X-Mid 2 Tent
Receiving the highest awards from BackpackingLight and Section Hiker, the X-Mid 2 has been developed from the first principles of geometry to achieve the most weight efficient design possible for a trekking pole shelter. This innovative and patented geometry makes the X-Mid 2 exceptionally capable, spacious, and stormworthy at the lowest weight – anything lighter is smaller, lower function, and/or using less durable materials.
The X-MidTM 2 provides a spacious, user friendly, and stormworthy shelter for just over 2 lbs (1 kg). In wet conditions, no other tent can boast the X-Mid’s comprehensive defenses of a fly first pitch, no-sag fabric, large adjustable vents, factory seam taping, protected entryways, full coverage fly (to block rain splatter and drafts), and double-wall protection. Those attributes combined with a spacious interior and generous vestibules make the X-Mid the ideal place to ride out a storm.
The X-Mid 2 also provides a superior user experience with an obsessive attention to detail, such as one-handed operating zippers and large doorways that aren’t blocked by the trekking poles. The rectangle based X-Mid has an ultra-simple pitch that goes up quickly with only 4 required stakes, no mandatory guylines, and nothing to measure. Setup is a stark contrast to other trekking pole tents that require numerous stakes, guylines, and struts en route to a pitching process filled with measuring and guesswork.
The X-Mid also boasts the highest quality for a trekking pole tent. It is assembled at arguably the best tent factory in the world using premium components (e.g., YKK AquaGuard zippers), laser cut fabric panels, factory seam taping, full double stitching, and double folded edges. We’re not aware of a competiting trekking pole tent with that same quality. While the X-Mid 2P has a higher cost of production than any comparable tent, it is priced lower simply because we sell it to you direct with only a modest markup.
AVAILABILITY: Due to soaring interest combined with covid related production backlogs, we are struggling to keep the X-Mid in stock. Our spring batch that we expected to last all summer ended up selling out in just days, while our fall batch has been delayed by the covid situation in Vietnam. We now expect our next batch of tents around the end of 2021. These will sell out quickly, so we recommend signing up below for an email when they are available:
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
Features / Advantages
- Ultra-simple pitch with just four stakes
- Fly first pitch, so the inner tent stays dry during setup in the rain.
- Offset twin pole structure provides generous headroom and living space by maximizing the distance between the two poles.
- 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 doesn’t sag in the rain.
- Polyester fabric doesn’t absorb water, so it is fast dry and stays light.
- Large vents minimize condensation and close easily for harsh conditions.
- Excellent snow shedding via steep roof panels
- Excellent high wind performance via even load distribution on the stakes, optional peak guylines, and additional hem stakeout points.
- Four interior pockets
- 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 separately.
- Fully seam taped
- Non-slippery floor
- Premium materials and hardware (e.g., YKK AquaGuard Zippers)
- Fly: 21 oz / 600 g
- Inner: 15 oz / 425 g
- Stuff sack: 0.5 oz / 14 g
- Stake sack: 0.2 oz / 4 g
- Stakes: 4 ti hooks @ 8g, 4 ti V stakes @ 12g
- Tent (fly + inner): 36 oz / 1025 g
- Typical setup: 39 oz / 1105 g (tent, stuff sacks, 6 stakes)
- Complete package: 40 oz / 1135 g (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)
- 8 titanium shepherds hook stakes
- Made in Vietnam (same premium factory as MSR, Mountain Hardwear, etc.)
- Fly: 88 x 102 in / 224 x 259 cm
- Fly area: 62 sq ft / 5.8 sq m
- Fly peak height: 47 in / 119 cm
- Inner peak height: 44 in / 114 cm
- Floor width: 50 in / 127 cm
- Floor length: 92 in / 233 cm
- Floor area: 32 sq ft / 3.0 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 6.5 in / 30 x 17 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 only lower because we sell direct to you rather than having a large retail markup (retailers typically double the price). By eliminating that markup, we can pass most 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 lower 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 fully 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 2P doesn’t seem lighter than UL tents offered by mainstream companies with traditional poles.
