The Hexamid Twin Tent from ZPacks is simply put the best all-in-one ultralight tent shelter in this review. It wins our Editors’ Choice award for delivering complete weather protection at the lightest weight – 19 ounces with the removable cuben bathtub floor, and 14 ounces without! No competitor delivers the roomy livability for two folks and the all-sides weather protection that the Hexamid Twin does at such low weights. If we could only have one ultralight tent for three-season backpacking and thru-hiking long trails, we would choose the Hexamid. When purchased with carbon fiber support poles (normally it’s pitched with your adjustable trekking poles), this is our number one choice for bike touring as well. No other equally light option is as roomy or protective.
If you are looking for an ultralight shelter for alpine climbing or lots of rugged terrain bivouacs, we suggest the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp, which is much more adaptable than the fixed shape of the Hexamid. If you do not backpack with trekking poles, or prefer the ease of set-up of a free-standing tent, the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum is the lightest we’ve tested. Budget conscious backpackers will find exceptional value in theMountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo. It’s generously cut for a two-person A-frame, and very well built.
The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent is the second lightest shelter we evaluated, and the lightest with all-sides weather and bug protection. This model earned high scores across all of our rating metrics, with the exception of adaptability. This ultralight shelter has been one of our top scorers for three reviews in a row, and a recent upgrade has made it even more functional. The front vestibule is now formed by two overlapping storm doors. One or both can be completely opened for convenient entry, exit, and stargazing. Over the course of our testing period, reviewers love the Hexamid so much that it earned our Editors’ Choice Award.
The Hexamid’s design is brilliant because it provides four-sided weather protection without having a zippered door in the outer tent, unlike pyramid tarps and all double wall tents. You enter by ducking under the storm doors beside the front trekking pole. The attached bug mesh floor creates a fully enclosed tent that protects from flying and crawling insects. Unlike every other enclosed tent we’ve ever tested, the Hexamid’s floor is made entirely of mesh, not a waterproof material. The advantage here is versatility and lower weight. If you are using an inflatable pad that needs protection from sharp objects that might pop it, or you’re backpacking in wet weather, we recommend adding a floor. We tested the bathtub style Cuben fiber floor that clips inside the tent over the mesh floor. The Cuben bathtub’s raised walls can help to deflect splashback and running water in a downpour.
The Hexamid’s outer waterproof walls extend to roughly six inches from the ground and protect from wind and driving rain very well. In one serious thunderstorm the lower mesh walls prevented almost all splashback (rain running off the roof and bouncing off the ground) from entering the tent. In this instance we felt the bathtub walls of the Cuben floor insert helped to keep us drier as water ran underneath, and by stopping the little bit of splashback that came through the lower mesh walls. With the optional bathtub floor, the tent handles torrential downpours very well. The only two products scoring higher for overall weather resistance, the Echo II Shelter and Fly Creek 2 Platinum are both heavier than the Hexamid, and aren’t as spacious.
As tested, the Hexamid Twin Tent with attached mesh floor and removable cuben bathtub floor weigh 19.1 ounces. The included stuff sack weighs only 0.3 oz. This is EXTREMELY LIGHT!! It feels wonderful when you pull the tiny, feathery light package out of your pack, set it up and have complete and spacious protection from rain, wind and insects. No other model we tested provides this much space and weather protection for the weight. The Hexamid’s light weight and protection from insects make it our favorite tent for bike touring when used with the two optional carbon poles; they fold to 12 inches, and weigh only 3.15 ounces.
Balancing weight and comfort is the ultimate trade-off in tent design. Generally, very light tents are small and not very comfortable to spend time inside, which is fine for covering lots of miles – because it is more comfortable, overall, to carry less weight on your back while moving than to carry a heavier tent you are only briefly awake and active in. The Hexamid strikes the sweet spot between low weight and livability. It is both light enough for the fastest and longest thru-hikes, and spacious enough for lounging in on more relaxing trips or waiting out bad weather. On trips that involve considerable time spent awake in camp, a roomy, comfortable tent can make lazy mornings and reading in the tent more enjoyable. All the other pyramids we tested this go round are heavier, and a little more livable than the Hexamid. The Big Agnes Scout Plus is more spacious, particularly the vestibule, but heavy, and the double doors on the Six Moon Designs Haven Tarp are super convenient for entry and exit.
