My big Christmas present was a lightly-used Speedmid tent from Mountain Laurel Designs. It sleeps two people in comfort and weighs under a pound and a half with tent stakes and stuff sack. It uses a single trekking pole as a center pole. There is no floor, so I bring a big sheet of Tyvek (12 oz.) or a single person polycryo groundsheet from Gossamer Gear (2 oz.).
I use a breathable bivy (Ptarmigan from Titanium Goat) in case of condensation or blown rain. I also like to tuck my head inside the bivy when the breeze picks up. The bivy is essential for tarp camping, but I’m not sure it is worth carrying for use inside the Speedmid, even though it is only 7.5 oz.
Here is the tent set up at Eagle’s Aerie campsite in the Sunol Wilderness. It is set up very low to the ground, because we expected wind and rain. In less threatening weather, the tent can be pitched with the edges higher for more ventilation and more room inside.
Not long after this photo, a big storm came through. With hail. My tent buddy and I ducked inside and stretched out for a nap. As you can see, it was a nice tight pitch, shedding the rain, hail and wind. Unlike a tarp, I didn’t have to spend a lot of time fussing with the pitch. I moved a couple of pegs, tightened the lines, and I was done.
You can see how the edge of the Tyvek sheet was nicely back from the edge of the tent so water would not pool on it.
It is plenty roomy inside. I’m 6′ 3″ and my tent buddy is nearly as tall, and we both had room, with our gear inside. The tent walls do slope at a pretty low angle—the heavy nighttime rain was surprisingly close to my head and a little distracting.
This was a very exposed campsite and it was uncomfortably windy and cold outside. It was plenty windy, enough to blow down the cooking tarp, but the tent didn’t show it. It felt very secure, much more so than my other, heavier, tents.
There was no condensation inside. I was a bit surprised at that, because it was very humid (raining), the tent was pitched for minimum ventilation, it doesn’t have a peak vent, and the 40º weather was perfect for tent condensation.
I expected some rain to come in when I opened the door, but it wasn’t a problem. Most of the rain falls on you, whether you are outside leaning over the zipper or underneath it and opening from the inside. Make sure you flip your sleeping bag away from the door, and it’s fine.
The tent does take a fair amount of space to set up. The base is nine feet square, so allow a 10×10 space, as much room as a big family tent. On the other hand, there aren’t any guy lines to trip over.
All this for $170, the same price as a five and half pound REI Half Dome. If you have the cash, you could upgrade to the roomier and even more storm-worthy MLD Supermid, but the Speedmid is a heck of a lot of tent at an affordable price and a very light weight. Less is more.