Zpacks Duplex Lite Review

This article first appeared on TheTrek.

Zpacks, a renowned name in the backpacking community known for their innovative and lightweight pack and shelter designs, has solidified its place as one of the premier brands in outdoor gear.

The brand’s Duplex tent lineup, beloved by thru-hikers and weekend warriors alike, has now expanded to include three versions: the Duplex Classic, Duplex Zip, and the newest addition, the Duplex Lite (note: the DupleXL, a larger version of the Duplex Classic, has been discontinued).

Rather than rehash the many fine reviews of Duplex tents available on this website, I’ll instead focus on the core features of the Lite version and how it differs from the others.

In short, the Duplex Lite is designed with the ultralight backpacker in mind, and it makes several sacrifices in order to achieve an industry-leading weight of 14.9 oz.

Though not appropriate for all situations and conditions, the Duplex Lite offers an impressive combination of weight, functionality, and utility for many three-season trips.

Differences Between the Duplex Classic, Duplex Zip, and Duplex Lite

screenshot of zpacks.com product search page showing zpacks duplex lite, classic, and zip side by side
Three Duplex versions. Screen grab via Zpacks.com.

When comparing the three variations of the Duplex, you’ll notice a lot of similarities. They all share the same A-frame shape, are constructed with Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), and utilize a dual-trekking pole support system (the Duplex Lite does NOT work with Zpacks’ Flex Pole system).

However, there are some differences between them, mainly in the weight of the DCF material used and some minor feature variations. Here’s a breakdown:

Duplex Classic: This version has a large footprint and features overlapping doors with toggle closure, maintaining the design that hikers know and love.

Duplex Zip: Similar in size to the Classic, but with waterproof zippered storm doors, peak vents, and magnetic door toggles. It weighs 1.7 oz more than the Classic and comes with a $30 higher price tag.

Duplex Lite: While maintaining the Classic’s design, the Lite version’s floor is 5 inches narrower. It uses lighter-weight 0.55 oz/sqyd DCF for the canopy (available in some colors with the Classic as well) and a 0.75 oz/sqyd DCF floor material (compared to the Classic’s 1 oz/sqyd floor). Additionally, it features 1.3mm guylines instead of the standard 2mm sizing, and the bathtub floor rises only 6.75 inches instead of 8 inches as it does on the other models. These differences result in a 25 percent weight savings.


Zpacks Duplex Lite At-a-Glance

zpacks duplex lite pitched in evergreen forest with little ground cover
DCF is a bit crinkly out-of-the-box, but the Duplex Lite pitches quickly and easily.

MSRP: $669
Weight: 14.9 ounces | 423 grams (stakes required, not included in weight)
Materials: 0.55 oz/sqyd DCF canopy, 0.75 oz/sqyd DCF floor, 0.67 oz/sqyd Ultralight Nano-Noseeum Insect Netting
Floor Dimensions: 40″ x 90″
Peak Height: 48″
Floor Area: 25 square feet (2.3 square meters)


Circumstances of Use

I’ve had the chance to put this shelter through its paces in a variety of conditions, from near-freezing temperatures to wind, rain, and even sunshine (welcome to springtime in Maine!). This thorough testing allowed me to evaluate its performance in various weather conditions and determine its reliability and comfort in real-world backpacking situations.


Zpacks Duplex Lite Features

Ultralight Construction: Weighing just under 15 oz, the Duplex Lite is the lightest fully enclosed shelter on the market. Constructed from Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), the Duplex Lite is incredibly strong and quite durable, despite its feather-like weight.

Spacious Interior (for a single occupant): The tent offers ample space for a single occupant (it’s tight for two, but it can work). It has a floor area of 25 square feet (2.3 square meters) and a peak height of 48 inches (122 cm).

Two-Door, Two-Vestibule Design: The Duplex Lite features two doors, allowing for easy entry and exit on either side. Having a covered vestibule on each side as well means lots of storage space for gear, keeping the interior of the tent clutter-free.

Great Ventilation: The tent features mesh panels on all four sides and two peak vents, providing excellent airflow to minimize condensation.

Easy Setup: The double-pole design and brightly-colored guylines make setup quick and easy, even in challenging conditions. Simply stake the corners, insert poles, and tighten the guylines.

Made in the USA: Zpacks tents are handmade in the USA, ensuring high-quality craftsmanship, materials, and attention to detail.


