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ZPacks Duplex Review

ZPacks Duplex Tent
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $599 List
Pros:  Weighs 14 oz. with bug protection!, four sided weather protection, very comfortable inside.
Cons:  Hard to achieve perfect drum tight pitch, not as adaptable as a tarp, 3-season use only.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   ZPacks

Our Verdict

The Duplex Tent from ZPacks is the latest iteration of the best all-in-one ultralight tent shelter reviewed. It wins our Editors' Choice award for delivering complete weather protection at the lightest weight - 19 ounces with the removable cuben bathtub floor, and 14 ounces without! No competitor delivers the roomy livability for two folks and the all-sides weather protection that the Duplex does at such low weights. If we could only have one ultralight tent for three-season backpacking and thru-hiking long trails, we would choose this one. When purchased with carbon fiber support poles (normally it's pitched with your adjustable trekking poles), this is our number one choice for bike touring as well. No other equally light option is as roomy or protective.

Update - August 2016
ZPacks has replaced the Hexamid Twin Tent with the ZPacks Duplex Tent. The Duplex is a similar two person shelter with the addition of a second door and an attached the floor. Scroll down for a more detailed comparison of the new Duplex Tent vs. the older Hexamid Twin Tent.

If you are looking for an ultralight shelter for alpine climbing or lots of rugged terrain bivouacs, we suggest the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp, which is much more adaptable than the fixed shape of the Hexamid. If you do not backpack with trekking poles, or prefer the ease of set-up of a free-standing tent, the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Platinum is the lightest we've tested. Budget conscious backpackers will find exceptional value in the Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo. It's generously cut for a two-person A-frame, and very well built.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ultralight Tents, Tarps and Shelters

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Score Product Price Type Total Weight Fabric
83
$350
Top Pick Award
Flat tarp 10.2 oz DCF8 Dyneema Composite Fabrics
78
$599
Editors' Choice Award
Pyramid with floor 21 oz .51 oz/yd Cuben Fiber, Mesh, 1 oz/yd Cuben Fiber Floor
76
$695
A-frame tarp 28.3 oz CF8 Cuben Fiber, Mesh, CF11 Cuben Fiber Floor
75
$170
Best Buy Award
A-frame tarp 19.1 oz SilNylon Ripstop
72
$550
Top Pick Award
Double-wall tent 33 oz Ultralight SilNylon PU Ripstop, Mesh
71
$385
Pyramid 33.1 oz SilNylon Ripstop
63
$350
Pyramid with floor 37 oz SilNylon Ripstop, Mesh
61
$200
Pyramid 35.5 oz SilNylon Ripstop, Mesh
60
$300
Double-wall tent 38.7 oz PU coated Nylon Ripstop, Mesh
51
$330
Double-wall tent 42.8 oz SilNylon & PU Ripstop, Mesh

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Brandon Lampley & Max Neale

Last Updated:
Thursday
October 6, 2016

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The ZPacks Duplex Tent vs. The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent


The Hexamid Twin Tent has been discontinued and replaced by the ZPacks Duplex Tent. With taller doors located on both sides of the tent, the Duplex offers better views and air flow while making getting in and out of the tent easier. The Duplex has a solid, sewn-in floor as opposed to the detachable floor in the previously tested Hexamid Twin Tent. This ultralight tent weighs 21 oz and retails for $599.

Check out a side-by-side comparison, with the ZPacks Duplex Tent pictured on the left and the ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent shown on the right.
ZPacks Duplex Tent
 

Although we have not tested this tent, we have contacted the manufacturer about the differences between the Duplex Tent and the previous Hexamid Twin Tent. Here is a list of our key findings:
  • Two Doors — The Duplex Tent offers better airflow and views with doors on both sides of the tent. You no longer have to climb over your partner to get in or out.
  • Taller Doors-- The doors have been heightened for an easier time entering and exiting the tent.
  • Sewn-In Floor — No need to purchase a separate groundsheet, the Duplex has a solid, sewn-in floor made from Cuban Fiber. The bathtub floor is 8 inches tall and is a rectangle (45 inches wide by 90 inches long) making sufficient space for two people and their gear.

