Dan Durston/Massdrop X-Mid

Discussion in 'Shelters & Accessories' started by theoctagon, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. theoctagon

    theoctagon Thru Hiker




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  2. theoctagon

    theoctagon Thru Hiker

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  3. FOX160

    FOX160 Thru Hiker

    OK I have linked and invited Dan to this thread.
    tom, Chris2901 and cathyjc like this.
  4. Franco Darioli

    Franco Darioli Ultralighter

    I had a look at the Yama Swiftline history .
    From Yama :
    Initial conceptual designs came to life in the summer of 2011, following conversations with AT thru-hikers during their hikes. We began testing our first prototypes in 2014. The initial designs performed well, but we felt we could do better and went back to the drawing board. Early renditions of the current design went out for field testing on the PCT in the spring of 2015. We tested both double wall and hybrid (one-piece) designs and found the hybrid design to be preferable. Further testing was completed on thru-hikes of the PCT, CDT and CT during 2016.

    The TT StratoSpire 2 was on sale in 2010 but started to be designed a few years before. The first couple of prototypes however where nothing at all like the final product.
    BTW, this was the Dan Durston review of his SS2 :
  5. DuneElliot

    DuneElliot Section Hiker

    I already have the Swiftline 2 picked out as my next tent of choice.
  6. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    Hi Franco. I'm not too sure about the purpose of your post - I don't think anybody has disputed that the Stratospire came out before the Swiftline. (No snark intended.)
    One thing puzzles me; is your history for the 1p or 2p? I know that the Swiftline 2p concept was on YMG FB page in 2014, but I'm sure it was commercially available before the 2016 thru-hike season because we were using ours in April 2016 and it wasn't a new release when we bought it.
    Edited to add: BTW I was under the impression that the SS2 became commercially available in November (?) 2011.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
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  7. FOX160

    FOX160 Thru Hiker

    It’s a very roomy concept tent, concept being it does more than just being a tent Per se
    We have had it for nearly two months bought mainly for summer/Autumn here and abroad, but have to say with the bizarre weather we are having we are also using with the open mesh set up and thanks to @WilliamC
    certainly no regrets and i too would buy again.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
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  8. Enzo

    Enzo Thru Hiker

    I ain't picky, I'd have all 3 if I could afford it :)
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  9. Franco Darioli

    Franco Darioli Ultralighter

    I had a look.. The official announcement was in Nov 2011 but it was ready at the end of 2010. In the meantime HS was finishing to tinker with the SS 1 design , something that proved to be harder than just "scaling down" the SS2 size. Thinking of that, how long it took to nail the SS1 , I can understand Henry's initial comments on some similar designs that came after it.
  10. craige

    craige Thru Hiker

    Personally I think the duplex is more similar to the strat than the x mid is, which is very similar to an SMD haven... which was released earlier than the strat. At the end of the day they are all slightly different takes on a similar concept but to my eye the x mid is much more mid than A frame, whereas the others are all A frame designs. The x mid and the strat do serve similar purposes though in offsetting poles/adding a pole.

    I understand why HS got his pants in a twist though... nearly 300 people bought the X mid, that's 300 people that are less likely to buy one one if his tents this year.
  11. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    Then presumably it's not a simple matter of copying to apply the offset poles to a pentagon (Swiftline) or rectangle (X-mid and, I think, High Route)?
    It would be a pity if this thread were to degenerate into a who copied what from whom. They're all different concepts that share a theme - offset twin trekking poles, the same as so many other tents share a theme - single arch, tunnel, crossing arched poles, A-frame etc. All the tents mentioned here have much greater differences than the many single pole mids available, for example.
    Imagine if the first person to design a tent with an upright pole, or an arched pole, or a double skin tent or a single skin tent etc had then denied anyone else the right to use the same concept.
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  12. Franco Darioli

