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Dec 4, 2018
How would you compare the Xmid to a SMD Lunar Solo?
Dec 4, 2018
Dan Durston
Dec 4, 2018
BislyHi Bisly, Sorry I've been slow to answer this one. Tent comparison questions are my favorite, so I wanted to take my time and do a good job. I should also mention I've never used or seen a Lunar Solo (I have looked over a Lunar Duo) so it's possible that something I say is wrong, but I am trying to be fair. First, the X-Mid and the Lunar Solo are comparable in many ways. They are both trekking pole supported 1P tents and they even both use 20D silpolyester for the fly fabric, which is great because it doesn't sag/droop in the rain like nylon. However, they do have one fundamentally large difference, which is that the Lunar Solo is a single wall design whereas the X-Mid is a double wall. Single wall tents are lighter since there's just one layer of material but they give away a lot of functionality to save that weight. They don't provide protection from contacting condensation and they aren't modular, so they aren't nearly as nice in sloppy conditions and you can't use just the inner tent or just the fly as conditions warrant. Basically single wall tents are a more specialized design that is better suited to moderate conditions, whereas double walls are more well rounded for a wider range of conditions. A double wall is better in hot conditions (use just the inner), rainy conditions (protection from condensation), cold conditions (a bit warmer) and outside of bug season (go even lighter with fly + groundsheet). Anyways, here are properly scaled diagrams of these two tents:
This first thing you may notice is that the floor area of the Lunar Solo is larger. Indeed it is at 26 sq ft versus 17 sq feet for the X-Mid. The floor of the X-Mid isn't particularly small - it's about average for a 1P tent - but the Lunar Solo has quite a large floor. This is an advantage of the lunar solo but there is a caveat here: the roof of the tent slopes down a lot in the Lunar Solo because it is a 1 pole design, so the roof is very low around the edges which limits the use of much of the floor area. You can only sit up near the pole in the Lunar Solo. Conversely, the X-Mid has dual poles so the height is preserved over a much larger portion of the tent. Thus the floor area advantage of the Lunar Solo does not translate into an advantage in living volume. On the contrary, the X-Mid can comfortable sit two people (e.g. to play cards) while two people can't sit up at the same time in the Lunar Solo. The low roof around the edges of the lunar solo is compounded by the single wall design, which creates a need to stay well away from the edges. With a single wall tent you need to be careful not to hit the potentially wet walls, whereas there's no worries pressing against any of the edges of the X-Mid floor because the mesh walls will prevent you (or your sleeping bag) from sliding further and hitting the fly. So the Lunar Solo floor is larger - and this is its biggest advantage over the X-Mid - but this difference is less than the specs imply and overall the X-Mid would likely feel like the more "livable"shelter. Also, the single vestibule of the Lunar Solo is very small at only 6.5 square feet (I'm not aware of a 1P tent that has less), whereas the X-Mid has dual generous vestibules space (28 square feet combined - or 4x as much area). The Lunar Solo would let you just cram your stuff in there, whereas the X-Mid lets you have your pack, shoes etc and have plenty of room to cook while still being able to get in and out. It’s particularly great for multi sport trips (e.g. packrafting) where you have more gear to store, winter trips, or sloppy wet trips where you want to leave wet gear outside of the sleeping area. Getting to the weight side of things, the Lunar Solo is spec'd at 26oz whereas the X-Mid is 27.5oz. This is remarkably surprisingly close considering the X-Mid is a double wall design. And it's even closer than that because the X-Mid comes seam taped while the Lunar Solo requires seam sealing (+0.5oz roughly), and the Lunar Solo requires two more stakes (6 mandatory stakes vs 4). So the actual weight difference is under 1oz. Another important consideration is how easy to pitch and user friendly a tent is. The X-Mid is extremely simple to pitch (see video) whereas the Lunar Solo has a more complicated six sided shape and pitching that is made even more complex because the fly doesn't extend right to the ground so you don't have the edges of the fly to guide your distances between the stakes. SMD describes it as "a bit more difficult to set up" in their pitching guide. It's not particularly hard, but nowhere near the simplicity of the X-Mid. One additional big difference is quality. The X-Mid is sewn in a top tier factory using premium components and construction methods, whereas the Lunar Solo is much lower quality. For example, as shown below the X-Mid is fully double stitched while many parts of the Lunar Solo are single stitched. The X-Mid also hides all raw fabric edges via double folding, uses generous bartacking etc, whereas the Lunar Solo uses much lower cost construction methods of raw or single folded edges and single bartacks. That quality difference extends throughout the shelter, such as seam taped (X-Mid) vs not seam taped (Lunar Solo), premium YKK Aquaguard zippers (X-Mid) versus basic YKK zippers with flaps that snag in the zipper (Lunar Solo). These tents are not remotely close in terms of build quality. They are only similar in price because we sell direct to the customer with much less mark up than normal. Our cost of production is much higher.
On top of that, the X-Mid has a long list of other advantages over the Lunar Solo:
  • Superior peak ventilation from dual vents (vs one)
  • The X-Mid vents can rapidly shut and seal via velcro in harsh weather. The Lunar Solo vents appear to be non-adjustable.
  • The X-Mid fly extends right down to the ground (depending on the pitch) so you can stop rain splatter, drafts, blowing snow and sand, whereas the Lunar Solo fly has an unavoidably large gap around the bottom. The large gap of the LS saves weight but gives up protection. You can raise the X-Mid up a few inches if you want more bottom ventilation.
  • The X-Mid uses higher end hardware. For example, it uses high end YKK water resistant zippers rather than basic zippers covered with a velcro flap which doesn't work as well and are prone to snagging. If you read the reviews on SMDs site you'll see this is a complaint.
  • The X-Mid fly can be used as a light/minimal two person shelter without the inner
  • The X-Mid has two doors versus one.
  • The X-Mid has dual vestibules versus one (24 vs 6.5 sq ft).
  • The X-Mid uses tough #5 zippers (I'm not sure but I expect the Lunar Solo uses #3 zippers which wear out much sooner).
  • The steeper walls of the X-Mid will shed snow better
  • Since the roof panels of the Lunar Solo are fairly low angle, heavy condensation may drip onto the sleeper, where the X-Mid has steeper roof panels so even heavy condensation would run down the fabric instead of dripping.
To be fair to the Lunar Solo, it does have one more advantage which is that it uses a 40D floor, which is tougher than the X-Mid's 20D floor. The X-Mid's floor is about typical for a light tent and will last hundreds of nights with proper care but the Lunar Solo floor is beefier still. So the X-Mid is about 1 oz heavier and for that you get a shelter that is more livable, modular, double wall design, higher quality, better condensation protection, better in wind and snow, vastly more headroom, much more vestibule area, dual doors, dual vents, higher end hardware, full coverage fly and a much simpler pitch. It can offer all that with only a slight weight penalty because the X-Mid geometry is much more efficient (e.g. fewer seams, fewer stakes, much better volume:surface area ratio) so you're getting more tent per $ and more tent per gram. Overall the X-Mid is a more well rounded design that excels in a much wider range of conditions.
Dec 4, 2018
Dec 4, 2018
dandurstonI just have to say that I am neither a tent aficionado nor an experienced outdoorsman, but I LOVE reading your discussions on the X-Mid because of your thoughtful, informative, and thorough responses.  Listening to experts talk about the things they love is one of my favourite things and somehow, I randomly stumbled on your posts on Massdrop doing exactly that.  Kudos and good luck with your product - if I find myself in need of a lightweight tent, this will be the one I go for on the strength of your posts alone.
Dec 4, 2018
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