My go-to home away from home
After carrying the Xmid for 163 miles this summer I’ve completely fallen in love with it! This being only the third tent I’ve owned in my 13yrs of backpacking, I don’t take replacing a piece of equipment that has become a part of me lightly. I was initially nervous about purchasing an unproven product, but Dan’s knowledge of design and his interactions with the community gave me the confidence that I was in good hands. I wasn’t disappointed. The ease of setup, stability, and versatility combine to fit my needs and my style of backpacking perfectly. (Disclaimer: I would like to stress this last part. I don’t usually review equipment for fear that I may influence someone’s choice, especially something as personal as a tent. Just because the Xmid fits ME and MY backpacking style does not mean it will fit yours, it took a lot of PRACTICE to figure out “me” as a walker...but because Dan has been so active in the community I feel I owe him some feedback.)
The Xmid’s ease of set up is by far my favorite feature! Whether it be in the rain, in the dark, in the wind and even after a lot too much “swag sweetener” the pitch has never alluded me. Now, granted I’m not a perfect pitch nazi and usually prefer speed over looks, a perfect pitch just seems to happen on its own and with out having to watch videos or read walk-throughs. The simple picture on the stuff sac was sufficient. The tent the Xmid replaced in my kit required; a certain amount of finesse when staking down, some laying down to get my sticks in place and a bit of yoga to get into it. In contrast, the Xmid barely requires any bending over (my ever aging back and knees thank you Dan). I will admit that I was a bit confused with which direction to deploy the peak support lines the one time I felt like I needed them, it didn’t take long for my monkey brain to grasp it. All in all, If you can recognize a rectangle when you see one, your in there like swim wear.
The stability of the Xmid was only tested once. Only once because I pride myself in tent site selection. I’d even go as far as saying that I have a 6th or even 7th sense for it. Where some would see a serene babbling stream as a lullaby, I see a nightmare of condensation. You see a beautiful peak sunrise to wake up to, I see a potential wind tunnel, and this was the case when I reached Chestnut Knob late one night. First thing I noticed was a stone walled hut with a door, a quick peek inside revealed no vacancy for my exhausted ass, I had to tent. I don’t know the wind speeds that night but it was troubling to say the least. I almost lost the tent when trying to stake it down! I pitched it low, deployed the outriggers and bunkered down. The tent performed beautifully, some noise was all that resulted, the tent was a rock. I know it looks boxy but don’t be deceived, the Xmid is stout in weather!
The versatility of the Xmid was pleasant surprise to me. Anyone who backpacks the east coast knows that summer turns the Virginias and Carolinas into a rain forest, and this year was no exception. 7/10 days for me was stormy. I don’t spend any time in my tent unless I absolutely have to, the only exceptions being extreme diarrhea, extreme hang over and extreme weather. I have to say the Xmid inner is tight for a stick-bug like me, my head and shoulders touch the netting when I’m sitting up. To be fair though, I knew this going in from the countless detailed pics and measures provided by Dan, also my last tents inner was the same. The difference is that you can unhook and roll up the Xmid’s inner. When I was forced to retreat from the weather early in the day I figured out that I could just disconnect the corners of the inner, tighten the buckles at the top of the inner, and with the addition of two twist ties roll the inner up to hang above while still connected to the fly. This “conversion” method transformed the tent into the perfect bad weather/diarrhea/hangover tarp-like hangout! I just throw down my foam pad and I can move around freely to cook, read and watch the rain while still be protected from the storm. All of this combined with no sagging in the fabric made for a very pleasant retreat. When I was ready for bed I’d just unroll the inner and reconnect the corners and climb in. I realize some will argue this doesn’t constitute “ versatility” but for me it’s huge and a step up from my old tent.
I honestly love everything about Dan Durston x Massdrop X-mid 1. It’s an advanced backpacking tent at an entry level price. It’s color is stealthy and calming, the design is elegant and pleasing to the eye. It’s simple and intuitive to set up. Its stable in winds that I consider dangerous and wouldn’t purposely expose myself to. It’s versatility provides long term comfort in the event where I’d be forced to zero inside of it. And though I’ll admit I had to adjust my site selection from a diamond shaped footprint to a rectangular one, the adjustment wasn’t an inconvenience in anyway. Dans a smart designer and I urge you to read all of the info he provides in the comment section. Though I’ve slept, partied, cried, dried, dreamed, worried, laid, prayed and snuggled in the tent that came before, I’m happy to retire it for the X-mid.
Would recommend to a friend.