The Zerogram Zero 1 is a single-walled A-frame style backpacking shelter with a front gear vestibule, side screened door, and built in floor. A rear window, covered with an awning, is also provided for additional ventilation. Pitched with two adjustable trekking poles and 7 tent stakes, it weighs 21.8 ounces on the Section Hiker digital scale (minus stuff sack and stakes.)
If you’re not familiar with the manufacturer Zerogram, they are a Korean gear manufacturer founded in 2011, that began selling their products in the US in 2015. They make and sell a variety of products including tents and shelters, sleeping bags, cookware, and accessories designed for lightweight backpacking. Massdrop has been their primary distributor in the USA to-date.
While the Zero 1 is similar to ultralight A-frame style tarp shelters, it has a built-in floor instead of a separate mesh inner tent. While this simplifies setup, it’s also the achilles heel of the tent because it significantly reduces air flow and makes it difficult to angle the walls in order to get a taut, wind resistant pitch. I’ll explain these issues in more detail below. Unfortunately, they compromise the livability of the Zero 1 in warm, humid, or breezy conditions.
Pitching the Zero 1 Tent
The Zero 1 requires two adjustable trekking poles and a minimum of 7 tent stakes to set up. When pitching the tent, it’s best to loosely stake out the four corners before inserting the trekking poles in the front and rear of the tent which has reinforcement patches in the tent fabric where the poles meet the ceiling. Due to the geometry of the tent, you can only adjust your tent poles to one length, since the sewn-in floor eliminates any variability in the angle of the side walls.
Once you’ve erected the tent, you’ll want to re-stake all of the tent’s guy-out points. These are fixed canvas loops sewn to the sides of the tent instead of cord guylines with tensioners. The notched stakes provided by the manufacturer are not adequate for this purpose and I’d recommend replacing them with MSR Needle Stakes which have a pronounced hook at the tip or a very long stake like a full length MSR Grounghog, so that the loops don’t jump the top of the stakes.
While the Zero 1 has two doors, the front vestibule cannot be pitched completely open for better airflow because the door’s front guy out points hold the tent erect and there aren’t any guy out points on top of the tent where an auxiliary guy line could be attached. The width of the door is also quite narrow, making it difficult to get around the center pole. In practice, the vestibule is best used for covered gear storage and you’re far more likely to use the side door to enter or exit the tent, although this will result in a wet inner tent in sustained rain.
The Zero 1’s side door is a quite pleasant addition to this style of shelter and significantly improves the tent’s livability. Entry and exit are easy and there are numerous external toggles for rolling up and securing the mesh netting or door so they stay open. A rain flap is provided to cover the side door zipper, which is also seam taped to prevent rain from leaking into the shelter.
The interior dimensions of the Zero 1 tent are on the small side. The front floor is 43″ wide tapering in the rear to 23″ in width. Keep in mind that the side walls angle up, so that the actual living space is less than the floor width. The length of the inner sleeping compartment is 79″ long. The height of the front pole is 43″ and 26″ for the rear pole.
When pitched, the side walls of the Zero 1 are not taut, but billow into the interior compartment. There’s now way to counter this because the height and width of the tent is fixed as a consequence of having a sewn-in floor instead of one that floats, like an inner tent.
A much more forgiving design, would be to attach the floor to the side walls using bug netting (basically a floating floor), to improve air flow and so that the tent walls could be staked out separate from the floor. This is how Tarptent addresses the same issue in their single walled shelters. There are also no exterior guy-outs on the tent walls to pull them out and increase the tent’s interior space, although this would be an easy mod to make.
While the collapse of the side walls is annoying in calm weather and puts your sleeping bag or quilt up against a possibly wet sidewall (from internal condensation), the tent becomes increasingly marginal to use if conditions are breezy and the side walls bow in even further.
When the side door and front vestibule are open, air flow through the Zero 1 is good. But the tent heats up noticeably, especially in sunny weather when the sun radiates through the translucent walls. When both doors are closed, the tent quickly becomes insufferably warm and internal condensation starts to form on the interior. While the Zero 1 is probably adequate for camping in low humidity environments, where you can keep the doors open all the time, I wouldn’t advise using it in warm, humid or rainy weather when you need to close both doors and hunker down during a rain storm.
The Zerogram Zero 1 tent is a single-walled, trekking pole shelter that weighs 21.8 ounces. While its all-in-one construction is easy to set up, its best use is in benign weather conditions when you need a lightweight shelter capable of providing basic bug protection. I do not recommend using this shelter in rainy, windy, or humid conditions because it lacks the necessary stability and airflow required to remain dry and comfortable in those circumstances.
- Side door vent is a clever way to provide additional ventilation in a single wall tent
- Rear vent is covered to prevent rain from entering tent
- Not necessary to hang a separate inner tent
- Side walls collapse on occupant, resulting in poor livability.
- No side guy-outs to maximize internal volume or prevent transfer of internal condensation to occupant
- Poor ventilation in storm mode when all doors except rear window are closed
- Weight: 21.8 ounces
- Floor: 30D Nylon PU
- Rainfly: 15D nylon PU/Sil coating
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by MassDrop.com which sent me a sample product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.
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