Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

MLD Duomid first steps

Xmas has come early this year with a nice package from Ron Bell, a Cuben Duomid.

I’d been thinking about another shelter for a while; I’ve been perfectly happy with the performance of the Trailstar (Silnylon) it’s a bomber shelter that has survived unscathed through some really bad weather but I’d come to the conclusion that I needed a few ‘things’ that the Trailstar couldn’t give me for specific circumstances, specifically:

  • A shelter that I could button up in winter to keep blowing snow outside; running around in the middle of the night re-pitching in your underwear is not the nicest of occupations.
  • Something that sheds snow reasonably well.
  • Had to be roomy; in bad weather I like to get the shelter up, get inside, get sorted out of the weather, cook, etc the Trailstar is ideal for this.   Living in something like a Laser Coffin on multi-week trips is not for me.
  • Had to have a smaller ‘plot’ size than the Trailstar for extended backpacking trips where maybe space was at a premium. e.g. next year’s Pyrenees adventure.
  • It had to be light.

The Cuben Duomid while acknowledged to not be as wind tolerant as the Trailstar (not many shelters are IMO) seemed to tick all of my boxes & I’d had the advantage of being able to look one over on the TGO Challenge (as well as other shelters).  Of course the $425 cost means a large stiff drink was required before pushing the button, but at least it managed to get through customs without additional charges.

After giving it a check over for any obvious defects, I didn’t spot anything, the next obvious thing was to get it put up in the garden.

I’d looked about on the internet for other peoples experience/ recommendation of guy lengths, without a lot of consensus, so decided to make the lower ones all 60cm the same as the Trailstar.  I’ll want to be able to bury a stake or a bag in snow so thought the MLD recommended 18” (45cm) lines a bit short.  I used the MLD supplied line on the 4 corners but for the other lines I used 2.3 diameter Glowwire (from Zpacks); one end has a loop big enough to get a MSR Blizzard stake through the other has two knots about 5cm apart so a tail is left if the guy is pulled to full extension.

830-Corner guy

For the mid panel tie out I added a Lineloc to the shock-cord loops (prussik type knot) instead of using the Camcleats type Line-locs or knots; I find this a much more practical arrangement when anchors are buried in the snow.


The mid panels guys were cut at 150cm for the narrow end and 200cm for the long side, 150cm all around would have been sufficient but the additional 50cm on the long panel guys enables a simple arrangement for pulling an ‘eyebrow’ to increase ventilation (just tie the ends together, clove hitch around the stake & then the 2 lines can be adjusted independently.

834-Back + Eyebrow

Pitching the Duomid turned out to be very straight forward following the MLD method (peg out the 4 corners square, insert the pole, tension up & then pop in the rest of the stakes.  I used a Leki Makalu pole which when set to max (145cm) seemed about right for a close to the ground pitch; with the point into the soft ground actual height was around 140cm (~55”).


Wish I’d paid more attention to a post by Robin @ Blogpackinglight as the need/ advantages of one of his Mod’s to the Duomid really became apparent, adding an extra Lineloc at the door.  I should have got Ron to add one, now I’ll have to do it myself.

No pole extender came with the Duomid (an MLD oversight) so I quickly knocked up a 15cm one for the Leki from a broken pole section I’d found on the trail.  The ‘socket’ end had to be swaged out a little to match the Leki’s tapered pole tip with some gentle heat & a steel podger, I used an old pole basket as the stopper (moulded over with a hot knife), this gave a good result with almost zero play enabling quite a high pitch, 155cm, & weighing in at 21g.

Pole jack + tools

Since I will probably be carrying my Fizan Compact 4 poles most of the time, which have 125cm maximum length,  I thought it was opportune to try & sort out a jack/ pole extender of some sort.

I made up a 25cm pole jack from some 16mm tube but although it was a reasonable fit on the Fizan’s pole tip the resultant assembly didn’t look or feel robust enough for the job, mainly down to the relatively small diameter lower section of the Fizan poles; Plan A abandoned.

