Home / Product Reviews / Mountain Laurel Designs Doumid – Cuben Fiber

Mountain Laurel Designs Doumid – Cuben Fiber

Duomid on Glen Feshie
Duomid on Glen Feshie

Here is my Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid Review based largely on my experiences using this shelter during the 13 day TGO Challenge, this year in Scotland. Andy Howell has also published a review of the cuben fiber version, which I also suggest you read if you’re tempted to lay out $405 dollars for this outrageously priced shelter.

A Pyramid Camping Shelter

The “mid” in Duomid is short for pyramid, which many reckon is the most wind resistant shape for a camping shelter. The MLD Duomid is not a pure four sided pyramid, but has more of a 6 sided shape when pitched taughtly, with the front door and rear wall angled out slightly, necessitating six tent stakes for the base set up.

In addition to the six base tie-outs, there are four more bungeed loops set midway up the skin on the two sides and the front and rear wall. These are designed to provide additional anchoring in high winds but are useful to stake out every night in order to provide a steeper interior wall slope and more foot and head room.

In a stiff breeze, it is useful but not strictly necessary, to stake the Duomid close to the ground with the back stake facing the wind, if only to stay warmer inside. Most nights in Scotland, I set up the shelter with anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of clearance between the ground and the bottom of the shelter walls to keep internal condensation at bay. It looks like the shelter is levitating off the ground when you pitch it like this, but it’s not going anywhere if you’ve got good stake penetration, wind or not.

Duomid in Scotland
Duomid in Scotland

Interior Living Conditions

With enough interior room for two, the Duomid is a palace for one person, providing ample sleeping space and gear storage with little weight penalty. While it is possible to pitch with two hiking poles set at an angle, I prefer a center pitch with one pole, since I don’t share. MLD will sell you a pole for pitching the Duomid if you don’t use hiking poles. If you do, make sure that you have adjustable poles, because getting the right poll height is very important for setting this shelter up.

Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid
Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid

In Scotland, I used a Gossmer Gear polycryo ground sheet and a Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight bivy sack with a mesh netting mod to provide moisture protection for my sleeping bag and bug protection for my face. There are two gear loops on each internal seam of the Duomid, and I tied the bug netting to one at night to keep the netting off my face. These can also be used to hang a gear attic or anything else like a makeshift clothes line.

While I did experience internal condensation on one or two nights, the steepness of the walls and the huge internal living space make it easy to avoid coming into contact with any moisture. It is easy to sit up without touching your head and on windy evenings, I frequently cooked dinner inside the Duomid, which provides excellent ventilation including a rooftop vent and a front zipper, which I opened to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

On warm still nights, it is possible to open up the front zipper, roll up the front wall, and secure it to using a bungee cord and loop system sewn into the front seam of the shelter. This however results in a significant reduction in shelter stability, so I do this sparingly.

Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid
Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid

Rain Performance

As long as you’ve seam-sealed the Duomid, it is bombproof in the rain. To do this, pitch it, and paint seam sealer that has been cut with paint thinner over all of the seams, including the zipper stitching and mid-wall tie-out patches. I’ve adopted Martin Rye’s seam sealing method. It’s a winner and provides a nearly invisible and lightweight seal on my cuben Duomid.

Storage

If compactness is important for your packing system, the Duomid folds up quite small. If dry, you can stuff it in the bottom of your backpack, or jam it onto a small stuff sack and stick it in an exterior mesh pocket on your pack. This is the system I used during The Challenge, stakes and all, wet or no.

Duomid at Shielin of Mark
Duomid at Shielin of Mark

The Unexpected

Cuben Fiber transmits a lot of light through the walls to the interior of the shelter. This is beneficial on buggy nights because all of the bugs are attracted to the walls and not me. I’m not sure exactly why, but they climb up the sides of the shelter toward the vent, leaving me and my blood alone.

The downside of this is that the Duomid becomes an oven when it is warm and sunny. So much so, that you can’t remain in the shelter when you want to lie around in the afternoon and read. It’s for this reason, that I probably won’t use the Duomid in summer conditions and will opt instead for a flat tarp. I am planning to use it in winter in the snow where extra warmth from the sun will be beneficial.

