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  1. #1

    Default Gambits Tent Review: SS2 vs The Duplex

    I was going to do a video review of these 2 items but I have become selfish with my time and I never remember to do it. So I thought I would start with this and see if more is needed. There is already a lot of information on these 2 tents and even though their design from a shape and foot print perspective are almost identical, they are in fact 2 very different tents. I really do not believe that someone, a picky gear enthusiast per say, could just pick one of these tents using a randomizer as their method of selection and be guaranteed to be happy with the outcome. I am going to give the easy to find specs of each tent, put together some easy to read number comparisons and mainly give my first hand experience with both of these tents as I have now spent a season in the Zpacks Duplex walking thru Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont as well as some repeat trips thru Tennessee and North Carolina totaling 440 miles of use in 2018.

    To be clear: This review is for the Sylnylon Henry Shires Stratospire 2 with full mesh and the Zpacks Duplex in Spruce Green. Lets get to it!

    TarpTent Stratospire 2 (2011):
    What's included:

    • Tent Fly (Exterior)
    • Mesh (Interior) - Now also available in Solid Interior but was not when I purchased in 2011
    • 8 alum stakes and stake bag
    • syl stuff sack.
    • 2 pitch poles


    ZPacks Duplex (Spruce Green, 2017):
    What's included:

    • Tent
    • Cuben Stuff Sack



    SS2 vs Duplex.PNG
    Anyone is able to take these facts above as they wish so I won't babble about obvious numbers.




    My thoughts:
    The SS2:
    I put over 2000 miles on this tent. I used it for all of the AT from GA up thru southern PA, As well as Palmerton, PA north 280 miles into MA on the AT. A lot of redo trips, and a lot of Tennessee state parks, kayak trips, campground weekends. It was my go to tent for about 5 years. I would say I spent 200+ nights in it easily. The tents current condition is waterproof but very well broken in. The mesh interior is at a point where if I pinch it in order to help me unzip the tent then it is subject to ripping. Literally the only reason I did not simply purchase a new SS2 is for the sake of trying something new, lighter, and to make a zpacks purchase. Sounds terrible right? "Hey Thanks for making a great, "Perfect" product, to reward you I'm gunna go purchase your competitors best product." Well in my defense, along with the SS2 I have personally purchased 3 Tarptents, and have recommended no telling how many others to the brand which I can confirm have resulted in purchases of his tents. So I don't feel terrible about trying another product. I really don't have any complaints about the tent other than in comparison to a tent that has 1 wall, made of the lightest material known in the industry, the SS2 is heavier. The full zipper doors would prove to not be needed with the transition to the Duplex, but while suing the zippered doors they were never an annoyance. Experience with 2 people in this tent is not a lot but when I did it worked fine. I spent considerable time with a dog in this tent and that worked well, I did end up moving the dog to the vestibule full time and that was plenty big enough for a 80 lbs pitbull/ lab.

    Overmountain Shelter: 2012
    IMG_0136.JPG

    Connecticut 2017 A SS2 vs a SS1
    IMG_6976.JPG

    New York 2017 SS2 in front - SS1 in back
    IMG_7056.JPG

    Mass 2015
    IMG_2333.JPG

    SNP 2016
    IMG_3745.JPG

    Grayson Highlands 2015
    IMG_1342.JPG


    The Duplex:
    Yikes. I really wanna like this tent because of its weight savings. That is what it boils down to. It is 25.2 oz less than the SS2 but that's just about where the likes end. Let's start at the beginning. We just paid $600 for a tent and it didn't come with stakes, which are required for setting it up. As well it didn't come with any pitch poles so if you are not a trekking pole person, have fun not setting up your tent when it arrives. Now the packaging. Why in the world, would Zpacks not put their number 1 selling tent, in a shape packed, that will fit in the horizontal tension straps on the back of their number 1 selling backpack. I am completely above stuffing my tent inside the main compartment of my pack. I dont understand that mentality, never will and the fact that the duplex is packed to be the shape and size of a shoe box is extremely frustrating for me to wrap my head around. It offers zero perks versus a longer, slimmer stuff sack that can be hitched to the back, bottom of a pack where straps are almost always found. To combat this, I use a Ti beener as an insurance policy if it falls out, as well as clipping both of these said straps together with said beener. It works but it's annoying. Next we are going to pitch the tent. I have found several times that if the tent is not on perfectly level ground, it is quirky to setup, and impossible to get pitched tightly all the way around. It results in repitching the tent and trying again. This has happened maybe 3-4 times in 440 miles so not a killer but again, never had that issue with the SS2. Ok, now we have pitched the tent, we need to get inside. The tent requires both hands to get the door unzipped. The SS2 did not require this every time, to be fair it did sometimes depending, but not every time no matter what like the Duplex. Now we are in the Duplex! It is setup, and time to go to sleep. If i do not pitch the roof guy lines, the tent hits both my head as well as my feet. A simple stick pitch as pictured below prevents this but once again, you guessed it, its annoying. Zero experience with 2 people and zero experience with a dog. Edit to add: As maniac said below, the loop assembly of the duplex is hit or miss. The concept is good but I know that mine seem to come undone when I don't want them to. Not when the lines are fully taught, they will certainly stay attached then, but sometimes during pitching the tent, they will come loose. Overall the lack of zipper, and this fastening device, I like.

