- Lightest tent in test set
- Easy setup, quickest in test set
- Most floor space and highest peak
- Good vestibule area
- Most expensive tent in the test set
- Small bundle can only fit inside backpack
The ZPacks Altaplex finished in the top spot in this test set, thanks to its chart-topping performance in nearly every category. The most important feature of the solo backpacking tent—its weight—is this tent’s best characteristic. The chief limitation is the high price tag.
The ZPacks Altaplex took the top spot in the Shoulder Room points that hikers care a lot about—best on floor space (22.5 square feet), highest peak (58 inches), and a good amount of vestibule area (7 square feet). Much of this high peak is unusable thanks to the wall steepness necessitated by a single pole, but this peak is more than a foot higher than the next-highest. There is enough floor space to bring a few items into the tent with you, but there’s also enough vestibule space to not need to.
The Altaplex carried this test thanks partially to its lightest-in-the-set status. The trail weight is 8.8 oz, which will require you to use a trekking pole as the tent’s single pole. This is half the trail weight of the next lightest tent. With its carbon fiber pole, it is still a tenth of an ounce lighter than that second-lightest-tent’s minimum trail weight. It packs into a small cube that is about as big as a large pineapple. Its cubic packed shape and tiny size will make it nearly impossible to fix it to the exterior of a backpack, but it’s small enough that you’ll never need to.
First time setup for our tester took 3:30, the quickest among the tents in this test set. Its single-pole, non-freestanding design and heavy guy-line use widens the tent pad necessary to set it up, compared to other tents in the test set. It is an easy solo setup: You plant your pole, throw the tent over it, and stake out the guy-lines.
The Altaplex’s single-pole does give it a thinner wind profile that many of the other tents in this test set, but it also gives it less structural support. It is a strong shape, but it is completely reliant on the strength of the available stake placements. It’s also the tallest tent in the test set, which adds surface area to the wind profile. And if the wind pulls one of the stakes out, the whole tent will go down.
This is an ultralight tent, with no room or space for extraneous features. There is a small gear pouch on the interior of the tent body. The door is wide and easy to use with bulky loads and tall hikers.
Additional Product Specifications
Minimum Trail Weight: 8.8oz (using a trekking pole)
Max / Packaged Weight: 1 lb 1.9 oz
Interior Floor Area: 22.5 sq ft
Vestibule Area: 7 sq ft
Peak Interior Height: 58 in
How We Tested It
The tents in this test were used throughout the spring of 2017, mostly on a multi-week mountaineering trip that began at Mount Shasta and ended on Mount Olympus and hit Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier in between. Testing also took place in the central Sierra Nevada. The length and intensity of the trip allowed a close look at the performance of each tent, with a strong appreciation of the consequences of that performance.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
About the Author
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