Zpacks Duplex vs Altaplex comparison


Today I wanted to talk about the Zpacks Duplex versus the Altaplex DCF tents.

I’ve used both now. In 2019 I did 400 miles on the A.T. using the Duplex and recently I sold that and bought the Altaplex and used that for 400 miles when I did a coast to coast thru-hike across Ireland.

So I thought it would be helpful to do a comparison for anyone out there who’s thinking of buying one or the other and can’t decide which one is right for them.

The Altaplex is designed for tall hikers.

I’m 6ft2/188cm give or take, so your height is actually an important factor in which one to choose.

Duplex & Altaplex Tent Specs

In terms of the actual tents themselves the Altaplex weighs 15.4 ounces or 427 grams.

The Duplex is 19 ounces or 533 grams.

So there’s about a 4 ounce or 100 gram difference between the two tents.

If you’re going ultralight this is a pretty significant difference but each tent is superlight.

Regardless of weight I recommend them both it’s just a matter of deciding which one is good for you, your body type and what type of hiking you’re into.

Price Comparison

In terms of price they are pretty similar the Altaplex is $585 and the Duplex is $599.

However, there may be an additional hidden cost with the Altaplex which I explain below.

Which Tent Is Right For You?

Who should pick the Altaplex? As a general rule of thumb, if you’re over six foot (182cm) you shouldn’t go for the Duplex. Especially if you’re using an inflatable pad. If you’re using a closed cell foam pad you might be able to get away with it if you’re between six foot and six two (182-188cm).

If you’re using an inflatable pad you’ll bump your toes against the wall as the pad reduces your space inside the tent and bumps you up higher.

In its simplest form if you’re over six foot get the Altaplex.

If you’re under six foot get to Duplex.

However, there are a few exceptions to consider as well.


Another reason you could go for the Altaplex, even if you’re under 6 foot, is if you want to go as light as possible.

But if you’re under six foot there’s lighter tents that are smaller than the Duplex and lighter than the Altaplex that you could go with but if you just want to save weight then the Altaplex is the better option.

Another reason you might go for the Altaplex is if you only hike with one trekking pole because the Duplex requires two trekking poles to set up but if you’re one of those hikers who use just one pole then the Altaplex is good for you.

I use two trekking poles and just use one to pitch the Altaplex and then use the other one actually to massage my legs at night!

If you’re below six foot I would recommend the Duplex even if you’re trying to save weight, the extra 4oz/100g is worth it in my opinion.

Having the two doors is super handy and having extra space, especially on a thru hike is a really nice feature of the Duplex.

The Duplex also has the option to upgrade to the flex pole option, which allows you to turn the tent into a freestanding tent. This option is only available with the Duplex so if you ever think you’ll need a free-standing option then the Duplex is good for you.

Hidden Cost- Trekking Poles

So another key difference between the two tents is the trekking poles needed to pitch it.

Not just the quantity, obviously the Duplex needs two and the Altaplex uses one, but more importantly the height of those trekking poles.

For the Duplex pretty much any standard trekking pole will work. They can be pitched around 120/125cm which pretty much nearly every trekking pole will extend to.

However, for the Altaplex because it’s a taller tent it needs to be pitched taller. The poles need to be up towards 147cm or 56-58 inches.

So when I had the Duplex I had the Leki Micro Vario trekking poles which are great poles but they weren’t high enough to pitch the Altaplex so I upgraded to the Leki Khumbu Poles

These are also great and they can extend really high.

I actually have another post and video on the best trekking poles for the Altaplex. Obviously I went with the Leki Khumbu poles but there are different options you can go with as well.

So that means there’s a kind of hidden cost in the Altaplex because you also you might have to upgrade your trekking poles. So make sure you factor that into the cost because the poles that extend high enough to pitch the Altaplex are generally some of the more expensive ones.

So even though the Altaplex is $15 cheaper than the Duplex it’ll actually cost more if you have to upgrade your trekking poles as well.

Differences in Pitch Styles

So another difference between the two tents is what I found after using them for 400 miles each is that the Duplex is much easier to get a perfect pitch with because it has two poles to set it up you don’t have to be as precise when you’re pitching it. You can just throw it up and you’ll pretty much have a good pitch like 95% of the time.

Whereas the Altaplex is a bit more cumbersome requires a little bit more precision when you’re pitching it. Obviously you get used to it but I would say there’s a steeper learning curve with the Altaplex in terms of pitching it as opposed to Duplex which is fairly intuitive to just pitch.

Since the Altaplex only has one pole it’s a bit more cumbersome to pitch.

The flip side of that is that the Duplex has a wider footprint whereas the Altaplex is a narrower one so if you’re wild camping or on terrain that is uneven or not a flat camp spot you’ll be able to find more spots to camp with in the Altaplex.

The footprint of the Duplex is big so there might be spots where you could pitch the Altaplex but the Duplex wouldn’t fit there.

Final Thoughts

So it depends what you prioritize as a hiker and what you want from your tent but as I said before they’re both fantastic tents.

So just to recap:

If you’re above six foot two don’t get the Duplex as a general rule in my opinion.

If you’re between six foot and six foot two and you use a closed cell foam sleeping pad you could get to Duplex but you’d be more comfortable in the Altaplex.

If you’re using an inflatable pad anyone about anyone above six foot will be more comfortable in the Altaplex.

Check your trekking poles and see how high they currently extend to and if you need to replace them factor that into the overall cost as well.

If you like hiking with just one pole then the Altaplex is for you.

If you’re going to be hiking in areas where the ground is very uneven and it can be hard to find camp spots then the Duplex might be a bit too big for you to get the most out of it whereas the Altaplex will allow you to sneak into those little small spots with a smaller tent.

So I hope that was helpful whichever one you go with you’ll be happy. I totally recommend Zpacks tent, they’re fantastic.

Happy trails!