Pimp your ‘Mid

As mentioned in my introductory post, some modifications were in order for the Megalight. Yes, you can buy one with these, but it can be more illustrative to roll your own.

First up, mid panel reinforced guylines.  In the grand scheme, as compared to (for instance) backpack straps, shelter tie-outs don’t receive much force.  The concern with light fabrics is not then absolute strength, but rips due to over-perforating the fabric.  For this reason I wanted an extra, laminated layer of sil on the inside to help spread the load.  Dilluting clear, 100% silicone caulk in mineral spirits works great for this.  Give each surface a coat, let dry for ~5 minutes, then stick on, clamp together, and let cure overnight.  For the tie-out itself I use 3/4″ grosgrain.  1/2″ would work but the wider stuff allows for light stitching over more area.  I bartack a loop into the middle, then sew each side right up against the bartack.  The idea here is to have force from any direction pull on both sides as equally as possible.  Then a double line of straight stitching down the middle, and a zigzag stitch along the sides (3mm wide and .9mm long, if you’re wondering).  The stitching around the edge of the patch is to keep it from peeling over time.  Seal the whole mess with more silicone solution, applied with a sponge brush.

Obviously I value strength over precision and neatness.  I made the patches out of the factory stuff sack, and as I didn’t have a pair of scissors in the garage and didn’t want to go upstairs to use the rotary cutter, made do with a box knife.

Mid panel tie-outs attached to guy lines with a loop of shock cord, which damps the loading during gusts.

Linelocs are awesome, BD ought to make them standard.  Fortunately the stock stitching is easy to rip, and DIY Gear Supply sells what you need (and has fast service).  Same zig zag stitch as above.  It’s been a topic of discussion elsewhere, so I’ll say right now that I’ve never had linelocs slip or fail.  Given that it’s the same concept as a plaquette-style belay device (like a Petzl Reverso), I think they’re proven.

Linelocs have many benefits.  One is that they make it easier to pitch a mid locked down at ground level.  You do this by staking the main corners much further outwards than you would think necessary, setting the center pole low, and tightening the corners to tension the whole thing.  Linelocs also make it easy to deal with the inevitable sagging of silnylon on wet nights; just reach out from inside and tighten things up.  No need to get out of the sleeping bag or get more than a hand wet.

And as a final bonus, Camp Wind Mit’ns.

They’re windshirts for your hands.  I got a pair this spring, and won another in the post-Classic raffle.  15 grams a pair (claimed) and tiny in your pocket.  Not durable, but great for adding a bit of warmth when powerstretch gloves aren’t quite enough.  I wear a medium or large glove, normally, and the size 1 (smaller of two offered) fits perfectly over a heavyweight liner.

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17 thoughts on “Pimp your ‘Mid

  1. I have a MLD DuoMid. I used it in the Tetons, Glacier, the Pyrenees, Alaska etc. I never needed the mid panel tie-outs and I am wondering about their purpose.

  2. Thanks for the detailed info. I just finished a MYOG 9×9 ‘mid (my first time sewing sil) and was caught off guard at how finicky sil can be when it comes to distributing load evenly. I’m used to sewing packcloth and cordura, which obviously don’t stretch as readily. You long, vertical stitches make a whole lot more sense than a couple of short, perpendicular bar-tacks, which seems to be how most ‘mid- and other shelter tie-outs are attached.

    1. Much respect for tackling a project like that. Every time I make anything involving straight lines longer than 40 inches, I swear to stick with packs and just buy things like tarps and quilts.

      With the spin tarp I made last year, pinning the hell out of the ridgeline was obligatory, and even then it crept while stitching and had to adjusted after (ie cut to be straight). Nuisance.

      1. I fancy myself a decent sewer (sewist? seamster?) and assumed I’d be able to tackle the project faster than many of the reports I’d seen on BPL. Not so. Took me at least 30 hours to do all the measuring, marking, cutting and sewing. Tack on a few more for seam sealing and finishing touches. Not all of the stitches are pretty, but it pitches taut and even. While sewing the long seams, I found it essential to use both hands, leading and trailing the seam, to keep the fabric taut as it fed under the needle. Same principle goes for pinning the felled seam – fold and then do your best to keep everything tight as the pin goes in. But oy, talk about hand cramps from trying to keep everything from squirming away while you place a million pins.

        Needless to say, I have a newfound respect for the craftsmanship of MLD and the like. Sil is a pain in arse and those long ridgelines are mind-numbing to sew. That being said, nothing beats waking up in the morning to a newly finished shelter that hasn’t blown away while you were sleeping.

        I think I will rip out my line-locs and reattach them using your method. I’ve noticed some weird bunching, which says to me the load isn’t being distributed very well. Speaking of line-locs, mine have slipped here and there, but I think my line might be a little narrower than marked.

  3. Should say as a followup that the side tieouts were very nice this past weekend with the heavy wet snow turning to rain in the early AM. They kept things tight and maintained headroom with 3 people inside. I was worried they were a bit high, but am no longer.

    1. I’ve been looking at those Windmit’ns but can’t figure out the sizing…given how the size 1s fit over your size M/L heavy liners do you think they’d fit over a size M fleece mitten? Or are they are pretty snug fit?

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge on the megalight. I just got one and am getting it ready for its maiden voyage. I have a silly question: I asked Black Diamond whether I should apply the seam sealer on the inside of the tent or on the outside. They said outside. However, it looks to be a lapped seam, which gave me some pause. On which side of the tent did you seal the seams?

  5. I am part way through “pimping” my Mega Light. I used your wind guy suggestion. Thanks for the idea. Once again, I am indebted to others for good ideas.

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