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Zpacks Offset Duo Tent Review

Zpacks Offset Duo Tent Review

The Zpacks Offset Duo Tent is a two-person, ultralight backpacking tent made with Dyneema DCF. Weighing in at 19.7 oz, it is a single-wall trekking pole tent with translucent sides that can limit your internal privacy if such things matter to you (as they often do with couples backpacking.) This tent’s design is based on the iconic Zpacks Duplex Tent but provides more interior volume and height because its peak ridgeline is offset to one side. The addition of panel guy-out points helps pull the walls out further so you can move around inside without touching the walls, which is so important in a single-wall tent which by its nature is more prone to internal condensation than a double-wall tent.

RELATED: 10 Best Ultralight Backpacking Tents

Specs at a Glance

  • Type: Single Wall Tent
  • Weight: 19.7 oz
  • Structural: Trekking Pole Tent (2 poles required)
  • Material: Dyneema DCF
  • Seam-taped: Yes
  • Poles: 1 included, although easily replaced with a stick
  • Internal pockets: 2 small ones below the doors
  • Minimum number of stakes to pitch (not included): 8
  • Required Trekking Pole Length: 48″ (122 cm)
  • Peak height: 48″ (122 cm)
  • Floor width: 50″ (127 cm) tapers to 44″ (112 cm) from mid-torso to foot.
  • Floor length: 94″ (239 cm)
  • Floor Area: 31.4 square feet (2.9 square meters)
  • Zipper entry height: 40″ (102 cm)
  • Packed Dimensions: 6″ diameter by 12″ tall (15 cm x 30 cm),  340 cubic inches (5.6L)
  • For complete specs, visit Zpacks

The Zpacks Offset Duo is designed to give occupants more interior room to move around without touching the interior walls, which in a single-wall tent, are prone to internal condensation transfer. This creates an interior space that has more height above the head and feet than the isosceles triangle shape of the Zpacks Duplex, where the interior height of the tent’s sides is the same no matter which side you put your head on in order to sleep.

The poles and ridgeline of the Offset Duo are off center, creating more interior height above the feet than in the Zpacks Duplex tent.
The poles and ridgeline of the Offset Duo are off-center, creating more interior height above the head and feet than in the Zpacks Duplex tent.

Like all tents, this new design has some tradeoffs, but on the whole is a net positive in terms of livability, particularly when the tent is shared by two people. It should be noted that the offset design isn’t particularly new and other tent manufacturers also offer it in more conventional fabrics including the Six Moon Designs Haven Ultralight Tent (double wall, 34 oz), the Owyhee Backpacking Tarp with perimeter netting and floor (single wall, 24.6 oz), and the SlingFin 2Lite (double wall, 42 oz) amongst others.

The head end vestibule door must remain closed as a tieback for rolling it open is not included.
The head end vestibule door must remain closed as a tieback for rolling it open is not included.

The Offset Duo is a trekking pole tent that requires two trekking poles to set up with a length of 48″ (122 cm), in addition to a collapsible carbon fiber pole (included) to elevate the front of the tent and increase its volume above the feet. Weighing 1 oz, the carbon fiber pole is remarkably easy to misplace, but is easily replaceable with a stick or collapsed trekking pole. It’s capped at both ends with plastic to prevent the carbon fiber from splintering and comes with a handy two-ended elastic quiver to prevent it from opening in your pack. I just roll it up inside the tent when packing up so as not to lose or damage it.

Pole tip guides alongside the floor, help ensure the proper floor height and width.
Pole tip guides alongside the floor, help ensure the proper floor height and width.

When setting up, it’s best to stake out the corners of the tent loosely, insert the trekking poles into the twin peaks, push your trekking pole tips through guides on the sides of the floor to get the right floor depth, and then tighten the corners and vestibule guylines using the included line-loc tensioners. It’s pretty simple if you pre-measure your pole length to the requisite length. After that, stake out the front pole and the rear panel guylines to increase the interior space.

Once the basic structure is up, it’s time to guy-out the front and rear panels. The front panel is stretched using the included carbon fiber pole which fits into Dyneema “cups” at both ends, one attached to the top panel with a static cord and staked out and the other at its base attached with elastic but loose. Since the bottom cup has a tendency to slip, I just stake out the top Dyneema cup and prop the bottom of the pole on some bark or a rock to prevent it from sinking in soft ground. That seems to work just as well. The rear panel, in turn, is pulled out with a simple static guyline.

The carbon fiber pole inserts into two dyneema cups to pull out the front panel and create more interior volume.
The carbon fiber pole inserts into two Dyneema cups to pull out the front panel and create more interior volume.

But anytime you unzip the vestibule or roll back one of the vestibule doors, you’ll probably want to get out and readjust the guyline tensioning: Dyneema doesn’t have any stretch to it so when you relax part of the tent, the other parts relax too, somewhat annoyingly, particularly on Zpacks tents.

