Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid Review

A large but still lightweight pyramid that can shelter three to four adults in all four seasons.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid is the largest in a line of well-regarded three- to four-season pyramid shelters. The floor-to-weight ratio is superb, and it can easily sleep three to four adults. Available options include perimeter bug netting and a bug tent insert that transforms this otherwise floorless shelter in to a double-wall tent.

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by Chris Wallace |

Overview

The Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD) SuperMid is a large floorless, single-pole, non-freestanding shelter. With enough coverage for up to four people, this lightweight silnylon shelter offers an excellent amount of space for its weight, as well as four-season weather protection. MLD also offers optional perimeter bug netting (sewn-in) as well as a bug tent insert which converts the SuperMid to a double-wall shelter (although you do lose a bit of floor space, and three occupants becomes more reasonable).

MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review - 1
The SuperMid pitched with joined trekking poles at a river-side camp.

Like MLD's other pyramid shelters, the SuperMid allows for a very quick deployment, which is excellent for inclement weather: stake out the four corners in a reasonably square shape, unzip the door, insert and raise the pole, and tighten the corners. Done. I love shelters that are this simple and easy to pitch. MLD has designed the SuperMid so that it can be pitched using a single pole or supported by a limb above using an exterior loop sewn to the apex. The single support pole can be anything from a site sourced staff (limb), to joined trekking poles, to a packraft paddle.

MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review - 2
The SuperMid pitched using a site-sourced pole and rock at a higher-elevation camp near Mt. Rogers, Virginia. The next morning found several inches of snow accumulated on the ground and shelter.

I was able to use the SuperMid on several overnight trips, including a camp next to a river with temperatures in the low teens, and a camp just off Mt. Rogers in Virginia where we woke up to several inches of snowfall but with temperatures never dropping much below freezing. I tried using connected trekking poles as well as a site-sourced pole and rock for support, both of which sufficed. However, if you are expecting high wind or heavy snowfall, I would recommend a third-party carbon pole or a large stick for support. Wrenching the corners down with trekking poles for support seemed weak. I didn't experience condensation on either occasion, even with accumulated snow blocking some of the lower ventilation.

MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review - 3
The SuperMid sealed up and using the side-panel tie outs to create a little more usable floor space.

The SuperMid provided plenty of weather-protected floor space for myself, my wife, Robin, and our border collie mix trekking companion, Max. I found myself positioning the base of the support pole closer to the door (as opposed to directly under the apex) and canting it inward to make sufficient space at the rear for Robin and me to sleep next to one another. The additional tie outs on the sides were welcome for both wind protection as well as the ability to claim a bit more usable floor space.

Specifications

Year/Model 2011 Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid
Style 2-4 person pyramid shelter
Fabrics 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon
Weight Manufacturer Specified: 24 oz (680 g)
BPL Measured:
27.6 oz (782 g) with corner lines, liberally applied seam sealer, and stuff sack
Dimensions Manufacturer Specified: 8.9 ft (2.71 m) x 8.9 ft (2.71 m) x 5.75 ft (1.75 m)
BPL Measured:
8.83 ft (2.69 m) x 8.83 ft (2.69 m) x 5.75 ft (1.75 m)
Protected Area Manufacturer Specified: 70 sq ft (6.5 sq m)
BPL Measured: 68 sq ft (6.32 sq m)
Floor Area/ Weight Ratio 40.24 sq ft/lb (.008 sq m/g) based on 68 sq ft (6.32 sq m) floor area and weight of 1.69 lb (767 g)
Features Closable peak vent, Dyneema X reinforced apex with interior and exterior hang loops, both doors can be opened and tied back, mid-height door snaps allow for partial closure, eight ground level perimeter tie outs with LineLocs, center side-panel tie outs on all sides for reinforcement in high wind
MSRP US $295
Options 18-inch (46-cm) perimeter bug netting along bottom (adds US $75), InnerNet (adds US $195)

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to the manufacturer to review this product under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid Review," by Chris Wallace. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/mld_supermid_spotlite_review.html, 2012-03-06 00:00:00-07.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review on 03/06/2012 15:38:57 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review

Thomas Trebisky
(trebisky)

Locale: Southern Arizona
Why mids? on 03/07/2012 11:03:11 MST Print View

I like the MLD gear that I have, and I presume this would be just as well made.

