ZPacks Solo Plus Hexanet

P1010318A while back I sold my Hexamid Solo Plus tent, only to turn right around and pick up the tarp version. To be honest, for me, I found that dealing with the mesh floor (on the tent) in wet conditions (which is often around here) is less than ideal. The tarp version eliminates the mesh floor, which eliminates the fussiness, however, I still needed something for bug protection (we have a lot of bugs around here) for most of the year. So, after getting the Hexamid Solo Plus tarp in, I exchanged some emails with Joe (from ZPacks), then yesterday I received the result of those emails… the Solo Plus Hexanet!

A few things first. The Hexanet used to be an option which was listed on the ZPacks site, but over time, Joe decided to take that option down. So, I had to email him to discuss the possibility of me getting this one. Now, at this point in time, I cannot say how Joe will move forward with the Hexanet’s (and the best I can say for anyone interested in one is to simply email him and go from there). However, I can say that he has tweaked the design a bit from the original versions that was offered on his site, so maybe this is a possible start at getting them listed back on the site again…?

From what I understand (and personally saw of my buddy Gizmo Joe’s original solo Hexanet), the original Hexanet’s floor consisted of 5 full sides, which matched the shape of the Hexamid. The Hexanet that I have received has changed from this design just a bit. Mine is actually rectangular shaped (4 sides), which can be seen in the photo below. (And to be honest, I think that I like the idea of a rectangular shaped inner better…)

P1010322Another thing worth noting that is different with this one is that it is meant to be staked down to the ground, rather than clipped in to the corners of the Hexamid (although, I think it still could be done this way, but not sure how it would work out). The idea behind this is that by staking the Hexanet down to the ground, in the end, the mesh will be pulled tighter than when just clipped into the Hexamid, so there should be no/less sag in the mesh. As I said, I have pretty much no experience with the original design, so I cannot compare the two, but I can say that this idea seems to play out as anticipated. When staking the Hexanet down to the ground, and then erecting with the single pole, it does indeed pull the mesh tight, and the mesh does not sag as far as I can tell.

Saying this, I will admit that I am debating whether or not to add a pull out somewhere along the head end to take this one step farther, and actually pull the mesh away from me. Don’t get me wrong, this pull out is not to correct any sag in the mesh, but rather to take advantage of the slight stretch found in the mesh, and actually pull it outwards more, in order to give me a little more head room. I have debated adding a pull out to both the head & the foot end, but now I am just thinking about the head end only (to cut back on weight… this is “UL” gear after all…) But, before I add these to the Hexanet, I am going to just use it as is for a while and then go from there.

*I have decided to add one tie out to the back of the Hexanet (as seen in the photo directly below). I made a tape on tie-out from some single sided tape & some flat nylon cord. I applied this to the cuben floor on the Hexanet right below where the mesh attaches to the cuben. Then I used some 1/16″ shock cord and a mitten hook to attach the Hexanet to the back pull out of the tarp. I have found that this helps to slightly tension the back wall of the Hexanet a little more, and pull the floor up and out a little more, creating a higher bathtub floor, and freeing up a little floor space along the back wall. However, this is still in “testing” for me as to whether or not I continue to use it.

P1010352

Which leads me to fit…

Q: Do I fit inside the Hexanet?
A: In a word, yes.

However, this is a very subjective answer… meaning it will vary from person to person. And not just as an actual yes/no response, but on how well I actually fit, if that makes sense…

P1010347
P1010351
P1010350

When I lie down inside the Hexanet (on my new 1 inch thick, small size ProLite 3 sleeping pad) my head and feet are very close to the mesh. I can center myself under it so that neither is actually touching, but just barely. But, add my 2.5 inch, full length XLite sleeping pad, and yeah… I will be touching. Add a winter bag in the mix, and I will definitely be touching. Is this acceptable? Well, that depends on the user… for me, at this point, I am going to say yes, it is acceptable, but then again, only time, and use, will tell if I continue to feel this way.

