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Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 Review

The latest Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2
Top Pick Award
Price:   $550 List | $519.95 at Amazon
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Pros:  Superlight, small packed size, tiny footprint fits on small ledges and takes less time to chop a tent platform.
Cons:  Uncomfortable, poor ventilation, terrible quality guylines and stakes.
Bottom line:  A super light option that is doesn't provide as much ventilation as other options.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear

Our Verdict

Among the ultralight single wall tents, the Direkt 2 rated the highest. Packing up tiny and weighing only 2lb. 12 oz., it makes a smaller dent in your pack than nearly any other four season tent. We recommend this tent if low weight, small packed size, and small footprint are your top concerns.

New Version for 2017
We have received confirmation from Mountain Hardwear that this model has received an update to its canopy and floor materials, as well as more guy lines, tieout points, and an increased weight. More details follow below.

The Direkt 2 is marvelous in that it improves upon the Black Diamond Firstlight, our previous favorite ultralight alpine tent, by increasing strength and by being 100 percent waterproof. (The Firstlight is a pole-supported windbreaker).The Direkt2 is best suited to winter alpine climbing.

Not an alpine climber? No problem. See our Four Season Tent Review to compare the top models for other applications, such as winter camping, mountaineering, and ski touring.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Four Season Tents of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
March 30, 2017

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The Latest Direkt 2 vs. the Older Version


Intending to increase the strength of this tent, Mountain Hardwear informed us that they have incorporated heavier-duty materials into the design. This new version for 2017 has a new canopy and floor. It also features more guylines and tieout points, which should improve its robustness. Weigh also increased, but otherwise, this tent remains very similar to its predecessor. See our side-by-side comparison of the two versions, with the latest one on the left.

The latest Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2
Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2
 

Here's a summary of the key differences between these two tents:
  • Canopy Material — The new canopy material is 30D Nylon Ripstop 1200 mm PU, which was mesh in the older model.
  • Floor Material — This new model features 30D Nylon Ripstop T 4000mm Ether type PU/SIL, which is meant to be stronger.
  • Guy Lines and Tieout Points — Designed to increase this tent's storm resistance, Mountain Hardwear has increased the number of guy lines and tieout points on this new version.
  • Increased Weight — The manufacturer claims this model weighs just two ounces more than its predecessor.

We haven't had a chance to fully test and review this latest version, so the text below represents the older version of this tent, which is very similar.

Hands-On Review


Presumably, you found your way to this review because you are interested in going as fast and light as possible in the winter. If not, check out our Four Season Tent Review to compare heavier tents that offer more comfort. If yes, in addition to the Direkt 2 we highly recommend considering a floorless pyramid shelter or flat tarp, which can be found in our Ultralight Tent Review. Our tests show that these perform better than the Direkt 2 for most fast and light winter applications, and all applications year round when you are carrying something that can be used to pitch a tent, such as skis, ski poles or trekking poles. Thus, we prefer pyramids and flat tarps to the Direkt 2 for everything except technical winter alpine climbing, when saving weight is the top priority. The Direkt 2 still performs well for non-technical pursuits, like ski touring, but if you want to go ultralight, we suggest going all the way… with a floorless shelter.

Three ultra compact  sub four pound tents embrace the high alpine sunshine. From left to right: Brooks Range Invasion  Stephenson's Warmlite 2R  and Mountain Hardwear Direkt2.
Three ultra compact, sub four pound tents embrace the high alpine sunshine. From left to right: Brooks Range Invasion, Stephenson's Warmlite 2R, and Mountain Hardwear Direkt2.

Performance Comparison


The Direkt 2 (highlighted in blue) didn't score well across the board, but it did perform exceptionally well in our weight metric.


