ZPacks DupleXL Review: First Thoughts

Although the Zpacks Duplex has long been a thru hiker standard, I cannot say the same for the DupleXL. In our current attempt of the AT, my husband and I picked this tent thinking it would be the perfect shelter to fit his giraffe legs. One month into our thru-hike, I believe this tent leaves much to be desired.

Ed. note: Please note that this is not The Trek’s official review of the Zpacks DupleXL. Click here to read the official review, which has met our rigorous editorial and testing standards. 

The Specs

Price: 749 USD

Dimensions: 44″ wide, 96″ long, 48″ tall

Material and Structure: Single-wall, trekking pole tensions, DCF top, DCF tub floor, built in bug netting and condensation venting.

What They Got Right

Weight– the ZPacks DupleXL is incredibly light for what it claims to do. Being one of the only 7′ long tents in the market, and weighing just over a pound, this shelter is the ounce counter’s dream.

General composition– minimalist is the only way to describe this tent, which is much to its credit. The DupleXL requires 8 stakes, and two adjustable trekking poles. Stake the corners, put the poles up, stake the guy lines, pull everything tight, voila! The tent is set up. Further, the concept of the vestibule closure operating under a simple hook and eye is brilliant.

What Needs Work

Waterproofing– Unfortunately, our little shelter is less than a dry fortress in the rain, for many reasons. First, the vestibule doors, even when fully shut for storms, sit roughly 6-8 inches above ground which results in a ton of rain splatter entering the tent from underneath. If the rain is falling with any force, you are likely to find the corners of your tent wet in the morning. Second, the design of the condensation vent leaves no room for error. If you find your sleeping setup pressed at all against the foot or head of the tub floor, it protrudes past the tarp top which creates a perfect rain funnel right into the foot (or head) of your tent. Third, if your sleeping pads are at all wider than the standard, the tub floor will certainly be pushed past the corner of the tarp top, creating a similar funnel effect. The DupleXL claims to be a 2 person tent but Smugness and I beg to differ. I’m 5’0, and he’s 6’2. We fit our sleep gear inside the 44″ tub, barely, and the extra head/foot room isn’t functional for gear storage due to the rain issues mentioned earlier. Practically, the DupleXL is a spacious solo tent, as any interactions with the tub walls during rain result in flooding.

A 1L Smartwater bottle almost fits in the gap between the ground and the bottom of the vestibule

Vestibule Design– To start, the vestibules in concept are brilliant, but they seem to need tweeking. The guylines used to stake out the trekking poles also hold the vestibules. This means that every time you stake out the tent, the knot you tie for the ground stake has to be redone and adjusted for the terrain. Otherwise, opening the vestibules would cause the tent to collapse. Next, the simple hook and clasp could be improved simply by making them slightly bigger. When tensioned, its impossible to close the vestibule with one hand because of how small the clasp is. This complaint is minor, and definitely preferential.

 

The hook and eye design, on a properly tensioned tent

Rainbow doors– this could totally be personal preference as well, but it annoys me that the doors essentially have to be fully opened to enter, or else you sit on part of the bug netting. Not to mention, to open it fully from one end to another, you have to open it half way, reach around your trekking pole, then unzip the rest.

Customer Support

After writing to Zpacks about our concerns with this pricey shelter, we found their timely responses to be of no help. To start, we followed their suggestions posted on the “returns” section of their website. It suggests testing the tent indoors to assure the tent meets your criterion. Otherwise, upon return, a 20% cleaning fee will be applied to shelf the item. Luckily, we had followed their instructions but sadly were unable to recreate weather phenomena like rain within our house, and therefore could not predict the biggest downfall of the tent. When we approached the company about a swap to their Triplex, or advice on pitching techniques to alleviate our issues, their response was rigid and unhelpful, stating that they only sell new items and that a return or swap is not possible. Given the price of their products, one would assume that they would care more about their customer’s experience.

Ed. note: To clear up any possible confusion about Zpacks’ return policy, here is an excerpt from their Warranty, Returns & Exchanges page for your reference and reading pleasure-

“Unused, unmodified products are eligible for exchange of equal or lesser value or a full refund (less shipping) for 30 days after receipt. Customers are encouraged to test the fit of their backpack, sleeping bag, and clothing items indoors to ensure they are satisfactory. All tents should be carefully set up in a dry grassy area to be evaluated.

Any products with sweat, dirt, mud stains, or odors will be ineligible for return. Please make sure your returned products are free from pet hair, grass, debris, dirt, etc. or they may be rejected or charged a 20% restocking fee.

Returns and exchanges outside of the 30-day period, will not be accepted. Any products outside of the 30-day period that experience issues due to a “Manufacturer Defect” will be eligible, at Zpacks’ discretion, to have the item repaired or replaced.

Zpacks is not responsible for the return shipping costs, damaged, or lost items in return transit.”

Conclusion

Alright, at the end of the day, I think there is a lot to love about this tent, but it’s far from perfect. The lightweight and compact design make it a no-brainer for ultralight backpacking. Additionally, the easy pitch and simplicity means that you can set up and get some Z’s in no time. Unfortunately, this tent is not made for wet and windy environments. The vestibule and venting designs leave users cold from drafts and splashed when it rains. This tent may perform amazingly somewhere… But that place is not the Appalachian Trail.

-A Mountain Goat named Sprite

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Comments 2

  • Ryan : Jun 8th

    Thanks for the review. I’m 6’4″ and have been very seriously considering this tent. If not for the price (and the rainbow doors – ugh) I would have pulled the trigger already. Now I’m thinking I’ll wait for the 2nd generation iteration. In the meantime I’m content with my silpoly Lightheart Gear SoLong6 (half the price of the DupleXL). Only space for one but it’s quite roomy as a solo shelter. Still has condensation issues endemic to single wall tents, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

    Reply
  • Brisa : Jun 13th

    This is just awful! Sure, lightweight is an important factor, but it is crazy to sacrifise so much essentials for just that.
    And then there isthis attitude…
    We pay for their toys
    I can highly recommend the Durston Gear tents! The X-mid 2p and the x-mid pro. Both clearly designed by someone with a lot of personal experience. And…they are affordable!

    Reply

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