This post may contain affiliate links.

Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent Review

Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent Review

The Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent is a single-wall 2-person tent made with Dyneema DCF that weighs 20.4 oz. It has two doors, two vestibules, and requires two trekking poles to erect. Despite its high-tech construction, the Duplex Zip is a remarkably simple tent to set up and use, much like the original Zpacks Duplex Tent, which is still available today. While the Duplex Zip is based on the original Duplex design, it has three additional features: waterproof vestibule zippers, ventilated vestibule peaks, and magnetic door toggles, which increase its winds and weather worthiness and make it more convenient to use.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight:  20.4 to 22.3 oz depending on the color (20.4 oz, actual in Olive Drab)
  • Type: Single-wall, two-person
  • Material: Dyneema DCF, Insect Netting
  • Doors: 2
  • Vestibules: 2
  • Minimum number of stakes to set up: 6; Recommended: 8
  • Dimensions:
    • Internal Floor width: 45″ (114 cm)
    • Internal Floor length: 90″ (229 cm)
    • Zipper entry height: 36″ (91 cm)
    • Peak height: 48″ (122 cm)
    • Ridgeline width: 53″ (135 cm)
    • Width including vestibules: 93″ (236 cm)
    • Vestibule Depth from floor: 24″ (61 cm) each side
    • External Length: 100″ (254 cm)
    • Packed Size: 6″ diameter by 12″ tall (15 cm x 30 cm),  340 cubic inches (5.6L).
  • For full specs visit Zpacks.com

The Duplex Zip tent is made with Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF) which is an ultralight, high-strength, waterproof material that is good for making tents because it doesn’t absorb water or stretch overnight. While the Duplex Zip is large enough to fit two people, it is lightweight enough that you can seriously consider using it as a spacious 1-person tent. This is perhaps its greatest advantage over tents made with conventional fabrics like nylon or polyester.

The Duplex is light enough that you can use it as a spacious 1 person tent
The Duplex is light enough that you can use it as a spacious 1 person tent

The Duplex Zip has a simple design. It’s a single-wall “tarp tent”, with a waterproof DCF bathtub floor connected to the sidewalls with insect netting. The bathtub floor is 8″ deep, which will protect you from puddles and running water if it rains. Like most tarp tents, the bathtub floor is connected to the tent’s walls with insect netting to provide air circulation and help prevent internal condensation.

The bathtub floor is connected by mesh, allowing it to float independently of the walls
The bathtub floor is connected by mesh, allowing it to float independently of the ceiling

The netting connecting the floor and the ceiling also lets the floor “float” which is very beneficial on uneven tent sites, where one side of the ground may be higher than another and you need to adjust your trekking poles to different lengths. This is a great benefit if you camp on “wild” unprepared tent sites, especially in a forest.

An added guyline running from the floor to the overhead panel lets you angle the ceiling so any internal condensation will drip outside and not onto the floor. Still, I’d advise packing a trail towel with you to wipe up any internal condensation that’s formed inside overnight before you pack up the tent in the morning or if it gets very damp at night.

The deep bathtub floor protects you on wet campsites.
The deep bathtub floor protects you on wet campsites.

The Duplex Zip has two mesh walls and doors which are protected by side vestibules. The vestibule doors open in the middle (with a zipper), so you can roll back each half independently for increased ventilation. Zpacks has added magnet toggles to the doors to hold them rolled when rolled and these are easy to connect or release from within the tent, which is quite handy when it starts or stops raining.

The Duplex Zip comes with vestibule zippers and peaks.
The Duplex Zip comes with vestibule zippers and peaks.

Long rainbow-shaped zippers in the mesh side walls let you get out on either side of the vestibules if you only have one half-open. The mesh walls are flexible, so it’s best to use two hands when opening or closing their zippers to help support the fabric and prevent zipper jams. There is a mesh pocket at the midpoint of each door along the bathtub floor, but despite Zpack’s suggestion, I wouldn’t put a phone or my glasses into it. There’s simply too much risk of crushing them if you get out or back in the tent at night. I hang my glasses from the zipper pulls on the rainbow mesh door since the tent lacks any other interior hang loops or pockets – which Zpacks does sell separately.

Rainbow shaped doors let you choose which side of the vestibule you want to use as a door or for gear storage.
Rainbow-shaped doors let you choose which side of the vestibule you want to use as a door or for gear storage.

