For the last few years I have really wanted the Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD) Duomid and the Solo Inner Net tent. And let’s be real, while my BPW does vary from trip to trip, overall I would classify myself as an “Ultralight” weight backpacker. For this reason, as well as others (discussed later), I wanted these pieces in cuben fiber was opposed to silnylon. But, due to the large price tag, I put off actually buying this set-up for quite some time… Then earlier this year I decided that this would be the year, and I finally hit “submit”…
Then I waited… 6 weeks and 6 days to be exact from the date of order to the arrival on my doorstep! That was last Wednesday, and today is Saturday…
Since the package arrived I have now set it up 5 times, and today, while setting it up for the 5th time, I went ahead and made a first look video to share some of my thoughts before and after the purchase, as well as how to set it up.
So, why did I want this particular set-up?
- It’s a modular set-up. I can carry/use either the inner or the outer. This gives me all sorts of options in itself. Clear, pretty night but buggy: set up the inner only. Less than perfect conditions, but no bugs: leave the inner behind and just use the tarp, saves weight. Bad weather and bugs: carry and set up both. It’s called OPTIONS!
- It’s double wall (which is another way of saying it’s modular). While I don’t have anything against a single wall shelter, I tend to prefer a double wall set-up simply because it is a bit of a buffer which keeps me away from condensation thick walls.
- ALL THAT ROOM! Honestly, this is the #1 reason I wanted this particular set-up. It is technically a 2 person set-up, however, it is a fairly common practice for folks to use it as a lightweight, 1+ set-up, and this is how I plan to use it. Combined with the solo inner net tent, I can set up my sleeping quarters in the back-half, and then use the protected space in front half to store my backpack, shoes or other gear in. And as a bonus, I can also cook in the front half without any fear of being to close to anything else that may catch on fire or be affected from the heat of the stove.**
- It’s lightweight for what it is. Being that I am still tinkering with this set-up, I do not have a finalized weight for it, however, including everything to set this shelter up and use, it looks like it will be in about the 29-ish oz range, or around 1 & 3/4 lbs. Now, this is not light for a minimalist, cuben fiber solo shelter, but keep in mind that this set-up is not the most minimalist, nor is it a solo shelter. This is a proven 4 season shelter that offers a solo user enough protected space to actually live in should one need to do so.
Following are a few photos showing the MLD Duomid with the solo inner net tent:
The first time I attempted to set up the Duomid went as smooth as butter. As per the directions on the MLD website, I staked out the back 2 corners first, making the bottom edge of the back wall “medium-tight.” Next, I staked out one of the front corners, making sure to create a 90* angle at the back corner. (This stake will make, or break, the set-up, so be sure to create a 90* angle.) Then I pulled the other front corner out and made sure that 90* angles were made at all 4 corners. Once I got the 4 corners staked down, I unzipped the front doors and inserted the trekking pole. At this point, the shelter is live-able/useable, and would be more than good enough to rush under to get out of bad weather. However, if the weather is not bad, I would go ahead and stake out the middle loops on the 2 sides and middle loop on the back side, as well as the doors on the front. This will help by lifting the edges off the ground and allowing some air to move into the shelter, which will help with condensation too…
Once the Duomid was pitched, I crawled inside the shelter and began tinkering with the solo inner net tent. At this point, I tied 4 loops made from 3/32″ shock cord and attached them to the mitten hooks at the 4 bottom corners of the solo inner net tent. I also attached 2 longer pieces of 3/32″ shock cord with a mini cord lock to the front loops mid way up the mesh wall on the solo inner net tent. Lastly, I attached another piece of 3/32″ shock cord with a mitten hook to one of the mitten hooks installed in the apex of the Duomid.
To set up the solo inner net tent, (again, at this point in time) I first attach the back bottom corners of the solo inner net tent to the mitten hooks in the lower corners of the Duomid using the shock cord loops I installed on the corners of the inner net tent. I then use a stake to stake down the front 2 bottom corners of the solo inner net tent. Next, I hook the mitten hook on the apex of the solo inner net tent to the piece of shock cord I installed in the apex of the Duomid, and then use the cord lock to adjust the amount of tension on the inner net tent. Lastly, I attach the 2 longer pieces of shock cord I installed on the front loops on the mesh wall on the solo inner net tent to 2 grosgrain loops sewn midway up the corners inside the Duomid and tension as needed using the cord locks on the shock cord.
Now, the shelter is completely set up and can be seen in the photo’s above and below:
I will say that I am already quite familiar with this type of set-up because it is very similar to the set up of my ZPacks Hexamid tarp and Hexanet. As well, I do have a bit of experience with setting up/handling cuben shelters, so I don’t find the set-up to be difficult at all, and actually rather quick. However, it is a different shelter, and just as with my ZPacks set-up, it will take me some time to get this shelter dialed in perfectly.
At this point, I have only practiced setting up the Duomid using a single pole set-up, although, later when I have more time, I do plan to try a 2 pole set-up. As well, I am currently using my mod’ed Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking pole (which happens to be about 1.5″ shorter now due to the mod) in conjunction with the supplied 6″ pole jack from MLD. Being that the tip of the trekking pole fits all the way into the pole jack, the pole jack really only offers about 3 – 4 extra inches of height. For this reason, I would like to get a pole jack that is 8″ in length (just in case) to use with these poles, despite the extra weight. At the moment, I am also using the cord supplied from MLD for the lower perimeter stake out points, however, I did order some of the 3mm Glowire from Lawson Kline and will use it instead once it arrives. I have also added lengths of the 2mm Glowire from Lawson on the upper guy out points on the Duomid.