Zpacks Duplex Lite Pros

close-up of two-prong metal hook holding zpacks duplex lite storm doors closed in lieu of zipper

Weight: The Duplex Lite is the lightest 2-person, fully enclosed shelter currently on the market. Despite its lighter materials, this shelter is still a functional, comfortable, and hassle-free option for those looking to shave as many ounces as possible from their backpacking kit.

Versatile, intuitive design: The Duplex Lite may lack fancy features, but it more than makes up for it with its functional simplicity.

Take the four overlapping storm doors, for example. They can be opened or closed independently, offering plenty of options for views, ventilation, and weather protection. The door closures utilize toggles, eliminating the need for zippers that could potentially fail or leak over time.

Easy setup: Zpacks’ simple, A-frame design maximizes usability and makes setup a breeze with just a little practice. Simply lay out the shelter in a rectangle, stake out the corners, insert the support poles, and adjust the guylines — that’s it.

While I’ve spent hours watching YouTube videos to figure out how to set up complicated shelters in the past, the Duplex Lite is as intuitive as it gets. Seriously, it took me longer to adjust my trekking poles to the appropriate height than it did to stake out and stand up the shelter.

Zpacks Duplex Lite Cons

Two full-width sleeping pads max out the width of the Duplex Lite.

High Price: Like all versions of the Duplex, the Lite comes with a hefty price tag (in this case, $669), although it is $30 less than the Classic and $60 less than the Zip. While Zpacks’ pricing isn’t significantly higher than that of other high-quality manufacturers, it’s still a considerable investment.

However, having recently spent time overseas paying high prices for hotels, I feel better about investing in a high-quality shelter that, with care, will last for many thousands of miles and hundreds of nights of use.

Limited Storage: Unlike most tents on the market, the Duplex Lite doesn’t offer any interior organization such as pockets or a strand of guyline to hang wet socks or clothing. Due to its stripped-down design, there are no such amenities.

While this isn’t a dealbreaker for me, I do appreciate having a specific place to keep my phone, headlamp, and other nighttime essentials within reach and off the floor in case of water seepage or condensation.

Delicate and Small(er): While the weight of the Duplex Lite is impressive, it does come at the cost of size and durability. The lighter-weight DCF used on both the canopy and floor, along with the slimmer guylines, make it more prone to wear and less sturdy in harsh conditions.

Because of this, it’s essential to select appropriate use conditions to maximize its usability and longevity. For instance, it’s best to avoid strong winds, extremely rocky or abrasive ground, or prickly terrain.

Solutions like using a groundsheet and beefier guylines can help mitigate these issues but will add weight. Additionally, with the interior width being 5 inches slimmer than other Duplex models, it can be a tight squeeze for two full-sized sleeping pads.

While the vestibules provide some covered storage, there is minimal extra space within the enclosure for packs or gear.


Final Thoughts

blue zpacks duplex lite with one storm door tied back and mesh door open to reveal yellow and orange sleeping pads inside

The Duplex Lite impresses me with its combination of minimal weight, spacious interior (for one, as mentioned), and reliable, straightforward design. Setting itself apart from the other Duplex versions, the Lite offers the lightest total weight while retaining many of the core features that have made the Duplex lineup so popular among thru-hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

While its low weight does come at the expense of some space and durability, making it less suitable for all conditions, the Duplex Lite fills a niche for weight-conscious hikers who primarily camp in three-season conditions and prioritize simplicity and ease of use over fancy, complicated, weight-adding features.

I thoroughly enjoyed using this shelter and am looking forward to deploying it on many upcoming adventures this summer!

[button color=”green” size=”big” link=”https://zpacks.com/products/duplex-lite?aff=57″ target=”blank” ]Shop the Zpacks Duplex Lite[/button] [divider]

Comparable Tents

HMG Unbound 2p
Weight: 22.5oz
Material: DCF

Read our review of the HMG Unbound 2p here.

Gossamer Gear The Two
Weight: 23.5oz
Material: SIL/PU Nylon Ripstop

Read our review of the Gossamer Gear The Two here.

Durston X-Mid Pro 2
Weight: 19.6oz
Material: DCF

The Zpacks Duplex Lite was donated for the purpose of review.


This website is supported by affiliate links, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors at no additional cost to you. See my affiliate disclosure here. 

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