Weather Resistance


The Diretk 2 is heaven when it's nuking out and you are frozen and exhausted. The tent's polyurethane coated nylon fabric is waterproof and all of the seams are sealed. This is a critical improvement over the Black Diamond Firstlight, which has a non-waterproof fabric and is not seam sealed. The advantages of being waterproof are obvious: the tent works in rain and resists water from melting snow. Being waterproof is also useful because the fabric is less breathable, which makes you warmer. (The Direkt 2's 30 denier nylon has a PU coating that is not air permeable. It works like many rain jackets and the old style Gore-Tex Pro Shell membrane: water vapor needs to pass through the material in a solid state.) Because air cannot pass through the tent walls (it stills circulates through the zippers and vent) you are warmer! And you should vent the tent more while cooking inside it.


For alpine climbers the increased weather protection allows the tent to be used for a wider range of applications. For example, on a climb that crosses multiple climates (starts low in rainy forests and climbs high into cold temps with snow) the Direkt 2 can be used as your only tent. This is better than the previous alternatives of either (1) suffering through with the non-waterproof BD Firstlight, or (2) bringing the Firstlight and a larger and heavier double wall basecamp tent.

Dimension Polyant X-Pac TX07 PU reinforcements on the corners increase strength and let in light. Very nice.
Dimension Polyant X-Pac TX07 PU reinforcements on the corners increase strength and let in light. Very nice.
In addition to being waterproof, the Direkt 2 has another significant advantage over the BD Firstlight: it is stronger. Mountain Hardwear used Dimension Polyant X-Pac TX07 PU laminate to reinforce all of the corner seams. (This fabric is a lighter version of the X-Pac fabrics that are commonly used on many top-tier alpine climbing packs. The reinforcements serve to increase strength and durability, and their translucent nature makes enduring a storm much more pleasant because the additional light helps the tent feel more spacious.

For many alpine routes summer or winter the tents ability to be setup on small ledges or in tight spaces is as important as weight and packed size and for many routes a full-sized 4-season tent isn't even an option. Photo: The Direkt 2 in use on the Cassin Ridge  Denali AK.
For many alpine routes summer or winter the tents ability to be setup on small ledges or in tight spaces is as important as weight and packed size and for many routes a full-sized 4-season tent isn't even an option. Photo: The Direkt 2 in use on the Cassin Ridge, Denali AK.

The Direkt's mid level corner tieout points are also made of TX07 and are set higher than the Firstlight's tieouts, which are made of several layers of the fly material (read: not as strong). Though the Firstlight's tieouts have never broken in our use, nor with anyone else we know of, we've found that the increased height of the Direkt2's tieouts help to keep the tent planted down a bit firmer. We also appreciate the peace of mind that comes with the tougher materials and tieouts.

Overall, the Direkt 2 is stronger and more weather resistant than the Firstlight. It is impressively bomber for being so light.

Reinforced mid panel tieouts. We suspect these are stronger than those on the Black Diamond Firstlight.
Reinforced mid panel tieouts. We suspect these are stronger than those on the Black Diamond Firstlight.

Weight/Packed Size


With a reasonable guy line configuration, the Direkt 2 weighs 44 oz. Carrying the pole splint and stuff sacks add an extra 1.7 oz. Individual component weights are:

Tent body with guylines*: 13.5 oz.
2 poles: 13.5 oz
Pole stuff sack + pole splint: 0.7 oz.
Stuff sack: 1.0 oz.

*The measure guyline configuration includes:
– All stock line cut into four equal length sections for the four corners.
– Four stock plastic tension adjustments for the four corners.
– Seven 4' lengths of 2.75 mm Sterling GloCord for all ground level points.


This tieout configuration works well because the corner loops are long enough to reach far away points or wrap around objects, and because the additional ground level cord can be used to attach to crampons, ice tools, skis, etc. and create a bomber pitch. We like to use the Trucker's Hitch on the ground level cords.

The stock guyline is relatively heavy, not reflective, and it absorbs a lot of water. We recommend upgrading and suggest ZPacks 2.3mm Dyneema Reflective GloWire line. This cord would save at least 1 oz. when dry and considerably more if after exposed to moisture.

