X-Mid 1P Tent
Awarded one of the best backpacking tents by Section Hiker, The Trek, and OutdoorGearLab, the patented X-MidTM has been developed from the first principles of geometry to achieve the most weight efficient design for a trekking pole shelter (e.g., optimizing the volume:area ratio, minimizing seams) and thus provides the most performance for the weight. Anything lighter is smaller, lacking in features, or using less durable materials.
The X-Mid 1P is simple, spacious, and highly capable for only 27.5 oz (790g). It’s excels in wet weather thanks to a fly first and simple pitch, full double-wall design, no-sag polyester fabric, large adjustable vents, fully seam taped, highly waterproof sil/PEU fabrics, full-coverage fly (blocks rain splatter and drafts), and protected entryways (rain won’t fall inside). No other tent can claim that list.
The X-Mid is assembled at arguably the best tent factory in the world using premium fabrics, laser cut fabric panels, full double stitching, double folded edges, and generous bartacking. The X-Mid has a higher cost of production than other tents retailing for $400, and yet is priced at just $220 because we sell it to you direct with minimal markup.
Due to soaring interest (the X-Mid may be the world’s most popular trekking pole tent) combined with covid related production backlogs, we are struggling to keep it in stock. Our spring batch that we expected to last all summer ended up selling out in April. Our next batch arrives in fall 2021. They will sell out quickly, so we recommend signing up below for an email when they are released:
The goal with the X-Mid was to start with a clean sheet of paper and reason from there to create the optimal trekking pole supported shelter – one that offers maximal functionality, space, storm resistance, and simplicity at the lowest weight.
The most fundamental – and thus first – design question was: What shape should form the tent’s base? Most trekking pole supported tents are based around hexagons or even more complicated shapes, but as the number of sides increases, so does pitching complexity, number of seams, stakes, and weight. Typically pitching these complex tents require estimates of stake locations, angles, distances between stakes, measuring pole lengths, and estimating pole positions. Setting that up can be fun in the backyard but not fun in a rainstorm. The X-Mid eliminates most of this guesswork by opting for a rectangle base – by far the easiest shape to stake out.
The challenge with the rectangle – and reason why it hasn’t been used more historically – is that it’s hard to implement a good trekking pole structure. Most prior rectangle-based tents have been single-pole pyramids, which are lauded for their simplicity but lack headroom, and the single pole near the center typically interferes in the living space and/or doorways. Other rectangle based designs have used two poles along the perimeter, such as the classic pup tent design. This appreciably increases living space but having the poles along the perimeter creates vertical side walls, which catch wind and complicated the pitch as they require guylines and stakes. It’s also a more boxy and inefficient shape, and the poles still typically interfere in the doorways.
Reasoning from first principles, it was obvious that the ideal tent should use two poles to bolster living space since hikers commonly have two poles on hand anyways. It would be a shame not to utilize them, but how to achieve this while avoiding all the common pit-falls was a design challenge that resonated in my head throughout my 2014 PCT thru-hike. It resonated again during my 2017 Great Divide Trail thru-hike until I realized a solution to all of these long-standing issues with the patented X-Mid layout:
The X-Mid layout starts with the unique idea of placing the sleeping area on a diagonal inside of a rectangular fly. This creates vestibules on either side and importantly allows for two trekking poles to be positioned in from the perimeter so the shelter can pitch robustly without guylines (optional ones strengthen it further in storms). Positioned like this, the poles provide abundant living space while being out of the way of the doors and living space, and not complicating the pitch. It’s a spacious shelter that pitches easily with only 4 stakes.
The X-Mid geometry is also lightweight because it is the most volumetrically efficient shape for a trekking pole shelter. If you do the math, you’ll find any other comparably sized trekking pole shelter uses more fabric, stakes, or both, resulting in a heavier geometry. Any competing double-wall tent as light as the X-Mid is either much smaller, using more delicate fabrics, or quite a bit less featured.
The X-Mid also provides outstanding performance in stormy conditions. When it’s rainy, the X-Mid is as good as it gets due to the fly first pitch, generous living space, large vestibules with space for cooking and wet gear, no-sag fabric (polyester), fully taped seams, a double-wall design that protects from contact with condensation, protected entryways that can be left open in light rain, and large vents that open and close easily to reduce condensation. No other tent can claim that entire list (I’m serious. If you know otherwise, contact me and I’ll change this).
