Misc - Tents - Backpacks - Sleeping Bags
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Where are you located?
We are currently located in Palm Bay FL, 32909. Joe and Sheryl are originally from
near Rochester NY.
Can I call you to ask questions or place an order? I don't see your
If you can ask your question via email please do so as that is
more efficient for us. Our email address is listed at the bottom of
the page and we are normally very responsive. If you need to call
you can email and ask for our number.
We can't take credit cards over the phone, only through the website.
Checks or Money orders are also fine.
How long does it take to ship my order?
Accessory items are usually in stock and ship in a day or two
(Mon-Sat). Backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents are built when you order them, lately
there has been a waiting list. See the notice at the top of the page
for the wait time. Feel free to ask before you order if you need something quickly
and we will get it out sooner if possible.
How much is shipping? Can you ship to my country?
Shipping is free on U.S. orders over $100. Otherwise shipping is just $3.95 in the U.S.
All orders are sent USPS. We can ship to anywhere that
www.usps.com will send packages,
which is pretty much everywhere in the world.
International Shipping - Orders under $100 get sent first class mail for
$15.95. First class mail does not have any tracking once it leaves
the US and occasionally packages get lost. $45 gets you Priority
mail, which is faster, has tracking and rarely gets lost. $55 for
Express mail is the fastest option and also includes $100 of insurance.
All orders are sent USPS
Do you accept returns on custom built backpacks and other items?
Yes. You can return any item in new or lightly used condition for up
to 30 days after you receive the item for a full refund, minus the shipping
fee. We will also do free repairs, or replace any defective product
for up to a year. If it has been more than a year, we can probably
still do repairs for free depending on the situation. Just ask!
If there is something that you don't like, or if you have an idea on
how to improve an item, please let us know!
How long have you been doing this?
Joe has been building his own gear since the late 90's, and opened ZPacks.com in 2005.
We now have a staff of seamsters and seamstresses to help build your
gear, and Matt Favero is acting manager whenever owners Joe and
Sheryl Valesko are out hiking.
Joe thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004, the Pacific Crest
Trail in 2007, and the Continental Divide Trail in 2009. Joe and
his wife Sheryl thru-hiked the Te Araroa in 2012-2013.
I want to make my own gear. What size thread, needle, etc should
Most of the materials you might need are available on our materials
page. We use size 40 Tex bonded Polyester thread and a size 14 or 16
needle. Most home sewing machines are fine for do-it-yourself
Can you build me X?
Maybe, feel free to ask Joe. I often do modifications, and other items that are not listed. You can add
extra charges to your cart from the Payments
How do I measure for Torso Height on your packs?
The default measurement on the pack is 21" measured from the
bottom of the belt to the top of where the straps are sewn to the
pack. I like the straps to come roughly horizontal over the tops of
my shoulders. You can view a graphic helping to show you how to
Are ZPacks backpacks waterproof?
The Cuben Fiber material is waterproof, and the packs are very water
resistant. They should not be considered 100% waterproof due to the
sewn through seams, attachment points, and inevitable wear and tear.
They will do fine in light rain or a brief shower, but in an all day
downpour consider adding a Pack Cover, a
Pack Liner, or a poncho.
How much weight can I carry in your backpacks?
Frameless packs are comfortable with weights under 20 lbs (9 kg).
Heavier weights will start to get uncomfortable on your shoulders.
You can get away with heavier loads on occasion, but if you plan to
carry over 20 lbs on a regular basis you will be better off with a
pack with a frame. A base weight (all gear without food or water) of
8 lbs (3.8 kg) or less is a good target for a frameless pack.
Our Arc Blast backpack has a frame and can handle heavier loads of up to 30 lbs
Should I go with the normal 1.43 oz/sqyd Cuben Fiber Material or
the heavier 2.92 oz/sqyd Hybrid material?
I used packs made with the 1.43 oz/sqyd material on my 2007 Pacific
Crest Trail and 2009 Continental Divide Trail thru-hikes. In both
cases the packs lasted the full 2600+ mile trips (with some duct
tape repairs) but the material was very frayed and ready to be
replaced by the end. If you want the lightest backpack
possible the 1.43 oz/sqyd material is fine, especially for shorter
Many people including Joe and Sheryl have completed thru-hikes with our newer Hybrid
material backpacks. Those packs held up much better and were
still in good condition at the end. The material
only adds a couple ounces to the weight of a pack, a small price to
pay for the added durability on a long trip. If you are doing a
thru-hike, get the Hybrid Material, such as our Arc Blast pack!!
What backpack do you recommend?
The Arc Blast is slightly heavier than our other packs, but it is
also the best in terms of comfort and durability. Sheryl and I
thru-hiked the Te Araroa in 2012-2013 and we both found the frame,
and tougher material to be a big improvement over the frameless
packs we used on our previous hikes.