The text and ratings in this review still reflect the Hexamid Twin Tent.

Hands-On Review of the Hexamid Twin Tent


The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent is the second lightest shelter we evaluated, and the lightest with all-sides weather and bug protection. This model earned high scores across all of our rating metrics, with the exception of adaptability. This ultralight shelter has been one of our top scorers for three reviews in a row, and a recent upgrade has made it even more functional. The front vestibule is now formed by two overlapping storm doors. One or both can be completely opened for convenient entry, exit, and stargazing. Over the course of our testing period, reviewers love the Hexamid so much that it earned our Editors' Choice Award.

Ordering the Hexamid is not super convenient; it is not available from major retailers and only directly from the small manufacturer in Florida. Often made to order, expect a week or two for delivery at the quickest, or four to six weeks during busy seasons. If you can get past the idea of waiting, you won't be disappointed with this Editors' Choice winning ultralight shelter. If you're in search of an ultralight tent immediately, consider the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Platinum or the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Shelter.

Get the ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent online at ZPacks.com.


The Hexamid is the lightest shelter we tested with complete rain  wind  and bug protection. It's seen here in Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness with the storm doors rolled and secured  and the removable waterproof floor in use. Due to the lower mesh walls  this model is less prone to condensation accumulation on the ceiling than other tarp tents.
The Hexamid is the lightest shelter we tested with complete rain, wind, and bug protection. It's seen here in Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness with the storm doors rolled and secured, and the removable waterproof floor in use. Due to the lower mesh walls, this model is less prone to condensation accumulation on the ceiling than other tarp tents.

Performance Comparison


Check out the chart below to see how the Hexamid ranked amongst its competition in Overall Performance.


Weather Resistance


The Hexamid's design is brilliant because it provides four-sided weather protection without having a zippered door in the outer tent, unlike pyramid tarps and all double wall tents. You enter by ducking under the storm doors beside the front trekking pole. The attached bug mesh floor creates a fully enclosed tent that protects from flying and crawling insects. Unlike every other enclosed tent we've ever tested, the Hexamid's floor is made entirely of mesh, not a waterproof material. The advantage here is versatility and lower weight. If you are using an inflatable pad that needs protection from sharp objects that might pop it, or you're backpacking in wet weather, we recommend adding a floor. We tested the bathtub style Cuben fiber floor that clips inside the tent over the mesh floor. The Cuben bathtub's raised walls can help to deflect splashback and running water in a downpour.


The Hexamid's outer waterproof walls extend to roughly six inches from the ground and protect from wind and driving rain very well. In one serious thunderstorm the lower mesh walls prevented almost all splashback (rain running off the roof and bouncing off the ground) from entering the tent. In this instance we felt the bathtub walls of the Cuben floor insert helped to keep us drier as water ran underneath, and by stopping the little bit of splashback that came through the lower mesh walls. With the optional bathtub floor, the tent handles torrential downpours very well. The only two products scoring higher for overall weather resistance, the Echo II Shelter and Fly Creek HV2 Platinum are both heavier than the Hexamid, and aren't as spacious.

We found staking out this model with fixed lengths of cord works very well. The corner clips that hold up the waterproof Cuben floor are a great feature for added weather resistance.
We found staking out this model with fixed lengths of cord works very well. The corner clips that hold up the waterproof Cuben floor are a great feature for added weather resistance.

The Hexamid provides better protection from high winds than the Big Agnes Scout Plus UL2, but it does not stand up to very high winds as well as the Square Flat Tarp in storm mode. In addition to the six perimeter stake out points (the four corners, and the front and back pole), four guy out points on the Hexamid are used to secure it in high winds. While camping above the treeline on a windy ridge in the North Cascades we couldn't quite achieve a "perfect pitch," where every wall was drum tight. Consequently, the Hexamid flapped in the wind more than some other tarps.

