Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD), Duomid Review

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What’s there to say about the MLD Duomid, except, I’m impessed.

The Duomid has the best of many worlds with few compromises.

With so many tents on the market, like many folks, i started on the low end, and over the years, worked my way up.  One of the biggest problems apart from weight has always been, for me at least, that most tents have barely usable vestibules. It’s one of three major focal points i thought about as I worked my way through several tents:

– Lowering Weight/bulk
– Ensuring durability
– A large vestibule

The closer you want to get to having these three in a single tent, the more you have to spend.

Sadly, these goals aren’t all achieved equally as the price goes up. Spend more, and get lighter, but lose the vestibule, or lose durability (often both). Get a bigger vestibule, and gain weight. Go for durability ( including 4 season usability), and weight goes up quickly again.

After going through several, I had all but given up on getting all three criteria met to the level I wanted.

And then I found pyramid or mid tents, and almost immediately dreamed of owning one.

The problem was cost, as it was a major commitment, so i mulled it over for a few years. Unless you’re wealthy, throwing down several hundred dollars total for a mid tent puts a pretty big dent in most wallets. After doing a fair bit of research, I settled on the Mountain Laurel Designs, Duomd, and solo innernet.

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The pyramid tent is sold like a tarp. There’s no innernet bundled with it, but there are a few versions available, sold separately. Some folks might opt for no innernet and just get a separate bivvy or maybe use nothing at all. If you’re like me, you’re going to add that innernet, which by itself can cost as much as some complete tents.

Is the combined tent and innernet worth the price? It depends. It’s really a personal decision comparing disposable income vs. tent feature value (which in turn is partially related to physical fitness and the desire to shave weight, camping scenarios, environments, and backpacking frequency). That decision is there for everything in camping gear, of course, but the sheer scale of the price for cuben fiber gear makes this a tougher call. And then there’s the wait, which is several weeks as they start making the tent when you order it. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear cuben fiber tent ships next day, and is just a teeny bit larger, but also heavier mid tents compared to the corresponding MLD versions.

For me though, it was the next progression, and you know, I couldn’t be happier.

In terms of bulk, it’s about the size of an ultralight 30 degree sleeping bag, and in terms of weight, it’s 12 oz for the tent, plus, 7.5 oz for the solo innernet. You can opt to add a bug net skirt (which I did, and that adds about 4 oz to the mid, totaling 16), and if you use spectra lines or sturgeon fishing line for your guy lines, you have some nice ultralight lines to use as well. The only other weight factor is the central pole. If you use hiking poles, you’re pretty set. But if you don’t, pick up a carbon fiber pole from zpacks at 54″ (56 or 58 if you want to consistently get more space between the bottom ridge and the the ground). So the tent with skirt, guy lines, innernet and carrying sack comes to about 27 oz (actual weight, not listed weight) 1 lb 11 oz. Get ultralight stakes and the carbon fiber pole, and you’re up to about 2 lb, 6 oz. Add an ultralight footprint and you’re probably up another couple of ounces, but I use that whopping 12 oz mylar blanket mentioned earlier, as a footprint, so I’m at about 3 lb 2 oz.

It doesn’t sound like a big drop, but that 12 oz footprint is what I use for all my tents, so that still translates to a big weight savings for me.

The gains in that lighter weight, also come with gains in ridiculous levels of durability. This tent did very well staked with rocks in strong valley winds, and as long as you’re careful with abrasions, you can bet the tent will last for years.

The biggest advantage of all? The very large vestibule with a massive usable area. And this is really key. What this means is that for the first time in an ultralight backpacking tent, it can be raining, and I can get into the tent out of the rain with my rain gear on, take off my rain gear in the vestibule, leave it in the vestibule area, without getting the innernet wet. It also means getting out of the wind in a dusty environment, and keeping the worst of the dust in the vestibule while taking off shoes, jacket and pants, before getting into the innernet. It means keeping mud in the vestibule, away from the innernet. It even means using a super efficient LPG stove (like a JetBoil), for a quick water boiling, while in the vestibule, all the while keeping the innernet protected.

Other small notes:
– There is a vent near the top with a curved rigid bar to create a crescent shaped vent. It’s good to be mindful of that when folding up the tent. It works well.
– There are attachment points to connect an innernet to the top of the mid, with additional loops or hooks to suspend the half height points, creating more headroom for a duo innernet. You can use these for the solo innernet as well.
– The bottom center of the front door flaps are connected with both metal buttons and a little buckle, for added tension strength. There’s also mid height button in case you only want to partially fold up the front door.
– The are mid height guy line attachments for added stability. These work well.
– There are small loops to tie open the right side front door flap. Similarly, the duomid has the same setup.

