This is a gear review of the Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent for 2024.
The Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent is one of the best ultralight backpacking tents for 2024. Recently, I took the new Zpacks Duplex Zip into the backcountry to test it out. The addition of zips to the already capable and popular Duplex increased the appeal of this tent to backpackers and thru-hikers who regularly experience bad weather.
If you are thinking about an ultralight 2-person tent that is very waterproof and well-designed, the Zpacks Duplex Zip could be the tent for you.
Keep reading to find out more.
How We Tested
The Zpacks Duplex Zip used in this review has been extensively evaluated and researched by the expert author who has many years of experience in Thru-Hiking, Backpacking, and Hiking. The tent was supplied by Zpacks and tested in both cool and warm weather including during rain. The research, testing, and experience of the author have combined to provide this review of the Zpacks Duplex Zip in 2024. Read the Review Policy for further details.
In-Depth Review: Zpacks Duplex Zip Tent 2024
Weight: 20.4 oz / 577 grams
> Waterproof and seam sealed
> Good in bad weather
> Small pack size
> Good internal dimensions for 2 people
> Not cheap
The ZPacks Duplex Tent has been around for a few years and has cemented itself as one of the best ultralight thru-hiking tents. The addition of zips on the vestibule has improved the stormproofing of the tent which gives it more appeal for those camping in bad weather.
Like all Zpacks Tents, it is made with Dyneema (Cuben Fiber) which is not only lightweight but strong and has the added advantage of not sagging when it is wet like nylon tents. The recent addition of the zips makes this tent superior in bad weather.
When I tested this tent I liked the way the bottom of the zips are attached to the tent pegs via a cord and hooks system. This well thought out design is not seen on too many other tents and allows you to keep the tent pitched solidly when the zips are closed, open, or with only one side of the vestibule open. It also allows the zips to be easily zipped all the way to the bottom without difficulty. While it is fiddly to use the very first time, it is a simple feature like this that sets this tent apart from many others in the field.
The Zpacks Duplex Zip tent is it is a non-freestanding tent and needs trekking poles or poles from Zpacks that are not included in either the weight or cost of the tent 2.5 oz (71 grams).
I was able to easily set up this tent with 6 ultralight tent stakes, but 8 tent stakes will make the tent more bombproof in windy weather.
The internal dimension of the Duplex is sufficient for two backpackers to sleep comfortably. But your backpack and gear will need to be stored in the vestibule area. There are handly internal storage pockets that are great for your phone, PLB, and headlamp.
The Zip version is only about $50 more expensive and 1.4 oz / 38 grams heavier than the non-zip version, but in my opinion, it is a much better option. The only caveat would be if you were hiking in areas that were dry most of the time with only occasional rain. PCT thru-hike would be a good example of when the non-zip version would be better as there will be a few days of rain on the trail.
Overall, the Zpacks Duplex Zip is a well-designed ultralight 2-person tent that is best suited for ultra-lightweight Thru Hikers or backpackers wanting the best and lightest tent on the market. The zips on the vestibule offer superior waterproof levels from this already bombproof tent.
The Zpacks Duplex is made with Dyneema, formally known as Cuban Fiber. This tent also uses a lightweight bug mesh and comes with quality waterproof zippers. And when not in use it fits into a nice sized Dyneema Stuff Sack. Everything about this tent is about being as lightweight as possible.
The main material is .55 oz / square yard Dyneema which is the same specs as all the Zpacks Tents. The fabric is very thin and almost see-through. It is completely waterproof with a hydrostatic head rated at 15000 mm. That means that no matter how heavy the rain, you will stay dry.
The floor material is the slightly heavier weight 1 oz / square yard Dyneema. The heavier-weight material is a little thicker and well-suited to the floor. Rated at 20000 mm hydrostatic head it is so waterproof that the weight of you and your gear in the tent will not allow any water to penetrate through the material. Most ultralight tents made with other materials cannot make this claim.
Generally, anything above 10000 mm hydrostatic head will not allow water to penetrate through the material even when your whole weight is on it. In other words, this tent floor will keep you dry, even if you are camped in a puddle of water. But please try not to do this.
Zpacks claim you do not need a footprint with this tent, While that is true, many will want an extra layer of protection when camping on rocky ground or places like the desert with lots of sharp plants.
The Zpacks Duplex Zip does not come with a footprint and unless you are consistently camping on rocky or spikey ground, it is not needed. The floor of the tent is made with durable, waterproof, and seam-sealed Dyneema. When using an ultralight tent like this most people will be better served by using some form of footprint to protect the floor of the tent.
Most hikers and backpackers use the building material Tyvek. It is one of the better options and is well-known and well-used within the backpacking community. Unless using this tent in areas with a good ground surface then better to use a footprint such as this.
The Zpacks Duplex Zip is certainly a very lightweight tent. It comes in at 20.4 oz / 577 grams is impressive. The Zip version of this tent is 1.9 oz / 52 grams heavier than the best-in-class Duplex that comes without zips. These weights do not include the weight of tent pegs and trekking poles.
The Zpacks Duplex pack down to an impressive size of 5.6L. It fits nicely into a Dyneema stuff sack. What I really like about the stuff sack is the size, it is generous enough that you don’t feel you need several attempts to roll the tent or fold it into some perfect shape to make it fit. It will fit into the stuff sack easily no matter how you stuff it in.
Having a stuff sack with a generous amount of room inside makes it so simple to pack the tent.
For a 2-person tent, the Zpacks Duplex Zip is big enough for two people to fit inside, however, there is little room for anything else other than your sleeping pads and sleeping bags. The twin vestibules are big enough for gear storage outside the inner tent.