This tent is one of our favorite for bicycle touring as well as ultralight backpacking. With the optional carbon fiber support poles sold by Zpacks  it is easily the lightest two person shelter with complete weather protection.
This tent is one of our favorite for bicycle touring as well as ultralight backpacking. With the optional carbon fiber support poles sold by Zpacks, it is easily the lightest two person shelter with complete weather protection.

Weight


As tested, the Hexamid Twin Tent with attached mesh floor and removable cuben bathtub floor weigh 19.1 ounces. The included stuff sack weighs only 0.3 oz. This is EXTREMELY LIGHT!! It feels wonderful when you pull the tiny, feathery light package out of your pack, set it up and have complete and spacious protection from rain, wind and insects. No other model we tested provides this much space and weather protection for the weight. The Hexamid's light weight and protection from insects make it our favorite tent for bike touring when used with the two optional carbon poles; they fold to 12 inches, and weigh only 3.15 ounces.

Weight Bottom Line:
Tent with attached bug net floor + guy lines = 14.5 oz
Removable Cuben bathtub floor insert = 4.6 oz
Stuff sack = .3 oz
When stuffed into the cylinder-shaped Cuben stuff sack, this tent plus bathtub floor measures 11" x 6" round.


Livability


Balancing weight and comfort is the ultimate trade-off in tent design. Generally, very light tents are small and not very comfortable to spend time inside, which is fine for covering lots of miles - because it is more comfortable, overall, to carry less weight on your back while moving than to carry a heavier tent you are only briefly awake and active in. The Hexamid strikes the sweet spot between low weight and livability. It is both light enough for the fastest and longest thru-hikes, and spacious enough for lounging in on more relaxing trips or waiting out bad weather. On trips that involve considerable time spent awake in camp, a roomy, comfortable tent can make lazy mornings and reading in the tent more enjoyable. All the other pyramids we tested this go round are heavier, and a little more livable than the Hexamid. The Big Agnes Scout Plus is more spacious, particularly the vestibule, but heavy, and the double doors on the Six Moon Designs Haven Tarp are super convenient for entry and exit.


The Hexamid's floor is very spacious when compared to most ultralight tents that pitch with trekking poles, with 28 sq ft of floor space. The tent is tall enough to sit upright by the door, our 5'11" lead tester has a few inches of headroom. When closed, the storm doors creates a small vestibule (5 sq ft) that can shelter a small amount of gear from rain. The groundsheet is wide enough to fit one 25" wide sleeping pad and one 20" wide pad. Using two 20" wide pads - the most common pad width for backpacking - creates some extra space between people or for stashing gear along the sides. There are no pockets sewn into this tent, nor vents in the waterproof cuben. We did not experience any condensation accumulation inside, but we keep the storm doors open unless it's raining hard or very windy.

This tester is 5'11"  and there's plenty of overhead room at the front of the Hexamid. Head room tapers to the rear though  and works best for couples with one tall and one shorter person. Two tall folks should consider the roomier (but heavier) Duplex from Zpacks.
This tester is 5'11", and there's plenty of overhead room at the front of the Hexamid. Head room tapers to the rear though, and works best for couples with one tall and one shorter person. Two tall folks should consider the roomier (but heavier) Duplex from Zpacks.

Most single side entrance tents are difficult to enter and exit because one person has to crawl over the other person. But the Hexamid's generous length, height and wide door allow the person closest to the door to draw in their feet to let the other person in or out. One potential drawback to the Hexamid is its tapering rear end. The front of the tent fits a tall person well, but the tent gets shorter towards the back and can be tight for a tall person.

If two doors and more space for two tall people are priorities for you, the Duplex version of the Hexamid is an excellent, if heavier, size upgrade with two doors. It is only one ounce heavier than the Hexamid (when including the optional bathtub floor). More details on the popular and also highly recommended Duplex are at the end of this review.

