Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of testing a number of Zpack tents, so when they released the Zpacks Duplex XL, or the DupleXL, we wanted to see how it might be different from the tried and true Duplex tent that we love. The Duplex is one of our favorite 2 person ultralight backpacking tents, so improving on that is no easy task. As you know, when weight really counts, it’s tough to beat any of the Zpacks’ tents.
Is There a Difference? – Zpacks DupleXL Review
When I first saw the new Zpacks DupleXL I thought, “Huh. I wonder how it’s different than the Duplex.” I’ve used the Duplex for years and love it, but was also intrigued to find out what changes were made in the Duplex XL tent. When you take your first look at the Zpacks Duplex XL, you might not notice the subtle differences, but they are certainly there. The Zpacks DupleXL tent was designed for taller folks to give a little extra length, and gives you a ton of headroom with a 48 inch peak height. Overall, the DupleXL is extremely similar to the standard Duplex with extra length and a different guy out design, which we’ll get into later.
Looking for something similar to this Zpacks DupleXL tent, but for one person? You’ll want to check out the Zpacks Altaplex tent. We’ve been using the Altaplex for years now and it’s a favorite of ours. Check out our Zpacks Altaplex review here!
You basically take the lightest 2 person ultralight tents on the market, make it bigger with very minimal weight penalty and you get the Zpacks DupleXL. If you are a taller person, or just like extra length in a tent, the Zpacks Duplex XL Tent is definitely one to consider. Given its weight it would be normal to question its durability, but the Dyneema fabric used by Zpacks makes this much more indestructible than you’d think. What you end up with is a very durable tent with a TON of space, especially given its incredibly low weight.
Our Zpacks Duplex XL Tent Rankings
The Testing: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
Like with all of the gear we try out for our reviews here at Backwoods Pursuit, we put the Zpacks Duplex XL tent through some rigorous testing to see if the DupleXL tent was one of the best ultralight tents for tall people. It’s great to read the specs and love what you see, but specs mean nothing if that doesn’t translate to good usable space, a tent that keeps you dry, and something you don’t have to fight with to get set up. There’s simply no better place to test out gear than in the backcountry.
With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to do a different test with the Zpacks Duplex XL tent that we’ve never done with any of the other Zpacks tents we’ve tested. I know from personal experience that the Dyneema that Zpacks uses is fantastic, keeps you dry even in a downpour, and is super durable and extremely lightweight.
However, I wanted to see how this tent would do in the snow. Sure, heavy snow isn’t something you are likely to see if you brought an ultralight tent like the Zpacks Duplex XL, but where I spend time in the Idaho backcountry, sometimes you can be surprised by an unexpected snow storm in the early fall months.
Along these same lines, I wanted to test out this Zpacks DupleXL tent in the extreme cold (at least for a single wall ultralight backpacking tent). Typically, once the temperatures drop and we get into winter backpacking, I elect to take my Seek Outside Cimarron Hot tent or the Seek Outside Redcliff Hot tent, or even the Seek Outside 8 Man Tipi hot tent, which feature a wood burning titanium stove to keep you nice and warm. But again, an unexpected cold snap in the high elevation of the Idaho mountains isn’t uncommon, and I’ve been out in September to find temperatures drop into the teens and single digits. Not common, but it can certainly happen.
So, how did the Zpacks Duplex XL ultralight tent perform in the extreme cold and snow? Well, as you can see, we got hit with a snow storm and I threw the Duplex XL up in the backyard to see how it would handle a snow load. This particular snow storm produced about 6-7 inches of heavy, wet snow, which is typically death on ultralight tents. To my delight, the Zpacks Duplex XL tent not only held its own, it excelled. The Dyneema fabric didn’t stretch like Silnylon tends to do when it gets wet, so the canopy didn’t sag.
The weight of the snow did push the trekking poles into the ground a couple inches, so I had to adjust them to make them longer once I realized that, but that was no big deal. I noted that the snow slid off the peak of the canopy as well, and gathered around the edges of the tent. The carbon stays at the head and foot of the tent held up extremely well with the weight of the snow. I was a bit concerned that they wouldn’t, but no issue there either.