The X-Mid is also stable in the wind and snow due to the weather-resistant shape, durable materials, and additional guyout options. Unlike most tents, the X-Mid geometry results in wall slopes that are both consistent and moderate. Most tents have quite variable wall slopes (e.g., low angle roof panels but steep sides) so there are often low angled roof panels that accumulate snow yet overly steep sides that catch the wind. The X-Mid is rare in having consistent panels, and importantly, they are all at a moderate slope, which balances performance in the wind and snow.
In addition to this high-performance shape, the tent also buttons down solidly in harsh weather with numerous optional stake out points around the base, vents that quickly shut to block wind and snow, and peak guylines that can be deployed to strengthen the shelter further.
The materials are also up to the task with tough #5 water-resistant zippers on the fly (many competing tents use weaker #3 zippers and cheaper non-waterproof zippers with flaps that don’t work as well and love to snag in the zipper). The X-Mid fabric is a durable 2500mm sil/PEU coated ripstop polyester (20 denier) that has been independently tested to verify that it is still highly waterproof after extensive wear. This polyester weight is the ideal material for a well-rounded lightweight tent because it is light, durable, and unlike nylon, it doesn’t sag, weaken in wet conditions, or degrade with UV exposure.
Overall the X-Mid layout is the optimal design for a trekking pole shelter because it is maximally simple, spacious, and lightweight while providing robust weather protection.
Features & Specs
- Ultra-simple pitch with just four stakes
- Tent pitches fly first, so the inner tent stays dry during setup in the rain.
- The twin pole structure provides generous headroom and living space.
- Double-wall design protects from condensation.
- Dual doors and dual vestibules provide easy access and ample gear space.
- Protected doorways can be left open in light rain.
- Doorways are large and not blocked by trekking poles like many designs.
- Polyester fabric does not sag in the rain.
- Polyester fabric does not absorb water, so it is fast dry and stays light.
- Interior ridgeline pocket provides handy storage.
- Large vents provide excellent ventilation and close easily during harsh conditions.
- Excellent snow shedding via steep roof panels
- Full coverage fly extends to the ground to block drafts yet can be raised for more ventilation.
- Packs short enough to store horizontally in a pack
- Fly and inner can pitch independently.
- Fully seam taped
- Fully double-stitched construction
- Non-slippery floor
- Premium materials and hardware (e.g., YKK AquaGuard Zippers)
- Optional peak guylines plus six additional stake points around the base for harsh conditions
- Fly: 18 oz / 515 g
- Inner: 9.5 oz / 270 g
- Stuff sack: 0.5 oz / 12 g
- Stake sack: 0.2 oz / 3 g
- Stakes: 4 @ 8g, 4 @ 12g
- Tent (fly + inner): 27.5 oz
- Typical setup: 30.5 oz (tent, stuff sacks, 6 stakes)
- Complete package: 31.4 oz (tent, stuff sacks, 8 stakes)
- 20 denier 420 thread-count 100-percent polyester in desert sage
- 2500mm sil/PEU coating
- Peak reinforced with 210d black nylon
- YKK #5 AquaGuard (water-resistant) zippers (fly)
- YKK #3 zippers (inner tent)
- 4 titanium shepherd’s hook stakes
- 4 titanium V stakes
- Fly: 67 x 100 in / 170 x 254 cm
- Fly area: 46.5 sq ft / 4.3 sq m
- Fly peak height: 46 in / 117 cm
- Inner peak height: 43 in / 109 cm
- Floor width: 28 in / 71.1 cm
- Floor length: 87 in / 221 cm
- Floor area: 17 sq ft / 1.6 sq m
- Vestibule area: 24 sq ft (12 sq ft x 2) / 2.2 sq m (1.1 sq m x 2)
- Packed size: 12 x 5 in / 30 x 13 cm
Q) How is the X-Mid so affordable?
