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Zpacks Hexamid Solo Review

A very unique and interesting design that is extremely lightweight.
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Price:  $399 List
Pros:  Very lightweight, DCF construction, sewn-in bug protection
Cons:  Doesn’t come with the necessary floor, many stake out points mandatory, not much head room
Manufacturer:   ZPacks
By Amber King & Andy Wellman  ⋅  Oct 29, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 19
  • Livability - 30% 6
  • Weight - 25% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Adaptability - 10% 5
  • Ease of Set-Up - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Hexamid Solo is the original tent designed and made by Zpacks, a small independent gear manufacturing company based in Florida that specializes in ultralight thru-hiking equipment. It is a one-person pyramid style tent that needs only a single adjustable trekking pole (or custom tent pole) for setup but requires eight stake-out points for optimal stability. It's made of high-quality DCF material on top and has sewn-in bug netting on the sides and floor. The floor of this tent is also lightweight bug mesh, and a modular bathtub floor or similar solution like Tyvek is needed to complete the system. Lightweight and durable, its a good option for the solo backpacker looking for a reasonable price.


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Pros Very lightweight, DCF construction, sewn-in bug protectionAmazingly light, four-sided weather protection, ample space for two, double doorsGreat weather protection, lightweight, adaptableRoomy, easy to setup, fully enclosed, affordableUnder a pound, bombproof dyneema construction, ultralight stakes included
Cons Doesn’t come with the necessary floor, many stake out points mandatory, not much head roomExpensive, doesn’t include necessary stakesExpensiveHeavier, design not quite as wind stable as double vestibule optionsExpensive, single pole set-up takes a little practice
Bottom Line A very unique and interesting design that is extremely lightweight.Ample space and exceptional performance in all metrics makes this our favorite ultralight shelter.This is the shelter you want when waiting out a storm.An affordable fully enclosed single person shelter that we love.Our favorite ultralight shelter for strictly solo adventures.
Rating Categories Zpacks Hexamid Solo ZPacks Duplex Flex Upgrade Tarptent StratoSpire Li Gossamer Gear The One Tarptent Aeon Li
Livability (30%)
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6
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9
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8
Weight (25%)
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9
Weather Resistance (25%)
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9
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7
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7
Adaptability (10%)
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Ease Of Set Up (10%)
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6
Specs Zpacks Hexamid Solo ZPacks Duplex Flex... Tarptent... Gossamer Gear The... Tarptent Aeon Li
Type Pyramid w/ sewn in bug netting floor Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor Single wall tent w/ removable floor and bug netting Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor Single wall tent w/ sewn in bug mesh and floor
Weight with all components 0.72 lbs 1.8 lbs 1.60 lbs 1.68 lbs 1.09 lbs
Measured Weight of All Included Shelter Parts Total: 11.5 oz., Tent: 10.7 oz., Stuff sack: 0.4 oz., Optional repair items: 0.6 oz. Total: 1 lb. 5 oz Tent: 19.7 oz, Guy lines and clips: 1.2 oz, Stuff sack: .3 oz. (Flex upgrade: 11oz) Total: 1 lb.10 oz, Floor and bug net: 11.5 oz, Fly: 14.1 oz Total: 1 lb. 6 oz., Tent: 1 lb. 5.1 oz., Extra tie outs: 0.5 oz., Stuff sack: 0.4 oz., Optional aluminum poles: 5.7 oz. Total: 1 lb. 1 oz., Tent with Bathtub floor and bug net: 15.8 oz., Stakes: 1.7 oz.
Stakes Included? No No Yes No Yes
Poles Needed for Set-up? Yes Yes w/o flex kit
No w/ flex kit
Yes Yes Yes
Capacity 1 person 2 person 2 person 1 person 1 person
Max Floor Dimensions (inches) 108" x 66" 45" x 90" 86" x 45" 88" x 34" 88" x 30"
Peak Height (inches) 45" 48" 45" 46" 47"
Fabric .51 oz/sqyd DCF .51 oz/sqyd DCF Fabric Dyneema Composite Fabrics 7D high tenacity nylon-blended sil/pu coating Dyneema Composite Fabrics
Packed Size (inches) 7" x 5.5" 7" x 13" 16" x 4" 6" x 9" 14" x 4"
Floor Area not specified 28.13 sq ft 26.88 sq ft 19.55 sq ft 18.3 sq ft
Doors 1 2 2 1 1
Interior Pockets 0 2 2 1 1
Number of Poles 1 trekking pole 4 2 trekking poles 2 trekking poles 1 trekking pole
Number of Tie Outs 8 8 8 10 7
1-person version? Yes No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Zpacks Hexamid Solo is a unique non-symmetrical pyramid style shelter for one person with built-in bug netting. It uses one single adjustable trekking pole placed at an angle from the apex so that the user doesn't have a pole in the middle of their sleeping space. Its DCF fabric is highly waterproof, and the design is very stable in the wind provided you find eight secure stake out points, but we found the living and sleeping quarters to be a bit cramped and were mildly vexed by the lack of a floor.