Three of the smaller packed size options in our review pictured here in included stuff sacks  left to right: Mountain Hardwear Direkt2  Brooks Range Invasion  Stephenson's Warmlite 2R. Note the crampons for size comparison.
Three of the smaller packed size options in our review pictured here in included stuff sacks, left to right: Mountain Hardwear Direkt2, Brooks Range Invasion, Stephenson's Warmlite 2R. Note the crampons for size comparison.

Ease of Setup


The Direkt 2 is easier to pitch than the Firstlight because it has DAC Ball Cap connectors at the rear corners of the tent. These round ends allow the poles to snap into place and stay there while you fiddle about fastening the Velcro closures around the poles. This feature is found on no other single wall tent we've tested. It's a huge improvement over the traditional grommet/snap style closures found on the Rab Latok series, BD bibler series and Nemo Tenshi. Even so, the Direkt 2 is not super easy to pitch. It would be a lot faster if the tent had pole sleeves like either the Hilleberg Unna (external) or the Sierra Designs Convert (internal). We hope that Mountain Hardwear considers pole sleeves for a future version of this tent. See the video at the bottom of this page for setup instructions.


The Direkt2 comes with terribly low quality stakes and guyline. We suggest upgrading both.
The Direkt2 comes with terribly low quality stakes and guyline. We suggest upgrading both.
The Direkt 2 comes with terribly low quality stakes. If saving weight is your objective we highly recommend upgrading to better stakes. Specifically, we suggest Ruta Locura 9" Carbon Stakes, which are well worth every penny and perform very well in the compact, rocky soil typically found in alpine sites (the narrow metal tip and tubular shape glides through rocks much better than the Y-shaped aluminum in the stock stake that bends very easily. For winter use we like to stake tents using things like ice tools, ice screws, snow pickets, trekking poles or skis.

Livability


This tent ties with the Firstlight as the second least comfortable tent we've ever tested. It is cramped with two people and way too small for anyone six feet or taller. If you are that height, like the author is, your head and feet will touch both ends of the tent simultaneously even if you curl up a bit. It's even worse if you're sleeping on a thick inflatable pad like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm (our favorite pad for use with this tent) because the tent walls angle in and reduce floor space. But we willingly trade these discomforts in exchange for the low weight. The tent feels like a safe haven when the weather is bad.


Unfortunately, Mountain Hardwear has not yet made a longer version of the tent, like Bibler (now Black Diamond) did with their I-tent and Eldorado (the latter is 5" longer). Our favorite single wall tent for tall people is the Mountain Hardwear EV2, which is twice as heavy as the Direkt 2. Due to the weight difference we nearly always suck it up and go with the Direkt 2.

The author caught someone car camping in the Direkt2 in Camp 4  Yosemite!!?? Note how the tent is uncomfortable (see the feet bulging out the end and things pressing the side). Why suffer when you are not in the alpine?
The author caught someone car camping in the Direkt2 in Camp 4, Yosemite!!?? Note how the tent is uncomfortable (see the feet bulging out the end and things pressing the side). Why suffer when you are not in the alpine?

The Direkt 2 is only 45" wide. It gives you just enough space to put two 20" wide sleeping pads inside. The Firstlight is 3" wider, extra space that we appreciate. But on the other hand the Direkt 2 is 3" taller. The tradeoffs in comfort between the two tents are overshadowed by Direkt 2's increased weather resistance, which has a greater influence on overall comfort than a few inches of width.

The Direkt 2 has one small pocket that hangs from the rear roof. We like this location better than the Firstlight's side location because it's easier to find in the night. Even better, the Direkt's pocket can be removed. Just unhitch the toggle to save a tiny bit of weight.