The X-Mid is built at the same high end factory as respected brands like MSR and Mountain Hardware. Our price is less only because we sell direct to you rather than having a large retail markup (e.g. a tent at REI might sell for $400, yet costs about $200 from the manufacturer). By eliminating that markup, we can pass some of the savings onto you, while also investing a portion into building even better gear. For example, the X-Mid is the highest quality as we insist that literally everything is double sewn, and we use premium components such as waterproof YKK AquaGaurd zippers that are rare even on the most expensive tents (e.g. Big Agnes doesn’t even use them on their $1000 tents), and yet our price is less than anything comparable simply because of the slim markup.
There are a few other tent companies that also sell direct yet are still priced similar to tents at retail. That’s simply because they’re enjoying generous profit margins while hoping you wrongly assume their higher prices means higher quality. Take a close look and you’ll see those tents often aren’t even seam taped nor double stitched yet cost 50% more. Even at a higher price, you can’t find higher quality than the X-Mid.
Q) The X-Mid doesn’t seem lighter than mainstream UL tents using tent poles.
A) There are tents with traditional pole sets that are as light as the X-Mid, such as the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 (27oz). Those pole sets are heavy (often about 8oz) to get those tents as light something else has to give. Commonly that’s space, performance, and durability. A traditional tent as light as the X-Mid is almost certainly far smaller and uses more delicate fabrics and much thinner waterproof coatings. You’ll also typically find they cut features (e.g., lacking vents) and use less durable #3 zippers (vs. #5), which are a common failure point. The X-Mid offers a more durable and high-performance shelter for the same weight to give robust 3 season performance.
Q) Can I pitch just the fly or inner?
A) Yes. The inner easily disconnects via buckles at the peaks and clips at the four corners. So you can easily remove the inner to pack it up separately or to pitch only the fly. If you want to pitch only the inner, you will need to remove the fly peaks’ guylines and tie them to the inner peaks.
Q) I don’t use trekking poles. What can I do?
A) If you don’t use trekking poles, you can use folding poles instead. We don’t currently offer them, but many companies do. The X-Mid 1P pitches with the poles in the range of 46 – 47″, so if you buy a fixed-length pole, you should opt for 47″ and use that slightly angled as needed. The best option is a custom, 4 piece, adjustable carbon fiber pole from Ruta Locura, but there are also cheaper options, such as the $16 poles from TarpTent. Also worth checking out are the carbon poles from SMD which are light, and pack short but non-adjustable, and at 49″, you should trim them shorter, which is why just building your own might make sense.
Q) Why polyester over nylon?
A) The main reason is that nylon absorbs water in wet conditions. That results in 3 big problems: First, it expands (or “sags”) about 4% which looks and performs poorly. This is a common problem in nearly all lightweight tents, but low weight polyester fabrics are finally available, which solve this. Second, nylon’s water absorption makes the tent slow to dry and heavy with up to a pound of water in the fabric, and third, nylon weakens by about 10% when wet. Polyester doesn’t absorb water, so it doesn’t have any of these issues.
While nylon is a bit stronger, this difference in strength is only 15-20%, and nylon immediately loses about 10% of its strength when wet and then further degrades more rapidly during UV exposure. Hence, a year down the road, polyester is likely the stronger material. That’s why it’s taking over, with numerous lightweight companies making the switch over the last year or two.
Q) Why aren’t you using DCF/cuben fiber?
A) We might. You can sign up here if you want a notice when that is available. The Dyneema fibers in DCF are undoubtedly super strong. Still, DCF as a material is not more durable than 20D polyester because it has no stretch to spread forces. The outer mylar layers handle abrasion poorly, and it can delaminate due to torsion or folding. So the claims about it being “bombproof” are misleading. The Dyneema fibers are, but the composite material is not. It has a lifespan of about half that of a nylon or polyester tent. Other disadvantages are that it is quite bulky (the packed size is about 50% greater), and it sheds snow poorly because it sticks.
The only notable advantage of DCF over polyester – and it is a significant advantage – is that it is much lighter at typically 0.5oz/sq yd rather than 1.2oz/sq yd typically. This can make for a much more lightweight tent, but also expensive and less durable. So polyester is a better choice for a well-rounded tent due to its higher durability, lower cost, and smaller packed size.