Duomid on the AT
Duomid on the AT

Getting a Perfect Pitch

It can be difficult to get a perfect pitch with the Duomid if you’re camping on a site that is not level or your pole is not exactly 145 cm in length. When I pitch my Duomid, I set my Black Diamond Trail poles to 135 cm and attach the 6 inch pole extender that MLD provides to get the right pole height. The top of the pole fits into the reinforced top of the Doumid’s peak. Any shorter or longer, and it’s hard to get taught walls.

Camping on an un-level site invariably leads to one wall being more horizontal than the others, no matter how you adjust stake or center pole height. I think the cut of the mid, with it’s equal wall lengths, creates this condition.

Once set up, the cuben fiber seems to relax a bit and needs to be tightened up a bit after an hour or so. This might also be due to relaxation in the tie-out cordage.

Duomid in Scotland
Duomid in Scotland

Weight vs. Price Trade-offs

MLD sells the 16 oz silnylon model of the Duomid for $205 and the 12 oz cuben fiber version for $405.

Truth be told, I resisted buying the cuben fiber version of this shelter because it is so darn expensive. I ended up deciding to treat myself for my 50th birthday and paid the premium.

If weight is less of an issue for you or you’re “still” trying to keep your backpacking costs down, my bet is that the silnylon shelter will have very similar performance characteristics to the cuben fiber model.

Duomid in Moonlight
Duomid in Moonlight

Parting Thoughts

No shelter is perfect, but the cuben fiber Duomid is pretty darn close. So close that I’m going to sell my Tarptent Scarp 1 and Squall 2, and depending on how well the Duomid works this winter, my Black Diamond Firstlight. I’ll still keep my cuben fiber and silnylon tarps for heat-of-summer use, but expect to use my Duomid for most other trail conditions, and for a long time to come.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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13 comments

  1. What happened to your Hexamid that you said you purchased? Do you still have it and are you planning to test it also?

    Great TGO articles!

    Lonnie

  2. Thanks for the review! It's a good inspiration for me as I am currently in the process of switching from normal to lightweight equipment and want to replace my ""Exped Vela 1 Extreme" (1750 Grams, ~ 1000 Grams without inner tent) with something lighter.

  3. Firstly, I really enjoyed reading and viewing your TGO Challenge report. I've found much the same results with the cuben DuoMid and use it mainly in the winter when not hammocking. My MLD cuben fiber Grace tarp continues to be my choice for summer. One thing I'll mention is that full strength Seam-Grip is recommended, by Ron at MLD, for seam sealing cuben fiber. I simply hung my DuoMid by the peak in my basement and applied the Seam-Grip with my finger while keeping the fabric in the working area taut with my free hand.

  4. Lonnie, I haven't had a chance to use the hexamid this year. Hopefully, I'll get a chance by end of year. I like to practice at home before I take a shelter into the woods and time has been really tight this year.

  5. Hi –

    I am looking at getting either one of the duomids / supermids or the Squall 2…

    I like the MLD pyramid design / shape ( I am 6'3", so assume more sit up room) but like the integrated bathtub floor of the Squall 2, mainly because of camping places where snakes / scorpions look for warm spots in the night.

    Anyway, curious about your thoughts about the lack of this in the duomid.

    And – what are you asking for your Squall 2?

    thanks & cheers,

    Peter

    (petertookeATmac.com)

  6. Just as an FYI for the readers, Ron @ MLD recommends the sil version for harder winter use as it's generally more durable.

  7. I guess it's too late now (to get the silnylon). One of my primary reasons with going with the Duomid was for winter camping. Setting up the Scarp is just too complicated with Deadmen, and I wanted the ability to dig myself a pit and cover it up

  8. John – you would have liked Scotland. Tremendous hiking. What a time that was!

  9. Peter – I'll be in touch about the Squall 2.

  10. Thanks for this – great info! I'm 4 and a bit weeks into my thumb-twiddling wait for a Duomid. Went for the silnylon one as a) fancied a yellow one(!) and b) wanted a robust shelter for all seasons and wasn't too sure about the cuben.

    I've been a tarp user for a good many years now. Was recently almost tempted into buying a tent but the 'mid design seems to give something of the best of both worlds.

  11. Many thanks for this also… again, well written and informative… Im pretty sure now about my next purchase… :)

  12. Does cuben fiber attract dirt? I had my Granite Gear Meridian Vapor in a dusty environment today, and I couldn't believe what a dirt magnet the pack's material it is.

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