A) There are tents with traditional pole sets that are lighter than the X-Mid, such as the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 (35 oz). Since pole sets are heavy (often about 10oz) to get the tent that light, something has to give. Commonly that’s space and durability, where a traditional tent as light as the X-Mid is almost certainly far smaller, less durable, and lower performance (e.g. lacking vents). In the case of the Tiger Wall UL2, that accomplished through giving up a lot of durability (e.g., 10D fabrics, #3 zippers), cutting useful features like vents, using less waterproof fabrics, and making it smaller (e.g., tapering the floor to 42″ at one end). By using trekking poles and a more efficient geometry the X-Mid 2P can offer more interior volume, higher performance/water capability, and more durable fabrics, zippers, and coatings at a similar weight. Instead of a small tent for docile conditions, the X-Mid 2P is a nicely sized 2P tent with legitimate foul-weather capability.
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 to leave just the fly. If you want to pitch just the inner, you can remove the fly peaks’ guylines and tie them to the inner peaks while adding knots for the pole tips, but our Stargazer kit makes inner-only pitching much easier as it has separate guylines that clip right on plus grommets for your pole tips and tensioners for quick adjustment.
Q) I don’t use trekking poles. What can I do?
A) If you use one or no trekking poles, you can use folding poles instead. We are working on developing some, but until then, other companies offer something similar. The X-Mid 2P pitches with the poles at 47″, so if you buy a fixed-length pole, you should opt for 47-48″ and use that slightly angled as needed. The best option is a custom, 5 piece, adjustable carbon fiber pole from Ruta Locura, but there are also cheaper options, such as the $16 poles from TarpTent.
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 makes for a saggy tent in wet conditions. 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 plus it’s far more UV resistant so it lasts longer. Check out our materials page for more detail on this.
Q) Why aren’t you using DCF/cuben fiber?
A) We are working on it. Check out the upcoming X-Mid Pro and sign up for notice if you want get in on the upcoming pre-sale.
The reason we use polyester for the regular tents is because it’s a more well-rounded fabric. It lasts a long time, has great performance, no-sag, and is UV resistant. DCF is even stronger but doesn’t last longer because it eventually gets pinholes or delaminates over time. A DCF tent might last for 200-300 nights while a polyester tent can last almost indefinitely. DCF is also extremely expensive.
The main 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. So polyester is a better choice for a well-rounded tent due to its higher durability and lower cost, while DCF is the best choice for the weight geeks that don’t mind spending a lot more to save a nice bit of weight.
Q) How can I repair my X-Mid?
A) Check out our repair guide.
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. You can add a second peak guyline for extreme conditions by tying the 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 because it has been designed from the first principles of physics and geometry. Thus, it is impossible to make a lighter tent unless you use lighter materials, reduce features or make it smaller. If you find a lighter 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. However, 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. 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.
The X-Mid will naturally limit the height of your trekking poles during pitching so you don’t have to measure them, but you do need either adjustable length poles that can extend to at least 46-47″ (which is virtually all of them) or fixed length poles in the range of 115-120cm (45-48″).
Unlike many outdoor companies, we accept all user reviews without “editing”, “approving” or “curating” them to hide the negative ones and boost the average rating.
Over on Drop.com where the X-Mid was originally sold, there are now over 160 reviews of the X-Mid 2P that are real and unfiltered. These reviews average 4.9/5 stars, which is exceptionally hard to achieve. To date, 147 of 160 reviews are 5 stars and eleven more are 4 stars. The only two reviews below 4 stars pertain to shipping issues, not the product itself, so real users are unanimous in rating this product as exceptional.
The X-Mid 2P has also been consistently praised by external reviews:
Backpacking Light: “Exceptionally high quality. Field performance was outstanding…an excellent size-to-weight ratio for a dual-pole, double-wall, two-person tent….Overall, it has simply been a joy to use.”
Adventure Alan: “A winning combination of low cost, low weight, a ton of livable area and great condensation control.”
Section Hiker: Awarded 10 Best 2P Backpacking Tents