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Zpacks Duplex Review

The ultralight Zpacks Duplex is arguably the most popular tarp tent being used by long-distance hikers right now. The Duplex is a two-person tent that at 19.8 ounces (I weighed my Duplex) is lighter than most one-person tents.

My favorite thing about this shelter is the sheer amount of space! It is palatial for one person, and comfortable for two people if you don’t mind putting your gear in the vestibules.

I did a quick back-yard overnighter in the rain for this review, but the Duplex will be thru-hiking the Northville-Place Trail with me in a few weeks. I’ll update this review and update Instagram and Twitter as I hike.

Ease of Use
Weight
Durability
Livability
Weather Resistance

There really is not much to dislike about the Duplex. For 19.8 ounces you will be hard-pressed to find a more roomy shelter. The Dyneema fabric is durable and highly water-resistant, and the shelter is very easy to set up, take down, and pack away.

4.7

Pros

  • Weight
  • Livable Space
  • Durability
  • Weather Resistance

Cons

  • Wind Resistance
  • Price
  • Condensation
  • Footprint

Table of Contents

Duplex Specifications

Weight: 19.8 ozPeak Height: 48″
Floor Width: 45″Width w/Vestibule: 86.5″
Floor Length: 90″Vestibule Space: 20.75 (each side)
Shelter Length: 100″Zipper Entry Height: 36″
Packed Size: 7″ x 13″Fabric: .55oz Standard Dyneema
Pros: Set-up, Space, Air-flow, WeatherCons: Hiking Pole Needed, Netting, Warmth

My Shelter Requirements

Below are my shelter requirements.

  • Ease of Use – I usually hike up until dusk, and I want to be able to set up quickly in the dark. Setting up quickly in bad weather is also important.
  • Weight – Lightweight, to reduce fatigue and injury, is important on long distance hikes. This becomes even more important as I get older and want to keep backpacking and hiking longer.
  • Durability – I prefer not to use a ground sheet, and can’t always be picky about where I camp so durability is important. Good shelters can also be expensive so I want them to last.
  • Livability – Having room to keep my gear in my shelter with me is important. I have lost clothing to animals and have had “something large” try to haul off my backpack and shoes at night while I slept.
  • Weather Resistance – Cold and wet can be a dangerous combination so staying dry is important, especially in shoulder season hiking when hypothermia is more prevalent. Wet gear is also a pain.

Competitors

VendorPriceWeightMaterial
Tarptent - Stratospire Li$6891.8 lbsDyneema
Six Moon Designs - Wild Owyhee$6001.0 lbDyneema
Gossamer Gear - The DCF Two$5891.3 lbsDyneema
Big Agnes - Tiger Wall 2 Carbon$9991.6 lbDyneema
Hyperlite - Ultamid 2$7351.2 lbsDyneema

Tarptent – Stratospire Li – This is definitely a shelter I will check out when it is back in stock. Tarptent is frequently out of stock, so I often look for used or “blemished” Tarptent shelters. For not much more weight you get a shelter that is basically double-walled with a mesh inner and is supposedly great in wind.

Six Moon Designs – Wild Oyhee – The only two-person shelter on here that’s lighter than the Duplex is the Six Moon Design Wild Owyhee at a pound. Similar to the Wild Oasis, it does not have a floor and for $600 I want a floor. I did use a Wild Oasis on the CDT in 2009 and it held up well.

Gossamer Gear – The DCF Two – This is the least expensive Dyneema shelter on this list. The shelter is roomy but the floor is 7D sil/pu nylon. In my experience, Dyneema is more durable than silnylon but I won’t pass judgment until I’ve had a chance to check it out. The walls angle sharply so I also suspect there will be condensation on my quilt’s foot box.

Big Agnes – Tiger Wall 2 Carbon – This sucker is light for a free-standing tent, and reviews are trickling in slowly that it is DELICATE. The tent also must be made with platinum threading because I can’t imaging paying $1,000 bucks, much less for a tent that is not durable – like titanium durable!

Hyperlite – Ultamid 2 – Hyperlite makes quality products. The pyramid-shaped Ultamid 2 starts at $735. That does not include the $405 full insert for the $735 shell. This well-made shelter is going to run you $1,140 without tax. If you do decide to pay over a thousand bucks for a two-person shelter then go with Hyperlite. The shelter will be well-made and durable.

Tent Stakes

zpacks red headed tent stake

Note that tent stakes are not included.

There is debate around tent stakes but I have always used regular titanium shepherd hooks as long as I have hiked.

These are easier to push into rocky, dry ground, especially out west.

If it is windy then I use rocks to anchor the stakes.

If there are platforms then I can usually find rocks or tie off the shelter to the corners of the platform.

Zpacks has several styles of tent stakes. I use the 6.5 Red Tough Titanium Tent Stake.”

You can also use some fluorescent paint to paint the heads of your own stakes so you can find them in grass/brush or when the wind grabs your shelter and the tent stake almost puts your eye out!

Zpack Duplex Review – First Glance

Out of the box, the Duplex was tiny and had plenty of room in it’s stuff sack. It came with very clear instructions and a Zpacks emblem. Although I knew it would be light, I would still amazed at the weight (of lack of) of the 2P shelter.

Packed up Duplex with Zpacks Emblem

Duplex Set Up

I was not looking forward to setting up and packing back up the Duplex, but this ended up being a pleasant surprise.

Tip: Pay attention when you first unroll the Duplex from Zpacks and make sure you fold it back up the same way.

The Duplex uses 8 stakes. All four corners easily staked out. I left slack between both sides so I had room to insert and raise my hiking poles. The poles inserted easily outside the mesh and I quickly staked out all corners.