    Franco Darioli Ultralighter

    Yes I get that ,however if YOU were the one that had done that you may feel differently about it.
    Maybe not you but I would...
    Anyway, who invented the radio ?
    BTW, talking about inspiration...
    Henry Shires did a trough hike in New Zealand.
    There he saw the Macpac Microlite ( at the time a 2kg solo tent was light...)
    That one and a Montbell tent (what happened to that brand ?) inspired him to design the Rainbow.
    After the Rainbow came onto the market some Brits commented that it looked like a Phreeranger tent. Not a brand known in the US (early days for the internet and digital photography) but indeed if you combine a couple of Phreeranger designs you sort of get the Rainbow.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
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  13. edh

    edh Thru Hiker

    Tarptents (like all tents) have their limitations...this said, Henry is a very innovative designer to my eye.
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  14. tallest of pauls

    tallest of pauls Section Hiker

    I understand why HS got his pants in a twist though... nearly 300 people bought the X mid, that's 300 people that are less likely to buy one one if his tents this year.[/QUOTE]

    I wouldn't be surprised if the 300 people already own an SS1 and are buying this to save 200 grams. :rolleyeses:
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  15. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    You mean it wasn't some Italian guy? :jawdrop:
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  16. SteveMat

    SteveMat Summit Camper

    I like the look of this shelter a lot - for a start it's a great price isn't it - I don't feel the need to spend huge sums on equipment anymore, personally, especially just for one weekend a month or so of walking (maybe if I was doing a thru-hike I would feel differently). I'm still happy with my Lunar Solo at the moment and hopefully it will last me years yet, but I could potentially see me using this shelter in the UK summer.

    It seems sil-poly is being used a bit more in shelters now, why would anyone prefer it over sil-nylon? I understand it doesn't stretch as much, but it's no biggie to re-tension silnylon in the evening anyway imo, especially easy with the Lunar Solo. What is the durability and HH after sustained use of sil-poly like I wonder - this is particularly important to me, though I think I'm reasonable about expectations of UL equipment.
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  17. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    True. I was excited when details about the Stratospire were announced but didn't get one because the footprint is a little big for where we hike. it was a little heavier than I wanted (I was more weight conscious in those days) and I prefer single skin (but with bug netting). When the Swiftline came along, it hit the spot.
    I would be very interested in a Saddle in cuben. I used to have a Hexamid Long and really liked it but it had some disadvantages for two people. I wrote to Joe saying a twin pole version as with the, ahem, Notch (but not a copy, obviously ;):angelic:). Joe wrote back that he was working on something similar, which was the first prototype of the Duplex. It omitted the Hexamid Long's end poles, though, which is what I liked about it. A cuben Saddle would be close, though I guess it would be a separate inner as that seems to be the direction TT are going in.
  18. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    The particular silpoly being used has tested well. The details are in there somewhere in the discussions on Massdrop or BPL.
  19. WilliamC

    WilliamC Thru Hiker

    Thinking more about this, for our (non-UK) use I would always go full mesh because we like views and we have problems with bugs much more than we do with rain. For some reason, there is much less wind in winter in our mountains so we haven't found it too cold, either. Obviously, the situation is different in the UK.
  20. Franco Darioli

    Franco Darioli Ultralighter

    In Italy yes , not in Russia. Popov invented everything there.
  21. Franco Darioli

    Franco Darioli Ultralighter

    I guess it would be a separate inner as that seems to be the direction TT are going in.
    At the start Henry had 2 shelters ( Virga and Squall, now called ProTrail and MoTrail) both very much tarp tents
    Now we have 16 with another one coming out in a few weeks.
    So we have three ranges including the " tarp tent " type called Icon ( ProTrail ,MoTrail, Rainshadow )
  22. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    Fair enough William. I wasn't actually concerned with UK use but alpine and shoulder season (3+) use. I rarely take any inner to the alps or Pyrenees and if I do, its not for (mostly non-existant) bugs. So for me, a mesh inner is just a waste of money as it won't get used (or spend more money having to convert it)....
    WilliamC likes this.
  23. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    IMO, to see the X-Mid as copy of SS1 or Notch takes a big stretch of imagination. And the X-Mid probably is just as much competition for zpacks or MLD than it is for TT.

