Tag Archives: Duomid

Duomid tweaks tested

DSC02226For my stay at Maeneira, I used my cuben Duomid with my latest mods. I recommend the apex front guy. It adds hugely to stablity and takes the strain away from the front pegging points. This means that the Duomid keeps its shape much better when either or both of the door panels are open. I simplified the the guy by using a single cord secured by a side-release linelok sewed on the grosgrain between the apex and the top of the door zip.


Previously, I had secured one end on the outside apex loop as well, so effectively it was a double guy. On reflection, this was overkill. The advantage of my current system is the tension can be adjusted from within the Duomid and the guy can be released quickly, if necessary. If you want to copy this and don’t want to use a linelok, then it is just as effective to make a tie out from the apex loop on the outside of the shelter.

DSC02224I was also pleased with my quick release door pegging points. These mimick the Tramplite shelter. It’s so much easier to open the door now. Having two lineloks also gives flexibility to have either door panel open. By using long cords, it’s also a lot easier to tension from inside.



Duomid tweaking

IMG_1127(2)I copied these ideas from Colin Ibbotson’s new shelter (see here for some pictures from Andy Howell’s blog). Essentially I’ve mimicked the apex guys and the detatchable guys on the door.

IMG_1124(2)On the door panels, instead of the static lineloks, I’ve added some side release lineloks. I canabalised these from my Laufbursche hip belt pockets (they are also available from ExtremTextil). The advantage of these quick release guys is that it is that both door panels can be secured and that either one can be opened quickly, without having to unhook the guy from the peg.

IMG_1128(2)The apex guy is double ended (like Colin’s), secured at the top by a small karabiner and underneath the vent by another side release linelok.

IMG_1126(2)This means the guy is adjustable from inside the shelter and is easily removed without the hassle of unthreading the linelok.

IMG_1125(2)The reason for using an apex guy is that the structure relies on the door guys to ensure an even tension of the shelter material. Once one or both door panels are undone, the structure “relaxes” and loses its tautness. The apex guy prevents this by ensuring that the back panel remains under tension from the opposite pull of the guy.

IMG_1123(2)Even with the doors secured, the centre pole is more secure at the apex and has less freedom of movement. TBH, you don’t necessarily need to have the double guy arrangement or the side release linelok, you could just secure a single length of cord from the apex loop (either with a karabiner or by tieing it off).

I might experiment with a single length to the side release linelok and with another additional guy to the rear. You don’t need extra pegs either as the additional guys can double up with the exisiting peg out points.

Duomid removable door guy

The Duomid from MLD has a guy tie out only on one door panel. This is a bit limiting if the wind changes direction. The remedy was to sew a linelok on the other door panel. However this meant either having two guy lines threaded (leaving one guy unattached) or unthreading and moving the guy line.


I saw some pictures of Colin Ibbotson’s MYOG shelter where he  used a karabiner with a loop of grosgrain and a linelok to make a removable guying point. Ingenious, so I copied it. It took less than five minutes to sew the grosgrain loop (with kevlar thread!). Hey presto! A removable guying point that can be swapped between door panels.

IMG_1074.JPG (2)

MLD Cuben Duomid vent mod

Last year, on Dartmoor, I discovered that the vent on my MLD Cuben Duomid doesn’t close properly because the Velcro on the hood doesn’t line up properly. On that occasion, I used a clothes peg to shut it.


Since then, I’ve been thinking of a more permanent solution using either some Velcro or some snap closures.


I decided the neatest solution was to sew a strip of Velcro on the grosgrain strip that links the zip to the crown of the shelter (shown above).


This now mates properly with the Velcro on the vent hood (shown above).


The vent hood now closes securely (after removing the plastic hood stay) , preventing any wind blown rain from getting inside the shelter.

2013: gear review

It may surprise you but I haven’t bought much gear this year. However, I’ve made plenty of posts on gear. So here’s a round up of some thoughts on the gear that I’ve used in 2013.


The tent I’ve used most this year has been the Force Ten Nitro Lite 200, which I bought near the end of 2012. I’ve always wanted a tunnel tent. While it’s very good tent, I’ve found it needs several modifications to make it into an excellent tent.


For the modest weight, you get an amazing amount of room, all of which is usable, unlike some other designs. With the double side guys and Tension Band System, it is very stable, although side-on winds will always make tunnel tents flap a bit. Generally, it’s a well thought out design and I like it a lot.


For many, the million dollar question is: “is it better than the Scarp1?”. Back in January, I did a long-term review of the Scarp, which I think is one of the best tents ever designed.

