Whiteburn's Wanderings

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

Trailstar Vs Duomid

My much loved MLD Trailstar has now gone to a new owner whom I’m sure will get as much enjoyment out of it as I did.  I hadn’t really thought to sell it but it had sat in the gear box for over a year un-used & when some-one on Trek-lite Forum advertising for one I thought what the hell, given the high prices I’d seen for 2nd hand ones I suppose I could have squeezed a few more ££’s but I was happy at the price I received. I did dig out the old invoice & reckoned the TS had cost me less than 18 pence (25 cents) per night, a bargain.

IMG_0622 Affric pitch

Why hadn’t the TS been used much recently?..…..well it’s all down to the MLD Cuben Duomid which put in an appearance back in late 2014.

Originally I bought the Duomid as a winter shelter & once used a few times it just became the first thing that got packed. So after over a year & more than 75 nights use is the Duomid better than the Trailstar……….well yes & no.

The Duomid performed very well through last in winter; I found the ability to fully close it up an advantage & it sheds the snow better than the TS, also the cuben doesn’t absorb water so it’s less prone to freezing like a sheet of cardboard like the silnylon can do.


The Duomid also needs a distinctly smaller plot than the TS so whether digging out a platform in the snow or trying to get set up in a boulder strewn environment it does make life a little easier……..the useable space within the Duomid is however not much less than the TS & is more than ample for the slovenly solo trekker (like me).

In my experience the Duomid attracts higher wind loads than the TS due to its higher peak & steeper sides (45deg at ends & 60deg front & back), it needs robust stakes in poor weather & prefer the use the 9” Easton stakes at the 4 corners.

The guy line set up I mentioned in Duomid first steps has worked out pretty well with a few tweaks. I did add longer guys (90cm) to the 4 corners, generally long enough get down through the snow to terra firma or to tie to a snow anchor.  I’d intended to switch back to shorter ones for summer but never got around to it. I did find having the longer guys proved advantageous in the Pyrenees where a couple of time I had to supplement the stakes with large boulders at the corners (placed on the line between the stake & tarp).

I have also added a 3m long guy to the external peak loop, this can be placed straight out from the door when they’re both open to maintain tension in the rear panel OR in really windy conditions run upwind to take some of the load. It can also make a good washing line when tied off to a tree.

I’ve tried various trekking poles for the shelter support; Leki Makalu’s, Fizan Compact 4’s, BD Trail Pro’s & Pacer poles (with flicklock modification) with various extenders, connectors & in an A frame configuration.

In general I’ve invariably preferred the simple single pole setup with the flicklock type of poles (BD Trail Pro’s or Pacer’s) as I’ve found it far easier to adjust the height of pitch & get it ‘just right’. The BD’s are simply connected with a 15cm piece of 12mm 7075 alloy trekking pole (~18g) in a handle up & down configuration, for maximum strength I’ll offset the connection piece as far from the centre span as possible; I did have one of these connectors made from an inferior aluminium alloy bend in a storm which was a bit un-nerving but it did demonstrate the high load that the pole may take.

BD Extender 3 (Medium)

With the Pacer poles I use an 18mm flick lock connector (20cm of 18mm pipe with a flicklock at each end, ~75g); the pole handle sections are removed & the two piece lower sections joined. This does require removing any basket from one of the poles & putting on a rubber ‘street foot’ (for the peak) but the resultant pole is reassuringly solid & has become favourite for winter outings.

IMG_2088 (Medium)

In my experience the cuben Duomid is definitely more finicky to pitch than the TS which is all down to the stiffer material.  The inherent stretch in the silnylon of the TS make it easy to get a good taught pitch; initially I found the Duomid a bit frustrating getting a taut pitch on a bumpy site, particularly if I was trying to get it close to the ground in bad weather. There’s no magic recipe or prophetic words of advice………………it’s just down to practise.

Build/ wear & tear

Well I can say that I haven’t noticed any signs of wear & tear despite seeing some high winds, a good testimony for the materials & general MLD built quality; the only noticeable change I’ve noted is that the cuben material seems to have ‘softened’ a bit with use making it easier to pack.

The only niggle I have with the Duomid is the peak vent design, like many owners I’ve found it impossible to close fully as the velcro doesn’t line up properly; having said this I’ve not had any issues with rain or snow penetration.


The Duomid has a lot of space for the solo trekker but it has one significant disadvantage over the TS; the sleep area is directly adjacent to the rear wall & so it can feel significantly more drafty & you’re more exposed to rain bounce in heavy rain.  With the TS you’re generally sleeping well away from the shelter’s edge so much so that I would often just use a simple ground sheet; with the Duomid I’ll definitely reserve sleeping ‘open’ to the calm nights without the prospect of heavy rain.

This was probably the main driver for investing in a couple of MYO nests for the Duomid; one has mostly solid walls for winter use & the other mostly mesh for summer, both are around 250g so not appreciably heavier than a bivi bag & IMO more comfortable.  At some point I intend to do a MYO Duomid Nest posting to share this relatively straight forward project with patterns & basic instructions.

IMG_2109 (Large)


2 comments on “Trailstar Vs Duomid

  1. AlanR
    July 8, 2016

    I agree with all you have written about the Duomid. Mine is the silnylon model and although i din’t read you first post on it, i have done all the mods you mention as well.
    I use the Alpkit carbon poles, either single or duo. If i go duo poles i have a piece of plastic central heating pipe bent at around 60 degrees to support the poles and give the extra length required. In the apex i use a tennis ball cut through the centre to locate the poles and protect the material from damage.
    I too found that the peak vent let rain in during certain conditions. I made a new piece of nylon that i could close off the opening. I made it so that it still allowing air to funnel up through the top if i wanted it to but shed any rain/snow back outside.
    The duo poles definitely help keep the rear wall off you or your inner nest when the weather is adverse. I have also added 2 more guy down points on the rear wall that i find help as well.
    All in all its a fine shelter.

    • Paul Atkinson
      July 8, 2016

      I haven’t really experienced any issue with touching of the rear wall which may be down to the different material; the cuben being far less stretchy than silnylon so doesn’t move as much in the wind & doesn’t stretch when wet.
      I had thought to make a mesh infill ‘window’ for the peak vent, attached with Velcro, if it becomes a real problem I’ll give it a go.

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This entry was posted on July 7, 2016 by in Gear, Reviews and tagged .

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