I was able to achieve a tight pitch on the first try – nice.

The only disadvantage of the Duplex “roominess” is the large footprint. This is one of the reasons I use the Hexamid and Altaplex. My Hexamid is about 8 years old but you can check out my more recent Altaplex review.

I don’t use designated campsites unless required. I like to hike until dusk and then find a small spot to tuck away. Sometimes these are literally quite “small.”

Exterior view of the Duplex Zpack shelter
Exterior view of Duplex tarp tent shelter

Duplex Pack Up

One advantage my sil-nylon shelters have over Dyneema is that I can easily stuff them in the exterior mesh pocket on my ULA Ohm. It is possible to stuff Dyneema as it gets older and loosens up, but generally, I fold them.

The Duplex is exceptionally easy to fold and roll up into a small, compact bundle. It easily fits into its stuff sack and then into the mesh pocket on my pack. As mentioned above, pay attention to how Zpacks rolls it when they send it to you and roll it the same way.

How tarp tent was shipped from manufacturer with instructions

Zpacks Duplex Exterior

Eight stakes are required to secure the Duplex and the exterior overhangs the bathtub floor by about 5 inches.

  • Four corners
  • One for each vestibule
  • Two side tie outs

There are also points for additional tie-out lines. This includes small clips on the peak and a small nylon loop on each corner.

Vestibules

There are two large vestibules, one on each side of the shelter. They attach to a metal hook that is attached to the main guy-line running from the peaks of the shelter.

Each vestibule is split up the middle so, in essence, you have two doors on each side of the Duplex. There is a toggle about halfway up the vestibule to secure the doors from flapping in the wind.

Either door can be rolled up and attached to the shelter using a toggle.

Duplex vestibule clip for tarp tent
Exterior closed up tarp tent shelter for review
Tarp tent toggle to hold rolled up tent vestibule opening

Pre-tied Lines & Ties

All lines are pre-cut which is always nice with Zpack’s shelters. They are thicker than what I use so I usually switch them out.

The ties used for all of the zippers are the size I use for my lines.

All of the lines have line-loc adjusters and are bright yellow, making them easy to see and use.

Zpacks tarp tent entire tie out point on corner
Small reflective ties located on all zippers

Trekking Poles

Two hiking poles or tent poles are required to set up the Duplex. They go on the outside of the doors, one on each side, and are directly in the middle of the doors. It would be nice if they were offset, but I did not find them inconvenient.

View with vestibule closed inside the tarp tent
Peak for hiking pole outside the net but inside the shelter

Zpacks Duplex Interior

The interior of the Duplex consists of a Dyneema bathtub floor that extends up 8 inches where it is secured to noseeum mesh. Other convenient features include the following:

  • Two pockets for sall items
  • Two rainbow doors
  • Fluorescent ties on zippers
  • Lines to raise the floor and pull back the doors

Duplex Livability

There is plenty of room for one person and their gear, but two people will probably need to put the majority of their gear in the large vestibules.

Personally, if I was hiking with a partner, I would probably use a Triplex. It is made for three people and crazy light at 21.9 ounces.

I don’t put my gear in vestibules for several reasons.

  • My cork hiking pole handles have been eaten – twice. Animals like the salt.
  • My shoelaces have been chewed by the same Porcuipine that tried to drag off my boot.
  • My wool socks have been taken twice. Something has a nice winter nest.
  • Something large tried to drag away my backpack in Montana. It was dark. I’m probably glad it was dark.

Even at 100″ long, there was still light condensation, so I put my rain jacket over the foot of my quilt.

Interior of Duplex for shelter review

Doors

The Duplex has two rainbow, zippered doors, one on each side. The doors are large but I personally like doors that zip across the bottom so I can clip them up out of the way. The rainbow doors hinge inside or outside the shelter when unzipped.

View from inside the Duplex

Interior Pockets

There are two interior pockets in the Duplex, one by each door. You can use them for your phone, headlight, etc. One of them has extra repair tape for the shelter so don’t forget to check for it.

I leave mine in the pocket so I don’t lose it.

Repair tape for the Duplex when hiking

Zpacks Duplex Review – Materials

This is a Dyneema shelter, and I have used many. Dyneema is quite durable and I have yet to use a footprint with any of my Dyneema shelters. The shelter is .55 oz/sqyd Standard Dyneema® Composite Fabric, and the floor is 1.0 oz/sqyd Dyneema® Composite Fabric.

Knock on wood – I’ve been successful in many environments so far – East Coast, West Coast, West, deserts, rock, snow, etc. No holes yet.

All seams are sewn and taped, and this shelter has withstood constant heavy rain with no issues. To date the Duplex is waterproof, but I’ll have more to report after the Northville-Placid Trail.

Another view of tie used to attach to and lift the bathtub floor.

Zpack Duplex Review – Additional Observations

Wind

This shelter was a little challenging to set up in a moderate breeze. Sitting my backpack in the middle of the shelter until I had the four corners staked down solved the issue.

Zpacks Duplex Review – Final Thoughts

The Duplex is a decent-sized shelter for two people and huge for one person, their gear, and the dog. It is a well-made shelter that is durable, weather-resistant, and super light. This is a single hiker’s dream if you are going to be backpacking for multiple days.

The footprint is large but the Duplex is quick and easy to set up and pack up. I also don’t think there are many places where you can’t find room to set it up. It is not any longer than the Altaplex, just wider.

I usually sell my gear after testing it, but this tarp tent may hang around for a few hikes.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks!

Average Hiker purchased the Duplex and does not accept sponsored posts or compensation to write reviews. All opinions and views are mine. If this review has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links above. I appreciate it.

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