Why I picked a MegaLight

The search for an ideal main fleet shelter continues. I was never entirely happy with the Shangrila 2: lack of broadside wind stability and the need for two poles. What floor space it does present is quite useable (and Golite is foolish if the rumors of it being discontinued are true), but there isn’t all that much.

Ergo a traditional, square mid. This one.

This Megalight canopy is 25 oz seam sealed and with the fire tags removed.  The included (burly) carbon pole is 11.6 oz.  It adjusts from 64.75″ to 76.5″ (at minimum insertion of the adjustment piece.  You could get another centimeter by pushing strength further than I personally care to).  Pitched as above the mid is 68″ tall, and 104″ corner to corner, which makes the factory specs very generous.  It comes with 8 crappy, generic aluminum stakes, a nice sil stuff sack, and a link for using two trekking poles as the main support (something I doubt would work well in significant conditions).

Work on the tieouts is good, but not outstanding.  Any denser stitching would foster tears in the fabric under load.  Box stitching over a greater area would be ideal.

The difference between actual and the “useable” listed dimensions highlights one of two difficulties in comparing one mid to another.  The other is the degree of caternary cut, on both the horizontal edges and the vertical sides.  Some is necessary, least great fabric tension still allow flapping edges, but generous cat curves make it difficult to lock the edges to the ground, and steal height when that obstacle is overcome.  This after Kevin Sawchuck told me he sold an MLD Supermid in favor of a Megalight when he discovered that the advertised peak height was with the middle edges several inches off the ground.

I picked the Megalight because I worried that Golite and Oware had too little cat curve, and MLD too much.  Plus MLD has a wait, doesn’t include a nice center pole, and is more expensive.  I can see myself adding some linelocs to the Mega, and probably a jack for the wood stove I’m building.  Otherwise, the yard pitch looks good, I like the circus tent colors, and we’ll see how it goes.


20 responses to “Why I picked a MegaLight”

  1. Dave,
    Where do you plan to put the stove? In the center adjacent the pole? If so will the tent still accommodate several people? I just added a stove jack to my ID sil sheltor and built a look alike ti goat cylinder stove. Fun project, good luck with yours.

    1. Tentative plan is a bit behind the center, opposite side of the door. In theory it will add ~4-5 oz and not be a functional impediment when the stove is not in use.

      I’ve not dug into it yet, but the stainless utensil can I got from Walmart seems bomber.

  2. Clayton Mauritzen Avatar
    Clayton Mauritzen

    Interesting choice. I’m pretty impressed that you can get such ample floor space at that weight. I will be interested to see what you report back.

    I’ve been seriously considering a Duomid for about a year, and it’s looking more and more like I’ll pick one up before the spring comes ’round again.

  3. I have not seen this shelter before. Hard to tell from not actually standing in front of it, based on nothing but a single photograph, but I am not sure I am a fan of the pitch that this shelter has. Appears that it could be really awesome in the snow, but also appears that it could have some issues in heavy rain where the mid tie outs are – could just be the way you set it up or could just be the angle of the photograph. Also not a fan of those air inlets at the very top. Considerably heavier than a DuoMid, but as you said, there is a wait for gear from MLD. Lighter than the GoLite Shangri-La 3 by a long shot. Lastly, what is up with that material that goes up along the zipper line to the air inlet… I have never seen on any type of shelter like this before that has that. Is it suppose to help draft the air up and into the shelter or some such thing. Great write-up and look forward to reading about your modifications to the shelter in the future!

    1. Funny you’ve not seen it before John. Chouinard/BD’s been selling essentially the same design for about 30 years, and the sil version for what must be a decade now.

      The side angle/gap is probably more an artifice of the camera than anything. If you cranked the center tieouts down tight I’m quite confident it’d be impervious to any rain short of a hurricane.

      The top vent is probably window dressing. The rain flap over the zipper actually segues into the vent cover in a very clean way. I’ll leave the vent, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of cutting it out.

