Durston Gear X-Mid 1 Solid Review

The Durston Gear X-Mid 1 Solid is a new variant of the popular X-Mid 1. Retaining the same basic design and geometry, the solid variant modifies a few important details to help with even more extreme conditions such as high winds, snow, and sub-zero temps. Like all of Durston’s tents, it is trekking-pole-supported and not freestanding.

Durston Gear X-Mid 1 Solid At-a-Glance

X-Mid 1 Solid, looking at the Maroon Bells

X-Mid 1 Solid, looking at the Maroon Bells

MSRP: $269
Weights: (my scale has a .04 oz accuracy)

  • Outer Fly: 18.0 oz claimed/ 17.64 oz measured
  • Inner Body: 11.1 oz claimed / 11.43 oz measured
  • Tent Stuff Sack: 0.4 oz claimed / 0.46 oz measured
  • Stake Stuff Sack: 0.2 oz claimed / .11 oz measured
  • (x2) Titanium Shepherd Hook Stakes: 0.56 oz (0.28 oz ea.) / matches at-home measurement
  • (x4) Titanium V Stakes (see details below): 1.69 oz (0.42 oz ea.) / matches at-home measurement

Typical Trail Weight (fly, body, both stuff sacks, four V stakes, no apex guylines): 31.3 oz
Max Trail Weight will depend on stake count and guyline lengths.

Materials:

  • Main Body: 20d SilPoly (Silicone coated one side, PEU on the other). Color: Alpine Sage (dark green)
  • Apex Reinforcement: 210d Nylon. Color: Black. Includes a metal grommet for trekking pole tip
  • Floor: 20d SilPoly (Silicone coated one side, PEU on the other). Color: Anthracite (dark grey)
  • Body: Uncoated 15d nylon. Color: White
  • Body “Windows”: Standard mesh

Dimensions:

  • Packed: 5″ Diameter x 12″ Length claimed / 5.75″ Diameter x 11.5″ Length measured (tube shaped)
  • Interior Floor: 32″ x 90″ Parallelogram
  • Fly Dimension: 67″ x 100″ Square (this is the clear area needed to pitch the tent)
  • Approximate Height: 46″ (trekking pole length typically between 115cm and 120cm)

Intended Use

The X-mid series of tents is amazingly versatile, with each size coming in three variants: regular (X-Mid 1), solid (X-Mid 1 Solid), and ultralight/DCF (X-Mid 1 Pro). The Solid variant reviewed here is geared more specifically for extreme conditions, especially alpine ski touring and other cold and windy environments. Desert hikers will appreciate the high and limited amount of mesh to keep sand and dust out of the sleeping area

If you are looking for a more “all around” tent, the regular X-Mid 1 will save you $29 and one ounce. If you need room for a friend, check out the X-Mid 2 Solid.

Circumstance of Review

This tent was used in a wide variety of conditions, from fall in Utah’s deserts to winter in Colorado’s Elk Range. As many people know, the winter of 2022–2023 was snowy and cold and presented difficult camping conditions throughout the west. Several of my attempted trips ended in failure due to insufficient gear adjustments (more on this later) or extreme weather.

A poor first attempt at pitching the X-Mid in Starvation Pocket

X-Mid 1 Solid Features

Fully Enclosed with a Waterproof Zipper

Over the last few of years, several tent manufacturers have attempted to save a few ounces by using hooks and/or velcro to “close” doors. Dan Durston chose to retain a full-length, waterproof zipper for both doors on this tent.

Straight Cut Fly Profiles

It also uses straight cuts along the base of the fly, making it easy to cinch down during bad or cold weather for full protection. Catenary cut (“cat cut,” or arched away from the ground) flies are quite popular at the moment because they are easier to pitch on uneven/nonplanar ground at the expense of weather protection.

If you are worried about ventilation and conditions are favorable, loosen your corner guylines and extend your trekking poles a little bit more to add a gap to the ground.

Extra Reinforcement

Unlike the regular and Pro versions, the secondary stake points (midpoints on the fly’s perimeter) are reinforced and a buckle is added to the bottom of the zipper on the Solid. The buckle helps transfer force between the two panels joined by the zipper and makes it easier to zip all the way down

While only four stakes are required to set this tent up (at the base corners), there are additional line locks at both apexes, a loop at the head and foot, loops near each door, and one halfway to the corner from each door. This means up to 14 stakes can be used to anchor the tent. While the tent comes with a large amount of Dan’s in-house Ironwire guylines, you may need some extra to effectively use all these points. There is no cord attached to them out of the box (beside the required corners).

