Zpacks Duplex Tent Review

Incredibly light but still highly protective and durable, Zpacks' legendary tent is an impressively well-rounded UL design

Table of Contents

1 lb. 3.4 oz. (tent with guylines and stuff sack); 1 lb. 5 oz. (with stakes and using trekking poles for support); 1 lb. 14.6 oz. (Freestanding Flex Kit with stakes)

1.0 oz./sqyd (Dyneema)

1P, 2P, 3P

: Incredibly light while still offering solid durability and wet-weather protection.

Expensive and drafty in heavy winds.

Incredibly lIt is designed for thru-hikers as well as other backpackers who count ounces. Zpacks Duplex is among the lightest and best-constructed tents available. To test its limits, we went on the Duplex Flex, a completely freestanding upgrade from the base model. We went backpacking in the conditions of early winter at the Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains and nearby Manning Park. It was subject to extreme cold and windy conditions even though it was quite cold, the tent endured the harsh conditions and rough handling without issue. Here we look at how the Duplex performed overall. To find out how it compares against the competition, check out our review of the most comfortable tents for backpacking.

Performance

Weight and Size of Packed


Since Zpacks is a company that focuses on minimalism it’s not a surprise that the Duplex tent is lightweight and easily packable. It weighs 1 pound and 5 pounds and ounces (with stakes and two trekking poles to support it) and 1 one pound 14.6 pounds with stakes along with stakes and the Flexible Flex Kit (the version we tried here) It’s among the very few tents for two people on the market that weigh less than 2 pounds. Duplex Flex is a lightweight tent that’s easy to carry. Duplex Flex easily undercuts other ultralight pole-supported models, such as that of the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 (minimum weight of 2lbs. 3 oz.) in addition to Tarptent Double Rainbow (2 lbs. 9.8 oz.) however, it is quite a bit lighter in terms of usable space. It is also a good choice for space-saving. Hyperlite Echo 2 weighs in at 1 13 ounces, weighing 1 pound (using trekking poles as support) While the majority of models from Big Agnes’ carbon options come with lighter weights, like Fly Creek HV 2 Carbon, Fly Creek HV 2 Carbon (1 1 lb. 2 oz.) 2 oz.) Tiger Wall 2 Carbon (1 1 lb. 6 oz.). The fact is the two Big Agnes tents are made of less supple materials on the floor and rainfly, which makes them more fragile.

The size of the bag is often correlated with weight as well, and it is the case with Duplex Flex. Duplex Flex packs down to roughly one-third the weight of a backpack for sleeping (there was plenty of room left in the included 7×13-inch stuff bag). With the addition of poles for tents, the entire set-up could be removed from the campsite: the tent body folded neatly into the sack as well as the poles made of carbon folded to around 17 inches tall and fit nicely into my bag. Overall it was one of the easiest tents to transport that we’ve ever had.

Weather Protection


With its thin material and its hybrid single-wall construction, The Zpacks Duplex can be exceptionally weatherproof. Our first night in our tent had to contend with conditions that were mild in the early winter months, with moderate winds, and temperatures falling to below freezing. We had to put up the tent within around five inches of snow but we were amazed to see that it was comfortable and could handle the elements easily. The tent didn’t seem to move when it blew The corners and vestibules did not move and the tarp, which hangs between 4 and 5 inches from the bath floor–did an excellent job in securing us from the rain. I even deliberately put the stuff sack outside for a night in light rain (it’s constructed from the same Dyneema Composite Material as the tent) and everything in the sack was completely dry.

 

The Duplex did show a few small weaknesses these were expected under the conditions. In particular, because of the thin materials and the ample quantity of mesh on the bottom, it made it quite a breeze inside the tent during the night. Also, we noticed a bit of condensation build-up in the roof that was the roof of the tent however this was not surprising considering the sub-zero (Celsius) conditions. If we were, to be honest it’s a good idea to use the Duplex for the majority of trips during the summer, spring and through fall, and now we consider it the best ultralight option for backpacking trips that are light and fast. We wouldn’t recommend putting it when there is a lot of wind and heavy precipitation or the frigid Pacific Northwest winters, and we’d recommend using stakes or upgrading to the Flex in less than ideal conditions (more about the tent’s setup below).

Durability


Its Dyneema Composite Fabric, which is commonly used for sailboats and noted for its impressive strength-to-weight ratio – is authentic. It is the most effective way to demonstrate Dyneema’s strength is to highlight the tent’s capabilities on one of the nights during our trip which was the night we had to set it up on a couple of inches of snow. I awoke in the morning to something sharp hitting my hip. I looked down to discover that a portion of pieces of the snow had gone away in the night, opening the large sharp stump beneath the surface of my mattress. It was surprising that the stump had not got through the fabric of the floor even though I’d been sitting on it for hours. After several more outings that pushed the limit, we’re thrilled to say that the tent as well as all its components, including the tiny rings made of thin metal which hold the poles of the tent at every corner–show no signs of wear (bonus that the Duplex is equipped with an additional seam tape, in case you need it).

