Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid – First Look

Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid Pyramid Tarp

Cuben Fiber Pyramid Tarp

With just 6 weeks to go before The Challenge, my cuben fiber Duomid finally arrived last week from Mountain Laurel Designs. There is a two month waiting list for most gear manufactured by MLD and the Duomid arrived almost exactly 8 weeks after I ordered it.

I got out on Sunday for a gear practice session and set the Duomid up on the bank of the large pond near our house where I always practice pitching new shelters. Camping is forbidden here, but the rangers all know me and leave me alone.

Like a lot of MLD’s products, the Duomid arrived without any setup directions. So my first session with it was focused on cutting guy lines and experimenting with different pitches to figure out how to use it in an optimal manner.

This is just the beginning. I’m going to have to practice setting up this shelter in the dark and in the rain before hiking across Scotland with it.

Pitching the Duomid

First and foremost, the Duomid is designed for a long center pole, around 145 cm high. That’s just a bit longer than the maximum safe extension of my hiking poles. MLD ships a 0.7 oz pole jack, which is a small 6″ tube that you stick the point of a trekking pole into.  You can use to add a little more height to your center pole, but you can also get away with a 140 cm height if you want to leave the jack at home or lose it.

The Duomid comes with 4 x 9″ Easton aluminum tent stakes and 4 x titanium shepard’s hooks. I’m not exactly why that number, because the Duomid comes with 8 ground level linelocs and 3 high wind tie-outs, attached half way up the sides of the tarp. The linelocs are situated at the corners and at the half way point of each side, and the high wind tie-outs are attached to the tarp’s sides with reinforced patches and stitching.

In practicing, I found that I got a nice pitch with 6 stakes at the corners and the front and back side. For the ground-level guy lines, I cut two foot lengths of cord and looped them through the linelocs, using a square knit at the end closest to the tarp hem and a bowline hitch at the stake end. Linelocs are the greatest thing ever invented for pitching tarp shelters. You can add them to existing shelters by ordering them from Quest Outfitters in small batches.

Duomid Side Tie-outs

To pitch the Duomid, the first thing you want to do is loosely stake out the corners. Next slip the handle of a trekking pole into the reinforced peak and plant the tip on the ground in the center of the shelter. Close the zipper and fasten the buckle below it along the bottom of the front door. This is necessary to prevent undue force on the zipper when you tighten the ground level linelocs.

Next, go to the corners and move the stakes out and/or cinch up on the linelocs to take in the slack. Next stake out the linelocs at the front and back of the Duomid to improve airflow under the hem of the tent. Gold 9″ Easton aluminum tent stakes tend to work better than 6″ once, because they have more ground clearance.

Duomid High Wind guy lines

If you want a little more room inside the shelter, or want to batten down the hatches in windy weather, you can also run guy lines from elastic loops anchored half-way up the side wall of the mid. I cut approximately 4 foot lengths of guy line for these tie outs and stake them with a separate ultralight titanium shepard’s hook tent peg.

Duomid Front Zipper

The mid has a large peak vent to release internal moisture, but if it’s not raining or windy you can also open the front zipper of the mid to vent more air.Mid-way up the zipper, which has to be used gently since it catches on the fabric, there are some snap buttons that give the zipper more stength and can be used in wind or calm. There’s also another bungee tie-out here for windy conditions.

When open it is easy to stand up inside the zipper to get in and out of the mid.

Duomid Front Interior

Another venting option is to sleep with one side or half a side entirely open. There are short lines and anchors sewn into the mid seam that let you roll up a side and secure it with a cord lock. Doing this requires a slight re-staking on the affected corners to remain a taught pitch.

The inside of the Duomid has a lot of space for one person, but not a lot of space for two, so I’m glad I got this model and not the Solomid. There are four hooks suspended from the side walls and one suspended from the peak to hang gear, fashion a gear attic, or hang bug netting.

My internal sleep system shown here includes a Gossamer Gear polycro ground sheet, and extra-long MLD superlight bivy with the bug net option, a Western Mountaineering ultralight 20 sleeping bag and Thermarest Neo sleeping pad.