    Especially since we all only ever buy a single shelter once every 5 to 10 years... ;)
  24. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    As to who copied /inspired who …….???
    I have noticed that often several folks develop a similar design, simultaneously and independantly.
    Something in the then 'current technical landscape' sparks the same or similar imaginative idea. Happens in many fields of endeavour. Just that the 'time is right' for a particular idea to emerge/flourish.
    Clare, Taz38, Teepee and 1 other person like this.
  25. dandurston

    dandurston Ultralighter

    Wow I see I've gotten quite behind on this thread....

    X-Mid vs. Other Shelters
    I'm hesitant to have this discussion again because it's always a hot topic and I think discussions on similarity lose sight of more important topics like performance, but I'll copy a post I wrote elsewhere explaining the X-Mid concept and how the design is unique:

    A major goal with the X-Mid was to avoid a lot of the complexity that tents like the StratoSpire have (e.g. the pitch lock corners and six-sided shape). So the X-Mid uses the fundamentally different concept of basing the tent around a rectangle base, rather than the hexagon. This is an enormous difference between the X-Mid and StratoSpire designs. The X-Mid layout hugely simplifies the pitch, eliminates a ton of seams and removes the need for the pitch lock corners because it naturally generates more wall slope where it is needed. All the geometry changes immensely, which is why this has a parallelogram shaped inner instead of a rectangular inner.
    The X-Mid doesn't simply delete the vestibules off the SS1 to achieve a rectangle shape (as Sierra Designs High Route 1 does) because that would be fraught with the same downsides that led TarpTent to go beyond the rectangle in the first place (e.g. vertical side walls, mandatory guylines, no vestibules). Instead, the X-Mid implements several new ideas so that for the first time, a twin pole rectangle can offer all the advantages of a twin pole hexagon (e.g. vestibules, no guylines, optimal wall slopes) without the downsides of a hexagon (weight, pitching complexity, more stakes, shallow roof panels, more seams).

    Compared to the HR1 (or a StratoSpire with the vestibules chopped off), the X-Mid uses a wider rectangle to allow for the inner to be rotated onto a diagonal relative to the fly. When the inner is rotated like this, it creates vestibules within the rectangle and most importantly, allows the poles/peaks to be moved inwards from the edges to achieve a shape that pitches robustly with only four stakes. Thus it becomes the first rectangular tent to avoid all the common pitfalls of rectangular tents (e.g. lack of headroom, poles in the way of the entrance, mandatory guylines, vertical fly walls, lack of vestibules). Note that this rotated inner is unlike the diagonal inners in the HR and Stratospire: The inners of the HR and StratoSpire are on a diagonal relative to the ridgeline but still square to the sides of the fly. So these inners aren't really on a diagonal at all, only the ridgeline is. Conversely, the X-Mid inner is truly on a diagonal as it is not parallel to any sides of the fly. Since the X-Mid also has a diagonal ridgeline (on the opposite diagonal), you could say that the design is a "double diagonal" or uses "double opposing diagonals". So while all these tents have some diagonals going on, the X-Mid is quite different and breaks substantial new ground. The X-Mid is the only tent in history (to my knowledge) to use a diagonal inner inside a rectangular fly. In an era with so many extremely similar tents, I think it is striking that the basic layout of the X-Mid is unprecedented.

    I'd rather move beyond discussion on similarity though and focus more on function, because that is what matters when you're outdoors. This is where I think the X-Mid shines. It has a simpler pitch than all the other tents being mentioned, it's easily the lightest for the space it provides. Consider that the X-Mid is actually 0.5oz lighter than Swiftline 1P despite being a double skin tent vs single skin. This is because the X-Mid shape and lack of seams makes it extremely weight efficient. So compared with the Swiftline 1P, the X-Mid is similarly spacious, far simpler pitch, lighter, double wall, two doors, two vents, requires fewer stakes, more vestibule area etc. I think it's a large functional improvement.