      Also bear in mind you could pitch a Duomid completely inside the Mega.

    2. John,
      My GoLite Shangri-La 3 is 25 oz in the stuff sack WITH 6 Y-STAKES! Much bigger than the Megalight, but harder to set-up properly, kind of like a Trailstar. I can pitch it tight to the ground and have enough room for two people and gear, albeit much tighter in space than 2-3 inches of air gap pitch. I would love a square mid for ease of pitching, but feel it has unusable space in the corners and the door in the middle of one side opens the tent up to the weather far more than the hex shape of the SL3.
      Dave, I use two light ski poles all the time, bound by light string on each opposing tip & held tight together by two ski straps. I’ve never had an issue with that and it’s much lighter and more functional than bringing the 12 oz GoLite aluminum pole. I like the corner stitching on the GoLite better than the Mega and I’ve found when I pull the bottom of my SL3 real tight, there’s quite a bit of cat curve to it… almost more than I’d like. I’m very tempted to go with a cuben DuoMid, but since I have the sil SL3, I wouldn’t get a sil four-sided mid. Take home message, I think, is they are all awesome mids – definitely one for each person’s priorities, though.

  4. Dave, your reasoning is actually why I purchased one over summer, it will see its first trip in a couple of weeks. I suspect that I will not use mine in as challenging conditions as you will but I was taken by its simplicity and weight which is similar to the MLD Supermid. I have had a Betalight for a long time and think that the stitching on the Megalight looks less well done, especially around the peak. But the Betalight has stood up well so hopefully the Megalight will too. The colour is bright and cheery though stealth camping can be a challenge.

  5. A Chouinard Mega-Mid was the first lightweight shelter I put a wood stove in, sometime back in the mid 1980s. Wood heat is good!

    1. Got a question for ya Ed; how much stove jack material does one need around the stove pipe hole to keep everything safe and unmelted?

  6. Dave,

    I feel best with about 3″ from the edge of the pipe. Might need more top or bottom depending on the angle. Usually something like 8″ or 9″ wide and 10″-11″ in length for a 3″ pipe.
    I have used less but it is best to be safe.

  7. Clayton Mauritzen Avatar
    Clayton Mauritzen

    Have you considered getting a Supermid from BPL and doing a shoot-out article? That could have very interesting results.

  8. Man, I think you’ll like this one. I got mine about a year ago for winter camping, but have been using it for pretty much everything, except solo trips.
    Can’t wait to see how that wood stove works out. You got me thinking about putting one in mine…

    1. It’s so dead-easy to set up. Should have got one years ago instead of futzing with other stuff.

      After this weekend I’m definitely putting in a stove for winter, and definitely taking out the stock tieouts and replacing them with line locs. Probably stick tieouts halfway up the main panels, as well.

  9. Would love to see a photo of you sitting inside of it and another of you standing outside of it. Gives us all a good idea of how big it is. How big is your wood stove?

    1. Will get some of those in weeks to come. The stove isn’t built yet, but will have a 3″ diameter pipe, and the body is made of the stainless steel container discussed in the HPG link.

  10. […] mentioned in my introductory post, some modifications were in order for the Megalight. Yes, you can buy one with these, but it can be […]

  11. […] Diammond Megalight: I think David Chenault summarised this shelter perfectly, “It’s so dead-easy to set up. Should have got one years ago instead of futzing with other stuff.&#8… I used walking poles (Black Diamond Flicklock Distance poles) to erect the shelter and the area […]

  12. Jack Harstone Thomson Avatar
    Jack Harstone Thomson

    Hey, thanks for all the informative posts on the BDMG. Not being able to see one in person, and hearing different information about functional interior space, do you think it would be a workable option for someone who is 6’8″ (sleeping on an xtherm max)? Im not packing people in there (2 folks occasionally) so Im wondering about offsetting the trekking poles or trying to find places where I can hang from the top loop. Cheers,

    1. It should be workable. If you sleep diagonal ought to be plenty of room. Otherwise doable but tight.

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