The Zpacks Plex Solo is an ultralight one-person, single-wall tent made with Dyneema DCF that weighs just 13.9 oz. Retailing for $599, it has a hybrid pyramid shape and comes with a built-in bathtub floor, insect netting, and a front vestibule. A 52″ trekking pole or tent pole (sold separately) is required to set it up along with six to ten tent stakes. The interior is spacious with plenty of room to sit up and there is extra room for internal gear storage. It’s a good backpacking tent for use in moderate weather conditions but can require a fair amount of tweaking to get a taut pitch.
Specs at a Glance
- Type: Single-wall, non-freestanding
- Capacity: 1 person
- Weight: 13.9 oz / 395 g
- Poles: 1 trekking pole (not included)
- Peak-height: 52″
- Doors: 1
- Vestibule: 1
- Pockets: 1
- Dimensions: 7.5 feet long, 38″ wide in the center, 28″ wide at the ends
- Minimum number of stakes to pitch: 6 (10 recommended)
- Materials: 0.55 oz sq/yd DCF (Fly), 1.0 oz sq/yd DCF (Floor)
- Hydrostatic head: Fly (15,000 mm); Floor (20,000 mm)
- Packed dimensions: 6″ diameter x 12″ length (5.6L)
- Warranty: two-year limited warranty against defects in materials or workmanship
- Made in the USA
The Zpacks Plex Solo is made using Dyneema DCF, an ultralight but very strong waterproof material that has very little stretch, even when wet. There are two grades of DCF used on the Plex Solo: the floor is made with 1.0 oz/sq yard DCF while the fly is available in two different weights depending on your choice of color: 0.55 oz sq yard DCF (blue, olive drab, white) or 0.75 oz sq yard DCF (burnt orange dirt, spruce green). Note: the weight of the tent increases to 15.4 oz if the 0.75 oz sq yard DCF is used. Both of these options are highly waterproof, exceeding conventional silnylon, silpoly, or PU-coated tents by a factor of five or more.
The tent seams on the Plex Solo are sewn for strength and factory seam taped to be waterproof. The tent also comes fully configured with bright yellow 2.0mm Dyneema Z-Line cord guylines and LineLoc V guyline tensioners, which eliminate the need to tie any knots. A DCF stuff sack is included with the tent. There isn’t a footprint for this tent specifically nor is one really required unless you camp regularly on highly abrasive ground. Zpacks sells DCF Groundsheets (3.1 oz) and Tyvek Groundsheets (9.2 oz), but you’ll find that their Tyvek groundsheet weighs almost as much as the tent! If you want a footprint that is lightweight and affordable we suggest using plastic window wrap which will weigh approximately 2 oz for this tent.
Plex Solo Tent Design Walkthrough
The Zpacks Plex Solo is best described as a pyramid-shaped monopole tarptent with a floating bathtub floor that is connected to the rain fly with loose insect netting. This type of construction is adaptable to uneven ground and annoying roots and rocks because the bathtub floor can move up or down independent of the walls to adapt to the surface contour. If you also have a thick inflatable sleeping pad, you can often turn a bumpy campsite into something more tolerable for sleeping.
The Plex Solo requires one 52″ (132 cm) trekking pole to set up, which is on the long side as trekking poles go. My trekking poles are just barely long enough when fully extended (way past their recommended length). You might need to upgrade your poles to use the Plex Solo or to use a pole jack (sold separately) to make the pole longer. But you best check your trekking pole length if considering this tent.
While you can set up the Plex Solo up with a minimum of six tent stakes, I’d recommend using all ten guylines to maximize the interior volume. It’s best to stake out the end corners and rear of the Plex Solo first, leaving lots of slack in the lines, which you can tighten once the trekking pole is inserted in the peak. When you insert your trekking pole, keep the grip on top because the peak, while reinforced, does not have a grommet inside to accommodate a carbide tip and would probably be punctured if you use the sharp end. Having done this with other tents, this is something you want to avoid.
With the vestibule doors closed and staked out, stake out the remaining guylines and tension them. You’ll find that rolling back one or both the vestibule doors or tensioning the bathtub floor inside the tent can ruin your wonderfully taut initial setup. This is an artifact of the tent’s asymmetric design.
For example, I might tweak a guyline cord or roll open the vestibule only to find that I’ve introduced significant slack in the back wall. I’ve owned several one-person Zpacks tents and this is something that I’ve always found frustrating with them. It’s one of the tradeoffs of using an asymmetric design that’s designed for minimal weight since adding more material or structural elements would make the shelter heavier. I liken it to owning a Jaguar motor car: it’s fast and fun to drive, but has a few idiosyncrasies that you were unaware of when you bought it.