I will say that there are a few things that I can do though, in order to get a little more room inside my Hexanet. The first is by adding the pullouts to the mesh as I mentioned earlier. To do this would be a rather easy DIY job (as I have done), or by simply using the adhesive pullouts and a little single sided tape from ZPacks. Of course though, this will add weight (granted only a very little), but moving the mesh away can also be done without adding the pullouts. As Joe pointed out in our emails, he used some of his gear that would be brought inside the Hexanet anyway to push the mesh out. He simply propped his backpack and his shoes up in the corners, which actually lifted the mesh out a bit.

As I said, in the end, I don’t think that I will mind if I am brushing against the mesh inner, as long as I am not crammed into it. In reality though, the point of the mesh is simply to keep the bugs at bay, and the Hexanet will do that. I don’t expect the mesh inner to protect me from rain, this is what the tarp (as well as good site selection and proper pitching techniques) is for.

Which leads me to set up. For that, here is a video that I shot yesterday. Let me say first though, this is an unboxing video, followed by a first time ever set-up. So, please don’t let my inexperience with the Hexanet take anything away from how awesome I think that this set-up is going to be…

I found that setting the Hexanet up is super easy! Lay it out, stake out the 4 corners, then insert a trekking pole in the cup located at the apex, and stake out the main line. Done.

However, this got me to thinking… is this a set-up in which the inner has to be set up first, before the outer? If so, we all know what that means when it comes to setting up in rainy weather. There is potential for the inner to get soaked (considering the amount of rain fall while setting up) before getting the fly (outer tarp) up. Considering my inexperience, I would say that for me, at this point, setting the inner up first would give me a better pitch, but I think that I can still get around that. I will get out there today and practice some different pitching techniques with both pieces though.**

However, after playing with both pieces outside for a while today, I realized that I can indeed set up the tarp first, and then the inner afterwards. After setting up the tarp as normal, I can crawl inside, lay the Hexanet out, clip it up to the apex of the Hexamid (somehow… still working on the best way to do this) and then stake out the four corners.

I obviously still have a lot of playing around (AKA: practicing/skill learning) to do, not with just the Hexanet, but with the Hexanet/Hexamid combo. At this point though, I am pretty dang excited about this set-up. I will admit, I was a little worried about what I would ultimately think about it, mainly how much interior room I would have, but I think I am going to be ok with it. I can still sit up in it and not feel so claustrophobic… Actually, at this point, one of my main concerns is if I plan to position my head or foot end at the door…

P1010358

However, there are a few things that I would like to see a bit different:

  1. I wish it had a taller bathtub wall across the front of the Hexanet. I figure that this has a lot to do with the 3 points of tension (top & 2 sides) on the front of the tarp. The 2 side’s want to pull the floor down, while the top wants to pull it up. I don’t see why this won’t work, but it seems a bit awkward to me and would like to see this improved somehow (if it does indeed need it).
  2. I feel like there is a lot of tension on the mesh where the door makes the turn at the bottom. I believe that this is due to the stress from being pulled in 3 different directions (as stated above) and feel like this is very likely the first place to fail (AKA: the weak spot). As well, if it does fail, I would be afraid that it may be a hard repair due to the amount of stress as well as the fact that the mesh couldn’t handle more stress from a repair. Should it tear, I believe a new patch of mesh would have to be sewn completely around the damaged area. (Keep in mind, this is only speculation though.)
  3. I was hoping that the floor would be all one piece. After my most recent flooding experience, I like the idea of a solid, one piece floor better. This way the chance of water seeping in is very unlikely due to the lack of seams. The floor in my Hexanet does have a seam right across the middle (front to back) which is sewn and then taped.
  4. I feel like a piece of shock cord (as opposed to non-stretchy cord) between the trekking pole cup and the apex of the Hexanet would be beneficial. Since the Hexanet needs to be staked out now, when pulling the Hexanet up with a trekking pole, it looks (and feels) to me like there is a lot of tension on the zipper, as well as the mesh that the zipper is sewn to, where the door turns at the bottom (refer back to #2). I noticed that when sitting inside the Hexanet and putting my feet out, this area does not give at all and I am afraid that if I were to accidentally put too much pressure here from crawling in or out of the Hexanet, then something is going to give somewhere. Considering the mesh is the weakest part of the Hexanet, I would imagine this is what will give. I feel like if there was a piece of shock cord at the top then it would allow some up & down movement in this area, which would lessen the amount of stress. (Again, this is speculation. As well, this may be a pretty easy fix on my end.)