Initially, I find the solo inner net tent to be adequate in size for me (5’10” & 180 lbs), although, I can see how some would feel they would need more room. However, I have enough room to lay down, or even to sit up to change clothes. When lying on thicker pads (such as the Exped SynMat UL7) and using thicker sleeping bags (such as my 15 F Marmot Helium) yes, the head and the foot of my bag will rub against the mesh walls of the inner net, but, there is still several inches from each end of the mesh wall to the walls of the Duomid, so I see no issue with this, nor has it ever proven to be an issue in other similar set-ups. So, I personally am happy with the size of the solo inner net for my needs.
Here are a few photos showing the size of the floor on the solo inner net tent. For a point of reference, the pad in the photos is a large (77″ x 25″) NeoAir XLite:
Concerning weight, as I mentioned above, it is not the lightest of the light, however, it is not supposed to be. In terms of single person shelter, it is still lighter than any other fully featured big name tent (ok, maybe something from Big Sky?), and of course a bit lighter than the traditional 2 man tents. And while my 1+ person ZPacks set-up comes out to be about 9 oz lighter, it also doesn’t offer as much protection, or space, as the Duomid set-up does. So, for me, considering what the Duomid & the solo inner net tent offers, I am happy with the weight, nor is weight the main goal of this set-up. I have decided to go all out with this set-up: keeping the 3mm guy line on the lower tie outs rather than 2mm guy line; keeping the Lineloc 3’s attached rather than using knots; using 3/32″ shock cord rather than 1/16″ shock cord, and keeping the silnylon stuff sacks rather than dishing out more $$ for cuben stuff sacks (but to be honest here, I am not sure why the Duomid or the solo inner net tent came with silnylon stuff sacks as opposed to cuben stuff sacks after dropping $680 on it for the set-up… maybe it’s a durability/weight/price thing…?)
Anyway, as I mentioned above, currently, the total weight is looking to be around 29 oz. Here is the breakdown so far, and of course these numbers may change in time:
- Duomid with stuff sack & all guylines: 16.1 oz
- Solo Inner Net Tent with stuff sack & all guylines: 8.1 oz
- Polycro cut to size, inside ziplock bag: 1.1 oz
- 6″ pole jack & 12 stakes in stake sack: 4.4 oz
(The stakes consists of 4 Easton 8″ Nanolite stakes & 8 ti shepherd hook stakes from Lawson Kine. I am using a cut down large tent pole bag from ZPacks to store the stakes and pole jack in, although, this is temporary…)
Now, something to note, and that I have never had any concern with before, but now due to the size of the Duomid I do, is pack size.
In case the words in the above photo are too small to read, the backpack on the bottom is my 60L ZPacks Arc Blast backpack. Then from L to R, the pieces above it are the MLD Solo Inner Net Tent, the MLD (cuben fiber) Duomid, the ZPacks Hexamid Solo Plus tarp w/ beak, and the ZPacks Hexanet (which is actually stuffed really loose on purpose).
When packing, I prefer to keep the tarp in an outside pocket for quick access, then the inner net tent (and usually the polycro ground sheet to) go inside my pack. (I can do this with these set-ups because I can throw the tarp up first, then retreat under the tarp and finish setting things up.) The ZPacks tarp above packs very easily in the side pockets on my backpacks, but the Duomid will require a bit more room, at least in height. In the pack pictured above, it fits ok, but in my smaller ZPacks Zero backpack with side pockets, it is a bit more of a challenge. In the end, I don’t think it will be a problem, however, it is the first time that the size of a packaged tent has made me think… so I thought it was worth noting.
Anyway, at this point, I am super excited with this set-up! No, it will not take the place of my ZPacks tarp & hexanet set-up all of the time, but it will now be another option. It is not uncommon for my hikes to be quite rainy, and on those hikes, it will be good to know that I can now take a more closed up, spacious set-up. This will make the time inside the set-up a bit more relaxing, and as I mentioned above, will even offer me a more spacious place to actually cook in should I need to.
To be fair, I can already tell that it is not a perfect shelter, just as none of my others are, nor have been, but I can say this, it is AWESOME, and it will be a nice addition to my gear closet, or better yet, on the trail! I am definitely looking forward to using this set-up…. but until then, thanks for stopping by… I hope this post helps answer questions others may have about this set-up, and if not, feel free to comment below and if I can help, I will be happy to do so.
Thanks again, and happy trails!
Disclaimers & Notes:
I paid the full price for the MLD Duomid & the solo inner net tent. I am not affiliated with Mountain Laurel Designs in any way, nor am I being compensated in any way for presenting this post. These statements above are my own thoughts, which I have formed in the last few days after personally handling these pieces myself.
**Cooking inside shelters is not recommended, for several reasons. While I may choose to do so on occasion, know that I am not suggesting that anyone else should do so, nor do I accept any responsibility should someone else attempt to do so. Cook at your own risk!
Also, because both price and weight of the Duomid’s can change, I should note that I placed my order in February of 2015, and these pieces were built in April of 2015.
And no, I am not selling my ZPacks Hexamid Tarp & Hexanet set-up. LOL… 🙂