Tag Archives: X-Mid

Valley and Peak Ultra Bivy first night

For my last garden camp, I used the Valley and Peak Ultra Bivy with my X-Mid. As many of you will know, the X-Mid inner is all mesh, which is not always ideal in Europe in cold, wet and windy weather. One solution is to use a bivy inner like the Ultra Bivy. You can find some more pictures of my bivy and a description here: https://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/valley-peak-double-j-zip-ultra-bivy/

Installing the Ultra Bivy under the X-Mid fly is very easy. I found pegging the individual corners of the bivy rather than using cords to clip to the fly sheet gave a better pitch. I’ve added linelok 3’s at either end which helps with getting the right tension for the apex shock cord. It’s almost as if the Ultra Bivy was made for the X-Mid.

I’ve never used a bivy inner before so I was interested in how it would feel. The bivy itself is only big enough for a sleeping mat and sleeping bag/quilt with a little bit of storage at either end. The large double J zip means the whole roof can be opened up. I was glad of my mod to clip the door back which tidied away the large panel neatly (I’ll do a separate post on the tweaks that I’ve made). N.B. the picture below is from my original post and I have dispensed with the yellow cord on the corners.

With the roof open, the Ultra Bivy is more like a groundsheet tub than an inner. This means that gear needs to be stored in the porches. It’s worth having a small piece of groundsheet or polythene to put your rucksack and gear on. The fact that the X-Mid has two large porches means that there’s plenty of room to store and organise gear.

I was a bit concerned that it might feel claustrophobic when the roof/door was zipped up, but this wasn’t the case. I didn’t feel shut in and it was surprisingly easy to unzip the roof panel to sit up. I used my As Tucas Foratata quilt and found that using a quilt was good as when opening the roof, then sitting up, I could slide the quilt down to the end of the bivy without any material dragging on the ground in the porch. This might be more difficult with a conventional sleeping bag. Because the bivy is relatively narrow and enclosed, it is ideal to use with a quilt as there’s no chance of draughts under the edges.

I used the V&P hood, but didn’t attach it at the apex. This provided enough draught protection but also gave a bit more ventilation and felt less closed in. I’ve added some kamsnaps to the hood for ease of attachment (again, I’ll do a separate post on this). The roof pocket was great for small items like a pack of tissues and phone.

There’s not much else I can say. Overall, I’m really pleased with the Ultra Bivy. Given that there’s no solid inner option for the X-Mid (I’d still like one!), the Ultra Bivy is a good alternative and should work well in cold, wet and windy conditions, where a mesh inner is less comfortable.

Valley and Peak Ultra Bivy: https://valleyandpeak.co.uk/collections/shelter/products/j-zip-ultra-bivy

Disclosure: I have no relationship with Valley and Peak and bought the Ultra Bivy with my own money.

Garden camp no. 2

I spent another night camping in my garden last night. This time I used my X-Mid and Valley and Peak Ultra Bivy. I was impressed with the Ultra Bivy. I’ll write a short review soon. I must be getting old. Even though it only got down to 8c, I felt a little cold. Fortunately I had some extra layers. Despite a bit more traffic noise than last week, I had a reasonable night’s sleep.

Valley & Peak X-Mid draught screen

A little while ago, I asked Mark and Mary at Valley and Peak https://valleyandpeak.co.uk/ to make a draught curtain that I designed for my X-Mid. It weighs 31g and is made out of their bivy top material. It attaches with mitten hooks and lineloks with shock cord. It can be left in place and can go at either end. The corner near the trekking pole can either be pegged or attached to the trekking pole.

I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and the quality is top notch. There’s no price yet but V&P will probably put it into production soon. It’s a partial solution to the lack of on a solid inner, especially if you don’t want to buy the Ultra Bivy and want to use the mesh inner.

Dan Durston X-Mid mods

No tent survives long in my collection without a few tweaks. The X-Mid is a great design but I’ve made some minor changes, which I think improves it.

Apex eyelet

Although I don’t think there’s an issue with the tip of a trekking pole rubbing against the apex, it pays to be careful so I’ve added a piece of webbing above the brass eyelet. It’s really easy to do. I only used two stitching point so it has a bit of flexibility.

The picture below shows that the pole tip is now cushioned from the apex material.

Subsequent to doing this there was a post on the Trek-Lite forum about using a rubber grommet http://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/dan-durston-massdrop-x-mid.4960/page-21 so naturally I tried it.  I had to cut the surplus rubber tube off the grommet before using it. It was a bit of a faff to insert and I cut a bit of the collar off on the top side to help. After a bit of gentle persuasion with the end of a pen, I got it to sit correctly.

In the end it fitted perfectly and is a more elegant solution than the webbing, although I left the webbing in place as I couldn’t see the point in removing it. The grommet fits perfectly over the end of both my Leki and Black Diamond poles. It’s an excellent solution and removes any chance of damage from a trekking pole. If you want more discussion or to find out where to get the grommets from, visit Trek-Lite.

Corner shock cord

The corners of the inner tent have non-adjustable cords with a small loop of shock cord attached to the groundsheet. This is absolutely fine but does stretch quite tight and might be an issue on uneven ground.

To make the pitch of the inner tent more forgiving, I replaced the short tie out with a full loop of shock cord. This worked really well and makes the pitch of the inner more flexible and less likely to suffer damage if there is any strain on the groundsheet. One of the corners popped on my Scarp through excessive strain.