The front vestibule has two overlapping panels that connect to a two-pronged hook on the front guyline so each side can be rolled back independently. This makes it easier to block the wind on one side of the vestibule while keeping the other side open for ventilation. The use of the two-pronged hook instead of a zipper, improves the durability of the tent since zippers are a common point of failure.
The vestibule doors do not reach the ground in order to ventilate the tent and to reduce internal condensation. The overhang provides enough protection to prevent moderate rainfall and splashback from reaching the inside of the tent. In more extreme blowing rain, lowering the trekking pole may also help reduce splashback, but the rear walls will go slack and are just as likely to soak you with internal condensation. A better bet would be to prop up your backpack or rain jacket in the vestibule to block the rain.
The front of the tent behind the vestibule is all mesh with a rainbow-shaped doorway, which I personally like because it’s so simple, but it can be prone to zipper jams or failure because considerable tension is put onto the zipper when opening it or closing it. It’s best to grab the fabric at the end of the zipper with one hand to provide a temporary anchor when you open or close it.
The bathtub floor inside the tent is quite long (90″) with a center width of 38″ and a tapered head and foot-end width of 28″, with enough room to use a wide pad and store some of your gear inside with you. I’ve used the Plex Solo with a 77″ x 25″ inch inflatable pad and had extra room to spare.
The bathtub floor is 8″ deep, but generally lies flat at the bottom of the tent unless you tighten elastic cords that suspend it from the rear panels. These cords help angle the insect netting so condensation can run down the ceiling and drain through the netting, rather than dripping on the floor. However, if you pull them too tightly they will cause the rear wall of the tent to bow inwards.
The interior of the Plex Solo is surprisingly spacious. I’m 5′ 11″ and I can sit up comfortably inside. When lying down, I don’t find the space over my head to be overly confining, and my feet steer clear of the ceiling at the far end.
Ventilation and the airflow through the tent is good as long as you keep both, or at least one of the vestibule doors open. The vestibule is fairly narrow and won’t completely cover a large backpack. Alternatively, you can upgrade one of Zpacks waterproof Dyneema or Ultra backpacks to avoid carrying a sodden backpack the next day
The DCF walls of the Plex Solo are translucent and let a lot of light pass through the walls. If you’re concerned about privacy, I’d recommend getting the rainfly in 0.75 oz per sq/yd DCF instead of the 0.55 oz per sq/yd DCF because it’s less transparent. However, because they are translucent, the Plex Solo and other DCF tents can get uncomfortably warm inside in direct sunlight. While this can be an asset in colder weather, it can make the tent insufferably hot and impossible to use until the sun goes down.
|Make / Model||Material||Weight||Price|
|Zpacks Plex Solo||DCF||13.9 oz / 395 g||$599|
|Tarptent Aeon Li||DCF||17 oz / 482 g||$569|
|Gossamer Gear DCF One||DCF/Sil-PU Nylon||15.3 oz / 433 g||$539|
|Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo||SilPoly||26 oz / 737 g||$250|
|Tarptent Rainbow Li||DCF||21.8 oz / 619 g||$649|
|Gossamer Gear The One||Sil-PU Nylon||17.7 oz / 503 g||$299|
The Tarptent Aeon Li is a one-person DCF shelter with a side door and vestibule like the Plex Solo. It has a lower peak height and a smaller interior but can be pitched with a regular-length trekking pole. It’s slightly heavier than the Plex Solo because it includes additional carbon-fiber struts in the corners that make it easier to achieve a perfectly taught pitch every time. Read our Aeon Li review.
The Gossamer Gear DCF One is a one-person tent with a DCF rain fly and a Sil/PU coated nylon floor that makes it more compact to pack than an all-DCF tent. It has a spacious front vestibule and requires two trekking poles to set up. It’s well ventilated and easy to pitch but has slightly less internal space than the Plex Solo. Read our DCF One review.
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is quite similar in design to the Plex Solo and makes an interesting counterpoint because it’s twice as heavy but less than half the cost. It’s made with low-stretch siliconized polyester (silpoly) that shares one of Dyneema’s most quoted benefits. Read our Lunar Solo review.
The Zpacks Plex Solo is the lightest weight tent Zpacks makes and at 13.9 oz, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an insect-proof shelter that’s lighter weight unless you switch to a tarp and a bivy sack. You may be tempted to buy the Plex Solo simply because it is so lightweight and I wouldn’t blame you, because I’ve done the same.
But, I’d still encourage you to consider the pros and cons of this shelter carefully. While it has a relatively spacious interior, it requires a long trekking pole (or pole jack) to pitch and has a fairly narrow vestibule that may not completely protect your backpack from the rain. It is a single-wall shelter and therefore prone to internal condensation unless you keep the vestibule doors rolled back for maximum ventilation. Finally, the asymmetric design can make the pitch a little fussy to dial in if you like your tent to have drum-tight walls, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it and understand how to pick tent sites that play to its strengths.
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