    Briers Ridge 2018
    IMG_9885.JPG

    Pine Mountain Trail - Grayson Highlands 2018
    IMG_9971.JPG

    1 way that works packing the Duplex if your pack isn't too full after resupply! The Berkshires, MA 2018
    IMG_0116.JPG

    Vermont 2018
    IMG_0235.JPG

    SS1 in back - Duplex Spruce in Front
    IMG_0366.JPG

    Duplex in Front SS1 in back. 1 day south of Hanover, NH 2018
    IMG_0492.JPG

    Pennsylvania 2018 - A second Duplex on the trip! Comparison of different materials as well as seen in the last 2 pics, the guy line with and without a stick holding it up. Big Difference.
    IMG_0604.JPGIMG_0677.jpgIMG_0708.JPGIMG_0761.JPG

    As described in my thoughts, my frustration with attaching this pack at the bottom, not seen very well but the far end of the tent is barely able to be looped and my beener was not yet in place on both of these vertical loops
    IMG_0776.JPG


    Lets wrap this thing up. It is what it is. I have purchased the Duplex, I have used it for a year. It works. I am really not as critical in real life as I wanted to be for others sake in this review. The weight saving sis worth my gripes. In the end, if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, sleeping or walking, it doesn't really matter that much. If I had to give my recommendation of all around safest option for 9/10 hikers, Henry would sell a lot more tents because I would suggest the SS2 to people every time. The only way I would suggest the Duplex is if a sub 6' tall, extremely weight conscious, single hiker with deep pockets wanted to push the limits of what is comfortable in a tent. Once again, saying all of that sounds like I need to throw away the Duplex this evening, but again I am not this critical in real life and have learned to use the tent to fit my needs, it just had a learning curve with it. Both tents are great in the end but there is definitely a good amount of sacrifice IMO that comes with the weight savings in this comparison. Hope this helps some folks!
    Last edited by Gambit McCrae; 12-27-2018 at 10:33.
    Trail Miles: 4,007.6 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    A footnote to Gambitís SS 2 review:
    I am a happy owner of the SS 1 with the real double wall inner tent body. It works quite well as it should.
    When or where insects are not expected to be a problem, the rain fly alone is a perfect fitted tarp.
    One vestibule for coming and going. One vestibule for gear storage.
    Whatís not to like?
    Wayne

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    A footnote to Gambit’s SS 2 review:
    I am a happy owner of the SS 1 with the real double wall inner tent body. It works quite well as it should.
    When or where insects are not expected to be a problem, the rain fly alone is a perfect fitted tarp.
    One vestibule for coming and going. One vestibule for gear storage.
    What’s not to like?
    Wayne
    Thanks Wayne! Yes as pictured in some of my photos one of my hiking buddies purchased the SS1 and has used it for 2 seasons now. Although he personally wishes he had gotten the SS2 for the extra room he has always been able to make it work no problem

  4. #4
    Registered User Maineiac64's Avatar
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    Very nice review Gambit, looking forward to the video. I am a duplex owner but never used any TT products. The duplex is indeed bulky, I do not carry outside pack due to the fragile nature of cuben fiber and me being a clutz out stumbling around in the woods. I am thinking of getting a plexamind for the smaller packed up size and lower weight. I find setting up the duplex quick and easy and seem to get good pitches consistently. I am not a fan of the vestibule loop/toggle thing which is a PITA to work, especially with one hand. I love the room that a duplex gives you, really nice to be able to spread out. The duplex is expensive but a very good, incredibly light tent.

  5. #5
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    Yup - different models but pretty much the same thing for me. I backpacked the first 500 miles of the AT with a $100 Coleman tent from Wal-Mart. Worked well but it weighed 4 lbs.

    Switched to the 2 lb. Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 when I got into Virginia. I love the weight savings but still take the ol' Coleman out for shorter trips. It's roomier and holds up better in strong winds.
    It's all good in the woods.

  6. #6

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    Sell both and get the SS Li, you'll be happy.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by martinb View Post
    Sell both and get the SS Li, you'll be happy.
    Thinkin about it
    Trail Miles: 4,007.6 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  8. #8
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I had a SS1 but sold it because it didn't fit me. I then bought a Duplex and haven't looked back. Easy to pitch, and the weight savings can't be beat. I have no issues with packability, and find it much more versatile compared to the SS because you don't have to deal with the poles.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPritch View Post
    I had a SS1 but sold it because it didn't fit me. I then bought a Duplex and haven't looked back. Easy to pitch, and the weight savings can't be beat. I have no issues with packability, and find it much more versatile compared to the SS because you don't have to deal with the poles.
    Are you speaking of the trekking poles or the chopstix on the ends?

  10. #10

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    Good write up. I own and used a Duplex on an AT thru hike. I cleaned/lubed up the zippers and had the seams retaped afterwords. I also replaced the guylines with thicker 2.7mm cord. Why? The duplex is now my car camping tent and ill probably never take it backpacking again, unless the need arises to share a tent. Having an ul 2 person is nice to have in the quiver.

    However, i didn't particularly like it for thru hiking. It has a large foot print, is kinda bulky, is, gasp, heavy for ultralight backpacking, and for me, there was simply too much room/space.

    I'm a minimalist hiker at heart and the duplex is literally the opposite of that.

    I know Zpacks loves the duplex and highly recommends it. But imo its overkill for the LD hiker. Double vestibules, two zippered sides. The reality is that the LD hiker doesnt really need that. It is nice to roll up all the storm doors though. Thats how i slept in my duplex most nights.

    After about two weeks in my duplex I wish I bought a smaller, lighter shelter for the thru hike. I would of happily traded for a solplex. To me, the duplex just isnt cozy. I am heading towards the 7 lb baseweight team though. So take that qitha. Grain of salt.




    Sent from my SM-J737V using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Are you speaking of the trekking poles or the chopstix on the ends?
    The chopstix.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  12. #12
    Registered User andymc's Avatar
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    Great review! Thanks for your insight on this comparison. Would love to see a video on this topic, but I totally understand finding the time can be difficult. Enjoyed the pictures as well!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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