Bug netting instead covers the entire floor, but is both water-permeable and seriously lacking in durability. The solution proposed by Zpacks is to add in a modular DCF floor or use Tyvek (much cheaper) or a similar ground cloth inside the bug netting. We also found the vestibule to be small, and the door very low to the ground, which is awkward to enter and exit. While it is a decent solo tent, it's not the best solution out there.

What is Included, and What Isn't?
The Hexamid Solo comes with the tent and sewn in bug netting, a lightweight DCF stuff sack, uncut staking and guy line, a tiny bit of field repair tape, and printed directions for setup. You will need to cut eight pieces of cordage (directions provided), tie them, and attach them to the tent before setup is possible, so best do this at home. In our opinion, you should also purchase eight line locks and add them to these stake out cords, as these are frustratingly not included, and very necessary for ease of setup and tailoring to individual tent sites. You will also need to purchase separately eight stakes, as these are also not included. Also necessary is a floor, and a modular DCF floor insert can be purchased from Zpacks (not tested by us). Alternatively, you can use a ground cloth or Tyvek of your choice, cut to fit inside the bug netting. Lastly, you'll need a single adjustable trekking pole for set-up, or Zpacks will sell you a made to fit carbon pole.

Performance Comparison


The Hexamid Solo is a pyramid style one person tent that uses a single trekking pole at an angle for its central support. It uses DCF fabric  white on our version  and many guy out points for optimal weather protection.
The Hexamid Solo is a pyramid style one person tent that uses a single trekking pole at an angle for its central support. It uses DCF fabric, white on our version, and many guy out points for optimal weather protection.

Livability


Despite the low weight, awesome materials, and interesting design, this tent was a fair bit less livable than its competition. Inside the tent, there is plenty of ground space for our sleeping setup and extra gear, as well as leeway at the head or feet to accommodate taller people. Likewise, the head clearance when sitting up is plenty for comfort. However, when laying down, the clearance to the tarp is very low, meaning that either our feet or our face are touching the fabric above, which feels claustrophobic and leads to your sleeping bag getting wet if there is condensation build-up.

The door of this tent is very low to the ground and requires some crawling to get inside  and the vestibule is a bit small compared to the competition  although still big enough for one pack and shoes.
The door of this tent is very low to the ground and requires some crawling to get inside, and the vestibule is a bit small compared to the competition, although still big enough for one pack and shoes.

The vestibule is a bit small, and the door is, without doubt, the lowest and smallest we have encountered, requiring us to duck very low to crawl into the tent. We wish it had an internal pocket or two for our glasses and other valuables at night. However, for us, the biggest issue was simply the mesh floor. We tested it using our groundsheet but found that the desert sand ended up in all our stuff as it easily filtered through the mesh. This situation can also occur if the ground is wet. While Zpacks suggests that a removable floor makes cowboy camping easier (which it does), this small perk is far offset by its impracticality. Mesh can easily tear and is not resistant to dirt or water. We found ourselves wishing it just had a sewn-in bathtub floor, like nearly every other tent, even if that comes at a high price.

In this photo you can see how there is a minimal amount of clearance from a sleeping pad to the roof of the tent  a concern if condensation has built up on the inside.
In this photo you can see how there is a minimal amount of clearance from a sleeping pad to the roof of the tent, a concern if condensation has built up on the inside.

Weight


At 11.5 ounces, including bug netting, you could certainly argue that this is the single lightest, fully protective shelter available today.

You can't fake that low weight! Everything that comes with purchase included.
You can't fake that low weight! Everything that comes with purchase included.

It has a lightweight and packable design that makes it easy to fit into a backpack with seemingly very little on your back.

Everything that is included in a purchase of the Hexamid Solo: stuff sack  tent  guy wire cord uncut  a bit of repair tape  instructions.
Everything that is included in a purchase of the Hexamid Solo: stuff sack, tent, guy wire cord uncut, a bit of repair tape, instructions.

