Kootenay Approved & Inspired:

Meet Dan of Durston Gear

Durston Gear makes some of the lightest tents on the planet. And the world can’t get enough of its offerings. Here’s the proof.

Dan Durston (pictured below) had a lot of time to think about the perfect ultralight tent design while thru-hiking the 4,000-kilometre-long Pacific Crest Trail as well as doing the Great Divide Trail both ways, a journey that totalled 2,300 kilometres. Since then he started Durston Gear and created some of the world’s most celebrated “ultralight hiking gear with a focus on expanding and enabling backcountry experiences,” Dan says. “We develop gear that is more functional, user friendly, and lighter through our focus on simplicity and the first principles of materials, geometry, and engineering.”

Below is our conversation with Dan about what makes Durston Gear so popular and why it’s Kootenay Approved.

Hey Dan, thanks for chatting with us. First question: what makes your business unique?

Our gear is unique because we only create a product when we identify a substantial shortcoming in existing gear and can find a good way to resolve that. A lot of gear involves fairly minor variations on the same general type of design and thus tend to share common problems, whereas with Durston gear, we start from a true blank slate and consider fundamentally different approaches, which has led us to solutions that are quite different than anything else on the market. For example, our best known product is our X-Mid tents which use a novel geometry to substantially reduce the complexity of a trekking pole tent, while also increasing the space and saving weight.

What are some awards, accolades, or milestones you’ve achieved since starting your business?

We’ve been fortunate to have our gear recognized and awarded by a wide range of media outlets. That includes awards for best tent from Outdoor Gear Lab, The Trek, BackpackingLight, Section Hiker, Backpacker, Gear Junkie, Bikepacking.com and many others. Aside from awards, other key milestones include seeing our tents become the most popular and highest rated on long demanding trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, having over 10,000 people join the Durston Gearheads community on Facebook, and also recently being acknowledged as having the lightest two=person tent in the world.

How do the Kootenays help shape the work you do?

Creating gear is a lot of work and wouldn’t have happened without the passion for the outdoors that living in the mountains cultivates. Our backyard in the Kootenays shaped us into the gear enthusiasts that we are, and keeps us stoked to continue creating better gear. Aside from inspiration, the Kootenays also provide an amazing community of other gear makers, designers, and passionate users who all provide feedback and shape the gear we create.

What’s the best part about living in the Kootenays?

My favourite part about living in the Kootenays is the immediate access to world-class backcountry. I love that I can create a prototype of something and then the next day take it out on an amazing hike. It’s hugely rewarding and motivating to go from finishing something in the workshop to heading out on the trails with it sometimes just hours later. It’s fun and an amazing testing ground. This year I’ve been testing new tents in the Bugaboos and skiing with prototype gear at Rogers Pass.

The X-Mid Pro 2 floorplan

What are your favourite outdoor pursuits to do in the Kootenays? Where do you do them?

My core activity is hiking/backpacking with a focus on challenging myself by traversing remote areas and/or moving fast, but I also enjoy many other types of outdoor recreation such as backcountry skiing, climbing, and packrafting. I’m also aspiring to learn paragliding and mountaineering.

What’s next for your company?

I feel almost overwhelmed by the amount of opportunity that exists to make gear better. I’d love to expand from tents and packs to have a full lineup of backcountry gear such as sleeping bags, sleeping pads, stoves, clothing, etc, but I’m also very focused on only bringing products to market that are a genuine improvement. The next area for use is freestanding tents which we’ll be launching in 2024. Beyond that we have quite a few early stage ideas under development of which only a few will pan out.

For more about Dan’s company Durston Gear, visit his maker page: koreoutdoors.org/makers/durston-gear