As you can see in the picture, the material at the peak of the Duplex XL between the trekking poles did sag just a bit from the weight, so not too bad at all. The sagging that did occur was from the trekking poles being driven into the ground by the weight of the snow.
The Cold: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
How did it do in the extreme cold? Well, I spent a few nights out in this DupleXL tent during a cold snap which followed that snow storm. Temperatures dipped to -5 degrees Fahrenheight, which is well into the temperatures where I’d typically take one my my Seek Outside hot tents. I had never had Dyneema out in temperatures that cold before, so I was curious how it would do.
I did notice that it seemed to have a little more of a crinkle to it in those cold temps with a little more noise. But hey, let’s face it. If that’s the worst you have to deal with in those temps, that’s pretty impressive. The material seemed to do a good job of retaining heat and keeping drafts at bay too, as I had it buttoned up as tight as I could for this situation. Another win in my book while testing a tent well beyond its intended purposes! After all, I knew it would perform well in “normal” conditions, so I had no concerns there.
the Specs: Zpacks Free Duo Review
The Zpacks DupleXL tent is one of the more impressive tents you’ll find in the specs department with one primary drawback. (More on that below.) Here are the detailed specs on the Zpacks Duplex XL tent:
Non-Freestanding – Single Wall: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
Like the Duplex, the Zpacks Duplex XL is a non-freestanding tent that requires two trekking poles to set up. You can pick up some of the Zpacks trekking poles (although I haven’t had a chance to try them yet), or something like the S&S Archery CL Backcountry trekking poles, which I have used a lot over the years and have served me well.
Trekking pole tents have their pros and cons. Any time you can use a piece of gear like your trekking poles for multiple functions, you can save weight. On the other hand, if you want to use your trekking poles while out hiking or hunting for the day, but you used them to set up your tent, you have to decide if you want to pull them from the tent for the day.
Being a single wall tent, condensation is always a concern, but I had zero issues with this when I was by myself while testing for this Zpacks Duplex XL tent review. I did, however, notice that there was a bit of condensation when using this tent as a two person tent.
The extra body heat in the tent was enough to give it a layer of condensation each morning, however, it wasn’t enough to be an issue, it is just something to be aware of so you don’t touch the side of the tent and get your clothes wet. I would suggest taking extra measures to let the tent ventilate when having 2 people in this tent, like rolling back one or more of the door flaps.
Like most of the Zpacks tents, the canopy of the DupleXL does not come all the way to the ground and leaves enough space to offer good ventilation to keep condensation at bay, even without opening the doors. On the other hand, when temps are cooler, the draft may not be welcomed.
Materials Used: Zpacks Duplex XL Tent Review
Zpacks use two different high-quality Dyneema fabrics. The canopy and walls are made of either their .55 oz/square yard or their 0.75 oz/square yard Dyneema. The colors Spruce, Burnt Orange, and Dirt are offered in the 0.75 oz/square yard material, while the other three colors are offered in the lighter weight Dyneema.
So what’s the difference between the two? Well, the 0.55 oz/square yard Dyneema has a hydrostatic head rating of 15,000 mm while the 0.75 oz/square yard Dyneema has a 20,000 mm rating and is a bit more durable. Both are extremely tough, but if you want that little bit of extra durability and water proof rating, you have the option to go with a heavier weight material. Best of all, it only adds roughly 2 ounces to the total weigh.
The floor is made with their 1.0 oz per square yard Dyneema which also has a hydrostatic rating of 20,000 mm. Zpacks wisely constructs the floor with a thicker material to aid in durability and increase waterproof rating.
For more on Hydrostatic test ratings, check out our “Basics of Choosing a Backpacking Tent” article.
One thing I love about the Dyneema fabric is that it is naturally waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about the waterproof silicone or polyurethane wearing off.
