MLD Cricket – Review

I’ve had my Cricket for 8 months now and used it more than any other shelter this year so far. A total of 19 nights under it in varied weather conditions including strong wind, heavy rain and snow.

Since first posting a picture on Instagram of the Cricket, I have had allot of people asking me to review it or give my thoughts. I don’t like to review a product until I have used it and have a good idea of how it performs which is why I left it until now to write this.

In reality there is little information regarding the Cricket and what is online seems to be patchy so I hope this helps a little.

This review is based on the current SIlnylon Cricket. I have no experience with the Cuben version.

The specs…..

Price, from $185 SIlnylon / $335 Cuben (DCF)

MLD Website 
30D Silnylon, 365g (unsealed and without lines), 275x135x130cm (L,W,H).

Mine
30D Silnylon, 435g, sealed and with lines, 277,135cm, height variable.

Mine is a brown 2017, Pro Silnylon version that I picked up second hand for a pretty reasonable price. The shelter was already seam sealed when I got it and its quite chunky and from what I can tell was packed away with the sealant not being 100% dry as which has left a few marks on the main areas of the fly. I have managed to remove some, that which is left does not bother me so much now.

The 2017 Cricket is larger than the original

Build and Quality

I have a number of MLD shelters and have seen and used others, this and the other shelters I own and have used has given me a bench mark of the quality to expect. 

The Pro Silnylon used on my Cricket is the newer type that MLD uses. I have found it to sag less and believe it absorbs less water than the Silnylon used on my Trailstar (2015 model), it also seems to dry quicker. 

The seams are all triple rolled and finished well with straight stitching. The only issue I have found with any of the seams is not really an issue, more of an observation. Where one of the mitten hooks have been stitched in on the front left seam, when ever this hook is used or under tension, a very small gap appears and daylight can been seen through it. The seam sealer runs right over the seam and I have never had any leakage through this or any other part of the construction. 

‘MLD are now shipping their shelters with an updated seam design. Ron recently replied to a post on facebook saying that the seam strength is the same and the newer, more modern fabric is stronger’

All in all I cannot fault the construction of my Cricket, even the stuff sack is finished with the same quality.

Pitching

Good weather pitch, both poles at 140cm. The inner is for bug protection.

The pitching of the Cricket is simple. I start by pegging out the back corners leaving around 5 inches of line free between the peg and the fly. I then move to the front corners, instead of pitching them at right angles to the rear, depending on how high I want the beak, I peg them a few inches off, between 70 – 110 degrees to the rear.

For the central pole, I set it to 135-140cm with an offset of around 20 degrees. This gives good height inside, an easy taut pitch and plenty of room behind.

The rear and side panels can be pitched to the floor with ease, maintaining a tight pitch which reduces drafts, spin drift and any spray. 

For the beak, you can either use a second pole to pull the beak taut or simple run a line from the lineloc down to the ground for a lower more storm resistant pitch.

I have seen few comments about the Cricket being a fair weather shelter, I do not believe this to be the case at all. As I said above, I have used the shelter in strong winds around 30-40mph with gusts, heavy constant rain often with wind and fairly heavy snow (for the UK). As with any shelter, if you pitch it to the conditions, you should have no issue.

Door pitched in Semi Storm Mode. Central Pole at 140cm.
Coverage from within in Semi Storm Mode. I had very little spin drift enter the shelter at this height. I was inside a Borah bivy. Using the bivy with the fly provided amble protection from the snow and the heavy rain that followed. 

Space / Coverage

The Cricket I own is based on the Solomid XL, the space inside is more then adequate for a solo shelter and with the overhanging beak there is plenty of coverage.

To create additional or a less restrictive space inside, you can use an ‘A Frame’ which is incredibly stable in wind. In good weather, you can also place the pole a few inches from the back panel which gives you uninterrupted space. 

I am 6ft tall and have not found an issue with space at all, height width and length are more than enough. I know of another UK user who is 6ft 4inches and he also find the space ample. 

I have a number of inners that fit the Cricket, A Oookworks Weenest, Oookworks Duomid innner (for this to fit you need to measure 5 inched from the apex and tighten some shock cord around to ensure the side walls pull in correctly. I also have two 3FUL inners that fit, a T Zip Winter inner and a full mesh that I have modified form a J Zip to a T Zip.

MLD Also make a number of inners that will fit the Cricket which should not be overlooked. 

Weather Protection

The strongest wind my Cricket has seen for a prolonged period of time is between 30-40mph with gusts a little higher. Pitched with the central pole at 135cm and with a 20 degree offset, the shelter stood upright with a little flapping as you would expect from any Silnylon shelter. When pitching in strong wind, I tent to use a single pole with a lowered beak to cover again the wind direction swinging around.