Eventually, we hope to offer a DCF version of the X-Mid that is fantastically light, but if that happens, it will be much more of a specialized shelter. It will compromise in many ways to be as light as possible (smaller zippers, fewer vents, single wall, etc.). Thus the poly version will always be the well-rounded version that is the best choice for most folks, while the DCF version will be a more specialized tent for folks that want the lightest gear and are willing to sacrifice some durability, features, and expense to get that.
Q) How should I pitch it in stormy weather?
A) For the most weather resistant pitch, you should pitch it low to the ground (shorten the cord at the corners as much as possible), use the optional stake out points around the base to spread the load, and deploy the peak guylines. Orient the guylines towards the long sides of the tent to support those larger walls. For extreme conditions, you can add a second peak guyline by tying cord inside the peaks and running it out the vents. This way, you can guyout each peak from two directions, which makes it extremely strong.
Q) How does the X-Mid compare to [some competing tent]?
A) The X-Mid geometry is the most volumetrically efficient shape possible. Thus, it is impossible to design a lighter tent unless you use lighter materials, fewer features, or make it smaller. If you find a more lightweight tent, it likely is a single wall design that isn’t nearly as good in sloppy conditions, or it uses DCF fabric and thus costs at least 2.5x as much.
Any tent that uses similar materials and is also a double-wall usually is quite a bit heavier. Of the few tents that are not, these are always smaller, less featured, or both. We could make the X-Mid smaller or less featured too, but its current design is carefully considered so that it is among the lightest tents in its class while still offering a comfortable amount of space and a useful feature set. Basically, the weight is similar to the lightest woven double-wall tents out there while providing more space and features. To save another two ounces would require large compromises in function or durability, such as hard to use door clips instead of zippers, smaller or omitted vents, and delicate hardware. Tents that make these compromises are much less well rounded.
Q) How can I repair my X-Mid?
A) The X-Mid uses polyester fabric for the fly and floor, with a silicone coating on the outside and a PEU coating on the inside. Thus, different products adhere differently to the inside and outside.
For small holes or cuts, you can seal the tent on the outside using clear silicone caulk, such as GE Silicone II. You can buy small tubes that don’t require a caulking gun.
For more extensive repairs, first, close the wound by sewing it shut or using tenacious tape. Tenacious tape will stick well to the inside of the fabric and last permanently if applied to clean fabric (wipe with alcohol). The sage color matches the X-Mid remarkably well. With either sewing or tape, you may also wish to seal the outside with silicone to ensure it is waterproof and add strength. If you sewed it shut, it is best to dilute the silicone caulk 3:1 with mineral spirits to create a thinner slurry that will soak into the stitching.It is also possible to create patches of the fly material by pirating some from the stake stuff sack and adhering it to the outside (with silicone) or the inside (with SeamGrip), but there is little reason to do this since tenacious tape on the inside accomplishes this similarly.
The X-Mid has been widely praised by real users and gear review outlets alike. That includes awards for 10 best ultralight tents from Section Hiker and The Trek, a top pick award from Adventure Alan, and a best buy award from Outdoor Gear Lab.
Unlike many outdoor companies, we accept all user reviews without “editing” or “approving” them to hide the negative ones and boost the average. Over on Drop.com there are now 237 reviews of the X-Mid 1P that are real and unfiltered. These reviews average 4.8/5 stars, which is very hard to achieve without the questionable “editing” and “approval” processes that many competitors use to remove negative reviews.
External reviews have also consistently given the X-Mid 1P high praise. Outdoor Gear Lab named the X-Mid the ‘Best Buy’ of their 2021 best ultralight tent comparison and write:
“The Durston X-Mid 1P is absolutely amazing. The minimalist design, premium materials, functionality, and comparatively low price make it one of our highest-rated ultralight shelters. Considering the quality of the materials, the craftsmanship, the clever design functions, and the price, our team can’t think of a good reason not to recommend this shelter. We recommend this tent to anyone and everyone.”
SectionHiker.com gave the X-Mid 1P a glowing review and added it to nearly all of their 10 best lists (10 best 1P tents, best backpacking tents, best trekking pole tents etc.), while editor in chief Philip Werner selected it as his overall favorite tent.
Awarded 10 Best Backpacking Tents
Awarded 10 Best 1P Backpacking Tents
Awarded 10 Best Ultralight Trekking Pole Tents
Awarded 10 Best Thru-Hiking Tents