The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 tent (20.4 oz / 578 g, MSRP: $639) is an ultralight, single-wall, two-person, double-door, double-vestibule, side-entry, trekking pole-supported shelter made of Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF). It requires two trekking poles and a minimum of four stakes to pitch. The design combines the headroom and spaciousness of a classic double-pole single-wall shelter with the stormworthiness and simple set-up of a pyramid-style shelter.
The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 is a compelling product in the somewhat narrow category of ultralight, two-person DCF shelters. The silpoly Durston X-Mid 2 is already a popular tent and is Highly Recommended by Backpacking Light. That makes the lighter, updated DCF version particularly intriguing.
The Durston X-Mid series of tents has become a favorite among ultralight backpackers, and demand for these shelters is very high. A recent sale of the Durston X-Mid 1 sold out in three minutes. Company founder Dan Durston notes there that there will be a better supply of the X-Mid Pro 2, but it seems unlikely that they will remain in stock very long following their initial launch.
This First Looks review is based on our initial hands-on evaluation of a pre-production sample of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Tent.
Review Update Log:
- March 25th, 2022: Backpacking Light founder Ryan Jordan and Backpacking Light canine-in-chief Sierra recently had a chance to spend some time with the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 in the field. The new photos are at the end of the review, in the Photo Essay section. Click to jump straight there.
- August 22nd, 2022: We shot a video exploring the features of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2. You can find it below.
X-Mid Pro 2 Review Video
- shelter: 20.4 oz (578 g), plus 4 stakes and two trekking poles
- height: 46 inches (117 cm)
- floor width: 48 inches (122 cm)
- floor length: 90 inches (229 cm)
- floor area: 30 sq ft (2.78 sq m)
- vestibule area: 21.5 sq ft (2 sq m)
- packed size: 12 x 6 inches (30 x 15 cm)
- rectangular design allows the tent to be pitched with four stakes
- dual peak vents help manage condensation
- bonded construction instead of sewn construction
- offset pole design allows for easier entry and increased interior volume
- two doors with dual vestibules, waterproof zippers on vestibule doors
- 15 denier nylon floor doesn’t require a footprint in most conditions
- floor lays taut when pitched and tensioned properly, instead of simply hanging
- vestibules provide ample room for storing packs and other items not brought into the shelter
- door zippers are easy to operate one-handed
- magnets allow for the vestibule and/or the mesh tent door to be easily rolled up
This review was conducted using a working prototype provided by Durston Gear founder Dan Durston. Our test sample is the closest working prototype to the version that is to be released. The only difference that currently exists between the tent reviewed here and the version that will be for sale is that our review sample used a slightly heavier version of Dyneema Composite Fabric (0.7 ounces/yd2, a.k.a. osy, instead of 0.5 osy) due to supply chain issues. This difference should not have any meaningful impact on this review, which didn’t involve field testing of this tent, since the design, set-up, and dimensions are identical.
Since this tent is not designed specifically for winter backpacking, and since backpacking in Montana in December and January involves winter conditions, I have not yet been able to test it on a backpacking trip. I was able to set it up, inspect its features, take a brief nap inside of it, and generally get a feel for its design and how it compares to other tents in this category.
As with the popular X-Mid 1 and X-Mid 2, one of the most impressive attributes of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 is its unique geometric design that incorporates offset trekking pole placements. (Compare this to most shelters that incorporate two trekking poles, which use a direct-opposite placement of the poles.) In addition, the details that caught my attention include its ease of use, livability, and potential performance in inclement weather.
We recommend you read our Durston X-Mid 2 Review to familiarize yourself with some of the design features of X-Mid tents. That review will aid in your understanding of the X-Mid Pro 2 design. So we’ll just present some of those design highlights here and save the details for a future, more comprehensive review of the X-Mid Pro 2 when we can provide more insight into how the design features actually translate to performance in the field, in various conditions, and with extended use.
The most obvious unique design features of the X-Mid Pro 2 include:
- an intuitive (rectangular) pitch that requires only four stakes;
- a spacious interior (a function of the offset poles and overall geometry);
- integrated fly that extends further to ostensibly provide better coverage in storms than similar tents. The area covered by the fly of the X-Mid Pro 2 is 55.5 sq ft (5.1 sq m), compared to the Zpacks Duplex whose area covered by the fly is 48.6 sq ft (4.5 sq m).
The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Tent is designed to be pitched using two trekking poles. For hikers who don’t use trekking poles, or for bikepackers and packrafters, Durston Gear is developing a lightweight, folding pole kit that will be compatible with the X-Mid Pro 2 as well as other similar shelters.
“The X-mid Pro 2 can offer more space and function for the weight because it uses genuinely more efficient geometry (e.g. fewer seams, less fabric for the volume, etc.) so we can put more weight into things that matter,” said Dan Durston.
What’s the difference between the Durston X-Mid 2 and the Durston X-Mid Pro 2?
Compared to the X-Mid 2, the X-Mid Pro 2’s footprint is smaller:
- X-Mid Pro 2: 80 x 100 inches (203 x 254 cm)
- X-Mid: 90 x 102 inches (229 x 259 cm)
This allows the X-Mid Pro 2 to more easily fit into tighter campsites. The headroom is almost identical between the two shelters. The floor width of the X-Mid Pro 2 is only 2 inches (5 cm) smaller than in the X-Mid 2. The most obvious difference between the two shelters is that the X-Mid 2 is a double-wall shelter and the X-Mid Pro 2 is a single-wall shelter.
Is the Durston X-Mid 2 Pro easy to pitch?