When used, the carbon fiber pole does increase the front volume above the feet.
When used, the carbon fiber pole does increase the front volume above the feet.

There are a couple of things about the design of the Offset Duo that are worth noting.

The vestibule doors at the head end of the tent must remain closed to support the sides of the tent, unlike the Zpacks Duplex, where both vestibule doors can be rolled back to increase ventilation and provide 180-degree views. The downside of this design is decreased side ventilation in Offset Duo, which is actually quite important if you use the tent with two people since the increased body heat and exhalations they generate will cause more internal condensation to form on the ceiling.

Zpacks chose not to add peak guylines on the Offset Duo, which would have permitted you to roll back both vestibule doors and increase the stability of the pitch in higher winds. In addition, while there is a magnetic toggle to roll and hold the foot end of the vestibule back, there is no corresponding toggle on the head end of the vestibule.

While shallow, there is enough space under the vestibule door to store a backpack
While shallow, there is enough space under the vestibule door to store a backpack to keep it under cover.

The sides of the Offset Duo, including the vestibules are cut high, to increase airflow through the tent and mitigate internal condensation. This is a common design hack in single-wall tent design, but it can be problematic in cooler weather because it makes the tent much colder to sleep in and less weather resistant. In other words, the Offset Duo wouldn’t be a great pick for shoulder season weather (spring/autumn) in open tent sites exposed to higher wind speeds and is probably best used in forested terrain or in places with natural windbreaks.

The fly does not reach the ground on purpose to increase air flow and reduce the tent’s weight. But it means the tent will be colder and draftier.
The fly does not reach the ground on purpose to increase airflow and reduce the tent’s weight. But it means the tent will be colder and draftier.

Interior storage inside the Offset Duo is minimal. While there are two pockets in the middle of the tent under the door zippers, they’re really only big enough for a Smartphone. If you have something delicate like glasses, I’d advise against storing them there. I hang mine from the mesh door zipper pulls instead.

Interior storage is minimal with just mesh pockets located at the midpoint along the sides.
Interior storage is minimal with just mesh pockets located at the midpoint along the sides.

If you’re familiar with Zpack’s other tents, you’ll see that they’ve replaced the rainbow mesh doors with ones that have an L-shape instead. These are arguably better since the pole is not in the middle of the door, they don’t fall to the ground when opened, and they let in fewer bugs since the opening is smaller. The zippers also have dual sliders, both inside and out, and are corded with high-visibility pulls, making them easy to use.

Despite its added interior volume, the single wall Offset Duo still suffers from massive internal condensation
Despite its added interior volume, the single wall Offset Duo still suffers from massive internal condensation

When it comes to internal condensation, the jury is still out in my opinion. I’ve experienced tremendous condensation using the Offset Duo both solo and with a partner. While there is increased internal volume, I’ve still gotten wet moving around inside the tent when my clothes brush up against the ceiling. I prefer to have a tent that’s guyed out at the peaks with vestibule doors that can be rolled back fully for maximum airflow and views. That said, I’ve tested the Offset Duo exclusively in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where all single-wall tents and shelters experience internal condensation to some degree. Your mileage may vary, particularly in a warmer climate or one that’s less humid.

Recommendation

The Zpacks Offset Duo is an ultralight single wall trekking pole tent made with Dyneema that weighs 19.7 oz (559g). It is lightweight enough to be used as a spacious single-person tent or for couples and is a definite improvement in terms of livability over Zpack’s other tents and shelters, including the updated Zpack’s Duplex Zip with a very modest increase in setup complexity. If you’re looking to buy a tent from Zpacks, especially for couples use, the Offset Duo is definitely the pick of the litter if you can afford its hefty price tag of $769.

Disclosure: Zpacks donated this tent for review.

Shop the Offset Duo

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
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8 comments

  1. Durston X-mid Pro 2 is a single wall tent, I believe, although I’m hoping for a DW X-mid Pro Solid version.

  2. It kinda amazes me that Zpacks didn’t provide the option of the head end vestible door tieback.

    • Yeah, well. They were probably trying to keep the weight as close to the X-mid-1 Pro as possible.

      • You are not a ZPacks fan and it shows. I’ll take your reviews with a grain of salt.

        • Actually I am a Zpacks fan. But I do like their backpacks a lot more than their tents. Their tents are adequate for triple crown trails, just not inspired. In addition, despite Dyneema’s many advantages, I happen to prefer silnylon or silpoly over it for my own use because it stretches and it’s not transparent. The stretch property gives tent designers a lot more flexibility in the shapes that they can design, since it gives you the ability to add curves, while silpoly/silnylon provide much more privacy and light blocking so I can sleep.

        • I would expect nothing less than a thoroughly scrutinized review considering their exorbitant prices. They’re supposed to be the best. Prove it

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