Zpacks Altaplex Tent Review

Choosing a shelter for a thru-hike is tougher than deciding on any other piece of gear: it’s virtually picking a home for half a year. Zpacks tents have risen to the top of thru hiker popularity, and the Altaplex is one of their unique offerings. Designed for hikers up to 6’6″, it’s one of the most spacious one-person tents on the market. And by keeping the weight under a pound, it’s a competitive option for any weight-conscious backpacker.

My first night with my Altaplex, seen here on the Alabama Roadwalk portion of the ECT.

Zpacks Altaplex Tent At-a-Glance

MSRP: $675
Weight: 15.4 ounces
Materials: DCF
Stakes Required: 6-10
Bathtub Floor Dimensions: 3 x 7.5 feet
Poles Required: 1

Circumstance of Review

I picked this tent up in the midst of my Eastern Continental Trail thru-hike. I switched to it when I entered Southern Alabama in early February and tested it through mid-March up through Erwin, TN (MM 345). A fair number of the nights were spent below freezing, a few were in the rain, and plenty more were around 40 degrees. This was all in the southeast, where conditions are notoriously a bit damp. I used a polycro groundsheet every time I set it up. And finally, I am right at six feet tall.

Interior mesh pocket.


  • Dual Storm Doors – Either door can be opened and pinned back separately. Instead of a zipper to hold them together, there is a central toggle.

Central toggle holding the storm doors together.

  • Symmetrical – This feature allows the user to comfortably lay in the tent in either direction.
  • Single Pole Setup – The tent sets up with either a single trekking pole or an optional Zpacks Carbon Fiber Staff. The pole needs to be able to be set to somewhere between 56″-60″ (142-152 cm), or Zpacks sells a trekking pole jack.
  • Screen Between Floor and Walls

The bathtub floor is attached by a sheet of mesh to the body of the tent and held in place by an adjustable stretch cord.

  • 8-inch Bathtub Floor
  • Tall Rainbow Zipper Entry – The entry door is a full symmetrical arch that can be zipped down to the bathtub floor on both sides. This also allows for easy entry to sleep with the head/feet on either side.
zpacks altaplex

Both storm doors open, rainbow door fully open.

  • 8″ x 8″ Internal Mesh Pocket


The Altaplex is a three-season tent built for taller hikers. It’s made to be used with a tall trekking pole, which makes for ample headroom. The DCF material that composes the tent is totally waterproof and extremely lightweight. It can be set up with six stakes, but using the full 10 allows for much more interior space. The trekking pole needs to be able to be set somewhere between 142-152 cm (the included instructions suggest 147). The set of poles I use only has a range up to 135 cm, but that’s only the useable range. I extended them past the “do not use” range and measured them to be 148 cm. This is a significant note of usage for the tent: the user doesn’t have to own extra-large poles. Most commercial poles that go to 135 cm can be extended a fair amount beyond that range.

Even though these Lekki poles are only made to be USED at 135 cm, they can be extended a fair bit beyond that for situations like this.

The Spaciousness

Obviously, the highlight feature of this tent is its roominess. And to cut right to the chase, it delivers. This is easily the most spacious one-person tent I’ve ever been in. I hiked the AT and the PCT in Gossamer Gear’s The One, and I’ve also tested the DCF version. While the horizontal space in that tent is nice, it was only just long enough for me to spread out, and often I’d end up with a wet foot box on nights with a lot of condensation. Not so with the Altaplex. The bathtub floor is 7.5 feet long, which means that when my 6 feet long sleeping pad is centered, I have 8-9 inches of space on either end. I typically try to sleep with my head pretty close to the tent wall, so I usually have more like an extra foot of space below my feet.

zpacks altaplex

Splayed out here on my Long/Wide Insulated Nemo Tensor.

Even width-wise, I find there is more than enough space to spread out my gear a bit. The slant of the non-door wall of the tent means that the center of the tent is pretty close to the door, at least when it comes to sitting up in the tent. This leaves ample floor space on the non-door side to spread out gear, even when using a long/wide sleeping pad. I’ve slept with my pack inside my tent every night I’ve used it, but there is also plenty of vestibule space to store it as well.

The Midnight Pee

Finally, one of the big advantages of a high ceiling means that it’s possible (at least for me) to stand on my knees in the tent. The benefit of this? The midnight pee. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I don’t often make it through the night without needing to pee. It’s a huge pain to fully get out of my quilt, put on shoes, and take a step or two outside my tent, especially when it’s cold. But, since I can take a knee from within this tent, I’m able to pee out the door without even having to fully extricate from my quilt. Of this, I’m quite a fan.

Zpacks Altaplex Pros

  • Spacious – I’m a big fan of a spacious 1 person tent. I typically find a 2 person tent to feel like overkill, but I still like having room to not only spread my stuff out but to be able to stretch my legs throughout the night without worrying about getting condensation on my foot box.
  • Lightweight – The above wouldn’t be as notable if it didn’t come in a lightweight package. Having a tent that weighs less than a pound is a big deal. Having one that is also very spacious is an even bigger deal.
  • Single Pole Setup – I’ve always carried two trekking poles while thru-hiking, but at times I’ve wanted to make the conversion to a single-pole hiker. I’ve never even really been able to consider it because I’ve always taken a tent that required both poles, but having the option is nice. And regardless of whether I make the transition, it’s always possible to break or lose a pole on a hike. It’s nice not to have to rely on having both.
zpacks altaplex

Both storm doors hook into a central point to hold them in place.

