Having tested the Zpacks Altaplex in recent years, when I saw the Zpacks Plex Solo 1-person tent, I REALLY wanted to do this Zpacks Plex Solo Review. Even lighter than the Altaplex, this tent is a stunning 13.9 ounces and packs down super small. So what do you give up with the Zpacks Plex Solo 1p UL tent vs the bigger Altaplex? Less than you might think!
The stunning weight of 13.9 oz (without poles or stakes) shaves an additional two ounces off the already uber-light Zpacks Altaplex 1p tent while only giving up a little interior space. I know I said this about the Altaplex, but this is now the lightest one-person, floored tent I have tested to date. It somehow maintains that great combination of lightweight functionality without giving up its durability, all the while still reducing weight. This is truly an ounce-counter’s ultralight tent but you do not have to compromise in the usual areas.
Looking for a 2-person ultralight shelter? You will want to check out the Zpacks Duplex Tent. We have been using the Duplex, and more recently the new Zpacks DupleXL, and they are both shelters we find ourselves grabbing frequently. Check out our Zpacks Duplex review and Zpacks DupleXL reviews!
Zpacks Plex Solo Review: Zpacks 1-person Tent
Zpacks has long been known for producing some of the lightest tents on the market, and their new Plex Solo 1P ultralight tent takes this to the next level. Featuring just two square feet less interior floor space vs its bigger brother, the Altaplex, this tent is perfect for folks of all heights because you maintain the 7.5-foot length and only sacrifice a little width. That length is impressive given the extremely low weight.
When I used the Plex Solo, I did notice the decreased width but it was far from cramped. The Plex Solo is 28-inches wide at the head and toe of the tent, expanding to 38 inches in the center. This configuration still offers adequate space, but if you are using a long/wide sleeping pad that is 25-inches wide like many on the market, it feels a little tighter than the Altaplex’s 36-inch width.
Plex Solo vs Altaplex
Now, given the weight of the Plex Solo, it would be reasonable to question its durability. However, Zpacks strategically uses lighter material for the canopy (0.55 oz/square yard Dyneema) and heavier material for the floor (1.0 oz/square yard Dyneema) which provides extra durability where you need it most. What you end up with is a very durable tent with plenty of interior space, especially given its incredibly low weight.
The Zpacks Plex Solo Tent does not provide quite as much height as the Altaplex, but you still get a spacious tent that is built with tall folks in mind given the massive 52 inch peak height and that extra long 7.5 foot interior length. I am not tall at 5’11”, but having the extra length to spread out and not worry about my head or feet touching the wall of the tent is welcomed.
Even though I questioned whether the Plex Solo could substantially improve on the Altaplex, in all reality I do not need the extra height the Altaplex offers, so it is not a hard choice to choose the Plex Solo and shave two ounces. Not only that, but with the durability, ease of setup, and how little space it takes up in your pack, it has earned its way onto my favorites list.
Our Testing: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent Review
As always here at Backwoods Pursuit, we put this Plex Solo through in-the-field testing to see how the tent performs in the real world. Several team members took this tent out in the field and provided valuable feedback on their experience to give us multiple perspectives. Over the years we have put the various Zpacks tents (and plenty of others) through a wide variety of conditions, and during our testing of this shelter, we got hit with heavy wind and rain along with freezing temperatures.
the Specs: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent Review
The Zpacks Plex Solo Tent will make you shake your head in the specs department. There is simply no other way to put it: generous interior space, tall peak height, and that same impressive 7.5-foot length combined with fairly easy setup make this thing a real gem, even for tall folks. Here are the detailed specs on the Zpacks Plex Solo Tent:
|Zpacks Plex Solo Specs
|28″- 38″ – 28″
Zpacks Plex Solo Tent Review: Non-Freestanding | Single Wall
The Zpacks Plex Solo Tent is a non-freestanding, single wall tent that uses just one trekking pole (or Zpacks 52 inch Carbon Pole) for setup. If you are using your own trekking poles, make sure they extend to at least 54 inches to account for the tip of your pole sinking into the ground a bit.
Condensation is always a concern with single wall tents, but because of the excellent air flow that Zpacks tents offer, I have had minimal issues with condensation while testing for this Zpacks Plex Solo tent review. I did have some condensation on the canopy on those chilly nights but nothing out of the ordinary for a single wall tent and actually less than most.