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to test this tent in inclement conditions (our loaner period was very short). There were no swarms of biting insects to avoid, although the mesh would’ve handily kept them at bay. There were no earth-shaking thunderstorms to endure, but the DCF and waterproof zippers seemed well-prepared for such an event based on our experiences using this combination in other shelters from Tarptent, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and ZPacks. Perhaps the only aspect of its performance that I can comment on fairly in this particular review is its ease of setup.
Using only four stakes and two trekking poles, I was able to have this tent pitched in just a few minutes and without having to readjust anything. It almost seemed too good to be true. There was no fiddling with pole height, moving stakes around, or tensioning (and re-tensioning) guylines. These iterative steps are often required when pitching trekking pole tents. The zippers – both the waterproof fly zippers and the zippers for the body of the tent – operated smoothly.
In soils where staking is more difficult than in my yard, it would likely be a bit more challenging and perhaps require longer guylines or other adjustments to the pitch. However, given how straightforward the mechanics of erecting this tent are, it should go up without any issues even in rocky terrain.
The DCF used for the body of the tent has been used extensively in many other tents by other manufacturers and will last a while for users who care for their gear with intention. The most common failure point of DCF shelters is sewn seams; the seams on Durston X-mid Pro 2 are entirely bonded with no sewing. (You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of bonded vs. sewn seams in the Dyneema Composite Fabrics episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast.)
Why does the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 have a nylon floor?
A 15 denier nylon fabric was chosen for the floor with the idea that a footprint wouldn’t be necessary for most situations if reasonable precautions are taken with campsite selection. However, hikers using it in conditions where punctures would be more likely (such as rocky terrain or desert environments, with their plethora of spiky things) might want to bring a ground cloth in those specific conditions. The 15 denier floor is similar to the fabrics used in other lightweight tents, including many of those made by MSR and Big Agnes. Many hikers forego using footprints with those tents without experiencing any issues in normal use cases. When asked why the X-Mid Pro 2 uses a 15 denier floor instead of DCF, Dan cited the advantage in packability as one reason.
“We think a 15 denier woven floor is a better choice because it is a similar weight but far less bulk and debatably more abrasion resistant and waterproof in the long term,” said Dan. Using the 15 denier nylon fabric is also less costly than DCF. “Cost is another advantage, although the cost savings are largely offset by our more expensive hot bonding construction process,” said Dan. “We would have used 1.0 osy DCF if we genuinely thought it was better.” The choice to use 15 denier nylon over 1.0 osy DCF results in a less expensive shelter that packs smaller.
Other similar shelters, such as the Tarptent Stratospire Li, use an offset pole design. One of the advantages of the X-Mid Pro 2 is that it has such a simple pitch in addition to the benefits of having an offset pole design.
When asked how this was achieved without resulting in other trade-offs in performance, Dan said “The X-Mid uses a rectangular base to simplify the pitch (compared to a hexagonal tent) and combines that with two trekking poles (to improve headroom compared to a single pole pyramid). The classic challenge faced by other tents attempting this is locating the poles. Prior tents have positioned them around the perimeter which results in flat walls that catch the wind and mandatory guylines, or they have positioned them along the centerline where they interfere in the sleeping area and/or doorways. The X-Mid uses a new floorplan, where the poles are placed on a diagonal and then the sleeping area passes between them on the opposite diagonal. From the overhead view, these crossing diagonals form the “X” in the X-Mid name. From a functional perspective, they provide a good [larger] living space while avoiding all the common pitfalls (e.g., poles in the doorways, poles in the living area, mandatory guylines, flat walls).”
The Durston X-Mid Pro 2 Compared To…
|weight||MSRP||wall design (single-wall vs. double-wall)||floor dimensions||maximum peak height||floor material||canopy material|
|Durston X-Mid Pro 2||20.4 ounces / 578 g||$639||single||48 x 90 inches (122 x 229 cm)||46 inches (117 cm)||15 denier nylon||0.5 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric|
|Zpacks Duplex||19.0 ounces / 539 g||$699||single||45 x 90 inches (122 x 229 cm)||48 inches (122 cm)||1 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric||0.55 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric|
|Tarptent Stratospire Li||27.5 ounces / 780 g||$699||double||45 x 86 inches (114 x 218 cm)||45 inches (115 cm)||1 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric||0.51 osy Dyneema Composite Fabric|
|Gossamer Gear The Two||23.5 ounces / 666 g||$375||single||42/48 x 84 inches (107/122 x 213)||43 inches (109 cm)||10 denier nylon ripstop||10 denier nylon ripstop|
On paper, the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 bests many tents in its category (two-person, two-door, side-entry, dual-vestibule trekking-pole shelters) on a number of metrics. It is either lighter, roomier, less expensive, and in certain cases, all of those things. But how a shelter looks in a table is only part of the equation – one which we are increasingly less inclined to emphasize as shelter builders shave ounces at the expense of other important factors. Craftsmanship, quality control, user-friendliness (ease of pitching), livability, stormworthiness, and aesthetics all come into play. These are the performance metrics we’ll be testing heavily as we continue putting this shelter through its paces in the coming year.
If I were in the market for a new two-person tent, or simply wanted a roomier tent for solo use, there is no other DCF tent on the market that I would consider right now. The combination of price, design, and materials leave little to be desired – based on my limited hands-on experience. Unless long-term use reveals as-of-yet unknown deficiencies it seems that this tent might be my go-to shelter for some time to come.
Editor’s Note: Look for our Performance Review of the Durston X-Mid Pro 2 in late summer of 2022.
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