Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent | First Look
At a scant 1.8 pounds the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent is a rare combination, a truly ultralight tent this is also incredibly strong and durable. As such, we think Hyperlite Mountain Gear hit a bullseye in tent design. Compared to most ultralight backpacking tents, the Dirigo 2 is about a pound or 30% lighter while providing 10 to 15% more floor area, and a more generous 45″ peak height. But while it’s larger and lighter, it’s also stronger and more durable than most ultralight backpacking tents.
What sets the Dirigo 2 apart from most ultralight backpacking tents is its strength to resist high winds and other extreme weather. The Dirigo 2 Tent’s combination of an innovative, linked trekking pole structure and tough Dyneema Composite Fabric is strong enough that we can lean against it. As such, even though Hyperlite Mountain Gear rates it as a 3 season tent, we see it being much closer to a 4 season tent, yet weighs less than most 3 season tents.
In summary, the Dirigo 2 deserves serious consideration for anybody who wants one of the very lightest tents that will also give you peace of mind knowing that it can stand up to severe weather. As for us, we were impressed enough to make it one of our top tent picks in our 2019 Best Backpacking Tents.
Our First Look Video Covering Key Features of the Dirigo 2 Tent
|Design:||2 person | 3* Season | Single Walled Tent | Trekking Pole Supported|
|Features:||Dual doors & vestibules, full bathtub floor and mosquito netting|
|Weight:||1.8 lb | 28.2oz | 800 g|
|Area:||Main 32.5 ft2 | Vestibules total 28.2 ft²|
|Fabric:||Dyneema Composite Fabric | Walls DCF8 | Floor a stronger DCF 11|
* For us, it is much closer to a 4 season tent, or 3+ season (at the very least)
What’s Great about the Dirigo 2 Tent
Below we list the key features that make the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent a standout.
Strong and Light without Sacrificing Features
At 1.8 pounds the Dirigo 2 is lighter than almost all ultralight tents. But it still has an exceptionally strong storm resistant structure, good floor area, double doors and vestibules, and strong, low-stretch and durable Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). All combined, they add up to an exceptionally storm resistant and livable tent. This is why we think of it as a 3+ season tent, if not a full 4 season tent.
The figure above shows the main support structure of the Dirigo 2 Tent, a key to its strength. The two trekking poles (red lines) are much stronger and stiffer than thin aluminum tent poles. The trekking poles are solidly linked by a carbon fiber ridge bar at the top (green line) and by a strong seam in the tent floor fabric, a beefy 1.3 oz DCF fabric (yellow line).
Many ultralight tent manufacturers continue to move towards thinner and lighter fabrics to reduce weight. Unfortunately, this also reduces strength and durability. So much so that the thin floor (sometimes 15d) on many UL tents, really needs a footprint for protection. This is essentially a hidden weight as well as a cost increase.
The Dirigo 2 takes the opposite approach, using strong durable fabrics. Its tent walls are 0.78 oz DCF fabric, and the floor a tough 1.3 oz DCF fabric that is far more durable than the 20d and 15d floors on most ultralight tents. As such, you can skip the footprint.
Finally, unlike traditional nylon, DCF does not stretch or absorb water when wet (e.g. in strong rain). As such your tent remains taut, without need of adjustment — it’s nice not to have to fiddle with the tent every few hours at night to keep it taut. And when you pack it wet in the morning you can shake most of the rain or dew off and pack the tent without all the additional weight of fully saturated conventional nylon.
Good Ventilation and Condensation Management
Single walled tents are quickly rising in popularity (the Dirigo 2 is technically one). In fact, some single walled tent brands are more popular with backpackers than some well known double walled tent brands. This makes sense, as a single walled tent has most of the benefits of a double walled tent, but for much less weight. But one of the downsides of a single walled tent is condensation on its walls. If you aren’t careful and brush up against the wet walls, you can get your sleeping bag or clothing damp. As such, condensation management is key to making these tents work in damp climates.
The Dirigo 2 shines when it comes to condensation management and ventilation. In fact, with its large mesh panels on the sides, it is very close to being a double walled shelter. Finally, on the ends of the tent (not protected by mesh), the Dirigo 2 has waterproof/breathable eVENT panels that specifically reduce condensation around your head and feet.
To test the tent, we slept out one night in very heavy humidity (we could see our breath before dark). The walls of the tent did condense (as would the fly on a double walled shelter) but the mesh sides keep us away from them. So while the DCF walls of the shelter were wet it never got our bags wet overnight. And yes, the added ventilation of the huge side mesh helps too.