The photo below shows the tent with two 25" wide sleeping pads, which barely fit and would likely be a poor choice in rain. However, the image illustrates that the Hexamid is much wider than many other ultralight tents in which you can just squeeze two 20" pads.

Inside the ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent there is enough room for two people to comfortably lounge inside and even sit up near the door. We think our Editors' Choice winner strikes the sweet spot between low weight and good livability.
Inside the ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent there is enough room for two people to comfortably lounge inside and even sit up near the door. We think our Editors' Choice winner strikes the sweet spot between low weight and good livability.

Adaptability


The most significant drawback to all pyramid shelters is their limited adaptability. They must be pitched basically the same way every time. The standard Hexamid pitch exposes about six inches of the mesh along the sides. You can shorten the poles a couple of inches if expecting rainy weather, but that's about it for adaptability. While we recommend the model we tested with attached mesh floor, the Hexamid Twin without the mesh floor could more readily accommodate pitching over rocks or other obstruction in rough terrain. Overall, we feel the version we tested with attached mesh floor provides the best combination of protection.


Durability


The mesh on the ground, waterproof floor on top of mesh concept has proven to be far better and more durable than we expected. As ZPacks points out, small sharp objects like pine needles can go right through the mesh without damaging it. If you do tear a hole in the screen, it's likely to be under you sleeping pad and the floor, and it can be patched easily by sticking repair tape on both sides.


The difficulty in getting the Hexamid's pitch perfectly taut is made up for, to a large degree, by the Cuben fiber's high tear strength. The standard Hexamid is built with 0.51 oz/yd2 Cuben fiber. This material has an INCREDIBLY HIGH tear strength. Many thru-hikers have used it on the PCT, CDT, and AT with no tarp tears and no holes in the mesh. The bathtub floor is constructed of heavier and more puncture resistant 1.0 oz/yd Cuben fiber. We do not recommend the Hexamid for use in heavy snow. It is a three-season backpacking tent.

You have a lot of choices in features when you order the Hexamid  including upgrading to a heavier and more durable variety of Cuben fiber. We feel the version we tested  with Zpack's standard weight Cuben  the mesh walls and floor  and removable Cuben bathtub floor  is the best combo.
You have a lot of choices in features when you order the Hexamid, including upgrading to a heavier and more durable variety of Cuben fiber. We feel the version we tested, with Zpack's standard weight Cuben, the mesh walls and floor, and removable Cuben bathtub floor, is the best combo.

A $15 and 1.5 additional ounce upgrade, the Hexamid can be built with a stronger and more durable 0.74 oz/yd2 Cuben fiber. This tougher material is used standard on all Hyperlite Mountain Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs cuben shelters. Through testing the Hexamid, we've found that that the lighter Cuben fiber is slightly more prone to punctures (this is Cuben fiber's greatest weakness) than the heavier option. Fortunately, Cuben is perhaps the easiest material to patch out of any used on tents; just clean the area around the hole (ideally with an alcohol swap) and stick on some Cuben fiber repair tape (a small roll is included with the tent).

Ease of Set-up


While setting up the Hexamid was not intuitive for us the first time, after becoming familiar with the tent we felt it one of the easier ones to set up and guy out. Nine minutes for the first set up became three or four minutes for subsequent pitches. A paper instruction sheet is shipped with the tent to help with the learning curve, and to guide you in adding the included string to the stake out points. Eight stakes are necessary for pitching, none are included (sold separately by ZPacks or use your own).