Ease of Setup: Zpacks Free Duo Review
The Zpacks Duplex XL tent sets up almost identically to the standard Duplex, with one primary difference being that the DupleXL does not have guy out points like the standard Duplex. Instead, the larger Duplex XL has a carbon stay at the head and the foot of the tent to effectively do the same thing as a guy out point. I was a bit unsure about the carbon stay at first, but after the way it held up in a snow storm, my worries were alleviated. The lineloc and guy out cord used to tension the carbon stay worked extremely well but didn’t quite give you the tension that the guy out point does.
I felt like the guy out points that the standard Duplex offer do a little better job of making the tent better in the wind, however, the carbon stays add a little extra head and foot room inside which is also nice. Having both would be absolutely dynamite!
Setup of the Zpacks Duplex XL is very simple and easy overall. Simply stake the four corners, insert the trekking poles, stake the linelocs attached at the apex where the top of the trekking pole rests, and you are set. It truly does set up fast and easy.
No Zipper Design: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
Like all Zpacks tents, the Zpacks Duplex XL tent gives you their ingenious no-zipper design. I’ve tested a number of Zpacks’ tents over the years and each of them features this awesome design. The Zpacks toggle 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.
Being a single wall shelter, this no-zipper design really makes a TON of sense. While one of the issues that single wall tents face is condensation, this design allows the tent to breath very well, even when it’s fully closed off, which in turn minimizes the potential for condensation. Of course if you leave one or more of the vestibule doors open, you shouldn’t experience any condensation problems at all.
While I have yet to experience any problems with the no zipper design from Zpacks, if the wind really gets whipping, you’ll want to be aware of which way the flap lays over so you can set the tent up so the wind doesn’t catch the flap and cause some extra draft and/or noise. If you tighten down the vestibule enough, you shouldn’t have any issue at all.
Huge Doors: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
Just like the other Zpacks tents we’ve had the chance to test, the Zpacks Duplex XL tent gives you two huge doors that are 36 inches in height and zips/unzips the entire mesh side of the shelter. Combined with the bathtub floor and the extended length of 8 feet, it is mind blowing that this shelter comes in at only 20.8 ounces, while still giving you two doors and two vestibules.
Getting in and out of this tent is a breeze, and the two full-size zippers also give you easy access to the vestibules on both sides of the tent. The location of the trekking pole being right in the center can be a bit annoying as you have to work around it when getting in and out of the tent, but it is really not a big deal.
Mesh Screen: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
During this Zpacks DupleXL tent review I noted that the .67 oz/square yard Ultralight Nano-Noseeum Insect Netting that Zpacks uses did a fantastic job of keep all bugs and critters out of the tent. It also has proven to be very durable over the last several years of use. I’ve never had an issue with it ripping or tearing, and the zippers used are smooth and easy to operate.
interior Space: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
The interior space of the Zpacks DupleXL is one of the main reasons you might select this for your ultralight backpacking tent. Unlike most of ultralight tents, you have an incredible 8 foot length making this tent perfect for tall hikers. You won’t have to worry about your head or feet touching the wall of the tent or creating excess condensation.
On the other hand, I am perplexed why Zpacks did not also expand the width of the DupleXL tent being that it was designed and built for tall hikers. Why is the width such a big deal? Well, a width of just 44 inches does not allow for two tall pads, which typically are only offered in a 25 inch width.
As you can see in the photos above, this is going to be a problem if you have two taller folks using this tent. You can fit one 25 inch wide pad and one standard 20 inch wide pad in there with a tight fit, but it’s doable. (This is pictured above). Again, it’s perplexing that a 2 person tent built for taller folks isn’t wide enough to fit two tall/wide pads.
Build Quality: Zpacks Duplex XL Review
I’ve owned a number of different Zpacks tents over the last several years and have yet to have any issue whatsoever with the quality of the construction. In fact, I haven’t had a single issue in any way, shape or form with any of their tents. Zpacks uses top-notch materials and builds a great tent. I’m sure mistakes happen, but so far I’ve been nothing but pleased with my Zpacks tents. Not only that, but in this case, where we did a little extreme testing in the snow, it proved itself further.
