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Hi Dan, eagerly awaiting the tent for manufacture & shipping, while in the meantime also comparing it to other designs on market.
What makes the X-Mid design technically "double-wall"? Is it because the fly is entirely separate/not touching from the inner net? And not because because the fly material is somehow thicker/more layers (ie. the fly is still technically "single wall")?
So is the X-Mid "double wall" design concept similar to the Six Moon Designs Deschutes+Serenity NetTent combo (24oz)? Except that it uses dual trekking poles (vs single pole), for what is probably better storm/wind resistence & more headroom/interior space, for a weight penalty of ~4 oz. However, both designs utilize the same basis of "single wall" fly + a separate inner nettent?
Thanks, just trying understand these industry technical lingo. Btw, I'm impressed by your customer service & in-depth explaination of technical concepts/drawings here & on other forums, which is more than can be said for a lot of established cottage brands. Maybe you have a future career in technical sales? :)
Also, what 3D CAD system do you use to prototype your tent designs & drawings (including calculating mass)? I'm a Mechanical Engineer wanting to play around with some designs myself.
Thanks for your response.
Double vs. Single Wall
A double wall tent is any tent that uses two separate layers of material for the canopy (everywhere but the floor). So double wall tents have an outer layer of material that is waterproof and then an inner material that probably is not (e.g. mesh or non-waterproof nylon). In Europe they call this a "double skin". Usually these two layers aren't permanently joined together, so you have two parts: the "fly" and the "inner".
Then a single wall (or "single skin") tent simply has one layer, so the floor and the canopy are all once piece (e.g. Black Diamond Firstlight). A third option is a "hybrid" tent which is a blend of these two styles, so it has a second layer in some areas but not others. A true singlewall tent is rare because there is usually still mesh walls in some areas (e.g. the Zpacks Duplex is mostly a singlewall, but the door walls have mesh). If there is just bit of mesh like this then most folks would probably still call it a singlewall, whereas if there is a fair amount of mesh like the Yama Swiftline they it might be called a hybrid.
The main consideration with all of these designs is condensation. Condensation mostly forms inside the outermost layer of fabric because this is where the warmer/moist area from inside the tent hits a cold wall and contracts into dew/condensation. This can happen in any style of tent if the condition are humid/cold enough. The advantage to a double wall tent is that the inner layer prevents you from contacting the condensation. With a single wall, often you'll sit up in the night and hit the wet roof with your head, or your sleeping bag will push on a wet end wall and get wet. The inner layer of a double wall tent prevents this, or at least acts as a warning so you don't hit the condensation on the outer layer nearly as easily. This isn't that important if you mostly hike in dry areas like SoCal, but in wet areas like the PNW it's can be pretty rough camping in a single wall.
The other advantage to a double wall is that the two parts can be disconnected and used separately. So you can use just the inner tent as ultralight bug tent on trips when you're not expecting rain, or you can use just the fly + groundsheet to go super light outside of bug season. Also, when using both parts if you wake up with a very wet fly, you can pack away the inner tent separately so the floor stays dry - whereas everything gets soaked with a single wall tent when you pack it up unless you dry it out first.
The advantage to a single wall is simply that it's lighter. So these are more specialized tents that aren't as well suited to a wide range of conditions, but can be very light and appropriate in dry climates.
Also, not all double wall tents use mesh for the inner layer. Mesh is nice for hot weather when you want protection from bugs but you still want views and lots of airflow. Whereas in tough conditions like winter or a sandstorm then a solid fabric inner is preferred.
X-Mid vs Six Moon Designs Deschutes / Serenity NetTent
Indeed the X-Mid and Deschutes/Serenity are both fly + inner net tent designs (or double walls) but there are hundreds of tents like this, so that's hardly an attribute that is notably unique to these two shelters. Even if we go more specific and say they are both trekking pole supported shelters that have fly and inner net tent components where the fly can be pitched first (to keep the net tent dry in the rain), there are still probably over 100 shelters like this.
The Deschutes is basically a variation of the standard "mid" (or pyramid) design, which is a 4 - 8 sided shape which pitches with a single pole somewhere near the center. Mids like this are nice tents because they are stormworthy and simple to pitch (but less so for the Deschutes because it's an asymmetrical 6 sided design rather than a simpler symmetrical 4 sided design like the MLD DuoMid). But the common downsides are a lack of headroom due to the single pole, and the single pole typically interferes in the living space, or with access. With the Deschutes, the pole is off to one side instead of being in the living space, but it still blocks the side of the net tent so the door has to be smaller and off to one side.
The goal of the X-Mid was to solve these typical mid issues of the lack of headroom and pole interference, without introducing the downsides that more complicated tents have (heavier, complex pitch, guylines etc). Basically, I wanted to combine the simplicity and weight of a mid with the living space of a more complex design. So the X-Mid weighs the same as a comparably sized mid style fly + inner net tent shelter (e.g. MLD DuoMid + Solo net tent) despite having considerably more volume/space and features.
Of course the Deschutes/Serenity combo is lighter still at 24oz vs 28oz. The main reason for this is that the Deschutes is quite a bit smaller. The Deschutes has one 48" tall peak, while the X-Mid has dual 46" peaks which is a lot more headroom. The floor area is also larger, at 28" x 87" (vs 26" x 84"). Overall the X-Mid probably has 30% more volume inside. If you made the Deshutes larger to match, it would likely weight the same.
The other side of this is that X-Mid has a lot more functionality. It has dual adjustable vents (vs. 1 non-adjustable vent), dual doors (versus one), dual vestibules (versus one), higher end waterproof zippers and comes full seam taped.
If you factor is seam sealing the Deschutes (+1oz) and that it requires more 2 more stakes, the X-Mid ends up ~2oz heavier. So the bottom line is that for about 2oz more weight, the X-Mid offers 30% more space, simpler pitch, no sag poly fabric, dual doors, seam taped, dual vents, higher end zippers and hardware, more floor area, more vestibule area.
What 3D CAD system do you use to prototype your tent designs & drawing?
Nothing fancy. I do most of the drawings in 2D using the Keynote (the Mac equivalent of PowerPoint. I've had friends do up the designs in AutoCad but I prefer to work in 2D and I just do all the trigonometry to figure out the angles and lengths. Then I use Excel to calculate the weights because I know all the panel dimensions and hardware.
Thank you for the very detailed (yet easy to follow) explanation Dan!
I have a Deschutes + Serenity inner, and while it's a great, light, pyramid tarp (I use the Serenity inner on its own all the time and I like the single-pole set-up), I do find it a bit tricky to pitch sometimes due to the asymmetrical 6-sided design. It's also annoying to see all that wasted space at the back that can't be accessed when the inner is set up. I'm looking forward to the easy 4-stake set up, and double door/vestibule space of the X-Mid. I'll take the minimal weight and double-pole penalty!