A nice buckle at the bottom of both zippers

No-Sag, Durable Fabrics

Dan has re-popularized silpoly (silicone-coated polyester), going against the grain of mass-produced silnylon (silicone-coated nylon) tents. Why go through the effort? Silpoly is more UV resistant and does not sag when wet, which is critical for pyramid-shaped trekking pole tents. Its lower water retention also means it will be easier to dry and will weigh less after a rainy day.

Silpoly is also very appropriate for a winter/snow tent; while DCF absorbs the least water and dries the easiest, it performs poorly in freezing and snowy conditions. Ice sticks to it easily, causing packing issues and failures, and also becomes very loud in freezing temps. Silpoly will retain a much more balanced performance across all conditions.

Extra Weather Protection for Inner Body

The most practical and noticeable difference between the standard and Solid variants is the inner body. The Solid replaces most of the mesh with solid, wind resistant 15d nylon. It will greatly reduce the effects of wind on your sleep system and keep sand and dirt away from your gear, a pleasant addition in deserts and breezy alpine tundra alike.

Solid inner, with the limited extent of mesh visible. Above, the top panels are solid fabric as well

Fly First Pitch

Often forgotten with the rising popularity of trekking pole tents, a fly-first pitch is a huge benefit for setting up in wet conditions. Instead of pulling your tent out, setting up poles, clipping the body to it (while exposed to the elements), then protecting it with the fly, this tent can be unrolled and staked with the fly already on top, then the poles added to structure. This massively reduces the amount of precipitation that can land inside where you want to be dry.

All the Regular X-Mid Goodness

This tent has a lot of the other features and attention to detail that make the X-Mid design so popular: substantial apex vents, efficient use of materials, high internal volume to reduce condensation, offset floor base to allow condensation to drip outside the tent, pockets, steep walls to shed snow, and more.

This is a double-wall tent, meaning the body and fly are not permanently attached and can be pitched separately. If conditions are favorable, you can simply drop the inner body and use it in tarp mode, which feels much roomier.

What Makes This a Four-Season Tent?

The solid variant is designed with four-season use in mind. Every tent manufacturer must choose how steep to make their walls. Low-angle walls generally do better with wind (horizontal loads) at the cost of more snow retention and a larger footprint.

High-angle walls will dump snow (vertical loads) more easily and be less prone to collapse under excess accumulation. Because the panels are more perpendicular to wind loads, they generally experience higher forces in windy conditions. This is what the 10 extra stake-out points are for; forces are offloaded from the fly in smaller chunks and have less length between strong points to deflect from.

The X-Mid geometry is already optimized to shed snow effectively, and the offset geometry of the two poles helps with wind (although wind coming in at certain angles would certainly create large loads).

Designed for Living, Not Surviving

Dan Durston lives in the great white north (aka Canada). His company started designing tents for trips in the Canadian Rockies, where weather is generally extreme and summer as we know it down south is more of an aspiration than a reality. Being stuck in your tent for a day or more is very possible on any extended trip, and as such, the livability of the tent is a priority more than cutting down every possible ounce.

What are the trade-offs? In the race to the bottom of packed weights, many tent manufacturers have removed vestibules, reduced head height, shrunk footprints, lightened reinforcements, skipped hardware and buckles, and so on. Dan decided instead to retain full storm protection, full ventilation, kept double walled designs, full head height at both ends, reinforced critical seams, and more.

These decisions have a weight penalty, but a very reasonable one at a very reasonable cost. Hardcore UL nerds are going to look past all that and get a DCF tent or tarp anyway. Those coming from a freestanding dome tent are still going to drop quite a bit of weight while maintaining  comfort.

brown sleeping bag inside white interior of x-mid solid 1

Getting snuggly inside the X-Mid Solid 1. 22˚ quilt on a 2″ sleeping pad and still plenty of room to spare in each direction, a rarity for 1p tents.

X-Mid 1 Solid Pros

Really Solid Wind Protection

The solid inner and straight-cut fly protects you and your wind system from any wayward breezes sneaking in under your fly, and the 14 possible stakeout points will let you batten down the hatches to the extreme. While the long edge of tent certainly has a large profile, using extra stakes mostly mitigates the forces and risks here. There are few tent designs that will be as stable when fully deployed without moving back to a dome or tunnel tent.

Durability

Dan has gone to great lengths to make this tent rock solid, even five years down the line. Silpoly is going to outlast silnylon and DCF, all things being equal, and his attention to detail (reinforced apexs, extra stitching, etc) help to give this tent an extended life. There’s a quote out there saying, “a DCF tent will cost you twice as much and last half as long”—I have no doubts this tent could make it to 250 nights easily, and likely closer to 350.