Do I need to adjust the tension on my Arc Blast's stays?
Yes. Try to make sure the left and right sides are adjusted evenly. We usually adjust the tension so
that the stays are flexed about 2.5" at the middle. When
traveling (on a plane etc), let out the tension so the stays are
straight and the backpack packs smaller.
How transparent are the Hexamids? Can you see through the
All of the Cuben Fiber colors are somewhat transparent. You can
see the silhouette of a person inside a tent, and some light shines
through the material. The Blue and Olive Drab colors are slightly
less see-through than White but the difference is not that
What color tent should I get?
If you like to blend in with your surroundings choose Olive Drab.
Olive drab is the most popular choice.
If you like to stand out choose Blue.
If you like the classic Cuben Fiber look, choose White.
None of the colors offer any advantage other than aesthetics.
Does Cuben Fiber degrade in Sunshine?
Most plastics break down under excessive sun exposure, and Cuben
Fiber is no different. A day or two in the sun here or there will
not hurt it, but it is probably not a good idea to leave a tent set
up in the yard all summer.
How do Hexamids do in the Wind?
The tents do pretty well in the wind, about the same as a
typical tarp. The material was originally designed as sail cloth,
and it can handle high wind loads without tearing. The tie outs are
reinforced very well and can handle being buffeted in the wind. Try
to find a sheltered spot when possible, and aim the back or side
into the wind if you are exposed.
The main thing is to make sure the stakes are securely in the
ground, especially the front center stake. If you are camped above
tree line, or in a windy area pile rocks on the stakes if rocks are
Will I get cold if it is windy?
The tents are intentionally made to have alot of airflow to
reduce condensation, they have 6" of screen around the perimeter.
If it is windy and cold you can un-clip your groundsheet and slide
it up against the wall to block wind from coming in the screen. Either that or use your
backpack and spare gear against the screen as a wind break.
Do the tents get Condensation?
All single wall shelters will get some condensation in cold humid
conditions. Even a flat tarp with no one under it will collect some
moisture in the right conditions. The Hexamids are open and
airy to avoid condensation from your breath. The tents are large
enough to keep your gear away from the potentially wet walls, and
any condensation will run down the walls and out harmlessly through
the screen floor.
Camp up higher, away from lakes and streams, and under tree cover to
help minimize water vapor in the air. Open grassy areas are prone to
collecting dew and condensation. Look for a dry area under trees.
Can you add a peak vent?
The tents already have a ton of airflow. Leave the extended beak
up and the large screen entryway open unless you are getting wet
from rain spray. A small peak vent would not make much difference in
Can you sew a Cuben Fiber floor into a Hexamid instead of using a
separate bathtub groundsheet?
Yes, but you would lose alot of versatility. It would also add about
$50 to the cost due to the extra sewing and seam-taping required.
On long trips you will inevitably want to use the groundsheet alone
to sleep under the stars on nice nights. Or sleep on a dirty shelter
floor, a garage floor at a trail angel's house, or other situations.
If rain spray or wind is blowing at one side of you tent a
separate groundsheet can be folded up or shifted to compensate. If
your tent is wet you can un-clip the separate groundsheet and dry
the tent and groundsheet twice as fast.
Can I camp on the sand, on tent platforms, rocky areas, or other
places where stakes won't work?
Yes, it just takes more work. You can wrap the guy lines around
rocks, driftwood, logs, etc. Or lay the stakes sideways and pile
rocks on them.
Can you make a separate bug shelter for the Hexamid tarps?
We used to make a separate bug shelter called the
HexaNet. It required more
stakes and did not pitch as well as the Hexamid tents. It also had
less space. Most customers seemed to agree that the tent version was
better, so we are now focusing on the tents.
How strong is the Cuben Fiber tent material? How about the
The tent material is thin, but has high tensile strength and it does
not tear easily. The abrasion and puncture resistance are only
moderate, but tents normally don't get any abrasion. Our Cuben Fiber
groundsheet material is twice as thick and resists punctures better.
The tents and groundsheets are extremely easy to repair with Cuben
At least one person (Dave "Freebird" Osborn) has done THREE full
thru-hikes with the same Cuben Fiber Hexamid without a problem.
Can you make my tent using stronger material?
We haven't had any problems with the normal .51 oz/sqyd tent
material, but sure we can do any tent in Green .74 oz/sqyd material.
It would add about 1.5 ounces to the weight and $15 to the cost.
What is the packed size of the tents?
All of the tents are shipped in a 6" x 12" size medium Cuben Fiber
stuff sack. The stuff sack will fit both the tent and a groundsheet
When I set up my tent the screen door is
stretched too tight and the zipper has a hard time zipping. What am
I doing wrong?