The most significant drawback to all pyramid shelters is their limited adaptability. They must be pitched basically the same way every time. The standard Hexamid pitch exposes about six inches of the mesh along the sides. You can shorten the poles a couple of inches if expecting rainy weather, but that’s about it for adaptability. While we recommend the model we tested with attached mesh floor, the Hexamid Twin without the mesh floor could more readily accommodate pitching over rocks or other obstruction in rough terrain. Overall, we feel the version we tested with attached mesh floor provides the best combination of protection.
The mesh on the ground, waterproof floor on top of mesh concept has proven to be far better and more durable than we expected. As ZPacks points out, small sharp objects like pine needles can go right through the mesh without damaging it. If you do tear a hole in the screen, it’s likely to be under you sleeping pad and the floor, and it can be patched easily by sticking repair tape on both sides.
The difficulty in getting the Hexamid’s pitch perfectly taut is made up for, to a large degree, by the Cuben fiber’s high tear strength. The standard Hexamid is built with 0.51 oz/yd2 Cuben fiber. This material has an INCREDIBLY HIGH tear strength. Many thru-hikers have used it on the PCT, CDT, and AT with no tarp tears and no holes in the mesh. The bathtub floor is constructed of heavier and more puncture resistant 1.0 oz/yd Cuben fiber. We do not recommend the Hexamid for use in heavy snow. It is a three-season backpacking tent.
A $15 and 1.5 additional ounce upgrade, the Hexamid can be built with a stronger and more durable 0.74 oz/yd2 Cuben fiber. This tougher material is used standard on all Hyperlite Mountain Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs cuben shelters. Through testing the Hexamid, we’ve found that that the lighter Cuben fiber is slightly more prone to punctures (this is Cuben fiber’s greatest weakness) than the heavier option. Fortunately, Cuben is perhaps the easiest material to patch out of any used on tents; just clean the area around the hole (ideally with an alcohol swap) and stick on some Cuben fiber repair tape (a small roll is included with the tent).
Ease of Set-up
While setting up the Hexamid was not intuitive for us the first time, after becoming familiar with the tent we felt it one of the easier ones to set up and guy out. Nine minutes for the first set up became three or four minutes for subsequent pitches. A paper instruction sheet is shipped with the tent to help with the learning curve, and to guide you in adding the included string to the stake out points. Eight stakes are necessary for pitching, none are included (sold separately by ZPacks or use your own).
The Twin Tent pitches with two adjustable trekking poles or optional carbon tent poles. We recommend starting by adjusting your two trekking poles to 48 and 32 inches (add some marks with paint or nail polish at home to indicate these lengths if necessary). You can adjust these length slightly to optimize the pitch, or shorten them a couple inches for increased weather resistance (you’ll lose headroom though). Staking out the front two corners with a foot of slack between, adding the taller front pole, and then moving to add the rear pole is the best technique for one person set-up. We find that it takes some fiddling to adjust the angle and tension of the stake outs to get a nice, tight pitch. Practice at home and on a trip with protected campsites before going big. We like staking out the Hexamid with fixed lengths of string on the four corners and peaks. It works well.
Our Editors’ Choice winner is our preferred shelter for ultralight backpacking, thru-hiking, and bike touring. Folks that want one ultralight shelter to use through three seasons, or who spend a lot of time in buggy areas, love the light, spacious Hexamid.
The Hexamid Twin Tent with attached mesh floor and optional bathtub insert costs $530. This is a good value because the tent is the lightest one available that has bug protection, great weather protection and above average livability. We highly recommend it if three-season backpacking is your intended application and you can afford it, or for the demands of thru-hiking. You can save $95 by forgoing the Cuben bathtub floor. If you have the time and inclination you could make a bathtub floor from polycro or Tyvek for cheap.
If you don’t do a ton of backpacking or don’t have the cash to push the performance envelope, consider the Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo), which performs very well and only costs $170.
The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent is our choice if we were gong to have one ultralight shelter for three-season backpacking, thru-hiking, and bicycle touring. It wins our Editors’ Choice award for 2015, and you will not find a lighter shelter with complete weather protection (and a spacious interior!) than the Hexamid.