    Compared to the SS1, the X-Mid is much lighter (28oz vs ~34oz), much simpler to pitch, fewer stakes, packs smaller without struts (stores horizontally in a pack), far fewer seams, sheds snow better with consistently sloped panels and no flatter roof panels, and yet has similarly generous living and vestibule space.

    Compared to a single pole mid, you're basically getting a lot more living space for free. The X-Mid weighs about the same as a DuoMid + Solo Inner, but offers far more headroom and interior volume, plus dual doors, dual vents and the ability to deploy peak guylines for an extremely strong pitch in tough weather. I don't see any reason to choose a single pole mid.

    Solid Fabric Inner
    I must admit to not entirely understanding preferences here. I think I've camped in almost any conditions imaginable, and the only times I like a solid fabric inner are when it is extremely cold and the solid fabric helps with warmth a little, or when there is blowing sand and snow that might get through the mesh. So in some conditions I like an inner with full solid fabric, but the vast majority of the time I prefer mostly mesh so I can see out (e.g. is my dinner boiling in the vestibule?) and because they feel more spacious. A partially solid fabric inner with the solid fabric coming up halfway or so would stop breezes if you have the door open, but I find solid fabric also feels more confined so I almost always prefer mesh.

    But I realize that solid inners are extremely popular over in the UK and probably elsewhere and I'm sure folks have their reasons. I suspect a solid inner or half solid inner would be too hard to offer. If we end up doing some more runs of these tents, we might be able to ask for higher fabric on a portion of the inners without increasing the minimum order sizes a lot. So I'm interested in hearing from more folks that prefer a solid inner as to why they do, and if they prefer a full solid inner or half. I'd be inclined to do a full solid inner myself as I would use this in the winter, but I see a lot of other gear companies are offering half solid inners so I presume these are more popular.

    BTW, this was the Dan Durston review of his SS2...
    Yes I like the tent and I've encouraged many folks to buy one both publicly and in private. That review is commonly the first result in Google and has over 10,000 reads. I've undoubtably helped TarpTent sell many of these. The StratoSpire is an inspiration, but the thought process that led to the X-Mid didn't start from there. It actually started from a single pole mid design because I've long preferred these for a solo shelter because I love the simplicity, but I wanted to find a way to improve the headroom. I thought about this for a long time and wondering if there was a way I could add two poles in there since I was carrying them anyways, without making the pitch harder. Eventually, I realized that by putting the inner on a diagonal would allow for poles on an opposite diagonal that are internal to the shelter (not the edges) which would retain the simplicity of a pitching a regular mid. This evolution is always why the tent is called the X-Mid.

    It seems sil-poly is being used a bit more in shelters now, why would anyone prefer it over sil-nylon? I understand it doesn't stretch as much, but it's no biggie to re-tension silnylon in the evening anyway imo, especially easy with the Lunar Solo. What is the durability and HH after sustained use of sil-poly like I wonder - this is particularly important to me, though I think I'm reasonable about expectations of UL equipment.

    I think the sag is an important difference in a trekking pole supported shelter. If you have a silnylon double skin shelter, the nylon often sags and sticks to the inner mesh in the night, whereas poly still looks great in the morning. Once you've had this, it's hard to go back to nylon. While nylon is stronger, I think 20D polyester is still plenty strong. It's certainly much stronger than the 7-10D nylons that are in use these days. The other advantages are that you can get a very high HH by combing sil and PU, which also lets you seam tape the shelter (the X-Mid comes fully seam taped). And you get more abrasion resistance from the PU so the floors are tougher.

    The silPU/poly used in the X-Mid has been tested by a respected fellow on BackpackingLight.com. You can see close up photos of the fabric and the full HH results at the bottom of this page, but it short the fabric exceeds the limits the HH testing machine when new and is still above the 1500mm required to be considered waterproof at the end of extensive wear testing. This is similar to the most waterproof silnylons being used today and much higher than older silnylons.

    You can read a longer discussion on the fabric here:
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