ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp

The ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp is a shaped tarp, which is constructed from .51oz Cuben Fiber. The tarp, stuff sack, and guy lines weigh in at 4.4oz on my scale. I’m not sure that it matters, but mine is Olive Drab colored. Due to crappy weather, I didn’t get any good pictures of this tarp in action, so here is a stock photo from ZPacks.com. I paid $195.00 for this tarp.

od_hexamid_front_m

This tarp is well constructed. All the seams are sewn AND taped, so seam sealing isn’t needed. All of the tie out points are bonded and seem very strong. The weights I measured are pretty close to the manufacturer’s specs (4.2oz vs 4.4oz). The tarp includes a stuff sack and guy lines, but you must supply your own stakes. There is also a 1-page instruction manual. Don’t be a dummy like me. Follow the instructions. An extended beak and bug netting are available for an extra fee.

I took this tarp out for a quick, rainy one-nighter on the AT (Route 325-Duncannon, PA). I had a few problems with it, but I also made a few mistakes, so I’ll be a little gentle with this review. First, I must mention that I didn’t do a backyard test with this tarp. The very first time I pitched it was in the field (BIG MISTAKE). The tarp pitches easily, but I set the trekking pole WAY too long. The instructions recommend 122cm, and I was closer to 135cm. This made the tarp sit too high, so it didn’t help at all with blocking wind. This high pitch also made the tarp a bit shorter and narrower, so the corners of my bivy hung out. This tarp fell down on my 2 or 3 times in the night because I kept bumping the trekking pole. It dawned on me after the 3rd time that the trek pole had one of those rubber feet on it, so it was sliding around very easily. Once I took the foot off and dug the carbide tip into the ground, the tarp stayed up the rest of the night (again MY MISTAKE). I’ll have to give you a better report after I learn to follow directions. This tarp does have a very slight learning curve, but I strongly believe that this tarp will function well in the future, if used as the manufacturer suggests. I’m a bigger guy, so I might consider switching to the Solo-Plus size of this tarp if dimensions become an issue.

One important tip: If you roll around in the night, angle the pole out to widen the usable area under the tarp.

Update: 4/26/13

IMG_0283I finally got another chance to use the Hexamid Solo two weekends ago. This time I opted to use the ZPacks Cuben Fiber Solo Ground Sheet (a clip-in bathtub floor specifically for this tarp). This time, camping under the Hexamid Tarp was MUCH more successful! Instead of an adjustable pole, I used a Black Diamond Z-poles Distance fixed-length trekking pole. The 120cm pole was the perfect length for this tarp, and solved all of the coverage issues I had last time. It also allowed me to properly position the pole, which solved the problem of knocking it down in my sleep. You’d be surprised how much reading the instructions can help! There wasn’t any precipitation on this trip, but I feel fairly confident that, with a carefully-planned pitch, this tarp would keep me dry in moderate rainfall. I’m still not sure how it would do in a full-on storm. Long story short: My opinion of this tarp has improved greatly, and I will continue using it for now.

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4 thoughts on “ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp

  1. David says:

    Do you feel that the cuben bathtub floor would obviate the need for a bivy sack around your bag? My worry would be getting my down wet.

    • dcbortz says:

      I’ve only used a bivy under this tarp once, and I felt that it was more of a hassle than it was worth. I’m generally not a “bivy person”, though. As long as you orient the tarp with the opening out of the wind, you shouldn’t have to worry about precipitation blowing under the tarp. There is plenty of ventilation under there, so condensation should be a non-issue. I can honestly say that I’ve had wetter nights in my TarpTent Rainbow (due to condensation) than I have under the Hexamid. If you live in a wet climate, an ultralight bivy might be a good idea, but the bathtub floor functions perfectly well for me in Pennsylvania.

      Thanks for reading!

      • David says:

        That’s good to hear. What kind of solution have you come up with for bugs? I know that they have an inner bug net, but that adds weight and also restricts the interior room of your shelter.

      • dcbortz says:

        The lightest solution would probably be a do-it-yourself bug net. You could buy a piece of noseeum mesh online and hang it from the trekking pole. It won’t keep all the creepy crawlers out, but it will keep the Mosquitos and flies at bay. You could also buy the “tent” version of the Hexamid. This surrounds you in mesh without sacrificing interior space. The only downside is that the floor is also mesh. You’d have to be very careful to avoid tearing it. Your bivy, if you choose to use one, would also help with bugs.

        Personally, I don’t use much of anything. If the bugs get too bad, I just pull my quilt up over my head. That works well enough for my region. New England black flies might not be as easy to deter as Pennsylvania Mosquitos, though. So, again, this can all kind of depend on where you live and/or camp.

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