Weather Resistance


Using a pyramidal design, DCF fiber, and a whopping eight stake out points, this is one super solid shelter in a storm! The DCF fiber is waterproof and doesn't stretch when it gets wet, so there is no need to get out and fiddle with all the tension points once the rain starts falling. It also comes seam taped, so there is no need for a gooey seam sealing session. In our testing, we have found that pyramid-shaped tents are far and away from the most stable in the wind, and this tent is no exception.

The mesh lining is sewn directly to the edge of the tarp above  meaning water runs off the edges and tracks down the mesh into the shelter  rather than just falling harmlessly to the ground.
The mesh lining is sewn directly to the edge of the tarp above, meaning water runs off the edges and tracks down the mesh into the shelter, rather than just falling harmlessly to the ground.

However, we still encountered some problems. The mesh interior tent is sewn directly to the edges of the DCF tarp overhead, without any eaves to give the distance from the splashback. Even worse, rainwater runs off the overhead tarp and down the mesh netting towards all your things, rather than dropping off and soaking into the ground, as most tents do. According to Zpacks' website, this is by design, and the water will run under your ground tarp or floor insert, but you can't possibly convince us that this design is more protective than a standard bathtub floor with walls, and leads to some nervous sleep when having to check the water's progress into your shelter regularly.

DCF  also known as Dyneema Composite Fiber  or Cuben  is extremely waterproof  super lightweight  and doesn't stretch when it gets wet  making it an optimal choice for tents.
DCF, also known as Dyneema Composite Fiber, or Cuben, is extremely waterproof, super lightweight, and doesn't stretch when it gets wet, making it an optimal choice for tents.

Adaptability


Despite stories we read in some online customer reviews, we don't feel this tent is suitable for two people except in emergencies. We also thought that it suffered a bit for adaptability, considering it isn't free-standing and needs at minimum six solid stakes, but eight is recommended and preferred, making it difficult to set up on firm ground or slick rock. That said, it can be used in almost any weather or climate and has built-in bug netting, so it is not limited on that basis. While the modular floor is meant to add to its adaptability, we found the downsides far outweigh the positives in this regard.

Ease of Setup


Like most tents, this one becomes more straightforward to set up with practice, but that said, we think it may be the most challenging tent to erect quickly with only one person. In particular, holding the single pole at the proper angle (which must be setup inside the inner tent), while simultaneously staking out the vestibule door tensioning stake is a big challenge, as we were unable to reach both at the same time. Combine this fact with the need to stake out eight lines with proper tension, but without line locks on the stake wires, and we felt like we could spend all evening moving and adjusting the positions of the stakes to achieve the perfection we wanted.

Holding the single pole at the optimal angle while also reaching out far enough to hammer in the tensioning stake is a bit of a challenge alone.
Holding the single pole at the optimal angle while also reaching out far enough to hammer in the tensioning stake is a bit of a challenge alone.

While there is a lot of room for customization, and it seems that Zpacks assumes that you will customize to your desires, we think it is a service to the customer to provide a fully tuned and trail-ready tent. The small percentage of people that want to take it all apart and customize everything can do so to their desires.

One bizarre feature is that the tip of the trekking pole fits through a hole cut into this tab of cordura-like material in the floor of the mesh netting.
One bizarre feature is that the tip of the trekking pole fits through a hole cut into this tab of cordura-like material in the floor of the mesh netting.

Value


The Hexamid Solo retails for a relatively low price considering the use of heavy and more expensive materials. Considering the level of weather protection it offers, and the fact that it has the highest quality materials, we think this is pretty awesome value, and point out that it is more affordable than similar DCF tarp + modular bug netting or bivy sack combos. Solo-hikers seeking a lightweight set-up where bug netting is required will find the highest value in this shelter set-up.

This tent is the optimal choice for those who simply want the lightest shelter they can buy  but also want built in bug protection and solid weather resistance. For these types it is actually more practical  and lighter  than a tarp.
This tent is the optimal choice for those who simply want the lightest shelter they can buy, but also want built in bug protection and solid weather resistance. For these types it is actually more practical, and lighter, than a tarp.

Conclusion


The Zpacks Hexamid Solo is a unique shelter design and weighs in as the most functionally light shelter we have ever tested as long as you feel bug netting is needed. Its major downside is livability. With some refinement, we feel it could be the best ultralight shelter you could imagine buying, but as is, it offers a lot of awesome with a bit of head-scratching thrown into the mix.

The Hexamid Solo is a very protective single person shelter that has survived many thousands of miles of thru-hiking by multiple users.
The Hexamid Solo is a very protective single person shelter that has survived many thousands of miles of thru-hiking by multiple users.


Amber King & Andy Wellman