Zpacks Plex Solo Lite Tent Review

Can you believe that Zpacks has made their tents even lighter? They recently released the “Lite” version of many of their tents, including the one-person Plex Solo Lite.

Zpacks says this is easily the lightest full-featured tent in the world, and they’re not wrong. Coming in under 12 oz and packing down to basically nothing, this tent balances ultralight efficiency and comfort for the solo hiker. 

Zpacks Plex Solo Lite At a Glance

MSRP: $599
Weight: 11.8oz | 334 grams (stakes required, not included in weight)
Materials: 0.55 oz/sq yd DCF canopy, 0.75 oz/sq yd DCF floor, 0.67 oz/sq yd Ultralight Nano-Noseeum Insect Netting
Peak Height: 52″ (132 cm)
Floor Area: 20.6 square feet (1.91 square meters)

Circumstance of Review

I tested this tent on several overnight and weekend backpacks and even some car camping across Utah and Oregon. I set it up in many types of campsites, from sandy deserts to grassy and rocky meadows and typical forested sites. This tent also weathered a couple of nights of rain and wind beautifully. 

Featuresyellow rectangular sleeping pad inside zpacks plex solo lite

Ultralight Construction: Coming in under 12oz, the Plex Solo Lite is easily the lightest full-featured solo tent in the world. Zpacks really looked hard at what materials could be slimmed down to cut weight and what was worth keeping.

Single Pole Setup: To set up this tent, you need only a single trekking pole set to 52” (132cm) and at least six stakes. 

Overlapping Storm Doors: The doors allow for some air to pass through, providing ventilation. Either can be left open or closed independently. They’re secured with metal hooks that definitely require two hands for use. Stick-on magnet toggles can be purchased to make this easier, though. The hooks also fall to the ground when both storm doors are left open.

Rainbow Zipper Screen Door: The zipper allows you to get into the tent easily from either side. The mesh door drops inward when open, so it doesn’t need to be pulled out of the way or tied back. It may give the mosquitos more of a chance to sneak in, though!

Spacious Interior: With 20.6 sq ft of interior space, 28” wide at the head and foot end, and 7.5 ft floor length, this tent has plenty of space for one person. Any sleeping pad on the market would fit in this tent and not feel squished.

Deep Bathtub Floor: The 8” bathtub floor will give you peace of mind when any rain comes your way, and there are even adjustable cords inside to keep the bathtub elevated and taut.

Setuphiker inserts trekking pole in staked out zpacks plex solo lite

Ease of setup is an important consideration when purchasing a tent. I find that most trekking pole tents follow similar setup principles depending on whether they require one or two poles. Once you’ve set up one trekking pole tent, you can set up any other.

I found this to be true for the Plex Solo Lite: it set up as expected for a one-pole tent with relative ease. One-pole tents can be trickier to pitch in some terrain compared to their two-pole counterparts. I had to battle with sandy surfaces once or twice when setting up this tent, but I could always get a good pitch eventually.

This tent also comes with 10 guylines already installed on the tent, while only 6 are necessary. It’s nice to have the extra ones already on the tent. I’ve used them to get more head space and usually left two or three unstaked. 

Livability

The Plex Solo Lite is big for a one-person tent! It has a lot of floor space and width. I really like that the “foot” end doesn’t taper any more than the “head” end, so they’re essentially interchangeable. This gives you more options when picking your site and determining the orientation of the doors.

It also means you can use a wide, square sleeping pad. I don’t use a wide for backpacking, but I have friends who do, and it limits their tent options. However, when I was car camping, I took my larger 25″ x 72″ x 4″ pad. It fit with plenty of room for my duffel bag too.

Durability

One of the biggest questions about the new Plex Solo Lite is whether the lighter material used in the bathtub floor will hold up over time and whether the weight savings are worth it. Zpacks says that a groundsheet isn’t required with this tent, so they obviously have quite a bit of confidence in the durability. They also mention that field repairs are easy and effective.

I personally always use a polycryo groundsheet for any tent. It’s so light, keeps your tent floor dryer and cleaner, and adds peace of mind that your floor won’t rip on anything. With this, I had no concerns about the durability of the floor and experienced no damage.

The rest of the materials are the same as any other Zpacks tent, and they’re popular for a reason. DCF has been around for a while now. It’s easily patchable and performs great as a shelter material. It stays more taut and dries much faster than any other tent fabric.

The contrast with traditional fabrics is starkest in the morning. At times, my friends’ tents were still wet with dew while mine was completely dry. After a night of rain, my tent was still almost completely dry by the morning.

Lite vs Classic

What’s the difference between the two versions of this tent? Is the Lite version worth it? Great questions! Let’s first start with what’s the same about them.

The good news is that both versions of this tent are the same price, so that doesn’t affect the decision at all. They’re also both the same exact design and dimensions — they didn’t make it smaller just to make it lighter. 

Now let’s talk about the differences between the two.

The Lite version is, as expected, lighter by 2.8oz. How did they cut those ounces? The answer is mostly in the floor material and the guylines.

Zpacks used 0.75 oz/sq yd DCF floor material, which is 25 percent lighter and packs down smaller than their standard tent floors (which are 1.0oz/sq yd).

They also used thinner 1.3mm guy lines instead of the standard 2mm guy lines. I found that the 1.3mm version can sometimes get caught in the Lineloc adjusters, which could probably be avoided with the 2mm guy line. The guy lines can be easily swapped.

No pocket: The Lite version also lacks a pocket, unlike the Classic, but this is another item that can easily be added later if you decide you really want one.

Overall, I see no reason not to choose the Plex Solo Lite over the Classic unless you’re really tough on your gear.

zpacks plex solo lite pitched in a forest campsite

Zpacks Plex Solo Lite Pros

The lightest full-featured tent in the world: That’s a pretty huge pro. It’s crazy that a whole tent can weigh less than 12 oz. Enough said there.

DCF: I have long desired a DCF tent, and it’s as great as everyone says it is. It dries so fast and holds its pitch much better than any other shelter material.

Interior Space: As far as one-person tents go, this one has a ton of room. Any pad will fit, and there is still room for extra gear.

Zpacks Plex Solo Lite Cons

Price: This tent, like all DCF shelters, costs almost $600. However, for the lightest tent in the world that still provides comfort, it may be worth it.

Transparency: The DCF is relatively see-through. It’s fuzzy enough that details aren’t clear, and you can change clothes with enough privacy. People can definitely tell you’re in there, though.

Finicky Doors: I didn’t love the hook system for the storm doors. It requires two hands to use, which isn’t great for getting out for a bathroom break in the middle of the night. I do think I’ll eventually try the stick-on magnets to address this. The hooks also hang in the dirt if they’re not in use, and I didn’t love that either. 

Overall

I would highly recommend this tent to anyone looking for a solo tent. For the weight savings, it still has plenty of features and is big enough to be comfortable. Getting the lightest version possible also allows you wiggle room to add the features you want, like a pocket or the stick-on magnets for the storm doors. So far, I don’t feel that the lighter floor material has compromised the durability much.

Shop the Zpacks Plex Solo Lite

 

Comparable Tents

Durston X-Mid Pro 1

MSRP: $654
Weight: 15.4 oz

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Mid 1

MSRP: $599
Weight: 16.8oz

Gossamer Gear DCF Whisper

MSRP: $499
Weight: 9.8oz

The Zpacks Plex Solo Lite 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.

What Do You Think?