ZPacks Duplex Ultralight Backpacking Tent (2p)

The Zpacks Duplex is a beast of a tent for just 19 ounces. Yea, that’s right: 1 pound 3 ounces for a decently roomy, 2-door, 2-person tent. Jonathan and I have used this tent many times in many different environments, including several nights above 12,000ft in elevation and through several hail-, rain-, and thunderstorms.

The Stats

  • Tent weight + stakes: 22oz

  • Peak Height: 48" (122 cm)

  • Floor Width: 45" (114 cm)

  • Floor Length: 7.5 feet (2.3 meters)

  • Vestibule space: 20.75" depth on each side (53 cm)

The tent requires 2 trekking poles to set up, which hasn't been problematic for JJ and I. We both carry poles when thru-hiking, anyway. If you don’t carry poles normally, the weight savings may not be as significant (though Zpacks does make a lightweight pole option that you could consider).

The Duplex also requires 4-6 stakes, bringing the total weight to a whopping 22 ounces. I honestly couldn’t tell you what kind of stakes we have because all of their color and form has pretty much worn off. It really doesn’t matter, as long as they’re f***ing light and hold the tent up.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the beautiful:

The Good

I’m basically in love with this tent. It’s single walled, but there’s netting between the canopy and the bathtub floor so it is fully enclosed. Both doors open up to half circles, so as long as it’s not crazy buggy, you can fully open the sides. There are two convenient pockets, one at each end, where you can stow a headlamp, phone, etc., and some smart little cords that hold the bathtub up so it doesn’t sag and let water in.

Jonathan is 6’0” and I’m about 5’6" and we fit really comfortably together with full length pads and even with gear in the tent, when necessary. Once you get really good at setting it up, the guy lines can be used to pull out the sides of the tent to make it feel even roomier (in that case, you'll need to carry 6 stakes or get creative with tree branches).

As far as weather goes, we’ve been in some weird, windy, rainy situations and it has kept us cozy and dry the whole time. It has even gone through a decent hailstorm without incident. We’ve used it in frosty conditions, but no real snow. I’m sure it’d be fine in a light surprise-snow, but I wouldn’t count on it in much more than that (more due to cold and updraft than canopy stability). The tent, like any single-walled tent, does collect some condensation, but it hasn’t bothered us much since we’re not pressed against the sides or ends.

I asked Jonathan what he thinks about the tent and here’s what he said:

“Before this tent, I couldn’t have imagined a tent that was so functional for 2 people while still being at such a bare-bones weight. The only way I see myself not using this tent is if we break up and I buy myself a Plexamid (the 1 person version).”

Yea. So, I guess here’s to hoping he’s not using a Plexamid anytime soon…

That said, I’ve used this tent on solo trips and it works perfectly for one person. Can anyone say “queen-sized”?

The Bad

Honestly, this section is going to be pretty slim. The biggest downside to this tent is hands down the pricetag. At $599, this is one of the most expensive options on the market. I think it’s worth it for thru-hiking, but there’s no need to spend that kind of $$ if the rest of your set up is still super heavy.

Functionally, if there’s anything imperfect about this tent, it’s that it takes some practice to get your set-up on point. If you don’t set it up well, it can get a bit… saggy. Sometimes, if you set the poles too close together, it can limit the floor space. And if you do a really crappy job, the tent can also just fall down. But to be clear: that’s on you, not the tent. Take it out and set it up a few times before you take on a monsoon and you’ll do just fine.

The tent is also 0% freestanding, so you either need good ground for stakes or you need to be able to get creative with rocks, branches, railings, or whatever else you find to hold down the guy lines.

Here are some quick tips for proper set-up if you’re wondering:

  1. Close the doors first. You don’t need to zip them shut, but you should clip them down. It helps make sure that the door closes comfortably once the tent is up.

  2. Try hard to put in the corner stakes at 45˚ angles out from the corners and don’t make them super tight. The tension will get taken up as the poles go up and if you don’t set the corners at 45˚, the tent can list a bit to the side. A little off will be fine, but don’t push it.

  3. Take the time to tweak the setup. You’ll appreciate it when the tent stays perfect all night. Tighten all of the guy lines, make sure the peak is straight and the sides are not wrinkly. When it looks beautiful, it’s ready to go.

The Beautiful

Here’s the ol’ #homesweettent in action up in Indian Peaks Wilderness (on a ~42 mile, 2-day solo loop connecting the Pawnee-Buchanan and Hell Canyon loops). I had this whole lake to myself, not another human in sight, and a perfect camp site with a perfect view.

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