Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp w/ Doors ($349.00)
Zpacks is one of the OG “cottage” ultralight backpacking companies. The company was started in 2004 by Joe Valesko with only a sewing machine in his apartment. Today, Zpacks is one of the biggest players in the ultralight backpacking world. All their gear is sewn in their own facility in West Melbourne, FL.
The Hexamid Pocket Tarp piqued my interest due to minimalist design, extremely light weight and its blend between a classic tarp and trekking pole tent. Let’s see what it is all about.
First, let’s get the specs out of the way.
Peak height: 47″ (119 cm)
Length: 107″ (271.75 cm)
Width at center: 54 inches (137 cm)
Width at ends: 30 inches (76 cm)
Entryway Height: 29 inches (74 cm)
$349.00 (Blue, Olive, White)
$375.00 (Burnt Orange, Spruce Green)
The Hexamid Tarp is a hybrid between a classic trekking pole tent and a tarp. The fly construction is similar to their Plex Solo tent but without any floor or noseeum mesh for bug protection.
The tarp is made out of DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabric). DCF is a high-performance non-woven composite material, which is constructed from a thin sheet of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). This material is extremely lightweight for its strength and is also waterproof. The different panels are sewn together and then taped to waterproof the stitched areas. You can see that in the picture above in the middle of the tarp.
All stress points, such as the corners and guy-line attachments, are reinforced with an additional DCF layer. The guy lines with V Lineloc adjusters are attached here. There are four on each corner, three in the back and one in front from the top of the peak.
The two doors have no zippers. Instead, they use an overlapping design and are attached to a little metal hook with two D-rings at each corner.
Each door has its own toggle in order to be able to open both doors.
Usually, DCF shelters have a little more bulk to it compared to similar SilNylon or SilPoly shelters. Since the Hexamid does away with the floor and any bug protection, it still manages to pack down very small, which makes it perfect if pack volume is important.
I use a little different setup than recommended by Zpacks on their site. I would recommend trying both and see what’s easier for you and what gets you the best pitch. You can find the printable Zpacks instructions here.
First, I stake out the two back corners of the Hexamid. Depending on how windy it is, you can adjust the guy line length accordingly. The windier it is, the lower you should set up the tarp. Meaning, the windier it is, the shorter the guy lines.
Then put your trekking pole set at anywhere between 120 and 125 cm with the grip pointing up into the peak of the tarp and stake out the long guy line coming from the peak. I would recommend staking it out as long as possible to get the best pitch. Then stake out the rest of the corners and the one in the back. If there is no wind, you don’t need to stake out the two back wall guy lines. However, doing so increases the interior space a bit. The last step is to attach both D-rings of the doors to the little metal hook and tighten all guy lines and there you have it.
I personally use a thin Polycro as a ground sheet. But you can also use Tyvek or get one of Zpacks’ DCF floors. They have a flat and bathtub version.
Generally the setup is fairly simple if you have done it a few times, and this is what I really like about this tarp design. A classic tarp can be pitched in many different configurations with poles or without poles, using guy lines attached to trees etc. This can be a bit tricky at first. With the Hexamid, the set-up is pretty straight forward.
As I already mentioned, the DCF fabric itself is fully waterproof. Only the seams are taped, additionally, to prevent any water from getting in through the stitching. The tarp comes fully seam taped/sealed directly from Zpacks. All seams look fine. I couldn’t find any loose seams or tape.
I didn’t have any problem with water leaking through, and for a tarp you really have a lot of coverage from the elements. However, it is more prone to splash-up than a tent with a bathtub floor. This can occur if you pitch it on a hard packed surface. The rain drops hitting the floor can splash up. You can try to mitigate it a bit by pitching it lower, but you will not prevent it completely.
Both doors do not go down completely to the floor, which is great for air circulation but it can get quite drafty in windy conditions. So it is crucial to consider the wind direction when setting it up. You should try to point the side with the Zpacks logo (see above) in the direction from which the wind comes. This prevents drafts getting into the overlapping doors and is also the most sturdy position. You don’t want to expose the big surface of the back or the front directly into the wind.
I really enjoyed the interior space it provides, especially given its small footprint. Since there are no sidewalls of the floor, there is really a lot of space. I had no problem fitting into the tarp at 6 ft / 183cm tall. At no point did my sleeping bag touch the floor with a 3.5 inch sleeping pad. You can also sit up just fine in the middle. But the headroom is fairly limited. You can try to improve this a little bit by staking out the two back wall guy lines.
Due to its minimalism, it doesn’t provide a lot of additional comfort features inside. There is only a small loop at the back can be used to attach some additional line or hang up a camp light. I don’t find this to be a downside, though. If I need a minimalist shelter, the Hexamid provides me exactly that.
The only downside for me is the very low entrance. The seam from the peak comes down very far to where the doors start, which makes getting in and out a bit annoying. Also, when you open up the tarp completely and want to sit in the tarp, you basically can’t look straight out.
You also need to consider the area where you go with this tarp. If you plan to go to Scotland or the Northeast US in the middle of midges and mosquito season, you better take something with bug protection. So a little bit of foresight is advised here.
Condensation can’t be avoided 100% with single wall shelters. With good ventilation, it can be reduced. I personally don’t have a problem with a little bit of condensation, which I can wipe off with a microfiber cloth. Where it gets messy is when the condensation is so bad it drips off the walls and it feels like it is raining inside your shelter. Due to the missing floor and when pitched high when weather had allowed it, I didn’t have a lot of condensation problems. It just got a little damp here and there. Condensation is depending on so many factors such as your pitch, campsite choice, humidity etc, so your miles may vary here.
This depends a bit from which angle you look at it. For a DCF shelter, it is fairly affordable. You can get a similar tarp set up a bit cheaper, though. In my opinion it is a great entrance into a DCF shelter which does not cost you an arm and a leg and at the same time also into the tarp world. So from my perspective it’s a very good value.
I really learned to love it. Especially for shorter fast packing trips, where I want to travel as light as possible with minimum pack volume. The weight is kind of ridiculously low for the space and coverage you get. If I could change one thing, it would be the size of the entry. But going forward this will be my goto shelter for shorter fast packing adventures, where not a lot of bugs are expected.
Available at Zpacks here: Hexamid Pocket Tarp w/ Doors
The products that are the basis of this test were provided to us free of charge by Zpacks. The opinions presented are our own.
Markus Zinkl: I’m 33 years old and live in a small village in Bavaria, Germany. I started hiking and backpacking 5-6 years ago. Coming from trail running and with light and fast in mind, I started with ultralight gear. Over the years I tried and tested a lot of gear, always in search of weight savings. Although still trying to stay out of the ultralight rabbit hole. I spend most of my days off from work on the trail, with at least one 2-3 week thru-hike. Among the more well known trails I have hiked over the last two years are the GR221, WHR (Walker’s Haute Route), TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) and TC (Tour du Cervin-Matterhorn). As you probably notice by now, I’m at home in the mountains. So if I’m not running or thru-hiking a bigger trail, I’m probably somewhere in the Alps checking out some shorter trails.
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