The Twin Tent pitches with two adjustable trekking poles or optional carbon tent poles. We recommend starting by adjusting your two trekking poles to 48 and 32 inches (add some marks with paint or nail polish at home to indicate these lengths if necessary). You can adjust these length slightly to optimize the pitch, or shorten them a couple inches for increased weather resistance (you'll lose headroom though). Staking out the front two corners with a foot of slack between, adding the taller front pole, and then moving to add the rear pole is the best technique for one person set-up. We find that it takes some fiddling to adjust the angle and tension of the stake outs to get a nice, tight pitch. Practice at home and on a trip with protected campsites before going big. We like staking out the Hexamid with fixed lengths of string on the four corners and peaks. It works well.

To achieve a tight pitch  we found fixed length of cord to be ideal. After initial set up  adjusting the location of the stakes fine tunes the Cuben fiber's tension. If you commonly camp on very hard ground that doesn't easily accept stakes  longer tie out cords that can be wrapped around rocks or logs will be an advantage.
To achieve a tight pitch, we found fixed length of cord to be ideal. After initial set up, adjusting the location of the stakes fine tunes the Cuben fiber's tension. If you commonly camp on very hard ground that doesn't easily accept stakes, longer tie out cords that can be wrapped around rocks or logs will be an advantage.

Best Applications


Our Editors' Choice winner is our preferred shelter for ultralight backpacking, thru-hiking, and bike touring. Folks that want one ultralight shelter to use through three seasons, or who spend a lot of time in buggy areas, love the light, spacious Hexamid.

Value


The Hexamid Twin Tent with attached mesh floor and optional bathtub insert costs $530. This is a good value because the tent is the lightest one available that has bug protection, great weather protection and above average livability. We highly recommend it if three-season backpacking is your intended application and you can afford it, or for the demands of thru-hiking. You can save $95 by forgoing the Cuben bathtub floor. If you have the time and inclination you could make a bathtub floor from polycro or Tyvek for cheap.

If you don't do a ton of backpacking or don't have the cash to push the performance envelope, consider the Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo), which performs very well and only costs $170.

Conclusion


The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent is our choice if we were gong to have one ultralight shelter for three-season backpacking, thru-hiking, and bicycle touring. It wins our Editors' Choice award for 2015, and you will not find a lighter shelter with complete weather protection (and a spacious interior!) than the Hexamid.

If you seek one 'do everything' ultralight shelter  this is our highest recommendation. Very light  very protective  and surprisingly roomy for its light weight and small footprint.
If you seek one 'do everything' ultralight shelter, this is our highest recommendation. Very light, very protective, and surprisingly roomy for its light weight and small footprint.

Other Versions & Accessories


Like all ZPacks products, you have many options when ordering this shelter. The combo we tested with attached mesh floor and bathtub floor insert sells for $530. Forgoing the Cuben floor insert reduces the price to $435. Just the Cuben tarp without a attached bug net floor costs $320.

Accessories:
$38 for carbon fiber poles. 48 and 32 inches, fold to 12 inches. 3.15 ounces.
Zpacks has a variety of ultralight stakes available ranging from $2.25 to $3.50 each.

Other Versions:
The Duplex is a similar and very popular two-person shelter also from Zpacks. Here's how Zpacks compares it to the Hexamid Twin:

The Duplex tent has doors on both sides. That is useful so you don't have to climb over your partner to get out. They also give you views and air flow on both sides. The Duplex doors are taller for easier entry. The Duplex has more usable space and is a better fit for a taller couple. The larger doors give it more vestibule space. Some people prefer the convenience of the tall sewn in bathtub floor.

How to Get It


The Hexamid is available only directly from ZPacks. The entire tent package (tent with storm doors, mesh, and bathtub floor) can be purchased here.
Brandon Lampley & Max Neale

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Aug 19, 2015 - 08:48pm
 
SewellyMon · Climber · So Cal
I'd been using a Hexamid Solo for the last year. Does a good job withstanding big winds.

Rode out a significant rain event last month. It's waterproof.

I AM up-sizing to the Twin just for more living space. 4 extra oz = no biggy.

One tip. Place trekking poles atop a stick. In a big wind, the trekking pole tip gets driven into the dirt and tautness goes to sh*t.
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