While there is enough room for two people, this makes a very spacious one-person tent for those wanting extra room.
I suspect that most people wanting to buy this tent will be solo hikers who want a bit more room than the average 1-person tent. And for that, this tent is the perfect ultralight tent.
I’ve met many solo hikers over the years who love to use a two-person tent because of the extra space (myself included). It would also be great for those who go solo backpacking and hiking with the dog or for couples who don’t mind a bit of a tight fit to keep their weight down as low as possible. If you want more room, go for the Zpacks Triplex.
The Zpacks Duplex Zip is primarily designed to be used by ultralight backpackers and Bikepackers who want to shave as much weight as possible without sacrificing safety. And for that, this tent excels.
Zpacks states that they are designed to be used for one thru-hike but I know many who have used the same Zpacks tent for three thru-hikes. So the question is, how hard are you on your gear?
The nature of the tent allows it to be used for around 200-500 nights before it will start to show signs of being worn out. For most tents, either ultralight or not, I tend to get around 500-1000 night use before they have too many holes, broken zips, delamination of the seams, and have otherwise seen their best days. I suspect 300-400 nights would be considered fair use for this tent.
The Dyneema fabric of the Zpacks Duplex is waterproof and windproof. Thanks to the seam sealing the material will not leak and are very waterproof. Another advantage of Dyneema is the fact that it will not sag when wet. This is a common feature of most tents but not this one. Once you set it up, it stays set up.
As there is a decent amount of ventilation there can sometimes be an issue that water can splash into the tent from the mesh near the edges of the tent. This occurs with many tents and will usually only happen in very heavy rain when puddles occur. This can be prevented by camping on grassed areas, pine needles, or something else that will limit the amount of ground splash.
Ventilation – interior condensation
As it is a single-layer construction the issue of condensation can become an issue. To combat that, there is a good of ventilation in this tent. When it is cold and windy, the ventilation will ensure a not-so-pleasant amount of cold wind will enter the tent. In warmer weather, this ventilation is much appreciated.
There are two vestibules on this tent. Both are not oversized but big enough to leave your backpack and footwear outside the tent at night. There is a full length waterproof zip to close the vestibule with well designed hooks at the bottom that ensures the zips can be fully closed without adding extra tension on the zips.
When it is windy and rainy the zips prevent all the water from entering the tent.
Setup and Ease of Use
For anyone who has set up a trekking pole tent, it is a simple process that is very quick. For those who are setting up a trekking pole tent for the first time, it is better to do this at home before heading out on the trail. While simple, it is better under a controlled environment than on the side of a mountain, in strong wind and heavy rain.
Peg out the four corners of the tent, then add the trekking poles (adjusted to a height of 120cm) to either side of the tent at their designated area. Lift the poles and the tent is set. Set the side anchors for added protection in the wind and adjust the side flaps to suit. Easy peasy.
There is a rather cool hook system that locks the lower end of the zips in place which reduces pressure and tension on the zips. This feature will surely increase the life of the zips.
The Zpacks Duplex does not come standard with tent pegs. You must use your own or order them separately. Zpacks stocks some of the best ultralight tent pegs on the market. You will need at least 6 tent stakes but 8 stakes will be a better option, especially when it is windy. Zpacks Tent Stakes are available and there are several choices that are all lightweight and high quality.
As this is a trekking pole tent you will need 2 trekking poles to set up this tent. The ideal height for the trekking poles should be around 48 inches / 122 cm. So ensure that you have poles that can be set to that height. Some fixed-length ultralight poles such as those used by ultra trail runners may not work but almost all adjustable backpacking trekking poles will work perfectly with this tent. The ultralight Zpacks Trekking Poles will work well with this tent. Or you can use the Zpacks Tent poles if you don’t like to use trekking poles.
Value and Price
Let me make a couple of things clear when it comes to the price of this tent. It is not cheap. But in recent years, the price of all high-quality tents has increased significantly. While the price will be out of a lot of people’s budget, for anyone wanting one of the lightest 2-person tents in the world this is still the best option out there. So much so, that this is the current tent I use on my trips at the moment and it is the current Editors Choice as the best ultralight 2-person tent narrowly beating the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 2P Tent.
Zpacks Duplex vs The Duplex Regular
The Zpacks Duplex Zip is the best in class at the moment for ultralight backpacking tents for 2 people. The normal Duplex is lighter and for hikers that spend their time in places with little rain, it is definitely a better option. In fact, the non-zip version is better for your Pacific Crest Trail Gear List than the zip version in my opinion.
There is little out there to compete when it comes to size and weight. For those wanting a lightweight 2-person tent with a bit of extra room so you don’t feel you are claustrophobic inside then there are a couple of other options. Check out the link below to look at all the best tents on the market in 2024.
The Zpacks Duplex Zip is one of the best 2-person ultralight tents for 2024. But it is best suited as an ultralight 2-person tent for those who want a good stormproof option. For those backpacking in generally good weather, the non-zip version is better and can save you a little bit of weight. Solo hikers will enjoy a bit of extra room and won’t feel cramped inside the tent. And couples will still have enough room inside the tent too.
Overall, this is the best ultralight 2-person tent in 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Zpacks Duplex Zip better than the regular Duplex?
The Zpacks Duplex is one of the best 2-person Ultralight backpacking tents on the market. The new zip version brings better storm protection when the weather turns bad. These waterproof zips add about 2 ounces in weight but when in bad weather it is certainly worth it.
BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read About Brad from BikeHikeSafari). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.