My answer is still that the Scarp is slightly better but the gap has narrowed. My reason for still preferring the Scarp is that it sheds wind in all directions, even side on, which means it is more flexible when selecting a pitch. Like the Nitro, the Scarp needs some modifications to push it into the excellent category, which you can find here.

The other shelter that I used during the year was my cuben MLD Duomid. You won’t be surprised that I modified that as well! I still like the Duomid, especially for summer. During the year I acquired a MLD Trailstar and OookStar inner. As yet, I’ve not tried them out, but I’m looking forward to using them.


I’ve only used one pack this year: the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. I think it’s an excellent pack and I posted a long-term review in August. In October, I bought an AirBeam frame for the Mariposa. I’m looking forward to using it.


Sleeping mats

Sleeping mats have become a bit of a topic in backpacking circles, with the initial enthusiasm for air mats mats fading as longevity and puncture issues became apparent. I wrote an assessment back in January. This year, I’ve mainly used the Nemo Zor self inflating mat. I’ve found it more comfortable than I’d expected and will continue to use it, especially with my bespoke silk cover.


As Tucas cuben stuff sacks

Near the end of this year, I ordered some cuben stuff sacks from a new cottage manufacturer in Spain, As Tucas. After my initial order, I liaised with Marco and ordered a bespoke cuben rucksack liner/drybag. Obviously, I’ve not tried these yet, but the workmanship is very good. Marco has some other interesting items and is open to bespoke orders, so go and have a look.


Fuel4: a potential game changer?

In November, I was sent a free sample of a new fuel for backpackers by Fuel4. Fuel4 is an alcohol jelly. I did some tests and was impressed. For me it addresses two of the major drawbacks of meths: the smell and soot deposits. I shall do some field tests in 2014 and report back. I still like the immediacy and convenience of gas, but can see the attractions of Fuel4.



As most of you know, I prefer mid boots for walking. While I’ve used trail shoes, most of the time, I just prefer mids. It’s a personal thing. I’ve been a big fan of Salomon Fastpackers but they are now out of production. The nearest replacement is the X Ultra Mids, which I used in the Lake District in September. To my delight, these are even better than the Fastpackers. They are even more comfortable and have a better grip.



There’s not been much new in the way of clothes, but two items I used for the first time in 2013 were my Paramo Fuera Ascent jacket and Mountain Equipment Ibex trousers. The Ibex trousers (not pants!) are superb. They are by far the best soft shell trousers I’ve tried. I’m seriously thinking of using them for the Challenge. I also like the Fuera Ascent windproof. OK, it’s quite heavy, but it’s a lovely jacket with fantastic venting. For summer, though, I really like the Rohan Windshadow jacket as a windproof. It’s a shame the hood isn’t better designed. I also like the Rohan Pacific shirt in summer.


Lifeproof Fre iPhone 5 case

Lastly, if you’re an iPhone user, it’s well worth considering the Lifeproof Fre case. It makes your iPhone waterproof and shock resistant but is low weight and surprisingly slim. I’ve started using my iPhone as a GPS and have 1:50,000 maps on it. Since buying this case, my SatMap has become redundant. I liked the case so much, I bought a second case in lime green, so it stands out more if I drop it.DSC01169

Disclosure: with the exception of Fuel4, all these items were purchased with my own money. Fuel4 sent me a free sample to test. I have no formal or financial relationships with any gear manufacturers or retailers.

Weight vs Cost

photoOn my previous post about my As Tucas cuben dry sack, Alan made the understandable point that €40 (£34) seemed a lot of money to save 87g. I thought it would be interesting to look at some trade-offs of weight saved versus cost.

Firstly, taking rucksack liners, an Exped silnylon 50L liner costs £17 and weighs 72g. This is actually slightly larger than mine, so not a totally fair comparison. However, in terms of cost per gram saved it works out at 38p per gram. Of course, we must take into account that I rejected silnylon liners because of concerns over robustness.

If we take the normal gauge Exped liner (actually their XXL dry bag as it is a comparable size), then it weighs 110g (according to Amazon) and costs £15.50. The cost per gram saved of the As Tucas dry bag over this Exped liner is 23p per gram, which is better value.

P1000069If we take a quick look at tents, then we can compare the Terra Nova Laser Competition 1 and the Wild Country Zephyros Lite 1 as close substitutes. The Laser Competition is 194g lighter but costs an extra £135. Every gram saved in this trade-off is costing 70p.