Material science has come a long way, but the most likely failure on this tent would probably be the sil/PEU coating coming off (those are the white flakes on the inside of older tents. If you’ve borrowed a Eureka A-frame tent from the 90s, you know what I’m talking about). Also, make sure to keep those waterproof zippers in good shape; they are prone to failure as well.

Packs Horizontally in Your Bag

An unassuming advantage to pole-less tents is that they fit horizontally in your pack. At just 11.5″ long, Durston tents will pack well in just about any backpack. If you have a really narrow pack body, you can stuff it into any shape you desire with an appropriate stuff sack. Coming from a dome tent or a pyramid tent with struts (looking at you, Notch and Aeon), the simplicity and symmetry are quite nice.

A nice fit into the MLD Exodus.

Clean Entry

Most trekking pole tents have the inner body totally clear of the fly’s door, so any rain that falls while open won’t land inside. The X-Mid has this, with the extra advantage of unobstructed passage to the inner body. Quite a few trekking pole tents have the inner door blocked by a trekking pole or require the pole to be set at an angle and extended. The offset poles in the X-Mid Solid prevent this issue while still maintaining height and avoiding front entry.

Tips Up

On trekking pole tents, the apex can be designed to receive either the pointy end or the handle end of your sticks. In this tent, a metal grommet is included to allow for tips-up pitching. I appreciate this because it is more precise and allows the wider handle to disperse force over a larger ground area. This is nice on soft surfaces (to prevent it from sinking) and hard surfaces (to prevent the carbide tip from sliding away).

The downside here is your handles are now within mouth’s reach of many salt-loving creatures. I don’t consider this a huge issue; 300 nights later, my Komperdell poles have never been nibbled on.

Only Four Stakes (Normally)

A grievance of mine with many trekking pole tents is the excessive number of stakes required to set it up, with some needing as many as 12. I see this as a trick to lower the advertised tent weight and move it into another category.

Durston keeps it simple, with a square footprint and only four required stakes. It’s nice to have six on hand with some guylines for when the weather gets rough, but if I know I’ll be cruising below treeline to camp, I only bring the minimum and rejoice in the simplicity. I don’t have the patience to pound 12 stakes accurately every night on a thru.

Spacious for One Person

Unfortunately, smaller tents weigh less. A lot of UL tents shrink their footprint and interior volume to cut an extra ounce or two. This means touching head, feet, or sides against the wall. Some tents had reduced to only one vestibule, limiting storage and cooking space. The X-Mid 1 Solid has plenty of room inside the main body, and two large vestibules for storage and activities.

I typically sleep on a two-inch Therm-a-Rest NeoAir pad (X-Lite or X-Therm) with either a 22˚ quilt or a 0˚ mummy bag 6 feet, 6 inches in length. In the quilt, I don’t make any contact with the walls unless I am in the fetal position. With the 0˚ bag and its seven-inch baffles, I’m a little closer to the walls. Fortunately, this is a double-wall tent, meaning you won’t pick up a bunch of moisture touching the walls like you would in a single-wall tent. The large size comes with a lot of internal air volume.

Combined with the large ridge vents, condensation is rarely an issue, regardless of the weather.

X-Mid 1 Solid Cons

Not Ready for Deep Snow Out of the Box

While the solid is a four-season tent, don’t expect to take it on a February mountaineering trip out of the box like I attempted to do. Snow camping requires different gear and skills. On a Colorado trip with predicted -5°F overnight low and 40mph winds, I skied out six miles to a low-density pine forest only to realize this non-freestanding tent was not going to work with what I had on hand.

After several weeks of extremely cold and snowy weather, I discovered the snowpack was 60+ inches of “sugar powder:” dry, sand-like snow that won’t hold a stake or any other half-assed measures. Pyramid tents need to be held down firmly; they are not freestanding. While I had my two skis and the tent stuff sack (which conveniently has a loop to tie into) that I could make a deadman with, I was still short one corner and the extra cord length to wrap and bury these objects with.

Also, because the snow was so loose and dry, the trekking poles would slowly bury themselves with every gust and needed a wider base (or a fat snow basket, which I thankfully had).

All this is to say, don’t think this tent is ready for your next winter adventure without learning the skills and the extra equipment to match conditions on the ground. Bring extra cord, know the snow conditions before (and if you can Deadman with a stake or need to bring larger snow stakes), and be safe.