I thought about ordering a Pole Extender from Backpackinglight but then I remember I had an old pair of Leki’s that had been consigned to the scrap heap & abandoned in the loft; took me about ½ hr to knock up a 14mm extender that connects the upper two sections of the poles together

Extender 1#

It works very well, with minimal lateral play (this was reduced with a couple of wraps of tape on the extender) but I had a few issues with this: it was a bit fiddly to use as the Fizan pole diameter is slightly larger than the expanders are designed for; quite heavy at 49g (the Backpacking Light version is 47g); the length ~ 38cm, where would I pack it?

Idea 2# came as I stared at the various bits of tubing laying around on the bench, the middle section of the Leki poles, 16mm diameter, fitted neatly over the third section of the Fizan’s, an external connector?  All that was needed was a 15cm long piece & reusing the plastic ends held everything snugly together for handling.

Extender 2#

With the poles set at my normal walking length of 110cm it’s a simple matter of removing the lower section of both poles, reducing the next section to around 7.5cm stick out & then plugging the two poles together to give a 140cm pole (handle to handle) & it’s adjustable up to 155cm.  This is my favourite as it’s sturdy, packs with the stakes & only weighs 23g.  Time will tell how well the plastic ends stands up to bearing onto the end of next section of tube but the worse that could occur is that the aluminium tube ends would end up bearing on each other, so far there’s no apparent damage to the plastic.

I did look at the various methods of tying the two poles together end to end & had multiple attempts using various lengths of cord, webbing, Velcro bindings, etc while they worked but nothing seemed simple straight forward, or IMO robust, enough to be messing about with on a dark winter’s night with the snow blowing.  The simplest & lightest could come up with was my ‘Chinese Finger’.

Pole binding

Simply a 2.5m length of 2mm Dyneema: clove hitch in the middle over the tip of one pole; criss-cross line down binding the two poles together; terminate the ends with clove hitches around the other pole tip.  This method has the advantage of being self tightening, the more load on the pole the tighter the binding becomes; conversely pulling the poles apart slackens everything off for disassembly. With the Fizans bound like this the ‘top’ adjustable pole section of both poles are accessible for height adjustment. I wouldn’t plan to use this method normally but I reckon knowing ‘how to’ as contingency plan is worth it; I always have a few metres of Dyneema in the pack.

For those who like these things:

Cuben Duomid, guys, bag & pole extender = 490g.

Stakes, thought for normal use I’d take along 6 Easton & 6 Ti skewers = 130g; for snow camping I’d probably use 4 Blizzards + 8 Eastons = 200g.

Now all I need to do it to get out into the wild & try it out for real.

Note: After much experience I found the 2.3mm glowwire slips in the Lineloc 3#’s in a glusty storm, I now take the precaution of putting a simple slipped hitch below the lineloc to make sure nothing moves.


8 comments on “MLD Duomid first steps

  1. Robin
    October 18, 2014

    Instead of an extra linelok on the door you might want to just sew a grosgrain loop and use a swapable guy with a karabiner http://blogpackinglight.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/duomid-removable-door-guy/

    • Paul Atkinson
      October 18, 2014

      Still considering this option but can’t see any real advantages at the present.
      I’ve ran out of lineloks (more on order) so I’ve a few days to make up my mind.

      • Robin
        October 18, 2014

        I felt it was neater.

  2. Martin Rye
    October 19, 2014

    I think the SoloMids are better as its easier to use a inverted V to pitch it. But when getting a DuoMid the cuben version is superb. Good choice.

    • Paul Atkinson
      October 19, 2014

      Considered both the SoloMid & SoloMid XL but I’m a glutton for space, one of the reasons I like the Trailstar.
      I tried the DuoMid with the inverted Vee pitch, 2 Leki poles + 30cm jacks, & decided the additional faffing around + extra weight wasn’t worthwhile for me; I can see it being optimal for the SoloMid though.

  3. JohnBoy
    October 20, 2014

    What are you using for a inner Paul, or are you not bothering at the moment ?

    • Paul Atkinson
      October 20, 2014

      I’ll be using a bivi bag + polycro which I much prefer.
      If I decided to ‘get’ a nest would probably just make one myself, it’s a pretty straight forward MYO project.

  4. Pingback: Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD), Duomid Review | Camping Stoves and Other Gear Reviews

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2014 by in Gear, MYOG and tagged , .

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