You have the tent tilted backwards too far, which is bringing the
front up too high. Think of the peak of the tent as the fulcrum. You
need to bring the front of the tent forward and down so the screen
door is looser. Try playing with the distance apart of the two front
corner stakes to give yourself more or less slack and more or less
There is a loop of elastic with a mitten hook at the peak of my
tent. What is that for?
The tents include 5 elastic loops with mitten hooks at the corners
for clipping a groundsheet in place. A 6th loop is temporarily
clipped to the peak of the tent. Move it down to the front center of
your groundsheet and clip it around your trekking pole to keep the
front of your groundsheet elevated.
Or leave the elastic and hook at the peak of the tent to hang your
flashlight, watch, etc.
How sturdy are the optional tent poles?
The ultralight tent poles will flex in high winds so it is better to
choose a sheltered spot if using the poles. So far we have not had
any reports of the current poles snapping, but the flexing can be
disconcerting in a storm. Trekking poles are much sturdier!
Can I wash my tent and other Cuben Fiber gear?
Hand wash any Cuben gear in a bucket or bathtub with laundry
detergent and warm water. Line dry. Do not put any Cuben gear in a
dryer on high heat or it may shrink!
Should I Fold and Roll the tent or just cram it into the stuff
I normally fold and roll. It seems to trap less air and compress
smaller compared to crumpling it up. It also keeps the tent from
getting all wrinkly. Other than that, cramming should be fine too.
Help! My zipper stopped working!
We use standard #3 YKK zippers, the same kind as in most other
ultralight gear. Metal zipper sliders can wear down over time,
especially in dusty, gritty conditions. If that happens the zipper
won't seal properly. Luckily zipper sliders are cheap and easy to
replace, even on the trail. If you are doing a thru-hike on a dusty
trail (like through the desert on the PCT for example) you may want
to carry a couple extra sliders, available on the
- Cut (or unstitch) both ends of the zipper.
- Slide off the old sliders.
- Push on the new sliders with your fingertip. Make sure
they come together evenly.
- Tape (or sew) the ends of the zipper so they can't slide off.
What size sleeping bag should I choose?
Our regular width bags run slim. If you are a bigger person or want
wiggle room choose the wide width.
The length is meant to be able to cinch around the neck of a person
up to the specified height. For example a medium length 5' 10" bag
should cinch around the neck of a person who is 5' 10" tall.
If you are a bigger person, if you are on the line in height and
have big feet, or if you just want extra length to bundle up around
your head size up a length.
What do you think of the new Water Resistant down?
The manufacturer's testing shows that the down takes longer to wet
out and clump up, but it does still get soaked if it is exposed to
water long enough.
You still need
to be careful to keep your down gear dry.
Other sleeping bags I have compared have more down than your
bags, how come?
The important metric to compare when looking at sleeping bags is the
amount of loft, not necessarily the amount of down used.
Our bags have a slim efficient design, and they don't have hoods so
there is less volume to fill. We also use the highest quality 900
fill power down. Lower quality down requires more down to fill the
The amount of down we use in our sleeping bags is explained
I get cold at night, what should I do?
Alot of factors can affect how warm a person is at night. For
example body fat, clothing worn, metabolism, whether or not you
are enclosed in a tent or exposed to wind and drafts, humidity,
how acclimated you are to cold weather, etc.
The temperature ratings on our bags, or more to the point, the
amount of loft in the bags is meant to be comparable with other
mainstream bags with the same temperature rating. If you know you
typically get cold at night, consider going down to a lower
temperature rating than you need.
If it is really cold make sure to fluff up your bag at the
beginning of the night, and shake more down to the top. Sleep in a
warm jacket and whatever clothes you have, and sleep in your tent
to stay warmer.
Is the zipper uncomfortable to lay on?
The zipper is thin and is not very noticeable. The only "bump"
is the metal slider. When the zipper is zipped up the slider will be
in the small of your neck and there will not be any pressure on it.
When the zipper is unzipped it will be between your calves. We have
not had any reports of discomfort from the zipper.
Will laying on the zipper damage my inflatable sleeping pad?
It shouldn't. The zipper slider is rounded and there are no
sharp edges. I use a NeoAir myself and have not had any issues.
What is the difference between Baffle Height and Loft Height?
Sleeping bags are divided into compartments. Separating each
compartment is a vertical wall called a baffle. Our sleeping bags
are stuffed with 30% more down than it should theoretically take to
fill each compartment. That means that under ideal conditions if the
down is fully lofted the compartments will bow out and you will get
more loft between baffles.
The short answer is the loft height should be at least equal to the
baffle height, but may be higher between the baffles if the bag is
fluffed up well.
Other questions can be sent to the email address below-