Zpacks Altaplex Review
This Zpacks Altaplex Review is a result of my Hexamid's retirement. Over the past ten years, my Hexamid Shelter by Zpacks has provided 1,000's of reliable miles, but it is time for semi-retirement. I've decided to stay with Zpacks because the Hexamid is such a great shelter, and I know Zpacks produces quality shelters.
The Altplex is a single-wall Dyneema shelter built for hikers up to 6'6″ tall. I am tall, and this shelter is roomy, well ventilated, and easy to set up and take down. The shelter holds up well in severe storms or constant rain and has been used in arid desert conditions, high altitudes in Colorado, and the more humid, temperate forests of the east coast.
Altaplex Article Summary
|Weight: 15.5 oz||Peak Height: 58″|
|Floor Width: 36″||Width w/Vestibule: 69″|
|Floor Length: 90″||Vestibule Space: 20.75|
|Shelter Length: 100″||Zipper Entry Height: 36″|
|Packed Size: 6″ x 12″||Fabric: .55oz Standard Dyneema|
|Pros: Set-up, Space, Air-flow, Weather||Cons: Hiking Pole Needed, Netting, Warmth|
Table of Contents
- Zpacks Altaplex Review
- Altaplex Article Summary
- Table of Contents
- My Shelter Requirements
- Tent Stakes
- Zpack Altaplex Review – First Glance
- Altaplex Easy To Set Up/Pack Up
- Zpacks Altaplex Review -Comfort/Convenience
- Zpacks Altaplex Review – Materials/Construction
- Zpack Altaplex Review – Additional Observations
- Zpack Altaplex Review – Post Hike Review
- Zpacks Altaplex Review – Would I Buy One Again?
- Related Posts
My Shelter Requirements
Below are my shelter requirements.
- Light Weight – Lightweight to reduce fatigue and injury is important on long distance hikes.
- Ease of Set-Up – I usually hike up until dusk, and I want to set up quickly in the dark. Setting up quickly in bad weather is also essential.
- Reduced Condensation – Condensation is irritating and can be dangerous in cold weather if it gets your Down gear (Sleeping Bag, Jacket) wet. I work to minimize condensation as much as possible.
Tent stakes are not included with the Altaplex, so consider this when purchasing your stakes.
At Dusk, Titanium disappears.
You may detach your line and turn to find your tent stake in the high grass, and it will have disappeared.
When the wind flips out your line and the tent stake goes flying, and you go to find it in the brush – GONE.
Zpacks has several styles of tent stakes, and I've used them all. If purchasing tent stakes, I get the “6.5 Red Tough Titanium Tent Stake.” It is a little larger than the 6.0 size and works well in rocky ground.
Zpack Altaplex Review – First Glance
Out of the box, the Altaplex looks almost identical to my Hexamid, other than my new Altaplex being “Green Opaque.” The Altaplex is lighter than my Hexamid, coming in at 15.5 ounces. The Hexamid is 13.5 ounces, or two ounces lighter, but I'm fine with the extra 2 ounces if I pick up additional room and less condensation.
Altaplex Easy To Set Up/Pack Up
Some people find the Zpack shelters more challenging to set up fast, but I never have. Like any other tent, I have to practice a couple of times, but the set-up is fast after a couple of practice pitches. I am pleased to see the Altaplex sets up quickly – even faster than the slightly smaller Hexamid, due to the more efficient cut of the Altaplex.
Tarp-tents are very easy to set up in the rain while keeping gear relatively dry. I lay them out, quickly stake out the front two corners and the back center, pop in the hiking pole, and up it goes. They are faster and keep my gear drier than double-walled tents.
The lines are pre-cut, and both the lines and locs are installed, which is nice. Out of the box, the line Zpacks uses is about three times the thickness of what I use on my Hexamid, so if you want to shave a couple of grams, then use smaller tie-out lines. My Hexamid has held up to some brutal winds with much thinner tie-out lines.
The Zpacks label for the Altaplex is on the front corner, so I don't have to search for the front of the tarp-tent. It is easy to start with the right corner and work from that point.
The zippers all have small neon ties attached. These ties are easier to find at night when you are going in and out of the shelter.
Altaplex Pack Up
Although the Altaplex uses a thinner material than my older Hexamid (.55 oz/sqyd Dyneema® Composite Fabric), I can tell no difference. The Dyneema is still the same tough fabric that requires no footprint. I have used an air mattress thousands of miles with the Hexamid and never once needed a footprint, even in desert environments.
Because of the lighter fabric, one advantage of the Altaplex is that it is easier to pack up. I can easily fold the tent up and roll it into a tighter bundle. I have to stuff my stiffer Hexamid into my ULA Ohm 2.0 pocket, but I can roll up my Altaplex and easily slide it into the net pocket.
Dyneema fabric does not compare to Sil-nylon. Sil-nylon is easier to pack than Dyneema. The Dyneema on the Altaplex becomes more pliable over time, though, and I have gone from folding it to stuffing it into the net pocket on my backpack.
Zpacks Altaplex Review -Comfort/Convenience
Besides being roomy, the Altaplex has several conveniences. It is roomier than my Hexamid, and the tent's length and height make it easier to lay down and sit up in without touching the walls with my EOS Down Jacket. While easier, I still brush my jacket and sleeping bag if the tarp-tent is not set up to its full height.
I still put my rain jacket over the foot of my down sleeping bag/quilt, but I do this in almost every tent or tarp with a single wall. I always protect my Down quilts and sleeping bags regardless of the shelter I'm using.
