has nobody done this?”

    my thoughts too when i first saw his tent.

    Brian K
    BPL Member




    Some of the BPL podcasts are produced at a very low volume level – much quieter than others.  The latest Durston interview is one such podcast.  I like to listen to these in the car on road trips.  When they are recorded at such low volume level it is impossible to hear what is said over road noise.  I have everything maxed out and still can’t hear it.  It is not this way with every episode, just some.


    Can you make it a point to double check the signal level and adjust the gain in the future before publishing?





    Iago Vazquez
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boston & Galicia, Spain

    Some of the BPL podcasts are produced at a very low volume level – much quieter than others

    I actually have this very problem with practically every episode.

    Todd T
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Ditto.  I started listening to the subject podcast, but quit because it was so much effort to hear what was being said.  And that was at home on a desktop computer.  At least in this case, it was only Mr. Durston’s audio that was so low.

    Todd G
    BPL Member


    I also have been meaning to write about this. One suggestion I would have and apologies if y’all are already aware of this and there’s a reason already but if you haven’t tried audio compression in your finalizing it is a way to expand quiet elements and contract loud elements for a more consistent audio output. I love the podcast and it is super well done. I appreciate the work you all do!

    Gert Jan Pieterse
    BPL Member


    Great interview, as far as I can listen to it ;)

    Is there a way for me as a ‘normal member’ to listen to the 2nd part of the interview, or is it video-only and unlimited-members only part?

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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