Stakes are Just OK

Stakes can be a very personal decision, mostly due to the variety of soil conditions that can be found. The X-Mid 1 Solid was shipped to me with four V stakes and two shepherd hooks. While the V stakes are much improved from the ones sent with the original X-Mid 2 Pro I bought last year, I still am not a fan. The fundamental geometry of  V stakes makes them more prone to bending in very firm and rocky ground, which is the majority of my travel

While they are beefed up and the material seemingly improved, I still bent most of them at a designated campsite with compacted soils. I believe the notches near the middle are to assist with a knot holding a deadman wrap, which is a nice redeeming touch. I also don’t like shepherd hooks for similar reasons; they are difficult to drive into hard soils without bending and don’t hold in loose soils due to their thinness.

They were quickly substituted with Easton Nanos (short), a nail-style stake I have had great success with in a variety of conditions. Many hikers swear by the MSR Mini Groundhogs, which are a popular replacement for the V stakes most companies send with their tents. Dan allows you to order without stakes if you anticipate wanting to switch.

Left to right: Durston Shepard’s Hook, Durston V stake (from 1-Solid), Durston V-stake (from 2-pro), MSR Groundhog (Y-beam style), Easton Nano 6″ (nail style)

Pitch can be Tricky to Perfect

Despite some vocal naysayers online, the pitch of X-Mid tents is not the easiest thing in the world and certainly easier to mess up than your typical dome tent.

The four corners are staked first, then poles inserted and extended to raise the apex. If the corners are staked like a parallelogram instead of a rectangle, the ridgeline becomes unstable and loose in the wrong places. I found myself having more trouble than I would have expected in evaluating whether the footprint was square or skewed, given that I work with geometry for a living. Most of the time, I put the poles up to evaluate and adjusted stakes with a partial pitch, which usually worked fine.

Part of the unforgivingness of the pitch is the straight-cut fly. Any rocks or vegetation pushing on the base can mess up the squareness by changing segment lengths. A catenary (arched) cut fly is more forgiving since the edges are generally farther away from the ground and can’t drag on rocks on bulges as easily.

sewn-in tag with diagrams and set-up instructions for X-Mid Solid 1

Pitching instructions sewn into the tent bag, a nice touch not included in the Pro edition. The fact it’s here indicates I’m not the only one who had trouble at first.

Heavier Than Most In Category

With the abundance of trekking pole tents on the market now, it’s pretty easy to get a good baseline for what they should weigh. By keeping a double wall design and keeping a high internal volume (requires more fabric to enclose), the X-Mid 1 Solid comes in heavier than most of the competition.

The extra weight is there for good reason, but sometimes a hiker’s choice comes down to the pounds (or grams), and this tent is not winning that race.

Large-ish Footprint

While the interior space is nice, the larger footprint this requires in combination with the square shape took a minute to adjust to. Coming from the extremely slender Tarptent Notch Li, I had to spend a little more time finding clear, flat spots to pitch.

Overall Value

The X-Mid 1 Solid is an amazingly versatile tent, good from summer to winter and mountains to green tunnels. Its long term durability and livability focus makes it a great choice for those new to ultralight and anyone looking for a “quiver of one” tent on solo missions. As someone who already has a multitude of tents for different purposes, I will likely keep the tent in rotation for winter use only and as a loaner tent. For fast and light summer missions the significantly lighter X-Mid 1 Pro will ultimately succeed the Solid in my personal use.

While I recommended the regular X-Mid 1 for the best overall tent in this year’s Best Of series, the regular 1 and Solid also could have taken the crown for best budget tent if it weren’t for the absurdly cheap 3F UL Lanshan 1 Pro. The 1-Solid comes in $100 over the Lanshan,  but you get stakes, factory seam sealing, and backing from an extremely reputable company.

I would recommend this tent all day long for someone that needs a do-it-all, ultralight-adjacent tent that is in for the long haul. Compared to a DCF tent, you’re already getting superb bang for your buck.

Shop the Durston Gear X-Mid Solid 1

Shop the Durston Gear X-Mid 1 (Regular)

Shop the Durston Gear X-Mid Pro 1

A Few Comparison Items:

Six Moons Designs – Lunar Solo
Weight: 26oz (no stakes or poles)
MSRP: $260 (no seam sealing)

Tarptent – Notch
Weight: 28 oz (no stakes or poles)
MSRP: $249 (no seam sealing)

Gossamer Gear – The One
Weight: 18oz (no stakes or poles)
MSRP: $300 (factory seam taped)

The Durston Gear X-Mid 1P Solid was donated for purpose of review.

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