Quick and Dirty
Gear Type: Shelter/Tent
Material: .51 Cuben and Nano-noseum
Weight with Poles and Stuff Sacks: 13.5 oz
Trail weight: 13.5 oz with no floor, 18 oz with optional cuben floor
Price: $320 – $530
Link: Hexamid Twin
Pros: Easy pitch, very lightweight, innovative design
Cons: Lacks headspace opposite of the door
The Zpacks Hexamid Twin (Hexamid) is a ultra-light sub 13 oz “fully enclosed” singled-wall tent or 18 oz with the cuben bath tub floor. Zpacks uses .51 cuben fiber and a nano-noseum door and floor to ease construction. The Hexamid is the only production tent on the US market that uses a noseum floor. Zpacks claims that it is plenty durable for trail use.
Our Hexamid was purchased specifically to be used for solo and two person trips without the dog. Our Hexamid is not the current storm doors model. Instead, it is the 2013-2014, bonded model with the roll-down beak. By far, this is one of the most beautiful tent designs on the market.
After using a Six Moon Designs Cuben Haven as our primary tent for the last year, the ease of set up with the Hexamid is refreshing. Zpacks offers excellent videos of the Hexamid on Youtube. Stake the corners down first, then the ridgeline. If you are using adjustable poles, adjusting the height can flatten the Hexamid for better wind resistance.
The Hexamid pitched quick, and broke down even quicker. Field packing was easy and it always fit back into it’s supplied stuff sack with little to no effort.
We had a difficult time setting it up and getting a taught pitch on sand or loose soil, primarily because the front and rear poles would sink a full inch or two into the soil. A trick we used, and burying a flat rock into the ground and setting the poles on the rocks.
The rear support straps and cones accommodate a wide variety of pole types. The rear is perfectly sized for a collapsed Gossamer Gear LT4.
Additional guy line/tie outs are not absolutely necessary, but helps increase headroom.
The Hexamid when used for as a solo tent, offers plenty of space. With two, the space is tight but manageable. We are able to fit two 72 inch Klymit X-Frames and two Gossamer Gear Gorillas at the ends of the tent, and still had usable space to fit our shoes and extra clothes. The space is truly dependent on the floor you choose to use. Since we are using a long sheet of polycro, it expands the usable space, at the expense of air circulation.
The polycro makes a decent and inexpensive floor. It is important to cut the size the sheet so water and condensation doesn’t collect on the sheet.
The height is adequate in the front, but lacks the head room towards the rear of the tent. However, the front will easily accommodate two shorter people sitting up. Taller hikers may feel cramped.
Due to the single wall construction, the Hexamid does not have a “rain fly”. The Hexamid went through rain and wind just fine, without leakage along the seams. As designed, the water roll down onto the noseum mesh and onto the ground.
The door is covered by a “beak” that protects from most rain, except for the most intense storms. If pitched low, the beak can hover close to the ground and side mesh/floor can collapse to provide the best protection against wind and rain.
On the Lost Coast, we encountered 50+ mph winds on the most exposed areas. We pitched the Hexamid as low as we can comfortably get it without losing too much space.
The Hexamid uses a “rainbow” arch door that zips open in a half circle shape and drops to the floor. The front pole makes entry and exit a bit awkward, but the door is wide enough that small to medium persons can enter one side of the pole easily. Without a bathtub floor and traditional zipper door, you are less likely to trip over any part of the tent during entry/exit.
A couple issues we have noticed: 1) we had trouble stepping out and over the door, and instead, we found ourselves stepping on the door every time we exited. This is partially due to the fact that the door itself is fairly short, necessitating crawling in and out of the tent. Those who are used to sleeping under a tarp will find it familiar. 2) It’s tough to keep the door clean, especially in dusty environments. Since it sits on the ground, it collects dust and debri that sticks to the mesh.
