Zpacks DupleXL Tent Review
Our New Favorite Ultralight Tent for Two!
Step aside original Duplex, the Zpacks DupleXL Tent is our new favorite backpacking tent and a top pick. For almost the same weight and cost the Zpacks DupleXL Tent is a roomier, cozier version of the original Duplex. At just over a pound, it gives two standard-sized hikers extra room to store their gear, stretch out, and sit up and chat; or it gives two taller hikers the opportunity to opt for a two-person shelter instead of upgrading to a three-person shelter to accommodate their size.
We’ve loved the original Duplex for years but the DupleXL is even better — for 2 ounces and $50 more you get an 8 foot long tent with lot more livable space! Zpacks uses DCF fabric which is extremely strong and lightweight. Like the Duplex the bathtub floor on the DupleXL is strong enough to not need a footprint, which cuts overall shelter weight down even more. If you’re already familiar with trekking pole tents, this is an amazing option to upgrade to. If this is your first non-freestanding tent, there’s no better 2-person UL Tent on the market.
Compared to the Zpacks DupleXL the similarly sized Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent is 3x heavier — almost 2 pounds heavier. In fact, the DuplexL it’s lighter than almost all 1-person tents.
Full Video Review of Zpacks DupleXL Tent
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words what is a comprehensive video this Tent Review worth? There’s stuff in here that we can’t begin to cover in worlds.
The Zpacks DupleXL has a ton of room. The longer 8 ft length and riser rods that lift the end of the tent create tons of livable space for two people. And you can see all the space above Alan’s head. Also, note all the extra room above the pillows.
DupleXL Key Specs
Design: 2 person | 3 season | Single Walled, Non-Freestanding Tent
Features: Dual doors & vestibules, extra room inside the tent body (8 ft floor!), extremely lightweight
Weight: 1 lb, 4.8 oz | 20.8 ounces | 0.59 kg
Interior Space: 29.3 square feet
Vestibule Space: 20.75” (53 cm) depth on each side
Peak Height: 48 inches
BEST FOR: Backpackers seeking a premium UL tent that is comfortable, with a ton of internal volume (even palatial by UL standards) but still incredibly light.
Looking for the best backpacking tents this year can offer? Read our no BS, unbiased guide for the best backpacking tents.
See our guide Best Backpacking Tents | Lightweight & Ultralight
Pros | DupleXL Tent
- Just over one pound for a roomy 2-Person tent!
- Strong & light DCF fabric with a durable floor that doesn’t need a ground cloth
- Huge amount of floor area and internal volume for an ultralight tent!
- New riser struts on end increase headroom & foot-room
- Good ventilation minimizes condensation (important for single wall tent)
Cons | DupleXL Tent
- While capable, single-walled, trekking-pole-supported, non-freestanding tents may not be to all camper’s taste
DupleXL at the end of the Continent — Northern California Coast
Zpacks: A Fan Favorite for UL Backpackers
Zpacks is one of the premier manufacturers of ultralight backpacking equipment. All their products are made in the US, with extreme attention to detail. Their quilts, shelters, packs, and accessories are all top performers for backpackers with an extreme attention to saving weight. In addition to their own handmade products, on Zpacks’ website you can purchase other popular ultralight staples, such as the Thermarest Neoair. At Adventure Alan, we love this collaborative attitude when it comes to putting together a lightweight backpacking setup.
Why Change the Already Popular Duplex?
The Duplex is Zpacks’ most popular shelter. It’s featured on the front page of their website, and was “voted the most popular ultralight tent by Appalachian Trail thru-hikers two years on a row”. Though the original Duplex is already more spacious than many competing UL tents, Zpacks wanted to take it a step further. They created the DupleXL, where for $50 and 2 ounces extra, hikers can opt to choose a shelter with even more room inside — including an 8 ft floor that will accommodate tall hikers or allow shorter hikers to store gear at the food or head of the tent.
After testing the DupleXL and comparing it with our years of using the original Duplex, we decided that this is our new favorite ultralight tent. Unless you’re hiking solo or are trying to save every ounce possible, this bigger version makes more sense for a variety of reasons.
With a floor area of almost 30 square feet, the DupleXL one of the largest ultralight tents we’ve tested — especially tents under 1.5 pounds! This design keeps condensation from soaking our quilt footboxes, and gives us more wiggle room while sleeping in the backcountry. It’s a perfect option for taller hikers, those traveling with dogs, or couples who want a bit more personal space than a typical ultralight tent affords.
Bomber pitch in sandy & loose soil. Trekking pole supported, single-walled tents are far more capable than most backpackers think. And it’s 1/3 the weight, 2 lb lighter than a Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent.
Overview of the Zpacks DupleXL Tent
The Zpacks Duplex was previously our favorite ultralight two-person tent, until Zpacks released this new model. For just a bit more money and a couple more ounces, this ultralight shelter becomes a two-person palace weighing in at just over one pound. The DupleXL has all the features of the standard Duplex, with extra room for tall hikers, or those who prefer extra space.
This tent is over 8 feet long, so it can easily accommodate hikers up to seven feet tall or simply offer more storage space for your gear inside the shelter. Furthermore, Zpacks added permanent riser rods to the sidewalls of the tent to lift it up. If you’ve used a trekking pole tent before, you’ve probably experienced the walls sagging down from time to time. These rods ensure that the shelter stays taut, which keeps condensation from soaking your feet or head, and offers more space to sit up and play cards or chat.
Zpacks recommends using two trekking poles set to 122 cm to properly tension the tent. However, we use a set of fixed-length poles at 120 cm and this works perfectly well for us.
Why We Love the DupleXL Tent
Here are our favorite features of the Zpacks DupleXL.