DSC00889If we take the Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid and compare the silnylon version with the more expensive cuben version, we find the cost per gram saved is 59p. I also looked at the comparison of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa and the cheaper Osprey Exos 46. in this case the lighter Mariposa will cost you an extra 27p per gram saved.

DSC00997In the context of these comparisons, it no longer seems quite as extravagant to have bought a cuben pack liner. I guess the other thing to take into account is the cumulative weight savings. By chipping off a few grams here and there (albeit at extra cost), the extra weight savings soon become quite significant. In the end, it’s all a matter of personal choice. Everyone will have their own cost/benefit curve (to use a technical economics term!).

OookWorks developments

At the moment there’s not much going on here on the backpacking front. We’re having a new bathroom installed. The finish date is indeterminate at the moment, so until that’s clear, I doubt I’ll be going anywhere. We’ve also got a test match coming up soon, so it looks like the earliest I’ll be able to go somewhere is the end of July.

So, just to keep you entertained, I thought I’d highlight a couple of things that Sean at OookWorks has been developing. Firstly, he’s been working on a lightweight bug bivy called the BugritBivy. This will probably not be available until next year, but looks an interesting bit of gear for a single skin tarp shelter. Total weight is 209g


The second development is a two person nest for the MLD Duomid called the 2Oookan Duomid Nest. It weighs 440g, which is only 125g more than my solo cuben hybrid nest. The Duomid is easily large enough to accommodate two people, although storage space is limited and the porch becomes quite small. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting option and Sean is adding it to his core range.


One of the advantages of a shelter like the Duomid is that it is modular, and different nests can provide different functionality. I may get Sean to make me a nest with solid side and rear walls for use outside summer as I find mesh a bit draughty. It’s good to see Sean back in action and developing new products.

OookTub first look

So far all of OookWorks products have been “made to order”. A few days ago, Sean introduced some tarps and groundsheets (tubs) which are stock items and could be delivered immediately. I was interested in the OookTub as it would give me some flexibility to use my Duomid or possibly Scarp as a single skin shelter. I could have bought a flat groundsheet, but I feel more secure with a tray type groundsheet, given the number of times I’ve had rivulets run under a tent.


While £60 is approximately double the cost of a quality flat groundsheet, you get a high level of workmanship (as usual with OookWorks) and four corner struts with adjustable shockcord that makes a perfect bath tub groundsheet (220cm x 75cm, 150g without stuff sack, 159g with stuff sack).


It’s big enough to accommodate an Exped Synmat UL with space to spare.


Fits perfectly inside my cuben MLD Duomid. The mat is the Nemo Zor short.


I’ve always wondered about using the Tarptent Scarp 1 as a single skin shelter.


Without the inner, the space is huge.


The OookTub fits perfectly.


The Scarp inner weighs 470g, so substituting the OookTub would save around 320g.


So the OookTub introduces some interesting summer options (as long as there aren’t bugs about!).

You can find more details here.

Disclaimer: my OookTub was purchased with my own funds.

Return of the Duomid

This morning my MLD Duomid arrived back from the US. Excellent service from Ron. He’s repaired and reinforced the panel linelok with an extra layer of cuben and done a very neat job.

Above you can just about make out the patch on the outside. Below shows the repair on the inside of the fly.

The pull out is now extremely strong, in fact stronger than the others. It’s also hardly noticeable, so well done MLD. I was a bit sceptical that it could be repaired but MLD has done a great job. I shall be taking it to Dartmoor now, along with the OookWorks hybrid inner, which also arrived today after a little tweak by Sean. More pictures after my trip!

Cuben Duomid return

I resumed my Challenge training today by walking to the Post Office to send my cuben Duomid back to MLD to be exchanged. It was disappointing not to have been able to take it to the Carneddau, but there was a manufacturing fault on one of the mid panel pegging points which led to a tear in the tent fabric (shown below).

I emailed Ron Bell at MLD and within fifteen minutes he had replied saying send it back and he would replace it. No quibbles, just he’d replace it. Now that’s customer service. His view is that there is a fabric defect, although I think there’s been an accidental cut in the reinforcing fabric before it was glued.

It shows that extreme care needs to be exercised when manufacturing gear in cuben, especially when it comes to reinforcing and stitching. Discussing it with Sean, he suggested that the reinforcing could have been done a slightly different way, reducing the chances of failure. I can’t see this happening to the silnylon version, which seems to be very strong.

It makes me a little more cautious about where to use the cuben version as it could be prone to catastrophic failure. I’m glad that it didn’t happen in a storm on a mountain somewhere. Click on photos to enlarge.