The floor is a noseum mesh with mitten hooks on each corner to clip in an optional cuben floor. The noseum floor does take damage over time and requires a good cleaning of the ground before you set up the tent. We damaged our floor on the first night because of a rogue twig.
The front pole runs inside the tent and pierces through an opening on a reinforced section of the noseum mesh. Other shelters and tents we have used do, typically have the poles resting on the floor – the opening in the reinforced section was a welcome design. It should aid in keep the floor in good shape for long term use.
Unlike other shelters/tents, Zpacks recommends putting the floor on top on the noseum mesh (inside of the tent). It was odd at first, but made more sense with use. We use a 2 oz sheet of polycro over the mesh. With a longer sheet of polycro, the edge naturally curls upwards towards the cuben, creating a bathtub shape and also maximizing the amount of space available in the tent, but would reduce the over all effectiveness of the rain shedding design. Rain rolls off the top of and sides, then passes through the side mesh. If a floor is improperly sized, water will collect and pool. We recommend cutting any ground sheet shorter to avoid water pooling.
We experienced no condensation in normal conditions. Adjusting for air circulation is simple and easy, especially by rolling up the beak (see image below). On very humid and foggy day, we had some unavoidable condensation.
Our experience with cuben has been positive. Our SMD Haven Cuben uses .74 cuben, which is thicker than the .51 variant used by Zpacks. The .51 cuben folds easier than the thicker cuben and packs away easily. It feels less stressed than thicker cuben material when folded and stored. Zpacks claims one through hike or many years of use. We would expect it to last just as long, if not longer.
The Hexamid is a great tent with a hefty price. At 13.5 oz, it is the lightest tent in our gear closet and competes well with our SMD Haven Cuben. It will stay in our rotation of tents, but will not completely replace our SMD Haven Cuben, which provides more space, a strong floor, double doors, with a minor weight penalty.
A couple wandering thoughts about the Hexamid Twin:
- By far our favorite feature on the Hexamid is ease of pitch and field packing. We cannot stress how simple it is to pitch the tent, especially under stressful rainy conditions. It rivals our MLD Speedmid in pitch speed. Field packing was simple and fast, and it always fit into the supplied stuff sack without effort.
- Interested buyers sourcing a used Hexamid Twin should definitely consider the beak/storm door option. The current model only ships with the storm doors and we felt the added weight was well worth it. It provided good protection from wind and rain.
- The .51 oz cuben should be sufficient, and we felt it was plenty strong for normal use. We were skeptical at first, but now sold on the thinner cuben material.
- While a minimum of six stakes is needed, eight really helps open the interior of the tent, especially when the rear most person will have the least amount of space.
- We used polycro for our floor and worked fine, but those who are truly concerned about rain and pooling, should consider getting the cuben bath tub floor. Floor space will be slightly reduced, but you should still be able to store your gear inside.
- If the single door is truly a concern, the Zpacks Duplex and Triplex series are currently on the market. We have seen a few on the trails and they are beautiful. The are essentially an evolution of the Hexamid Twin and similar to the SMD Haven Cuben. Double doors, cuben floor, and equal head room on both ends.
Great review, this is the tent we used on the AT and we liked it for the most part. We got good at creating a duff ring around the tent so that water dripping off the roof wouldn’t bounce back into the tent through the mesh. I am also surprised to hear that you think it is easy to set up… we used it every day for five months and were never able to do it in one go, we always had to re adjust the front two corners… It wasn’t hard to set up per say but I think its a fairly tricky tent compared to something free standing. For the PCT we have upgraded to the new Zpacks Delux, which basically takes care of that head room issue you mentioned! Now we can both sit up and even play a game of cards or something if we want to!
We didn’t have too much trouble setting it up on soil. We have owned quite a few mids/pyramids that were/are more difficult to get up. In sand, it was absolutely frustrating. The Duplex is a great tent and if we didn’t have the SMD Haven Cuben (a review forthcoming), we would go with the Duplex/Triplex.