Reviews

6

This tent provides amazing space and livability in…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $600

Summary

This tent provides amazing space and livability in an ultralight package. It provides everything tents weighing three times as much do without really sacrificing anything. Very impressive.

Pros

  • Ultralight weight
  • Livability
  • Tight pitch when done well

Cons

  • High price
  • Not free-standing (but there is now that option)


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The Zpacks duplex is a two-person single-wall cuben fiber (now Dyneema?) shelter that weighs about 22 oz (without stakes or poles—but with all guylines). The amount of room you get for a tent this light is pretty amazing. It is a two-man tent - an like most ultralight two person tents, it would be a tight fit for two big guys. But it makes a palace-like solo tent at a weight that many other very small solo tents cannot match.

It is essentially a tarp-tent design that has a bathtub floor attached to the tarp by lightweight mosquito netting—so you are fully protected from bugs. Amazingly, it provides two doors at this weight, with zippered bug netting entrances on each side along with zipperless vestibule doors. The doors halves are designed so they overlap and are closed at the bottom with a clever little hook device and halfway up with a toggle and loop closure. I haven't been in the rain with it yet, but the doors look like they would be pretty weather tight if the tent was set up correctly and the closures were tight.

It is a basic A frame design using trekking poles. The tarp part hangs at least four inches past the bathtub floor all around, providing plenty of coverage for bad weather. You can lower the pole height to lower the pitch to provide a more weather resistant pitch, but I don't think that would be necessary unless it was a super windy storm. And because it is a single wall design, ventilation is important. I had no issues with condensation in temps ranging from 22 to 37 at night.

The tent is very "livable". It is bright—partly due to the almost translucent nature of the material—it lets in a lot of light. If you follow the pitching instructions, the center height is about 48 inches, so when you sit up in the center of the tent you have plenty of headroom. The bathtub floor is a little strange compared to a conventional tent design—because the floor itself is not really staked out—only the tarp top and door/vestibules are staked. Before you get your gear into the tent to weigh down the floor it can kind of billow around in the breeze. This is absolutely harmless, but is kind of weird at first.

The construction is top quality, with reinforcements everywhere they are needed. It comes with six guylines—for all the staking points—that have tensioners attached. I found the tensioners a little hard to operate with one hand. I almost always had to use two hands. But they seem very sturdy. Same thing goes for the screen door zippers - because of their lightness they pretty much require two handed operation.

The tent requires six stakes or anchors. There is no getting around that. You don't have the convenience of a freestanding tent. BUT Zpacks now offers a two pole set that makes the tent free-standing for folks that don't use trekking poles or who just prefer that convenience and don't care about the extra weight.

The newer versions have the loops required for the poles and I think Zpacks will retrofit previous models with the loops. The freestanding version has two long, crossing poles, that I would assume still require staking, but allow you to easily move the tent around and open up the full entry to the doors that are normally split in half by the trekking pole setup design. Pretty cool.

A really great feature (benefit) of cuben fiber for tents is that it does not absorb moisture like a silnylon material. You know how on cold mountain mornings your tent fly will be wet on the outside and you have to spend some time during the day drying it out? Never happens with cuben fiber because the material itself is waterproof so there is not a layer that absorbs moisture. I love that about the stuff and in my opinion that is something that makes it ideal for tents.

The floor is a heavier weight material and it seems to stand up to abuse very well. I've spent 11 nights in it so far and I never use a groundcloth. The other really great thing about cuben fiber is how easy it is to repair. Just slap some cuben fiber tape on a tear and it is about as good as new.

Of course, this tent is pretty pricey. That's the cost of going ultralight. But you are supporting a U.S. handmade product and it is an excellent product in design and execution, that's for sure. And Zpacks is well known for its personal service.

Of course it comes with a cuben fiber stuff sack and packs down pretty small. Because of the "crinkly" nature of cuben fiber, it seems a little bulky, but when you stuff it in your pack it crushes down really well.

One word of caution, I know the video on the website shows a guy they say is 6'6" in the tent, but I am 6'2" and when I am in a 20-degree sleeping bag I come close to touching the ends. I think I have about two inches to spare on each end. I think if you are 6'4" you are almost too tall unless you are solo and can sleep diagonally. For normal sized people the tent is plenty big for two, and really big for one.

All in all, if you want a great, versatile shelter that really is ultralight and you don't mind spending the extra money, I think you will be very happy with the Zpacks Duplex. Great design!

Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review of your ZPacks tent, Paul! Thanks for taking the time to post it. If you have any pictures of yours in use you could show others in your review, that would be great.


8 days ago
Vladimir Gorbunov

Thanks for your review. It's great lightweight shelter, probably one of the best on market. Is it made as a single piece, without dividing to inner tent and rainfly? Also it worth noting that there are straight carbon poles available for those who don't use the trekking poles. They are 2 times lighter and cheaper that freestanding kit.


8 days ago
G00SE MODERATOR

Sounds like a great UL tent. Thanks for posting.


7 days ago
JRinGeorgia

Vladimir, this isn't a double-wall shelter, it only has a tarp (the "rainfly"), a bathtub floor, and netting that covers the door ends and the gaps on the sides between tarp and floor.


7 days ago
Vladimir Gorbunov

Thanks!


7 days ago
Rob R

Worth every penny of that price


7 days ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for adding those pictures, Paul!


6 days ago
Dr. Bryan Ryles

Thanks, Paul, for stating my opinion also! Bought the " camouflage " version about six months ago, and love it! Super easy to set up and plenty of room for one. The Camouflage lets in less light for only a fraction more weight, and more privacy. One thing some folks don't know, is you can monitor ZPacks website for their " Bargain Bin." I bought my Duplex there for $50 less, because of some minor imperfections, which was a minor patched flaw in one area. Worked perfect, and saved some money. I have the carbon tent poles, since I don't use trekking poles, and they work great! Only problem for interested folks, is that you can't adjust the carbon poles like a trekking pole: this was a problem in Yosemite at the Backpacker's Camp, with hard packed dirt on an uneven tent site. I had to scoop out the ground on one side and slide the pole into a makeshift hole, but worked fine. I've spent four days in rain: one in a hail storm in Yosemite this last July, and the tent is amazing in waterproofness and the ability to keep the door open because of the overlap of the roof. Glad you like!


5 hours ago
1

The ultimate three-season, two-person backpacking…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new

Summary

The ultimate three-season, two-person backpacking shelter.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Very roomy
  • Livable
  • Easy to pitch
  • Strong

Cons

  • Cost

This is a ridiculously nice shelter. It's really easy to set up, uses 6 to 8 stakes for a taut pitch. It's very stable in wind and hard rain, the bathtub floor stands up to streams flowing under you (don't pitch it in a stream bed...).

There is great ventilation, room for two and a 60-lb dog easily. It is easy to pack up small. All in all it's just fantastic if you can get past the price. One month's rent for a tent is quite a bit, but I absolutely love it so far. 

Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Christian!


3 months ago

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