Zpacks Duplex Tent Review

The Zpacks Duplex is an ultralight two person shelter. They are made to order and are manufactured by Zpacks in USA. I guess you could say it is a tarp tent with a bathtub floor attached via a lightweight mosquito net.

I purchased mine back in November 2016. My Duplex weighs 595 grams without stakes or poles but with all guylines. The 2018 version weighs 539 grams. I asked Zpacks where the weight savings come from and this was their reply:

“Most of the weight savings came from a design tweak with our tape used on the tent. There were a few other things too but we keep those close to the chest. ✌️”

The tent is made with Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) formerly Cuben Fiber. It is made with .51 oz/sqyd DCF in the olive drab colour which is the standard choice.

Setup

It sets up with two trekking poles adjusted to around 122 cm. Although with the Freestanding Duplex Flex Tent upgrade you can setup without using trekking poles.

Skåneleden SL2 - Sections 9 & 10

Eight stakes are required for this tent. I have tried a variety of different types of materials and brand names. I prefer to use six 6″ MSR Carbon Core stakes weighing 6 grams each and two 9″ MSR Core stakes weighing 14 grams each. Total weight for the eight stakes is 64 grams which brings the total weight of the tent plus stakes to 659 grams. The 9″ stakes are for vestibule tensioning and here the longer stakes have never failed me and I attain a nearly perfect pitch every time.

MSR Core stakes

Ventilation

I will normally sleep with at least one storm door open at all times, even in the winter season. The weather has to be really bad if I close all four storm doors, which I have done on some occasions. Leaving all four doors open on nice nights is also great for views and a nice breeze too.

Condensation

It is not always possible to sleep with any storm doors open. For example sites in public locations. On a recent hike the trail followed the coastline and my camp was right on or next to the beach. There were many locals who were walking their dogs etc and all hours of the night too BTW. So I didn’t want to leave any doors open. With stars and the moon shining there was no cloud cover that night. The temperatures dived to just around zero ℃ and when I got up the next morning there was a thin layer of ice on the canopy. In the early hours of the morning I could feel some drops of water on my head. My body heat was enough to warm the Duplex and with the ice on the canopy condensation began to form on the inside of the shelter. A fair bit actually. Most of it just dripped off the end of the fly and onto the ground, which is how it is designed to function. But where the elastic cords hang from the bottom side of the fly wall pull-outs the condensation hit the cord and then dripped off it and onto my head. This is not the first time that I have experienced this.

So you have to think about location and ventilation. On most nights I’ll choose a location near and under some trees for some cover and away from a water source. This helps a lot. The fact is that choosing an appropriate location is the best choice but that is not always possible. Had the water just run down the inside of the fly and off onto the ground then I could accept that. It was a bad location. But when it can run down the elastic cord and then onto my face then this is a pain in the butt and design fault in my opinion.

The best way to avoid condensation is maximal ventilation and not erecting the shelter in condensation prone areas, like valleys and close to water sources. I find it best to find a spot where there is a slight breeze present and on a rise maybe and a good distance from sunken, wet sites. Sometimes you don’t have much choice but the more ventilation you can provide the better. Using these guidelines I have not had too many issues with condensation.

Easy entry

There are rainbow zippers on both sides of the tent. This allows easy entry regardless of which doors are closed. And you have easy access to the vestibule areas to store your gear if you want to too. I only have my shoes stored in the vestibules at night as there is ample room in this shelter for one person and all your gear.

Skåneleden SL2 - Sections 9 & 10

Bathtub floor

The tent has a solid, sewn in 20 cm tall bathtub floor. It is made from 1.0 oz/sqyd DCF. The floor material is more than twice as thick as the upper tent material and is more resistant to wear and tear. DCF is easy to patch with tape too. I have not had to patch my tent but I have patched a DCF stuff sack and the tape works fine. I have never used a ground sheet with this tent.

Storage pockets

My 2016 model has mesh pockets located at the head and foot of the tent. However the 2018 model has mesh pockets located near each screen door. Zpacks say that they did this modification so they can be easily accessed from inside or outside the tent.

Stuff sack

The tent comes with a DCF stuff sack and it compresses to a size similar to my HMG pods and will compress further when packed.

Zpacks Duplex packed

Things I like about this tent:

  • This tent is very roomy for one person. There is plenty of place for two people and their gear stored in the vestibules. If you are very tall, and sleeping alone, then you could sleep diagonally and then your quilt or sleeping bag would not touch the sides of the canopy.
  • I do not slip around on the DCF floor like I do in my Silnylon tent
  • I like the semi-transparent nature of the DCF. It lets in a lot of light. This works for me.
  • It does not absorb moisture like a Silnylon material. The DCF is waterproof so there is no packing a heavy tent away in the mornings. Sure, it’ll be wet but not soaked.
  • Ultralight – not much else needed to say here
  • easy to pitch
  • easy to pack
  • excellent customer service

Things I don’t like about this tent:

  • Very expensive!
  • After one and a half year’s usage the wall tie out reinforcement attachment on one side is starting to “move around” and appears to be separating from the wall. It doesn’t leak and is not an issue at the moment but this is annoying.
  • In high winds the storm doors can vibrate and make a fair bit of noise. Earplugs come in handy here.
  • If this tent is used in a hailstorm it could suffer canopy damage. I have seen this in YouTube videos.
  • When purchasing this tent from USA and importing to Europe there are extra local customs and taxes which make this already expensive tent more expensive ☹️
  • condensation can be an issue if ventilation and location are not considered wisely

Would I recommend this tent?

Most defiantly, yes! After purchasing this shelter the Duplex has become my first choice over my Silnylon tent. If weight is important to you and cost is no issue then this is the Best Buy in my opinion. I love this tent.

Farum Lake Circle Trail
Photos on Flickr above – use the left and right arrow keys to view

Disclosure:
Product(s) discussed in this article were purchased by myself from a retailer or manufacturer. I do not accept compensation or donated product in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage without clearly denoting such coverage as an “ADVERTISEMENT” or “SPONSORED CONTENT.”