If you've looked at buying a tent before, you've probably heard the name Zpacks come up in conversation. The company makes ultralight tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, and just about everything in between. They're made in the United States, have a one thru hike warranty, and are some of the lightest and most versatile products I've used.
Last year when I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, I used a Nemo Hornet 1P, a freestanding tent clocking in at about 2lb 2oz. It was small and compacted well, light weight-ish, wasn't too expensive and a decent tent. However; when it got wet, it was HEAVY. It was small. So small that I could fit myself and myself only in the tent. I had to put my pack outside in the vestibule, and when it was raining, which it did frequently on the AT, it was a mess.
When I started planning for the CDT this year, I looked at tents for hours and ended up deciding on the Zpacks Hexamid Solo and opted to get the cuben bathtub floor with it as well. Not only that, but I purchased a tent pole and stakes to go along with it because I wasn't planning on using trekking poles, so this was the logical option. I slept in the tent one night before leaving for the CDT, so I wasn't quite sure how it would hold up and if I would even end up liking it. The specs are what really caught my eye, and I've looked at Zpacks products in the past, so I was super stoked to get my hands on it and put it through the ringer.
The tent itself clocks in at `15.4oz, which is an extremely light shelter right off the bat. Less than a lb gets you the shelter with the bug net attached, but nothing else. Add a tent pole for 2oz, 1.25oz or more worth of stakes (min of 6 required for the tent), and a bathtub floor at 3.5 oz, my shelter set up was right around 21 oz or so.
My set up priced out:
Bathtub Floor: $95
Tent Pole: $30
Carbon Stakes: $28
My thoughts about this shelter are based on 90+ days of use over the last 5 months along the CDT in some of the harshest climates and the Long Trail in Vermont. The shelter is honestly pretty great as far as I'm concerned. As far as the basics go, its easy to set up, for me at least it only takes about 2 minutes to get a good pitch on it. You can use 6 stakes to get a solid pitch, or if you're feeling really ambitious, go with 8 and it'll pop the back wall up to expand it even further. Its relatively spacious for someone my size, and I would say up to about 6'0 or so, maybe a bit taller. If you get a good, wide spread pitch on the shelter, it really opens up the roof expanding the space quite a bit. Now I most certainly wouldn't recommend it for Wankles or anyone of his stature, but for anyone 6'0 ish or under, I think you would be pleasantly surprised with how much space there is.
Sure, it's cozy, theres enough room for 1 + gear, and its easy to set up, but my main concern was how water and weatherproof the tent actually was. Not only that, but realistically, my initial thoughts about the cuben fiber were pretty negative. I wasn't sure if it was going to hold up against hail or heavy rain, and heavy wind totally scared me especially since I was rolling with the carbon stakes.
I slept in my tent for the roughly the first two weeks without any problems. We didn't get rained on too much to begin with, so the first couple of weeks went smooth, it was like I never even took the tent out of the packaging. The tent packs away small so it sat at the bottom of my pack near my clothes and generally didn't come out until dusk or dark set in. The first few rain storms that hit didn't really phase it too much, the water bounced right off and generally dried by morning in the warmer months. With extended exposure to moisture, the fabric doesn't retain any water. The tent does an extremely good job with keeping water out of the inside. The two storm doors cinch close with an ease, and all the water seems to drop to the ground outside before it hits the enclosed bug net. The cuben bathtub floor does a phenomenal job of keeping any splashing at bay as it ties out to the insides of the tent making for an extremely roomy floor to be honest.
The tent pitches with one tent or trekking pole, so the backside is completely sloped down and comes to the tie outs which shape the tent like a hexagon.
As far as heavier conditions go, I got hailed on once and the tent suffered no damages. It seems to be stronger than everyone thinks, and I would trust it again. I slept in my tent the night before hitting Macks Inn before Yellowstone, and that night I got hit with the heaviest rainstorm of my entire life. I had hiked through about 6 hours of monsoon style rain with gale force winds at times, and crawled into my tent soaked to the bone. I woke up and within minutes of having my tent in the sun, it was dry as well as the cuben floor.
The only negative comment I have to say about the tent is that it collects quite a bit of condensation. Now, compared to a sil nylon tent, it's much less, but nonetheless. Regardless if both doors are open or if you sleep with your head facing the vestibule, the tent seems to collect heavy moisture in mild to cold conditions. Most days, if it's warm and dry, I'd wake up with a dry tent, but sleeping near water or in a cold or mild climate tends to vamp up the amount of moisture. Well, I guess one more negative, the tent is fairly pricy. If you opt to use a piece of tyvek or polycro, the tent becomes much cheaper. I would probably opt for that next time, just to save the 100 bucks or so and an ounce or two. Also, I'll be carrying one trekking pole from here on out. I figure it's better to have a multi use item than just a one purpose item.
Anyways, overall, I'd recommend this tent for someone who is looking for an ultralight shelter at a really halfway decent price if you're smart about it. Sure, its not as light as a poncho tarp, BUT it's fully enclosed, handles really well in heavy weather conditions, and is more than roomy enough for most people.
After all, it is your house for 4-6 months, right? Might as well invest and compare the price to rent for 4-6 months!