Zpacks Altaplex Cons

  • Bulky – It may be a lightweight tent, but it still takes up a good hunk of space. DCF is notorious for not packing down very small, and this extra large 1 person tent comes with extra material, which makes for an even bigger package.
  • Expensive – The Altaplex is pretty much as expensive as a one-person tent gets (shell out an extra $50 for the thicker DCF cut if you want to fully pay top dollar).
  • Needs 10 Stakes – The website suggests that a six-stake setup is possible. While that is true, using the extra four stakes provides LOTS of additional space on the inside. Carrying 10 stakes for a tent adds a bit of extra weight, and anybody shelling out this much for a tent is probably trying to cut every gram they can.

The three tie-outs on the backside of the tent, which help provide much of the interior space.

Final Thoughts

Zpacks is the king of thru-hiker tents for a reason. They’ve been making reliable products for years at weights that are seriously staggering. The Altaplex is a very solid option in the lineup, for hikers of any size. Taller folks can rejoice in having an ultra-lightweight option, and smaller folks can do the same in enjoying a spacious tent without the palace feel of a two-person tent. It’s expensive, it’s got some bulk to it that might frustrate hikers trying to squeeze everything into a 25-liter pack, but man is this an awesome tent.

Shop the Zpacks Altaplex Tent

zpacks altaplex

Similar Tents

Gossamer Gear The DCF One

MSRP: $539
Weight: 15.3 ounces

Tarptent Aeon Li

MSRP: $569
Weight: 17 ounces

Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 Ultralight Pyramid Tent

MSRP: $735$735
MSRP: $73518.7 ounces

*This Zpacks Altaplex was donated for purpose of review

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 7

  • Wolf of the Wind and Wood : Mar 30th

    When I was looking for a tent a big concern was price. I ended up going with the Tarptent Protrail Li. Mainly because it is substantially cheaper than Zpack tents. The Li weights in at 17.7 ounces with stakes and bag. Inside there is a lot of floor space and a nice sized vestibule. But, the draw back is you do need to crouch down to get inside. No easy get in get out.
    For me it did not end up being a tough choice, the price difference saw to that. Glad this setup has worked out for you.

  • DaddyLonglegs : Mar 31st

    Agonized over buying a new tent (after using the FlyCreekUL2 on the AT). Acquired the Altaplex & love it. Easy to carry, easy to set up. At 6’5” this thing is the “bees knees”. That price ain’t so bad when you think of the 100’s of nights spent under it. Thanks for the review… Agree 100%
    Happy Trails,

  • Jeff Suber : Apr 1st

    Love my Altaplex since Darwin recommended it. Bought mine almost two years ago when Zpacks re-released it. And I love it. Easy setup. Easy take down. Never wet. Packs up just right to cover the top of my bag. Good review.

  • Walkabout John : Apr 1st

    Great review. Being a short guy I’m happy with the Plex Solo for times I want bug netting. BTW, 147 centimeters (cm) = 58 inches.

  • Zardozette : Apr 4th

    Pissing out the tent is full on disgusting, other people are going to camp where you’ve pee’d.

    Pease pee in a bottle or ziploc and dispose of it like a civilised person.

    • Wolf of the Wind and Wood : Apr 5th

      Id expect this type of post on April 1st. You cant be serious are you?

  • Tim G : Jun 16th

    Good review…a bit pedestrian: much of the review can be found on Zpacks’ product description. Good of you to mention ‘similar tents.’ I can’t believe the hassle of securing/un-securing the vestibule at its midpoint, and its bottom, was not mentioned as a tough task from inside the tent. This is one of the main disadvantages, of course designed for reliability and weight reduction. Still, it’s a hassle. Also, no mention of the tent’s steep walls helping to avoid brushing them if condensation on the inside. I’m purchasing the Lite version this week and will fix the vestibule difficulty as I did with my ancient Zpacks Solo Plus, by securing a thin cord from one side of the vestibule’s low corner, thru the other vestibule half’s low corner (its corner staked taut as usual), continuing the cord into the tent’s top portion of the bathtub (requires a tiny hole and cord lock on the inside). This way you can secure the 2nd vestibule side taut from inside the tent (Yay), or loosen the cord from the inside if exiting the tent (cord must be long enough). This adds about a 3/4 of an ounce. Excited to try the tent as I stretch each night and morning from inside the shelter–nice if bugs are out, rain or cold. The height is advantageous for this. The Lite’s floor is 40″ wide: nice. I’m a bit worried about rain splashing in from the minimally covered corners of the tent…we’ll see. Thanks for the review. Regarding peeing, thanks for being honest. And while a bit crude, keep in mind that even if one opts not do this unrecommended, unconventional practice, an animal might have peed there anyway, so there ya go. Safe travels. fastbackpack.com


What Do You Think?