Ventilation


The Duplex offers plenty of airflows thanks to the extensive utilization of the mesh all over. Both the sidewalls with doors are constructed entirely from mesh, and there’s an 8-inch mesh ribbon over at the very top of the floor at both ends. In hot or humid days you can pull the tarp out from the doors, which allows airflow to flow through the entire tent or pull it out to further shield it against the weather. In spite of the storm doors and the tarp, the Duplex was definitely cold in the cold, humid conditions we experienced. Although it’s an excellent option for hiking in the summer or on hikes through, it’s certainly not designed to endure the force of wind.

The Livability of the Internet as well as Interior Space


For a lightweight tent for backpacking, the Duplex was spacious. The Duplex has 28 square feet of space for the floor (the dimensions of the floor are 90 x 45 inches. ) The Zpacks allow 2 winter sleep pads side-bayside with ample room. We could sit up straight without feeling cramped, thanks to the tent’s 48-inch height at its peak. Due to the incredible headroom and consequently the volume of the interior, it was extremely enjoyable to be inside the tent without feeling confined. It’s important to note that this is a huge achievement for a tent that is ultralight. When compared to other models such as those of the Tarptent Double Rainbow (40-in. head height), Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 (42 in.) as well as Nemo Hornet 2P (39 in. ) and Nemo Hornet 2P (39 in. ), the Duplex was a lot more spacious. For those who want more space to move around, Zpacks makes a three-person version known as the Triplex but the tent is only available with a trekking pole that is supported.

We decided to go with duplexes (an additional $225) that add 4 carbon-ion tent poles to allow the system to be freestanding. The poles also raise the walls of the sides, creating more space inside. Without the upgrade, the regular Duplex uses trekking poles and you need to stake every corner and construct an A-frame setup using the poles. But, the tent is much better suited to two persons using the Flex option and we believe it’s well worthwhile for the extra weight and price to gain headroom and strength and stability.

Storage


As an ultralight tent, the Duplex provides a large amount of storage both inside and outside. For starters, we liked that the tent had two vestibules and two doors that eliminate the hassle of awkwardly hopping over one another during the night to get to a bathroom. Although they aren’t huge in any way the vestibules were adequate (20.75 inches in each) to accommodate two backpacking bags as well as those of us who hike. Inside the tent there are two tinies (8 8″ x 8″)) mesh pockets with a drop-in design on each side for smaller things like headlamps or cellphones, maps, or GPS devices.

Setup and Take Down

It is possible to pitch the Duplex can be set up as a stand-alone tent using its Flex Kit or supported with two trekking poles and as many as eight stakes. We chose to accomplish this with the guylines used to secure the tent’s corners and vestibules, as well as using those Flex upgrade poles and putting (adjusted to 48 inches to ensure a perfect size) at the center at the top of every door adding substantial structural rigidity. Be aware that you can tilt these higher or lower based on how much headroom would like to have.

As with any tent that you use, it’s always a good idea to test making the Duplex before you attempt it out in out in the open (viewing the  prior to setting up made the process much simpler on the first try). The process of securing each vestibule’s door onto the guyline proved to be the most challenging element, especially when using only one hand when entering and going out of the tent. Each vestibule door is secured by an elongated ring at its bottom and the guyline’s double-sided hook must be secured to this ring carefully. However, once it was clear of the camp’s peculiarities identified and figured out, the Duplex became a breeze to pitch and remove, particularly because there was no hassle with a footprint or a separate rainfly.

Additional Capabilities Zpacks Plexamid, Altaplex, and Triplex

We have tested the two-person Duplex however Zpacks also has the one-person ( Plexamid and Altaplex) and three-person ( Triplex) models. Unfortunately, there is no Flex upgrade available. Flex upgrade is only available for the two-person version, and we like this set-up that is freestanding for its versatility over stake-dependent tent. In other words, all of the tents have a strikingly similar design. The prices aren’t cheap: the Plexamid costs $549 The Altaplex (designed to accommodate an adult with a larger/larger size) costs $585 while the Triplex is priced at $699. However, all models come with two doors and the distinctive Dyneema construction that makes these tents so sturdy.

What We Love

  • In just 2 pounds when you add less than 2 pounds with the Flex Kit upgrade at less than 2 pounds, the Zpacks Duplex is one of the lightest freestanding tents available on the market.
  • Despite its light weight Dyneema has a high degree of durability and gives robust weather protection.
  • The tent is surprisingly high peak height when compared with other tents of its weight class. It also has an adequate amount of headroom.