Compact Size: Zpacks Duplex XL Tent Review
The space that the Zpacks DupleXL tent takes up in your pack is impressive as it is extremely compact. Not only that, but it’s also easy to put into the included stuff sack, unlike some tents I’ve used. I always appreciate this as the last thing I want to fight in the backcountry is not being able to get my tent in the stuff sack when packing up to head home. The Zpacks DupleXL is a bit more compact that the Free Duo tent (which is Zpacks freestanding tent). Since you don’t have the poles required for a freestanding tent, you save a little in packed size.
Privacy: Zpacks DupleXL Tent Review
If you like your privacy in a shelter, something else I noted in doing this Zpacks DupleXL tent review is that it is somewhat see-through. You can make out a silhouette due to the super thin material. While this didn’t bother me at all, it may be an issue for some. Fabric transparency is one of the things that you get with some of the Dyneema material colors. Some colors like the Dirt, Blue, and Burnt Orange colors aren’t bad at all, but colors like the Olive Drab or White are significantly more see through.
Price Tag: Zpacks DupleXL Review
One of the biggest downsides to the Zpacks DupleXL tent is the price tag. Coming in at $749 – $799, depending on the color (which also affects the Dyneema thickness) for just the tent, the price could be a deterring factor for some. 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. They use top tier Dyneema fabric and best of all, Zpacks’ tents are MADE IN THE USA!!
What I liked: Zpacks DupleXL Tent Review
There was so much that I loved about this tent while field testing it. While the list is very long, several of the things mentioned above stood out the most to me:
- Interior length
- Crazy low weight
- Ease of setup
- Zpacks’ no-zipper doors
- Large door with rainbow zipper
- Extra headroom created by carbon stays
- MADE IN USA!!
What I didn’t Like: Zpacks DupleXL Tent Review:
There are just a couple of things about the Zpacks DupleXL tent that I didn’t care for. The primary issue I had with this tent was the inability to use two wide/long pads that most tall folks are forced to use based on what is available on the market. If the 44 inch width was stretched to 50 inches, this thing would be unreal for two taller folks backpacking and sharing a tent.
Now, if you plan to use it as a 1 person tent and keep your gear or pet inside the tent, then you obviously won’t have that issue at all. The only other downside is the price tag. If you’ve shopped around, any Dyneema tent is going to be expensive, and this one is no exception.
- 44 in width
- Price tag
Accessories: Zpacks DupleXL Tent Review
As I mentioned above, Zpacks offers you a number of accessories to pair with your tent. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most important ones I would consider adding:
Zpacks Tent stakes
Zpacks also offers a number of different stake options to go with your tent purchase. In testing this one I used the Zpacks Sonic stakes, and they have been fantastic! I purchased a bunch of them to use for all my Zpacks shelters, and have some extras just in case.
Zpacks Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
Zpacks makes some super lightweight Zpacks carbon fiber trekking poles. While you don’t need them for the Free Duo, they pair great with this Altaplex tent, Duplex tent, DupleXL, or any of the Zpacks shelters that use a trekking pole to set up. Again, I haven’t had a chance to test these out, but I do love the weight!
Zpacks DupleXL Tent Review: Conclusion
The Zpacks DupleXL tent stood out as a fantastic ultralight option for tall folks, or those looking to add some interior space for your backpacking trip. This is a tent that stood up to a snow storm and sub zero temperatures, and excelled to my surprise. Unfortunately, the width is a bummer at 44 inches, but works for two people as long as only one of you has a wide pad.
Sure, the price tag is up there, but that’s just the way it is with Dyneema. If you can swing it, I’m a huge fan of Dyneema as I’ve never been let down by it in wind, rain, snow or cold. See how it stacks up against some of the others I tested in my full Backpacking tent review!
Check out Backcountry Camp Part 1: Basics of Selecting a Tent to help you find the best tent for you. Make sure to check out all of our other tent reviews as well! We’ve been testing tents for a while now, and have a good number of backpacking tent reviews.
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