As far as packing everything up, I am of the meticulous kind that prefers to fold and roll as opposed to just stuffing and cramming. Not saying my way is right, just my preference. That being said, I think that the stuff sack that came with the Hexanet is a bit big, however, I found out that I can easily fit both the tarp & the Hexanet inside the one stuff sack!

P1010342

And last, but not least, weight. As delivered, the Hexanet and the stuff sack with the one single guyline for the front came in at 8.95 oz (I say 8.95 because on my scale it kept rocking between 8.9 & 9 oz). However, since receiving it, I have added the DIY tie out, a small shock cord with the mitten hook, and likely a little more. I am trying some short pieces of shock cord on the front 2 tieouts to see if these will keep the front tight, while relieving some of the stress along the front. As well, I am still fiddling around with it to see what the best way for me to attach the apex of the Hexanet as high up in the Hexamid as possible to get the least amount of sag when pitched under it…

At most, I believe that the Hexanet with everything will come in around 9.2 oz after I am done. This means that the total weight of the Hexanet, the Hexamid (w/ all guylines & stuff sack) and the stakes will come in at around 18.4 – 18.5 oz. but we shall see once I am done with it (if I ever get done fiddling with it…)

Also, it is worth noting, this is the same weight as was my Hexanet with the mesh floor and extended beak, the Solo Plus (light) ground sheet, and all guylines & stuff sacks, however, with the tent there is less fiddle factor, and the tent allowed one to take advantage of all possible interior space beneath the tarp. With this in mind, one could say that I traded one fiddle factor for another…  but isn’t that the way it is with ALL gear? We must pick and choose…

So, as I said, I am not sure how Joe plans to move forward with his Hexanet’s. Also, as I mentioned, he did some tweaking to this one from his original design, so he may have some more tricks up his sleeve to improve on this design even more, and maybe this feedback will help out some.

For now though, I will head back out and tinker some more (like it’s not fun playing with new gear!).

UPDATE:

Yes, I know I just published this article about 2 hours ago, but I have an update on the Hexanet.

I also sent this information to Joe when I published this post. Since then I have exchanged a few more emails with Joe (see, he is crazy fast on responding!) I have decided to send this particular Hexanet back to Joe and he is going to make another one for me. Here is what I have requested with the new one:

  1. An easy way to attach the Hexanet under the Hexamid, but is able to get the top of the Hexanet all the way into the top of the Hexamid.
  2. A seamless floor.
  3. Some way to relive the tension or get some stretch in the door at the corner.

Joe feels like he can address these issues for me with the next one. I do have a trip that I will be heading out in mid July, so he is going to have the other one to me in time for that trip, so I will do an update on this then, either before I hit the trail, or while on the trail…

Until then, thanks for stopping by.

UPDATE:

I just got my final version of the Hexanet in! Check out THIS POST for all the details…

Or, click HERE to buy your own…

~Stick~

Disclaimer: I paid for this Hexanet with my own, hard-earned money, although, Joe did give me $50 off of what the Hexanet’s sold for when they were listed on the site. I am under no obligation to write about this item, and have no affiliation with ZPacks. The statements in this write-up, and on my video, are of my own opinion, formed after personally handling the Hexanet.

EDIT to add a video:

About these ads

About Chad “Stick” Poindexter

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
This entry was posted in Gear, Tarps, Tent and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to ZPacks Solo Plus Hexanet

  1. When I ordered my Hexamid, I inquired about possibly having a cuben floor sewed in rather than having the mesh at the bottom. This option was available but I ended up going with the mesh floor so I could have a separate ground sheet if I use an AT shelter. Your setup seems to offer the advantage of being able to set up the inner alone on clear nights so that is a plus. But the downside would appear to be lack of a separate groundsheet for shelters although I guess you could lay out the hexanet and just sleep on top of the mesh if needed. Anyway thanks for posting these videos!

