Are you on the look-out for an cuben-fibre shelter with two entries & vestibules, that is easy to pitch and keeps the bugs out? Then you should read my review of the Dirigo 2 from Hyperlite Mountain Gear!
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Simple to pitch, spacious for one, and good for dry environments where you will encounter a lot of bugs, that’s where the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 shines as an ultralight shelter. In humid and wet environments, if you’re tall or you hike with a friend then you might not find this shelter the best option.
I received the Dirigo 2 in the spring of 2019 and slept in it a dozen nights in Finland and Germany.
The function of this tent is to keep you protected from bugs, critters and rain when you are sleeping outdoors. It’s a hybrid single + double wall design which pitches with two trekking poles and has two entries and vestibules.
The features as per Hyperlite Mountain Gear:
- Easy entry and exit for two with dual entry
- Breathable panels at head and foot to combat condensation
- Two vestibules for exterior gear storage with #5 YKK Aquaguard® Zippers
- Two large mesh walls for maximum ventilation
- Pitches with two trekking poles and eight stakes
- Carbon Fiber ‘Ridge Bar’ adds superior strength and stability
- Reflective guy-out points
- Internal mesh hanging stow pocket
- Internal D-rings for clothesline
- Two side wall guy-out points for increased internal space
- Fully seam-sealed
- Line-locs on all guy-out points
- Includes X-Large Drawstring Stuff Sack for storage
- Made in Biddeford, Maine, USA
In the last couple of years I have felt there haven’t been that much innovations in backpacking. This time I’d say the use of breathable DCF-WPB (that’s the breathable Cuben material, the same which is used in The Shell) is an innovation, although I’m not totally convinced that the small panels are enough or at the right place. Also, other companies already have used breathable cuben (with eVent) for several years in shelters.
I found the quality of the Dirigo 2 excellent. High-quality materials assembled by precise craftsmen & women in Maine - yes, this is a “Made in the USA” product that is superbly crafted and deserves this label.
The weight of my Dirigo 2 was 802 g, that includes all guylines. The included Drawstring Stuff Sack is 13 g, while the stake set with 8 Easton Stakes is 114 g or ~14 g per stake. So everything together is 929 g for this shelter.
As I was just writing about weight, you’ll need to also think about the weight of your Poles, though these do not count directly to the weight of the shelter. I use Ruta Locura Yana Poles (together with the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles probably my favourite trekking poles) which are 106 g per Pole. As I also use these throughout the day and do not carry them they aren’t included in the weight of the shelter, but obviously are needed. And as you read above, I use the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stake Kit, and those are heavy. You could use much lighter Titanium pegs which are 5 g or less, then your stake set of 8 would be 40 g - quite a saving. However, I trust the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stakes more in soft, wet ground and high winds, so I rather carry these instead of having some pegs pulled out by the wind.
Now at 802 g the Dirigo 2 is lightweight, but there are lighter alternatives - especially for two persons. The Ultamid 2 from Hyperlite Mountain Gear themselves is 534 g but does not include a bug netting (that would be 418 g extra if you take their own) or ground sheet. Personally I take a bivy with the Ultamid 2 as it adds to the flexibility of the shelter (I only have to pitch it when I know it will rain, and can sleep with just the bivy when the stars are out). Competitors like Big Agnes have the Scout 2 out, which in the Platinum Version weighs around 500 g - but also has no vestibule or dual entry. From the cottages both the StratoSpire Li from Tarptent and the ZPacks Duplex are of similar construction, weight and price.
The Dirigo 2 has a good interior height, this is achieved by the two trekking poles and the short carbon strut at the peak which creates more inside space. The trekking poles are angled and go into a grommet at the bottom and into a small reinforced pocket at the peak, this makes for a solid frame in high winds when the doors are closed. If you open the doors and roll them up you can enjoy great views, though this weakens the tent in high winds quite a bit. However, in reality you only will roll up the doors when the weather is good, so it really is a non-issue. Also on the inside is a small mesh pocket, I have used this for my headlamp to illuminate the tent and that has worked well. I really like the high roof and comfortable sitting height.
OK, for where is this tent made? It has a groundsheet (= GREAT for very wet environments) and No-See-Um mesh walls which keep the Bugs out (GREAT against mosquitos, ticks, deer flies and other critters and insects). However, in wet environments condensation is an issue and so I feel the Dirigo 2 is much better suited for trips in dry and bug-infested environments. If you mostly go backpacking in the spring and summer and encounter at your camp spots lots of bugs, this is a great choice. If you’re out year around, often in wet conditions, then this might not be the best option for you (then the Ultamid 2 should be your choice).
Something I also really liked about the tent was how easy it is to pitch. Spread it out in a square, peg out the corners, enter the trekking poles and adjust their height, peg out the doors and then the side panels and Voilá! you’re done. After some practice you’re able to pitch this tent in two to three minutes, and thanks to it’s design the inside will mostly stay dry if you pitch in the rain. Putting the tent down is equally simple, I like to fold it up once from each long side to the middle and then once in the middle, this lets me squeeze out any trapped air easily and I can roll up the Dirigo 2 into a small package. Attention only has to be paid to the carbon fibre strut and that it stays where it’s supposed to be, as sometimes it slips out and needs to be put back into place when you’re setting up the tent. The Dirigo 2 can be set up higher or lower depending on how much airflow you wish or how much drafts you want to avoid. I had no problems with drafts even when the outer was pitched 10 cm or more high, by choosing not completely exposed sites.
And then there’s the packed size. I was surprised by how large the tent is packed, and had to carry it usually in my front mesh pocket (which was the best choice after rainy nights). It packs, even when dry, fairly big, and I often found the included Drawstring bag too small for it - though as I usually just stuffed the rolled-up tent into the front pocket, this was not a problem.
Could be better
I do think the Dirigo 2 could do with more interior space to make it less cramped for two people. Right now it is a solid 1-Person tent, though I would not use it with another adult. I also wonder why the Breathable Cuben was only used in the lower parts of the design, and not also at the top or over the whole side panel (it’s probably a cost thing). This would likely help to minimize or even eliminate the condensation issue. Also, while not really an issue for me, I do think the Dirigo 2 doors would benefit from a buckle at the bottom of the zipper which takes the stress of the zipper, that would make the zippers survive longer and also allow you to open the zipper while keeping the structural integrity more solid I imagine.
Are you mostly out in the summer, like to camp above the treeline, do encounter lots of bugs, like to have a groundsheet and generally a fully enclosed shelter? Then the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 is a good choice for you. It is excellently made, spacious for one, durable and sheds wind very well, while keeping the bugs and rain out. It is simple and easy to use, and does it’s job of protecting you from rain and bugs very well. All that does come at a price, as at $795 you almost pay $1 per gram of shelter. If you’re usually out with friends in wet and humid environments then you might be better off to use a modular setup with more space, something like the Ultamid 2 or one of the many other pyramid designs out there.
More photos can be found in the Flickr Album!
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