I have had the wind swing a full 180 and start blowing in under the beak before, this was easy enough to solve. you simply have to widen the pitch of the from corners and lower the beak. Doing this will enable you to pitch the beak nearly to the ground. 

I have read a few comments regarding a near ground beak pitch, most people seem to say you have to crawl under the beak to get in. This is not the case. If you release one of the front corners and the central beak line you can scoot under and simply retention the lines from within. 

The first picture in this review was taken on the first camp I used the Cricket. We walked out to Steeperton Tor on Dartmoor, there was a little snow forecast but nothing like what we encountered that night. I was with two friends, one in a Duomid XL and the other in a four season Hilleberg Kaitum. Initially we had around 6-8inches of snow fall with drifts. This was followed by continuous heavy rain and strong winds. 

Many people commented that I took the wrong shelter, to this I completely disagree. I have taken the Cricket out in similar weather since and would have no issue doing so again. The protection offered in my opinion is superb, wind and rain are little cause for concern and the only issue I found when it snowed was the corners were weighed down.

Conclusion 

I initially bought the Cricket as a curiosity, my thoughts were that it would idea for summer use or as a day hike shelter to use to get out of the weather, it soon became one of my favourite to use. 

For the weight, weather protection, price and ease of pitching I think there are very few shelters that come close. 

I have been nothing but impressed and so have a few of my hiking friends, no less than four have ordered a Cricket since using and/or borrowing mine.

For anyone looking at this or a similar shelter, you need to bear in mind its designed as an Ultralight/Lightweight shelter, without an inner supplied. A number of the comments I have read over the last few months have been negative due to the large open front. Before buying a product, you need to understand what it is your buying.

If anyone has any questions, please leave a comment, I am happy to answer any you may have.

Pitched on Kinder, Peak District
Porch Space
Borah Bivy inside
Dartmoor Sunset


Another review well worth reading is Colin Ibbotson’s of Tramplite which can be found here

Links

Mountain Laurel Designs

Oookworks

3FUL T Zip Winter Inner
3FUL Mesh J Zip Inner

43 comments
  1. Avatar

    Nice review, thanks. I just received mine Saturday and finished seam sealing it and the inner today. I can’t wait to use it.

    1. Dave

      Thanks Jake, I’m sure you will enjoy it 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Thanks for the review, i have one on order with Ron in the new 20D

    1. Dave

      Nice, the 20d weight saving looks good!

  3. Avatar

    I have been thinking about ordering either a solomid xl or a cricket for weeks. this review and the one you mentioned has made my mind up. I placed my order today.

  4. Avatar

    thanks for sharing this, i have shared this link with my local walking group as a number of members like similar setups.

  5. Avatar

    nice review. do you know how much of a size variation the new and old version has?

    1. Dave

      Hi Alan, sorry I don’t have the measurements. I’m sure MLD would be able to let you know.

  6. Avatar

    I’ve both nylon and dcf versions, prefer the nylon. The dcf version is light yes but can be very tricky to pitch on some ground, not as tricky as the dcf trailstar but tricky. The opening is also a pain, lower pitches often leave baggy and flappy areas which keep me awake. I only use the dcf now if I know the conditions are going to be A1 fine. I used the nylon version for three weeks in Scotland and three weeks in the Pyrenees this year, many many storms without concern. I agree with you. The cricket is a groovy shelter, light, easy, good in weather and priced well. if you want a dcf cricket get a solomid dcf xl

  7. Avatar

    Hi and thank-you for s through review. I looking into a Cricket also. One question I have, I hike with a small dog of about 30lbs. Is there ample room for me and the dog, I’m 6′ tall.

    thank-you

    1. Dave

      Hi Jerry, you should have no problem taking your dog along. I know of a few Cricket owners who have dogs and don’t have any problems. If you’re on facebook, join the Mountain Laurel Designs group and there are a number of pictures of the Cricket in action, many of which have a dog.

  8. Avatar

    Let me try this again, 1st try didn’t post. I’m looking to purchase a Cricket. I backpack with a small dog, roughly 30lbs. I’m 6′ tall, is there ample room for me and the dog? Also thank-you for a through review!!

  9. Avatar

    Dave……thumbs up for taking the time to write this and a huge thanks for bringing your Cricket up to me to view. Ciao, Ry

    1. Dave

      Hi James, not a problem. The orange TS arrived last week too if you still wanted to look at it and check out the brightness. ATB, Dave

  10. Avatar

    Revisão maravilhosa! o meu ordenou esta semana. Fantástico

    1. Dave

      HI Carlos, sorry, the wordpress system has marked your comment as spam 🙁 I had to translate that too.