The Direkt2's single pocket is removable and the only vent can be closed if that end of the tent is being blasted by wind.
The Direkt2's single pocket is removable and the only vent can be closed if that end of the tent is being blasted by wind.
Ventilation is the design crux of single wall alpine tents. Some models use three-layer ePTFE membranes (such as Black Diamond's ToddTex, Marmot's MemBrain Assault, and eVent (found on the Rab Latok series and others)) that are essentially tougher versions of hardshell jackets. These can offer the best breathability of any single wall waterproof fabric, and they retain their breathability over the long-term better, too. As mentioned above, the Direkt 2 has a polyurethane coating on the inside of the fabric. This technology is lighter but not as durable or as breathable as three-layer fabrics. But, like with waterproof jackets, ventilation is more important than breathability. Unfortunately, however, the Direkt has poor ventilation; perhaps the worst of any tent we've ever tested. There is only one vent (on the top, opposite the door) and it is both small and suffers from erectile dysfunction. Unlike the vast majority of other single wall tents, the Direkt's vent does not have a small plastic support (that often attaches with Velcro) to help keep the vent propped up. We've found that it's challenging to keep the vent raised when it's snowing because the weight of the snow bends the wire support down. It's also hard to keep the vent free of snow when wind is blowing snow toward the vent. For this reason we've found that pitching the tent with the door into the wind is often best.

Though ventilation is the tent's most significant weak spot, it's important to note that it's primarily a drawback in calm conditions without wind. The "pumping" effect of the tent billowing in wind serves to circulate air and reduce condensation. This is yet another reason why we only recommend the tent for winter use.

The Direkt2 has one small vent on the opposite side of the door (left in this image). Unfortunately   the vent is neither supportive nor large. The tent would benefit from two larger vents with stiffer supports.
The Direkt2 has one small vent on the opposite side of the door (left in this image). Unfortunately, the vent is neither supportive nor large. The tent would benefit from two larger vents with stiffer supports.

Durability


The Direkt 2 could be more durable than the Firstlight, but neither tent is designed with durability in mind. They are tough enough to get you through an epic climb, perhaps several of them, and then they might need to be retired or patched up. Alpine climbing is an expensive sport and low weight is always the number one performance factor.


Versatility


The tent is not adaptable, i.e. it must be pitched in the same configuration every time. Fortunately, the Direkt 2's tiny footprint and freestanding design allow it to be pitched just about anywhere two people can lie down. Adaptability is not an issue.


Features


We give the tent an 9 out of 10 for features. Some are awesome (tough tieouts, removable interior pocket, adjustable ground level tieouts) and there's some room for exploration (ventilation, pole sleeves).

Mountain Hardwear Direkt2 in Patagonia
Mountain Hardwear Direkt2 in Patagonia

Best Application


The tent is best suited to alpine climbing or for fast and light ski touring if you don't want to use a floorless pyramid shelter, which we find to be better for all fast and light non-climbing applications. Note, no ultralight single wall tent currently has sufficient ventilation to perform well in three season use. We are waiting for someone to develop a tent that's as light or lighter than the Direkt 2 with better ventilation; this would make it much more versatile.

Consider an Ultralight Shelter


We see many people that use alpine tents for weight conscious applications where they would be better off with a floorless pyramid shelter. If your intended application is not alpine climbing we suggest considering a pyramid style shelter from our Ultralight Tent Review. Yes, backcountry skiers, ski mountaineers, winter hikers, etc., that could be you. Specifically consider the Mountain Laurel Designs SuperMid ($355). Floorless? Yep, put your Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm pad right on the snow, or put a 4 oz. polycro groundsheet under it. If you want a superlight tent for three-season alpine climbing and hiking consider a flat tarp, the most adaptable type of shelter on the planet — it can even be pitched by tying two ice axes together.

Value


The Direkt 2 is roughly $150 more expensive than the BD Firstlight. We feel that its increased weather resistance and strength are worth the additional cost. This is our highest rated ultralight single wall tent. The Direkt 2 is a good value for an alpine climbing tent, but other tents offer a much better value in the sense that they can be used for a wide variety of applications, are much more comfortable and more durable.

Conclusion


This is our highest rated ultralight alpine climbing tent.

Video


See the video below for setup instructions.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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Most recent review: March 30, 2017
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