The Plex Solo pitches with the sides not coming all the way to the ground (when pitched at max peak height) so good ventilation seemed to occur without opening the doors at all. The non-zippered doors allow a draft in to keep the condensation to a minimum even when fully deployed, and you can also sleep with one or both doors rolled back in the open position (assuming weather permits) to allow even better ventilation if desired. However, I had minimal condensation issues even when it got down below freezing.
Materials Used: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
Zpacks uses two different high quality Dyneema fabrics. The canopy and walls are made of 0.55 oz per square yard Dyneema with a hydrostatic head rating of 15,000 mm while the floor is made with 1.0 oz per square yard Dyneema which has a hydrostatic rating of 20,000 mm. Zpacks wisely constructs the floor with a thicker floor material to aid in durability and an increased 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 do not have to worry about a waterproof silicone or polyurethane coating wearing off.
Ease of Setup: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
While I found the Zpacks Plex Solo Tent to be very easy to setup, it should be noted that, like the Altaplex, it requires a lot of stakes because it is not a freestanding tent. It took a few practice runs to get the angles just right, but within several attempts it really was a breeze. At times it can be a challenge to get it pitched perfectly if you find yourself having to sleep on a steep side-hill but that scenario is challenging for most tents. The Plex Solo can also be tough to set up if you find yourself in a rocky area that limits your ability to drive stakes but that applies to any non-freestanding tent.
For me, though, the biggest “downside” to this style of tent is that it requires a minimum of 6 stakes to stand upright and 10 stakes to really increase the interior room significantly. For a 1-person tent, 10 stakes is A LOT, and that not only adds weight but can be challenging depending on where you need to set up the tent.
Zipperless Design: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
One of the things that makes the Zpacks Plex Solo tent so unique is the zipperless design of the shell. On first inspection, I did not know if I would like the no-zipper setup of the vestibule doors, but the design really is awesome. 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 zipperless design really makes a TON of sense. While one of the challenges that single wall tents face is condensation, this design allows the tent to breathe very well even when it is fully closed off. Of course if you leave one or both of the vestibule doors open, you should not experience any condensation problems at all.
While I never experienced any problems with the no-zipper design, the wind can cause some extra draft and/or noise when it really gets whipping. You will want to be cognizant of this limitation and set the tent up with that flap upwind to minimize any extra draft or noise. If you tighten down the vestibule tension, you should not have any issues.
Huge Doors: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
The Zpacks Plex Solo Tent gives you a huge door that is 36 inches high and opens to expose the entire mesh side of the shelter. Combined with the bathtub floor, it is incredible that this shelter comes in at only 13.9 ounces. Getting in and out of this tent is a breeze, and the full size zipper on the mesh screen also gives you easy access to the entire vestibule.
Mesh Screen: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
Bugs can be an issue during summer trips but the 0.67 oz/sq yd Ultralight Nano-Noseeum Insect Netting that Zpacks uses did a fantastic job of keep all unwanted visitors out of the tent. With all the various Zpacks tents that I have tested, I never had an issue with it ripping or tearing, and the zippers used were smooth and easy to operate. There are just so many things that make the Zpacks Plex Solo tent one of the best ultralight one-person tents out there.
interior Space: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
The interior space is probably the most notable difference between the Altaplex and this Plex Solo, but as you can see, there is still plenty of space for you and some gear. The above picture was taken without the extra guy outs used, so this is the minimum amount of interior space you will get. No too bad for a solo ultralight tent weighing in under 14 ounces.
There is still enough room in the vestibule to store your boots and other gear, and it is large enough that they will stay dry in most rain storms.
Build Quality: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
I have owned a couple of different Zpacks tents over the last few years and have yet to have any issue whatsoever with the quality of the construction. Zpacks uses top notch materials and builds a great tent. I have been nothing but pleased with my Zpacks Tents and every one I have used has held up wonderfully.
Compact Size: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
The Plex Solo tent packs up so small it will likely take up less space than your extra layer or puffy jacket. The minuscule amount of space it occupies in your pack makes for the perfect on-the-go tent, when you just might want to camp wherever the day takes you. While silnylon is a little more compact, I prefer the weight savings Dyneema offers if you can swing the steeper price tag.
Setup tips: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
One thing to note about the Zpacks Plex Solo is that getting the correct angles on the corners is extremely important to obtaining a nice tight pitch. Although everything changes when you are forced to set up camp in an undesirable location, I have generally found the following process to produce the best results for me:
- Stake the two rear corners (opposite the door) at a 45° angle to the tent.