The weight improvement, incredible and well tested durability, and the massive vestibule makes this one of the more luxurious 1 person (teally a two person) tents on the market, while being among the lightest on the market as well.

Now some of the minor compromises.

Because of the angles of the walls, You’re pretty much brushing up against one of the walls whenever you’re in the vestibule. Does that bother me? Meh, not really.

Next, since there’s only one pole, and it’s in the center of the tent, every once in a while, the pole gets in the way. There are occasions when you have to be a little flexible while getting into and out of the innernet if trying to avoid getting the innernet dirty. Once in a while, you might feel like a contortionist.

Next, the tent is not freestanding. In some situations, that can prove highly problematic. A rocky plain without easily found loose rocks, or rocks of a good size means a little creativity is required in getting at the very least the four corners stakes out.

Along the same vein, it also means that really, about 10 stakes are ideal when using the solo innernet: 4 corners, 4 centers, and 2 corners for the centered side of the innernet (the outer corners can be tied to the back two of the main mid’s corners).

The innernet, while very light is almost all bug net, with just a short height bathtub floor. Which means that a great deal of care is required in keeping water and dust from getting in. It can be done, and thank heavens for that, but there is another company called Ookworks, in the UK, that creates a different innernet with a much higher innernet wall (or modesty panel) that limits splashes and dust from getting into the innernet, but also allows keepng the main tent doors open while having a modesty panel in place.

The solo innernet, while it fits the Duomid, isn’t exactly a perfect fit, so you do need to finnagle the suspension a little to create more wall room and head room in the solo innernet, but it’s not hard and i was able to make it work by futzing with a teeny bit of extra string.

Interestingly, MLD opted to make the left front flap be the guy line connector, so you lose the guyline if you want to keep both the left half and right half of the front door open. They could of had the guy line go from the top of the mid to the center front so you could have that extra stability when both sides of the front door were open, but it’s a small annoyance.

Finally, the ever so slightly translucent nature of cuben fiber means that the tent doesn’t provide any shade. Most tents don’t, being typically pretty hot midday, but cuben fiber is especially bad. Not as big a problem with the front door open though.

Even with all these small compromises, the three critical gains this tent provides makes this among the very best tents on the market today.

Just for fun, here’s some photos from a recent snow camping trip.

The MLD Duomid has been around for a while.  So there are plenty of reviews on it from all over the world.  Here are a few that I used in helping to make my decision:

Reviews:
http://haneul.sakura.ne.jp/cu/12-mld-duomid
http://cesarandthewoods.blogspot.com/2015/06/all-of-cesars-ultralight-shelter.html
http://nielsenbrownwalkabout.blogspot.com/2009/11/mld-duo-mid-review.html
http://alpinescience.com/gear/mountain-laurel-designs-duomid-tarp/
http://northlandadventures.blogspot.com/2013/04/mountain-laurel-designs-duomid-review.html
http://www.backpacker.com/gear/tents/2-person/mountain-laurel-designs-duomid-3/
http://mosswalks.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-mld-duomid-has-arrived-and-these-are.html
http://jwboutdoors.com/tag/mld-cuben-duomid/
http://www.tramplite.com/2012/11/mld-duomid-failure.html
https://whiteburnswanderings.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/mld-duomid-first-steps/
https://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/tag/duomid/
http://ultralightandcomfortable.com/2015/09/09/gear-review-mountain-laurel-design-duomid/
http://sticksblog.com/2015/04/11/first-look-the-mld-duomid-solo-inner-net-tent/
http://hikeitlikeit.com/2013/mountain-laurel-designs-duomid/
http://sectionhiker.com/ode-to-the-mountain-laurel-designs-cuben-fiber-duomid-a-long-term-review-and-goodbye/

I watched this video and now pack it this way:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nkak_hCdWpE

Wind test with the Duomid
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBJUETY9rKc

Video of the bug netting (bug skirt)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk1CoOr7Lko

Tony Hobbs (A great reviewer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EgCD574KAQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xssM2WVJaCw

Other videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTjtITihm2I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er9VWmCmbgg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXbkTAOOu4w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzB_hkub66Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Bqzsr8Wk4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nin05746Nf0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mdrkh0LLlg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrdWaCts0Uc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqKlCMunscs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhOe6Uue2pU

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2 thoughts on “Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD), Duomid Review

  1. Pingback: Load-out: Mid-weight “warm-up” pack | Camping Stoves and Other Gear Reviews

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