In addition to the length and height, the width makes this a very comfortable shelter for one person. There is plenty of room to store my gear on either side and at the foot of the tarp-tent.
The Altaplex has two storm doors that are easily tied up when not in use. They also have a pre-tied line and attachment to secure one or both doors when in service.
The one thing I would prefer on the vestibule is a zipper. The current vestibule flaps use a toggle and loop attachment, which does not firmly secure the vestibule. I have had a small bit of water leak in during some exceptionally long hard rains where the flaps come together. This does not affect the interior of the Altaplex but sometimes leaves the ground damp under that part of the vestibule.
The vestibule has plenty of room, but I bring my gear inside the shelter. Animals -porcupines, squirrels, marmots, deer, etc. have taken or eaten my socks, shoes, and hiking pole handles in the past. Hiking 40 miles with no socks, one shoe, and a Croc is not much fun.
The hiking pole on the Altaplex is outside the tent, but I prefer it inside the shelter, as it is in my Hexamid. I often cook under the vestibule when it is raining, and the pole is a little bit of a hindrance, although not a show stopper.
The Altaplex has an interior pouch. There is no more fumbling around in the dark for my headlamp, phone, knife, etc. These little conveniences get me excited since I am a light sleeper and often wake up during the night to read or study maps.
Zpacks includes a piece of repair tape with the Altaplex. I leave it in the shelter pouch; otherwise, it will get lost amongst the other miscellaneous items in my stuff sack.
Zpacks Altaplex Review – Materials/Construction
The Altaplex uses a thinner DCF material than my Hexamid, but as stated I notice almost no difference. It is thick enough to provide floor protection, and the Opaque Green with a splash of green color offers sufficient privacy.
The Altaplex is water-proof. The shelter holds up well in fierce storms, and constant rain, with no leaks. When it is windy, I set it up closer to the ground to block splashback.
The 8-inch tall bathtub floor is held up by adjustable lines around the inside of the tarp tent. These are easy to adjust and set at optimal locations, attached to the tarp. The floor itself is thick enough to protect my sleeping pad. Not having to use a footprint has always been one thing I like about these shelters.
Backsplash is not an issue with the Altaplex, but I'm always careful about setting up the tarp-tent. If possible, I try not to set up in low-lying areas or on especially hard-packed ground.
The overhang on the Altaplex is adequate but is narrow down near the foot of the shelter close to the corners. Because of this, there have been a couple of occasions where the netting has gotten pushed out past the edge of the over-hang, and I woke up to some water in the tarp-tent. This was my fault, though, because I laid gear up against the sides. Pay attention to where you put your equipment, and this won't happen.
Zpack Altaplex Review – Additional Observations
Durability & Conveniences
The Altaplex now has about 600 miles of use and still looks like I just took it out of the box. Dyneema fabric is durable, and the Altpalex is no exception. There have been upgrades since I had purchased my Hexamid and Zpacks continues to produce high-quality tarp-tent shelters.
The Altaplex is a well thought out shelter. Conveniences like the improved tarp overhang, storm doors, interior pouch, pre-cut ties outs, and zipper ties are great to have in a 15.5-ounce shelter.
I have received some questions on how this shelter handles in windy conditions. This shelter is taller than the Hexamid, so I was initially curious and have been pleased. If set-up correctly, using all the tie-out points, the taller Altaplex handles the wind well and is stable. There is some flapping in the wind, but no more than my Hexamid or Big Agnes Tent Fly.
Trekking Pole Length
My only other consideration when I purchased the tarp-tent was my trekking pole length. My Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Poles were not long enough, so I needed a trekking pole jack. Zpacks was out of stock, so I ended up purchasing my trekking pole jack from Mountain Laurel Designs. I bought a six-inch jack that has worked out well.
Zpack Altaplex Review – Post Hike Review
- Set-up – the cut of the Altaplex, while similar to my Hexamid, has been improved. The Altaplex is faster to set up with a tight pitch and has more room than the Hexamid.
- Room – there is plenty of space for me and all my gear inside the shelter.
- Airflow – with more airflow, the Altaplex improved condensation issues and had less condensation than my Hexamid as long as I maximized its height.
- Wind – The Altaplex held up well in windy conditions as long as I used all of the tie-outs.
- Hiking Pole Height – The Altaplex requires a hiking pole that extends to 56″. I use Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork poles, and they extend up to 51″. Extending them past their usable length, I get can reach about 53″.
- Netting/Overhang – the netting is attached to the tarp's edge, and the tarp does not extend far over the netting on the sides at the foot of the shelter. I put my backpack at the end of my shelter by my feet or on the side in the corner. There were two occasions where the pack pushed out the netting, and I woke up to puddles in the shelter where rainwater ran down the net and into the bathtub floor, so be careful with gear placement.
- Warmth – you will not retain as much warmth as you will in a tent.
- Vestibule – I prefer a zipper, but that would add weight.
Zpacks Altaplex Review – Would I Buy One Again?
The Altaplex is a well-made shelter. I would definitely buy one if my Hexamid were no longer useable.
In this case, my Hexamid is still useable, and I had hoped the larger size of the Altaplex would justify the added expense. The room and decreased condensation is an improvement, but not significant enough to justify spending the money on this shelter if I already have one.
If I were in the market for a new shelter and did not already have one, the Altaplex would be a strong contender in the single wall Dyneema shelter category. Take a look at either this shelter or the Duplex from Zpacks if decreasing your weight while keeping room is a high priority for you.
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