The vestibule doors have a YKK waterproof zipper which provides added wind and rain protection compared to the original Duplex, where the vestibule doors overlapped one another by were not connected. The vestibule doors do not reach the ground in this tent to provide enhanced airflow in order to mitigate internal condensation….although that is considered an essential feature in very windy and stormy environments like England and Scotland.

The vestibule peaks help keep rain off the zipper.
The vestibule peaks help keep rain off the zipper.

The Duplex Zip also has mesh-backed vestibule peaks which help create a small overhang to prevent rain from entering the tent if you have the doors rolled open. They also help keep rain off the zipper so you’re not completely drenched if you open the vestibule doors while it’s raining. But I don’t consider them terribly effective for mitigating internal condensation although they do make a great place to catch insect life if you like to study moths and mosquitos up close.

You can increase the interior volume and headroom to a degree by staking out the panel guyline.
You can increase the interior volume and headroom to a degree by staking out the panel guyline.

The interior of the Duplex Zip is quite spacious for one, but more cramped for two, with an interior width of 45″. Then again, if you buy the Duplex Zip because it is so lightweight, you’re probably not going to be carrying heavier 25″ wide sleeping pads. There’s good headroom below the center of the tent at the peaks.  But the amount of ceiling clearance diminishes as you get closer to the head and foot ends, which is the nature of an A-frame design. You can create some more volume at the ends by staking out the guylines attached to the DCF side panels, but it’s not that great even though the interior is 90″ long. If you’re over 6′ in height, you’ll definitely feel cramped.

The transparent ceiling can compromise privacy but also makes you feel closer to the outdoors.
The transparent ceiling can compromise privacy but also makes you feel closer to the outdoors.

The Dyneema DCF ceiling of the Duplex Zip is fairly transparent, which can be a consideration if you prefer more opaque walls for privacy. That transparency can also make the tent quite hot inside if pitched in intense sunlight.

The Duplex Zip comes fully outfitted with guylines and line locs tensioners, but you need to supply your own tent stakes for the soil or ground conditions you expect to encounter. The line locs make it very easy and fast to tighten the pitch once you’ve got the tent staked out and set up.

Comparable Dyneema DCF Tents

Key: SW=Single Wall, DW=Double Wall

Make / ModelSW/DWPeopleVestibulesWeight
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2SW1-2224 oz
Durston X-Mid Pro 2SW2219.6 oz
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 CarbonDW2222 oz
MLD Duomid + Nest (all DCF)DW2126 oz
MLD Trailstar + Nest (all DCF)DW1120.5 oz
Tarptent Stratospire LiDW2227.7 oz
Zpacks DuplexSW2219.0 oz
Zpacks Duplex ZipSW2220.4 oz
Tarptent Aeon LiSW1115.8 oz
Tarptent Notch LiDW1221.5 oz

There are relatively few one and two-person DCF tents available, and while tent weight and cost are important dimensions, it’s worth understanding what other variables are important to you before you make a purchase decision. Here are some important dimensions that are worth considering when choosing between different tents and shelters. This might seem long a long set of variables, but they can help you avoid buying the wrong shelter, especially a shelter from a cottage manufacturer that you can’t return for a refund if it doesn’t meet your needs.

Modularity: Do you want the ability to split apart your shelter into components and only use part of it in different weather or terrain? For example, buying a pyramid tarp and an inner nest, or a double-wall tent, can be much more flexible than buying a single-wall tent with a permanently sewn-in floor.

Internal condensation: Many people prefer a double-wall tent because they can’t stand the thought of internal condensation inherent in single-wall tents that can make their gear damp.

Interior Space: Do you want to be able to store your gear inside the tent with you? If so, you might be better off buying a two-person tent and using it by yourself. Do you need a tent that can fit two people, even though realistically you plan to mostly use it for one person?

Dimensions: Do you prefer a tent with a high ceiling or one that’s long if you are very tall. Do you prefer a tent with vertical or high-angled end walls because you have big feet that will touch a sloped ceiling?

Number of Doors: If you plan on using a two-person tent for two people, it is much more convenient to have one with two doors.

Ease of Entry: Tents that have wide side doors are usually easier to get in and out of than ones that only have a front door. In addition, wide vestibules with two independent doors (split in the middle), make it possible to use one half for gear storage and the other half for entry.