      Thanks for your kind words. ATB, Dave

  11. Avatar

    I see you now have a trailstar in orange. My cricket is orange and a great vibrant colour it is.

  12. Avatar

    Had two. The new size is far better. Neat review. Never dream of using mine in snow. Maybe I will.

  13. Avatar

    Hi Dave, nice review. I have a cricket on order. I have an oooktub which is 90cm wide. I note the widest inner you’ve had is the Duomid inner which I think is 80cm. Do you think the tub will fit? I’m not sure how far you can offset the pole. Thanks!

    1. Dave

      Hi Mark, the wider tub should fit width wise. If its any longer than 220cm thought you may have an issue. ATB, Dave

      1. Avatar

        Thanks a lot, Dave. It’s 220cm so hopefully will be ok then. Just returned in January from a packrafting trip in Scotland with my trailstar, which was stellar as always, but I want something a bit more open and smaller pack size for hiking in spring/autumn (generally avoid the summer – don’t like walking in the sun and hate midges!). Planning a trip to walk the west coast of Jura and going to head to Senja in Norway with the raft and thought the Cricket might fit the bill. Keep up the blog, it’s a great read, and good luck with the TGO!

        1. Avatar

          Just took mine out in the Lake District this weekend. Not a weekend for really testing it, windy on Saturday night but died off completely overnight and no rain, but I have to say I quite enjoyed it. Looking forward to getting out a bit more with it over the coming weeks. The tub fits as you said it would, which made it a very comfortable place to be. Thanks again for taking the time to review and reply.

          1. Dave

            Hi Mark,

            No problem. Glad you like it. Dont be worried about wind with it, pitched well it will deal with a good amount of wind without issue. Are you on Facebook? If so, share some of your pics on the Mountain Laurel Designs and MLD Shelters owners groups.

            ATB, Dave

  14. Avatar

    I have a DCF Cricket. If I had found this before ordering, would have got the nylon version. DCF is a nightmare to pitch on bumpy ground and flaps when low. Your one is missing the side tie outs in the panels, did you request this?

    1. Dave

      Hi Susan, mine was second hand. If I ordered another though I probably would ask for them to be left off. I have never had the need to used them. ATB, Dave

  15. Avatar

    No door, not sure this is a real tent?

    1. Dave

      Technically it’s a shaped tarp. There are a lot of UL setups without doors.

  16. Avatar

    Thanks for writing this awesome review. I’ve been looking at the Cricket on and off for a year now. I’ve now subscribed to your blog.
    Cheers Kam

    1. Dave

      Thanks Kam

  17. Avatar

    Great review. Found this linked on the facebook group.

    1. Dave

      Hi Kat, cheers. Are you the Kat that PM’d me a few days ago? I have responded, sorry for the delay. ATB, Dave

  18. Avatar

    Man, I love my Cricket. I have an orange one and decided to order after seeing this. I went for 20d orange, whats your trailstar like 20 or 30?

    1. Dave

      Hi Carlos, the TS’s are not available in 20D as far as I know. ATB, Dave

  19. Avatar

    So then, you wrote this and then sold the cricket. Good faith in it!

    1. Dave

      Hi Chris, sold it? I still have my Cricket and have no intention of selling it! May I ask what gave you the impression I had sold it?

      1. Avatar

        It was on ebay

        1. Dave

          Chris, I am not the only Cricket owner. There are many and I am still one of them!

          1. Avatar

            Dave! I won the auction!

          2. Dave

            Welcome to the owners club, you didn’t win mine as it’s on the shelf with my other shelters as I type this reply. You should get out and use it, you’ll realize then why it’s one of my faves and why I probably won’t ever sell it!

  20. Avatar

    Mine arrived this week. Any tips on sealing it?

    1. Dave

      Mine arrived sealed but I have sealed others. A friend told me about watering the sealant down with white spirit which worked really well. 6g of sealant and 12ml of white spirit. Mix well and leave for five minutes, use a small art brush or foam brush.

      Using this method made sealing my new Trailstar very easy and you can hardly even see it’s sealed.
      ATB, Dave

  21. Avatar

    I’m glad I found your review because it’s better than most of the others I have seen. I like that you include lots of pictures so that we can see you have used it and are not simply writing from your back yard.

  22. Avatar

    Dave

    Big thanks for your help and advise prior to buying and thanks again for sealing it for me. Will grab a jar soon! Rich

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