My intuition, when buying the Duomid, was that I would need the bivy to prevent condensation transfer between the inner walls and my sleeping bag. Given the slope of the pitch and the proximity of the bag to the tarp walls, I think that was a sound judgement, and I’m glad that I built it into the system.

First trip with this system is in a few weeks on a Connecticut Appalachian Trail section hike.

Duomid Specs

Weight of Cuben Fiber Duomid: 12.1 oz.
Guylines, Cut: 1.7 oz.
4 x 9″ Easton Stakes, 2 x 6″ Easton Stakes, 4 x Titanium Shepard Hook Stakes: 4.6 oz.
Dimensions: 8.9′ Long X 5′ Wide X 58″ tall
Total Shelter Weight, outfitted: 18.4 oz.
MLD Price: $405

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

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  1. It is a nice shelter, no question. Still, somehow I can't get myself to like it. I hope that Phil brings his along when he comes in a few weeks, so I can get a good look at it, and maybe start to like it =)

    What are you now doing with your silnylon DuoMid?

  2. Nice, congrats. I look forward to hearing more about your experiences with it.

  3. Hendrik – I didn't buy the silnylon version, but got a cuben Hexamid instead, which is even lighter. A buddy of mine will be using that one on our upcoming AT section hike so we can do a side-by-side comparison. I hope we have terrible weather. :-)

  4. Did yours actually come with stakes? From the MLD site it looks like they're still an optional add-on.

  5. Mine came with stakes, but I think I ordered them – never can have too many…!

  6. Personally, reading the weather History of Scotland, I would go with at Shire's Tarp Tent with a floor or something more substantial than this extremely expensive tarp and I think you are very smart to bring that Bivy to protect that downbag. Which makes me think, does the Bivy and Tarp weight together equal a solid floor tent? ..Good luck..

  7. I think you'll like the cuben DuoMid. I ordered mine back when they first came out and have used it quite a lot, particularly in the off season when bugs were not a major problem. You may find that the tie outs are not really necessary when using it solo. Mine has only a center rear tie out and I found it to be sufficient. Ron offered to add the other points when the later production models had them, but I was set in my ways by then. My GG Lightrek 4 poles are long enough, but can't be offset from center as much as I'd like for space gain. I have the extension tube, but have never carried/used it.

    The DuoMid should be a good lightweight choice for the Challenge.

  8. Hi

    Don't know if you have come across this type of knot but its a very simple and effective one which, used extensively with kite flyers, seems more than adaptable for tarps and tents.

    I have stakes with cords attached and I use this knot on the cords. I think it would be a good solution for the high tie out points so you could attach/detach the lines quickly.

  9. Guess I'll see this in action in a few weeks time :)

  10. I would like to know if the Cuben makes more noise in the wind than nylon fabrics. It looks a bit crackly.

  11. eddie – the bivy + cuben fiber mid weigh in at about 25 oz total, still less than my squall 2. To tell you the truth, the squall2 did not do so well when I hiked the 100 mile wilderness (or part of it) over the summer and suffered a lot of internal condensation. Mind you we had 6 inches of rain in 5 days. For Scotland, I think the mid and bivy will be a better combination, especially since there is more clearance between the bivy and tarp walls. All things being equal, I think that the ventilation between the squall 2 and this new system will be about equivalent. Put the real issue come down to size – the tarp and bivy are considerably smaller than the squall 2 and easier to pack in a smaller, UL backpack.

  12. Thanks Quoddy – you're always one step ahead of me in gear choices, which tells me I must be on the right track.

  13. Baz – less than 6 weeks to go. I'm looking forward to that first day hiking with you and Liam. I'm sure the miles will fly.

  14. Jarra – I put up the tarp in a pretty good wind over the weekend and it has a soft hand. It's not as hard as it looks. Of course, I plan on being so tired that a little noise won't matter much.

  15. Top kit and the bivy is superb. I have two of them now and new version is superb. A ground sheet is a good idea in my view. Helps to have dry space to organise kit keeping of the damp ground around you.

  16. I must have missed soemthing but I remember in an earlier post you'd made a pretty firm and well reasoned decision to run with the Hexamid rather than the Duomid. What changed your mind?

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