Footprint: How much space is required to set up the tent? For example, if you like to camp at unprepared (wild) tent sites, it can be easier to find a level, dry, or open space for a one-person tent instead of a two-person tent.

Draftiness: Some tents are draftier than others. For example, shelters with a rain fly and vestibules that go all the way down to the ground tend to be warmer than those that don’t because they have less airflow. Tarp tents, where the fly and the floor are connected with mesh, tend to be draftier than double-wall tents.

Pitching in the Rain: Can you set up a tent in the rain and keep the inner tent dry? You can with most single-wall tents and some double-wall tents, but not with ones that require that you pitch the inner tent first.

Ease of Pitch: Some shelters are easier to set up than others. The simplest ones are tents that have an exoskeleton frame, which is one reason why they are so widely used on mainstream tents. When it comes to cottage-manufactured tents, ones that have a rectangular footprint and symmetric sides are usually easier to set up than ones that have offset, asymmetric peaks, or asymmetric walls.

The Duplex Zip’s symmetric design makes it very easy and quick to pitch
The Duplex Zip’s symmetric design makes it very easy and quick to pitch

Recommendation

The Zpacks Duplex Zip is a two-person, DCF tent that is lightweight enough that it can be used by one person.  It’s easy to get in and out of, with wide side doors and vestibules which can be used to store gear or enter and exit at the same time. As a single wall shelter, you can pitch the Duplex Zip in the rain and prevent the interior from becoming soaked, which is a real advantage in a wet climate. While the internal dimensions can be snug for two people, the vestibules provide valuable gear storage to free up the living space area. Perhaps best of all, the Duplex Zip is drop-dead simple to set up, with a symmetric two-trekking-pole design that will get you out of the weather and high and dry in no time at all.

Disclosure: Zpacks donated a tent for this review.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.

9 comments

  1. Thanks for the tip to hang glasses on the zipper pull! Although I have the Duplex (original with Flexkit), I find the rainbow mesh door frustrating when there are lots of bugs. I zip only part way open and try to sort of pole vault over the fold ha ha.
    Thanks for a thorough review.

  2. Hi Philip,
    My opinion: I don’t think it is that easy to set up, the pole in the middle is in the way, the rainbowzipped door is a pain and the slanting sides are a problem (- as you also mention). I think people should have a look at the Durston 2P Pro instead. It solves all these problems…

  3. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? All the features they’ve added were already on Durston tents. I have a Durston 2 p dyneema and used a Duplex previously. With the offset poles and netting that zips up from the bottom the Durston is so much easier to enter and exit. The toggle closure on the fly of the Duplex is something I always thought was ludicrous. I criticized it on Zpacks social media and suggested they add a zipper to the Duplex. Zpacks responded not so nicely and told me nothing was wrong with that design. At least Dan Durston was able to convince them.

  4. I have both a Zpacks and Durston. I never felt the pole was in the way on the Zpacks. In fact, I should set up both tents and measure the openings. The pole isn’t in the way of the door on the Durston, but the door is only about half the size of the Zpacks. On the Zpacks, I didn’t care for the mesh door that lay on the ground or the toggle loops that had no give making it difficult to tie back the doors. The toggle issue has been resolved. I am only 5’5″ so rarely tied out the head and foot panel on the Zpacks. I’ve had a bad pitch on the Durston and the head space on one side would sag. Not a big deal, but I find the Zpacks easier to pitch. The Durston has a bigger footprint than the Duplex. Yes, there is a skinny pitch available for the Durston but it greatly reduces air flow. I don’t think you would go wrong with either tent.

    • Hi Cheri,
      If you make sure the Durston tent is a precise rectangle when you place the four pegs, you can’t go wrong. There are tricks on YouTube that show how. I have previously had a Lanshan 2 in silnylon and I certainly didn’t find it easy to set up. Since then I have read, that a DCF should be even more difficult. The problem is placing the four cornerpegs correctly without ajusting afterwards…

  5. When talking about the headroom at either end of the Duplex, its good to remember how easy it is to put a stick (about 12-18” long) with a small Y at one end under the guy lines coming off the middle of each of the end panels. That lifts the outward pull of the guy line yielding more headroom under the end panel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...