- Insert the tent pole or your trekking pole (whichever you are using).
- Stake and tighten the lineloc that tensions the tent pole so both rear corners are nice and tight.
- Stake the two front corners adjacent to the door at a 45° angle.
- Close/latch the door and work your way around the rest of the tent to install the remaining stakes/guy out points.
This process has proven to give me an even, tight pitch in most conditions. Sometimes an additional adjustment of a corner angle is needed to make sure all the outside edges are nice and tight.
I have found that using the extra guy out points gives you a lot of additional interior room but it is not necessary unless it is especially windy or you just want the extra space inside.
Privacy: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
If you demand that your shelter provide privacy, something I noted through this Zpacks Plex Tent review is that, depending on the color of Dyneema you select, it can be somewhat see-through. You can make out a silhouette due to the super thin material. While this did not bother me at all, I could see it being an issue if you are backpacking with a group and do not want your hiking partners getting a show when you are changing. Make sure to select a darker color if that is a concern.
Fabric transparency is one of the things that you get with some of the Dyneema material colors. Zpacks offers other colors (and a thicker Dyneema option) that reduces the transparency of the fabric if that is a concern.
Price Tag: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
One of the biggest downsides I could find after doing this Zpacks Plex Solo tent review is the steep price tag. Coming in at around $600 for just the tent (at the time of this writing), the price point could be a deterrent for some. If you elect to add one of the carbon fiber poles and a set of stakes, it quickly turns into a large chunk of change. As we all know, the combination of ultralight, durable, functional, and super high quality does not come without expense, and this shelter encompasses all of those things amazingly well.
What I liked: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
I was not surprised that I came away really liking the Zpacks Plex Solo tent as it offers an incredible weight, fantastic performance, a full bathtub floor, and excellent durability. While you do give up a little space/comfort vs the larger Altaplex, for those that are looking to shave every ounce possible, the Plex Solo tent is a fantastic option. Here are some of my favorite things about the Zpacks Plex Solo:
- Generous interior space
- Insanely low weight
- Full sitting height
- Zpacks zipperless shell doors
- Large mesh door with rainbow zipper
- Great ventilation
- Excellent in the rain
- Fast setup
What I disliked: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
There are always a few things that I do not love about most tents that I test, and the Plex Solo is no exception, but there are not a lot of things to complain about. The way the canopy only comes down to about 3-4 inches off the ground around the whole tent, and the door material only coming down to about 18 inches from the ground can be both a blessing and a curse. It allows for great ventilation, but on colder nights when you want to stay warm, that draft is not welcome. So, yes, the ventilation/draft is both a like and dislike.
- Setup can be finicky
- Price tag
- Drafty (not ideal in colder weather)
- Semi-see through material (some colors)
- Does not come with stakes
Accessories: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent
As I mentioned above, Zpacks offers you a number of accessories to pair with your tent. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most important ones I would consider adding.
Zpacks Carbon Tent Pole
You have the option of using your trekking pole or the Zpacks Carbon Tent Pole to set up the Plex Solo. Either one works great, but if you prefer to have your trekking poles with you while out hiking for the day, you may want to pick up the tent pole.
Zpacks Tent stakes
Zpacks also offers a number of different stake options to go with your tent purchase. I have used and tested both the 6-inch Sonic Stakes and the 7-inch Super Sonics and am a fan of both. They are lightweight and have held up well but I have broken a few.
Zpacks Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
Zpacks makes some super lightweight Zpacks carbon fiber trekking poles to pair with this Plex Solo tent as well. I have not had a chance to test these out yet but I love the weight!
Check out Backcountry Camp Part 1: Basics of Selecting a Tent to help you select the right tent. Make sure to check out all of our other tent reviews as well! We have been testing tents for a while now and have a good number of backpacking tent reviews.
Conclusion: Zpacks Plex Solo Tent Review
At the end of the day, some of the features offered by the Zpacks Plex Solo Tent may make or break the deal for you, and that is something you have to figure out. However, based on my experience, it is tough to go wrong with this tent if weight and packed size matter but you do not want to give up a comfortable interior space. Best of all, this incredible tent comes with a full sewn in bathtub floor that has proven to be durable and keep out water and bugs. If you can swallow the price tag, you will not be disappointed in the Zpacks Plex Solo Tent. Your back, legs, and pack weight will thank you.
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