In addition, the Dirigo 2 has a “lazy pitch” which is great for stargazing and ventilation when it’s warm. A “lazy pitch” is setting up the tent with both vestibules fully retracted and tied back. This gives you two large walls of mesh, allowing the breeze to easily flow through the tent — but keeps the bugs out. Bonus: it only takes 4 stakes for the lazy pitch (vs. the normal 8 when the tent is fully staked out).
More Floor Area and Peak Height
In an effort to reduce weight, many UL tents have shrinking floor areas — most are are around 28 Ft2 to 27 ft2, which is snug for two full-sized adults. Again the Dirigo 2 bucks this trend with a generous 32.5 ft2 or about 15% more area. And its generous 45″ peak hight is 5″ higher compared to the average 39″ to 40″ used by many ultralight backpacking tents.
What’s No So Great
Yes, there are a few downsides to this tent.
Yeah, that fancy DCF fabric increases cost. At $795 this tent is almost double the cost of a top-end ultralight tent in regular nylon. But comparison to other DCF “tents” the Dirigo 2 is a mid-level cost. By comparison, a Z-packs Duplex is $600, while a TARPTENT STRATOSPIRE Li comes in at $690, and a Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon Tent is $1000.
Sloping Tent Walls
Floor area doesn’t tell the whole story of tent livability. Sloping walls reduce sitting up area in in a tent. That is, vertical walls and a flatter tent ceiling increase the area you can sit up in a tent, and sloping walls and a pointy peak reduce it. For more see Pro Tip | How Much Tent Do You Need? Liveable Area – Why Tent “Volume” Matters in our 2019 Best Backpacking Tents | Lightweight & Ultralight.
The Dirigo 2 has moderately sloping side walls, and more sloping walls on the ends. These limit the area of where two people can sit up to the middle of the tent. Even so, the Dirigo 2 is quite livable as it starts with more floor area and a higher peak height than most UL tents, so the sloping walls are not as limiting as they would be in a smaller tent. If you watch our First Look Video of the Dirigo 2 Tent you can see that I have reasonable amount room to sit up in the middle of the tent.
Not Freestanding – Requires 8 Stakes
The Dirigo 2 is not freestanding. As such it can take a bit of time to learn how to set-up and stake it out properly. The Dirigo 2 relies on user supplied trekking poles and requires a few more stakes (8 in total) than most conventional free-standing tents. (Note: the setup is not more difficult than a conventional tent, it’s just that most people are not familiar with how to do it.)
And make no mistake, while you can pitch freestanding tent with a few stakes in fair weather, they pitch better when staked out. That is, in bad weather and/or high winds tents do require all corners and guy-lines be solidly staked out. We’ve seen more than a few tents being blown end-over end across the desert when this was not done.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent may excel (or do very well) in more areas than any tent. But above all it is a rare combination of light, strong, and durable. The Dirigo 2 has two-doors, two-vestibules and above average floor area and peak height. For a single walled shelter it does a great job with condensation management (likely closer to a double walled tent in condensation performance). In summary, while being one of the lightest tents on the market it is also one of the highest performing.
But that performance comes with one significant downside. The Dirigo 2 at $795 is almost double the cost of a top-end ultralight tent in regular nylon. And the Dirigo 2 is not freestanding and requires two user supplied trekking poles an 8 stakes for a storm pitch. Not an issue to our minds but we know folks that feel that way. Finally some folks may just not cotton to a single walled shelter no matter how well it ventilates and manages condensation.
Backpackers who want an exceptionally light and strong and durable tent with a large floor area and are willing to pay for it. Those who camp exposed in areas of high wind or extreme weather and need the peace of mind knowing their tent can handle it. Optimizers who want the best gear for the task.
Not so Good For
Backpackers on a budget or just abhor high cost gear on principal, hikers wedded to a conventional double walled tent like a BIG AGNES COPPER SPUR HV UL2 or MSR HUBBA HUBBA NX 2P, campers put-off by putting in 8 tent stakes or using trekking poles to setup a tent.
Weight: 1.75 lbs | 28 oz | 794g
Max Capacity: TwoPeople
Floor Size: 52“ (W) x 90” (L)
Floor Area: 32.5 ft2
Vestibule Area: 28.2 ft²
Number of Doors: Two
Number of Vestibules: Two
Number of Pockets: One Interior hanging mesh pocket
Number of Stakes: Pitches minimally with 4, Optimally with 8
Packed Size: 12” x 8” x 6” | 30.4cm x 20.3cm x 15.2cm
Interior Peak Height: 45″ | 114.5cm
Floor Area: 52″ (W) x 90″ (L) | 32.5sq. ft.
Pitched Dimensions: 92″ (W) x 95″ (L)
Exterior Walls: DCF8 / DCF-WPB
Interior Doors: No-See-Um Mesh
Trekking Pole Grommets: DCH50
Peak Trekking Pole Cups: DCHW
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