Extra Head/Foot Room
The floor length of this tent is over 8 feet. That means someone up to 7 feet tall could comfortably fit inside, or two smaller people have plenty of space for all their gear inside the tent. Though there are sizable vestibules on both sides of the tent, it’s extremely convenient to be able to store everything fully protected from weather.
Furthermore, a peak height of 48 inches is plenty of space for two people. It’s comfortable enough for two average-sized people to sit up and talk, play cards, or eat in the comfort of the DupleXL.
New Riser Rods
Permanent riser rods line the walls of this tent to offer yet even more space. If you’ve used a trekking pole tent before, you’ve likely experienced the tent walls sagging down and decreasing the amount of space available in the tent. These rods provide a bit more structure to the tent walls, and help keep the shelter taut even when pitching in a tricky location.
The DupleXL has multiple ventilation options given its four large storm doors. We usually sleep with one door flap open on both sides, for a nice cross breeze. However, on an exceptionally warm or starry night, opening all four storm doors gives you enough visibility to see the stars while still having full protection from bugs or other critters. Though condensation is a more of a concern with all four doors closed, it will protect you from rain and even snow while fully shut — and when we’ve had all four doors shut on a damp nights in the field we’ve found condensation to quite manageable and our sleeping bag dry.
For two backpackers who want to live and sleep comfortably while out on the trail, this is our favorite option. While it may be a necessity for tall hikers, any trail partners will appreciate the extra space. We’ve seen that some opt to buy the Zpacks Triplex to solve the space issue, but this is the perfect in-between option. For just a bit more money and a couple more ounces, Zpacks transformed their standard ultralight two-person tent into a comfortable, livable option for two.
Zpacks uses light and strong Dyneema Composite Fabric for their tents. It’s fully waterproof and seam taped so no need for seam-sealing. DCF absorbs little water and doesn’t stretch assuring a taut pitch, without fiddling even in the rain or humid nights. The DupleXL has an extra thick floor, strong enough that we don’t need to use a groundsheet saving weight and making pitching a lot faster and easier.
Shortcomings of the Duplex XL Tent
One piece of gear can’t be perfect for every single hiker. Here are some cons to consider about the Duplex XL.
In our opinion, the strength and weight of this tent are worth the high price tag. However, if you are on a budget, there are some other cheaper ultralight tent options out there like the REI Flash Air 2. Any non-DCF tent won’t be as strong and or nearly as light, but it is possible to find a silnylon two-person shelter option at under 2 pounds at a lower price if that’s your first priority.
DCF fabrics are slightly see-through in high light conditions. If you’re backpacking with a big group or are in a crowded location, it is good to be aware that silhouettes are visible through the tent after the sun rises. There’s still enough privacy to be able to change, but this is a downside worth mentioning.
Typical Non-Freestanding, Single-Walled Concerns
If you haven’t used a trekking pole tent before, there are a few factors worth mentioning. Condensation absolutely becomes more of an issue, as there is no mesh barrier to absorb moisture during the night. In cramped quarters, this means you can wake up to water dripping on your head or soaking your feet. The extra space in the DupleXL helps to alleviate this problem, but it isn’t completely eliminated. It’s also best practice to keep at least one door open whenever possible.
Also, because this tent requires staking to be fully taut, it can be tricky to pitch in high alpine environments or at established backcountry campsites where the ground is rock solid. In the absence of staking, you need to use rocks to be able to tension the tent and it takes a bot of skill to get a right balance. However, in any terrain where staking is possible, it takes less than 5 minutes to pitch this tent.
The Zpacks DupleXL is our go-to two person backpacking tent. Unless we need a shelter that extends beyond three seasons, this is in our pack for all overnight trips. It combines Zpacks’ classic features that we love with extra internal space to create an ultralight, spacious shelter. Pitching this tent, especially with two people, is a breeze once you get the hang of it. While many taller hikers or those who wanted more room may have had to upgrade to a three-person tent in the past, there’s now an amazing in-between option for very little sacrifice in return. There are very few scenarios where it *doesn’t* make sense to choose the DupleXL.
For just $50 and 3 more ounces, two hikers can drastically increase their comfort and personal space in the DupleXL.
However, keep in mind that a non-freestanding and single-walled tent is not the best option for four-season or stormy conditions. While it can handle a bit of snow, it’s really not designed to be taken in winter conditions. Furthermore, if you’re traveling in areas where you anticipate you may have trouble finding stake-able ground, it may behoove you to seek out a slightly heavier semi-freestanding tent.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent: For approximately the same floor area the Copper Spur is about 3x heavier than the DupleXL. That’s a big deal for those who put a priority on light pack. That being said, the free standing Copper Spur is easier to pitch on hard surfaces like slickrock. It’s a double walled shelter that deals better with condensation. It has more creature comforts like a great set of pockets and it costs $200 less.
Standard Zpacks Duplex: Given that there is virtually no weight or price difference between the two tents it’s a no-brainer to go with the DupleXL which is significantly roomier and deals with condensation better. That being said, solo hikers might prefer the Standard Duplex for the 2 oz savings and a slightly smaller footprint that will fit into smaller campsites. It’s Alan’s go-to solo tent.
REI Flash Air 2: For those on budget the REI Flash Air 2 is stiff competition for the DupleXL. The Flash Air 2 is 1/2 the price of the DupleXL (and even less when on sale). At 1.9 pounds the REI Flash Air 2 is still very light for a 2 person tent. And while it’s a bit snugger on both floor area and livable volume, it’s still a decent 2-person tent. It’s not DCF so it will sag when when wet requiring more fiddlign to keep a taut pitch.