But I have been down the road and back again with mids and don't ever intend to go there
again. Their one and only virtue is the simplicity in putting them up - stake down the
four corners and push up the peak with a pole -- it all goes downhill from there.

The darn pole is always in the way and ruins all the best real estate under the tent.
I can speak from experience having owned a Chouinard (not Black Diamond) Megamid.
(Yes, I go that far back). This is in essence a lighter version made of modern materials.
The fundamental concept is flawed. I have been much much happier with a Ray Jardine Tarp.
No pole in the center, not really much harder to set up, you can use trekking poles as-is
with a tarp instead of fussing around to join them together. Lighter, nicer.

The one place I think a mid might be better would be under heavy snow load - the steep walls
should shed snow well - so a hard core winter camper might contemplate a mid I guess.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Why mids? on 03/07/2012 11:11:40 MST Print View

Good points. With a smaller mid (i.e. MLD SoloMid or DuoMid) one can use an inverted 'V' approach to the pole structure which prevents the dreaded mid pole head bonk (at least for me). With a larger mid like this one, I am not sure what the solution is unless you tied two poles together and used two sets (?).

Rakesh Malik
(Tamerlin)

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Why mids? on 03/07/2012 13:33:50 MST Print View

"With a larger mid like this one, I am not sure what the solution is unless you tied two poles together and used two sets (?)."

There are a few asymmetric designs out there that might be good solutions for this. They put the pole toward the front, leaving the back more open for sleeping and such. I have no personal experience with them as yet, but I'm curious about them partly because of this very issue, and hoping that BPL might be able to get them into their review queue. The ones I'm thinking of are the Seek Outside Backcountry Shelter and the Kifaru Paratipi.

Kronos Master of Fate
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review on 03/08/2012 18:38:37 MST Print View

Erin liked it too in 2010

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/reviews/display_reviews?forum_thread_id=35138&cat=Shelters%20%2D%20Tarps%20%26%20Floorless&cid=33

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Why mids? on 03/08/2012 18:48:30 MST Print View

Thomas,

I agree with you. I still have my old Chouinard Pyramid and hated that pole in the middle, even for just me going solo. Plus the walls always iced up inside in really cold weather... but it could handle just about any weather condition, was easy to set up, and I had no problem cooking in it (with the flap partially opened). It was always a love/hate relationship.

I have a modified mid (zPacks Hexamid) and although I would not use it for winter conditions, the offset pole makes it a pleasure. If I was looking for a shelter to handle really bad weather, I would explore a full mid with an offset.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
the pole can be angled on 03/18/2012 22:15:09 MDT Print View

The pole can be angled to some extent. Or two long sticks can be used instead. But really, I like it fine with the pole in the middle most of the time. It's simple, works in a variety of conditions and on uneven ground, no problem to fit the whole family + gear, and doesn't weigh much.
I lived in one (well, several) for over a year, and still like them.
Though I do now use a heavier tent with a woodstove for extended winter conditions with small kids.

Lucas Boyer
(jhawkwx) - MLife

Locale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
re: pole on 03/22/2012 09:08:41 MDT Print View

I have the supermid and really like the shelter. Me, wife, and our two 40lb dogs have real estate to spare. Unfortunately, my pole setup failed me on our first outing. I was using my BPL Stix w/ a pvc extension piece as pole and my overzealous dog torked the pole and snapped my tip off the pole. Luckily I only lost the replacement tip part and can repair the pole w/ no loss of length, but I had to carry a broken pole the remainder of the trip.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: MLD SuperMid SpotLite Review- Now available in Cuben Fiber on 10/04/2013 12:07:39 MDT Print View

We have offered the SuperMid in Cuben as a custom order option for years and now it is a standard option.

We like the one large vent design for three big reasons:
1: You can pitch the rear of the mid to the prevailing wind and not have a blown in rain/snow issue.
2: When that prevailing wind moves around the rear and sides of the peak and past the one large vent on the opposite side it creates a mini venturi effect to help move air from inside to the outside.
3: It makes for a less complicated stronger peak designs with fewer seams.

After years of use and well over 300 nights in the rough Alaskan bush we just sent Erin and Brentwood a new SuperMid. They are pretty tough and perfect for serious back country adventure. http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/

http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=47&products_id=130