Ultra light – Ultra Durable
I came across the ZPacks Duplex in my search for that perfect combination of lightweight, functional, and durable. Coming in at a paltry 19oz (without poles or stakes), this is the lightest floored tent I’ve been able to test by a long shot. I was amazed at just how light and compact this shelter is.
Dyneema, the material ZPacks uses for the Duplex, is very thin but seems to be extremely durable. Being the only shelter in this review using this material, I did notice a very different feel to it. It didn’t have that slick feeling that silnylon has.
If weight is one of your biggest concerns, this is by far the best option I tested. Durable, good usable space (but on the smaller side), easy to set up, and ultra lightweight, this thing is a gem.
Non-Freestanding, Single Wall
The Zpacks Duplex is not a free-standing design. It must be staked out to be usable.
Being a single wall tent, condensation is always a concern, but can be managed easily by allowing a draft to come in through the door. The non-zippered doors actually help allow a draft in to keep the condensation to a minimum. It is recommended to sleep with one door rolled back in the open position to allow good ventilation (assuming weather allows).
I loved how easy the tent went up. It was very simple and setting it up solo wasn’t a problem. You have the option of using either your trekking poles, or purchasing the flex pole kit for an additional $125, making this a free standing shelter. Dyneema is naturally waterproof, so there is no sealant to worry about wearing off over time.
I didn’t know if I’d like the no-zipper setup of the vestibule doors, but the design really is ingenious. Clips securely hold the doors in place, and you have the added option of securing the mid-section of the door with an elastic tie down.
The only problem with the setup comes when the wind blows into the overlaying flap, which can cause some additional draft and/or noise. You’d want to be cognizant of this feature and set the tent up with that flap upwind to minimize any extra draft or noise. If you tighten down the vestibule tension pull, you shouldn’t have any issue at all.
For a two door, two vestibule shelter the weight was especially impressive at just 19oz. All seams come sealed, which is nice not to have to mess with. The durability provided by the Dyneema was evident as it seemed less fragile than ripstop nylon, even though it was thinner.
The Dynema fabric made for an awesome non-slip floor as well. I found myself sleeping on an incline, but the material almost grabbed my pad and really reduced the pad slippage. This was a welcomed surprise.
The Zpacks Duplex gives you two massive doors that zip/unzip the entire mesh side of the shelter. Combined with the bathtub floor, it’s incredible that this shelter comes in at only 19 ounces. Getting in and out of this tent is a breeze. The full size zippers also give you easy access to the entire vestibule. I loved this feature.
I found the interior space to be a bit cramped for two people, but only in the width. The interior space of the Duplex is on the smaller side (28sq ft), but due to the design, it feels much bigger. The main issue is the width. You would be touching shoulders with your tent buddy in this shelter. You simply wouldn’t be able to fit two wide/long pads in the Duplex very well.
If you like your privacy in a shelter, something else to consider is that this tent is somewhat see through. You can make out a silhouette due to the super thin material.
The biggest downside I could find to the Zpacks Duplex is the price tag. Coming in at $599 for just the tent, the price could be a deterring factor for some. Add a pole set and stakes and it’s a chunk of change. As we all know, you are going to pay extra for the combination of ultralight, durable, functional, and super high quality. This shelter encompasses all of those things amazingly well.
The Zpacks Duplex is my favorite ultralight two person shelter when every ounce matters. It’s loaded with features like the no zipper design, flex pole free standing options. See how it stacks up against some others I tested in my full Backpacking Tent Review!
Check out Backcountry Camp Part 1: Basics of Selecting a Tent to help you select the right tent.