    • Stick says:

      I like the ground sheet separate for the same reason as you stated, being able to use it alone if need be, but also so that if it ever wears out, then replacing it is easier to do than if it were sewn in.

      And it is funny that you mention setting it up inside shelters… this is part of what persuaded me to go with this set-up. A number of times I have stayed in shelters with buddies, and watched them pull out their bug bivies, and even the Hexanet’s and set it up right inside the shelter. (Granted, the shelters were not full.) It was easy. They just attached the peak guyline to a rafter on the ceiling, and done. This protected them from bugs, and gave them room to sit up and actually move around in… And I will admit, the mesh does impede air flow a little bit, but with a bigger interior space (like in this one) I don’t think it will be as much of an issue.

      Anyway, as I updated in my post, I am sending this one back to Joe (it is the first prototype that he has built) and he is sending me another one with a few things changed on it. It should be here in time for my hike mid July, so I am looking forward to getting it back in… :)

      ~Stick~

  2. vizcara says:

    I think this is really great you working with joe on the design of this tent system. it surely will end up being a good thing for all you giving your imput. I wish other companies where like this. but then again this is why cottage industries are so great. I fully support those small mom and pop shops. here here for the little man.

    • Stick says:

      I don’t know if I would say that I am “working with Joe” on the Hexanet… However, I do hope that the feedback I try to give is helpful… Anyway, I am looking forward to getting the new one in and checking it out! I was hesitant to send the first one back… :)

      ~Stick~

  3. jeffrey armbruster says:

    Terrific Stick: I have the Hex solo plus with beak and like it. I’ve only used it for five nights in dry conditions. The mesh floor has not been an issue, so far, as I thought it might. My guess however is that I’ll end up going with the Hexanet. Partly this is because of condensation issues. It’s true that I’m still refining my tent pitch technique with the Hexamid, and learning to leave more open net area all around for breezes when I’m in condensation prone sites. Really, just a little breeze solves condensation issues with the Hexamid, at least in my limited time using it. But I am crossing over from a double wall tent (BA Fly Creek) and must say that I’m spoiled by how a net interior really helps with condensation.

    The Hexanet seems to solve the wet net floor problem. It also looks like it provides a deeper bathtub than the Hexamid/cuben floor. The Fly Creek uses silnylon instead of mesh way up on the inner at no weight penalty. This provides better splash/wind protection. I wouldn’t mind seeing more cuben fabric even higher up on the Hexanet, especially on the ‘beak’ side of the tent, to help with rain splash/wind protection. Maybe this is just me not yet fully trusting the rain worthiness of the Hexamid on the beak side, due to lack of experience. Still, it’s a thought.

    It looks like a user loses a bit of interior space with the Hexanet. Part of the beauty of the Hexamid is it’s luxurious inner space for a solo hiker. Personally, I would trade losing some space for the advantages of (perhaps) better foul-weather worthiness and fewer condensation concerns.

    Thanks for all of your good posts on this tent and other topics besides!

  4. jdrower says:

    Chad, You mentioned you sold your Solo + tent. What venue do you use for that? Is the Hexanet setup what you’ll use for the rest of the , , , ? And lastly, will you be reviewing the Six Moon Designs Skyscape – X? Happy Trails to the Family and You, JD

    • Stick says:

      JD,

      I sold the tent on the BPL Gear Swap thread. For the most part, the folks there are pretty trustworthy.

      At the moment, I have the Hexamid with the Hexanet and the Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform SW tent. My plans are to keep them both, and use whichever one I feel like for a given trip.

      I doubt I will be reviewind the Skyscape X. I have owned the Trekker and it was a nice tent in my opinion. With this in mind, I would be fine trying out the X, however, I cannot justify spending that much money when I am happy with the ones I have. But if you are interested in reviews, be sure to check out HikeLighter.Com for some. John has used then extensively and has some write ups over there…

      ~Stick~

Leave Your Comment Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s