3mm corner tie outs

I used some old MLD cord for beefier corner tie outs. MLD cord is more secure than thinner gauge cord and definitely won’t slip in the line lok, unlike some 2mm cord. I’m not saying the cord supplied will slip, but better safe than sorry!

Intermediate pegging points

The X-Mid has intermediate pegging points at either end and the door panel, which are useful for windy weather. However, they are just small webbing loops. I’ve added a loop of shock cord to them and on the end ones, I’ve also added a loop of thin cord to give the option of a firm pegging point.

Additional apex guy line

Using the two external apex guys gives a pretty secure pitch. However, the X-Mid comes with two extra lengths of cord, so I decided to see whether an extra guy on each apex would add to the stability. Dan suggested taking the guys from the pole tips out through the vent opening.

This worked reasonably well, but I also tried using it just inside the door running to nearly the corner of the tent (it’s not long enough to go to the corner peg).

I thought this worked rather well. It adds quite a bit of stability to the trekking pole. It also provides the door panel with a bit of bracing against the wind deflecting if inwards (depending on where you put the peg). Lastly, it gives you an internal washing line.

Temporary door panel guy

Another potential way of cutting down door panel excursion in windy conditions is to use the door tie back loop as an attachment point for a guy. The loop seems pretty solid and it’s easy to attach a temporary guy. Obviously you need to be careful not to over-tighten the guy and distort the tent, otherwise it could cause damage. It’s only intended to stop the fabric from flapping too much. I might add a short shock cord loop as MLD do to the guys on the Duomid to avoid stressing the tent fabric. Most of the time the guy won’t be necessary, but it could be useful in very windy conditions.

I’m looking forward to using the X-Mid in the wild soon, possibly in Scotland in May.

Dan Durston X-Mid first look

My X-Mid arrived on Tuesday, just over a week from being dispatched from the US. I was able to track its progress and pay the customs duty quickly. Total cost including customs was £216.34 which is pretty good value.

Weights: inner tent 281g, flysheet 543g, total 824g. Stuff sack 14g, pegs (8) 68g, 2 extra guy lines 17g.

The quality of the workmanship is first class, possibly the best of any tent I’ve owned. A few people have pointed out some minor flaws on theirs, but as far as I can see mine is perfect.

The next day I pitched it in the garden. It was very easy to pitch, making sure that the fly formed a perfect rectangle as per the instructions on the original video. Inserting the trekking poles was simple. Pulling out the apex guy lines made a virtually perfect pitch first time.

Clipping the inner inside the flysheet was straightforward and that was that! I used the supplied titanium pins as the ground is very dry at the moment but I’d use beefier pegs in the wild like the Easton Golds as the corners need to be pinned down well. Grabbing the top of the trekking poles (I used my Black Diamond ones), the apexes were reasonably solid and overall I think it should be decently stormworthy, although it might flap a bit if the wind hits the door panel square on.

Inside, it’s surprisingly roomy and certainly long enough for me to lie out with no chance of either my head or my feet touching the mesh. The mesh wall at either end is quite steep which is a nice contrast to most mid type shelters. Because it uses two poles and has two apexes, the head room is much better than conventional mids. I love the storage pocket along the ridge line.

In the past I’ve been quite critical of J zip doors, but the J zips on the X-Mid are just right. There’s an opposing door on either side, which means there will always be a sheltered entrance no matter which direction the wind comes from.

I love having two easily accessible porches and they are a good size for storing gear or cooking in. The trapezoidal shape of the inner gives some good storage space at the ends which compensates for the slightly narrow width of the inner (c.70cm). I’m not a huge fan of mesh inners because they are draughty, but one advantage is that it makes the tent feel huge. I still think a solid inner will be better for Northern European backpacking and hopefully one will be available next year.

Above the doors are large vents with struts which can be closed if desired with Velcro. I imagine that condensation will be kept to a minimum under most circumstances. The flysheet material is polyester which has less stretch when wet than silnylon. It feels quite robust. All the seems are tape sealed.

One comment on backpacking forums is that some people were worried about abrasion from pole tips. While the poles tips do protrude a bit, they aren’t under much pressure so should be OK. I tried using rubber tips on the poles, which got rid of the issue. However, there are a couple of other solutions, which I’ll share in another post. Indeed, there are some easy little tweaks which I will pass on. The photos here don’t accurately reproduce the colour which is a light sage colour. Matt Holland has done a couple of good videos on the X-Mid which are worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/user/OutdoorsMH

Overall, I’m really impressed with the design and quality of the X-Mid. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s only available in batches from Massdrop and that it will be some time before more are available. However, it’s well worth the wait.

Link to Durston Wilderness Equipment: http://durstongear.com/

Link to Massdrop: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-dan-durston-x-mid-1p-tent



Massdrop Dan Durston X-Mid 1P Tent

I thought readers might be interested in this innovative tent that is currently on offer at Massdrop designed by Dan Durston. I was a bit sceptical at first, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked the design. I’m not a great fan of mesh inners, but I think this might perform better than most as the flysheet goes to the ground all the way round, unlike most tents with mesh inners. At $199.99, it seems good value. It uses silpoly rather than silnylon for the flysheet, which should obviate the normal issue of the flysheet stretching when wet, which is a bit of an irritation with mids that use silnylon. I like the enhanced headroom and vents too. Although I don’t strictly need another tent, it does look good, so I put my name down for one. There are plans for a version with a solid inner and a two person version which might come to fruition next year. The only drawback with Massdrop is that it won’t be delivered until May next year. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Massdrop page: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-dan-durston-x-mid-1p-tent