“What We Never Do”

  • Dyneema tents can be expensive and the Duplex costs $599 by itself or $724 when you add it’s Flex Kit.
  • It is noticeable that it gets drafty during heavy winds because of the extensive recourse to mesh.
  • The process of setting up can be difficult initially, especially when in comparison to other options for freestanding.

 

Comparative Table

TENT PRICE WEIGHT FLOOR AREA Height DOORS CAPACITIES
Zpacks Duplex $599 1 lb. 3.4 oz. 1.0 oz./sqyd 28.1 sq. ft. 48 in. 2 1P, 2P, 3P
Hyperlite Echo 2 $695 1 lb. 13 oz. 1.3 oz/sqyd 24 sq. ft. 41 in. 2 2P
CO-OP Flash from REI Air 2. $299 2 lbs. 8 oz. 15D 28.7 sq. ft. 42 in. 2 1P, 2P
Big Agnes Fly Creek Carbon $850 1 lb. 2 oz. 0.51 oz./sqyd 28 sq. ft. 40 in. 1 1P, 2P
Big Agnes Tiger Wall Carbon $1,000 1 lb. 6 oz. 0.51 oz./sqyd 27 sq. ft. 39 in. 2 2P, 3P
Zpacks Free duo $699 1 lb. 14.1 oz. 1.0 oz./sqyd 26.3 sq. ft. 42 in. 2 2P

The Contest

As for competitors, Hyperlite Mountain Gear is another specialist in ultralights, as is Their Echo 2 competes with the Duplex in a significant way. The two tents share the same Dyneema construction and trekking pole configuration however the Hyperlite weighs more than the Duplex at 1 13 ounces versus 1 pound. Additionally The Flex Kit upgrade lets the Zpacks stand on their own and weighs 1 one pound 14.6 ounces. However, the price is still $96 lower than Echo. The other side is that the Hyperlite is constructed with a double wall which offers greater versatility and airflow, and also is slightly more robust on the floor. It’s a tough choice between two top-of-the-line Dyneema tents, though we’ll give a slight acknowledgment to Zpacks. Zpacks.

You may not consider REI as a market leader in the ultralight segment however, REI’s is an outstanding new product on the market. At a cost of $300 less than the Zpacks and Zpacks, the Flash Air boasts 28.7 square feet of floor space, and a peak height of 42 inches and weighs in at 1 pound and 15 ounces, with trekking poles to support it (2 2 pounds. 8 oz. total) is the same hybrid single-wall construction which helps to keep the weight down but still allowing for excellent airflow (you also have two roof vents that help in airflow). The Flash Air also has the edge in terms of convenience, with a simple set-up process that doesn’t require any prior experience. The Zpacks is the best-tested style for ULers. However, the latest Flash Air is a strong alternative that costs less.

Big Agnes has been a leading ultralight tent manufacturer for a long time, and they recently launched two new Dyneema models which include The  and the Tiger Wall Carbon. The first is the Fly Creek the Fly Creek is incredibly lightweight at just 1 pound 2 pounds, but it has a fragile design, with just one door, and a very tapered interior. The Fly Creek also has an extremely thin 0.51 oz./sqyd Dyneema material for the flooring, leaving us with huge concerns over the durability over time. The biggest issue for us is the price at $850. Fly Creek is around $250 more expensive than that of the Duplex (around 125 dollars more when you consider the Zpacks flexible kit). Based on these factors We believe that Zpacks offers the best overall value.

The next option is the . In contrast to Fly Creek, which is a similar model Fly Creek, the Tiger Wall has two doors making it a suitable option for backpackers with two (weight is increased by 1 one pound. 6 oz.). But the Tiger Wall is also made of similar 0.51 oz./sqyd Dyneema floor material that is noticeably thicker than Duplex’s 1.0 oz./sqyd. The Zpacks is larger in comparison to it’s counterpart, the Big Agnes both in terms of floor space and height at the peak. The price of $1,000 means that it’s a bargain. Tiger Wall is one of the most expensive tents that you can find, even when stacked against other top models from UL Dyneema. We’ll choose the durability and cost savings of the Duplex, not to mention its well-known reputation for thru-hikers.

 is a final contender to take into consideration. In contrast to the conventional Duplex (without having the Flex upgrade), The Free Duo is fully freestanding however it is still light at just 1 pounds 14.1 grams (without stakes). Both utilize the same Dyneema materials all over, but the Free Duo’s HPole frame is significantly stronger in the event of high winds. The Duplex is larger, more spacious and only costs 25 dollars more when you include an upgrade to the freestanding that we made. The final choice will depend on what you value in terms of interior space and the ease of use We believe the additional work involved to raise this Duplex can be justified by the increase in quality of life.

Editor’s note: We typically include a live price comparability table under our reviews of outdoor gear, however, the Duplex is exclusively sold by Zpacks. Check out the Duplex page here, and then purchase an optional Freestanding Flex Kit separately.