Shelter Backpacks Sleeping Bags Accessories Materials FAQs Payments About/Photos
January 2015 - Welcome to ZPacks!

Most accessory items are in stock and are shipping in a day or two. Larger items like Backpacks, Shelters and Sleeping bags are made to order and are shipping in about 3 weeks. Rain Jackets are back in production and are running about 4 weeks.

If you need your order to be delivered sooner or by a certain date please email us after you order and we will schedule accordingly if possible. All ZPacks gear is made for you right here in our US workshop.

1/23/15 - There are a bunch of sleeping bags, a few backpacks and tarps in our Bargain Bin.
Frequently Asked Questions

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Misc - Tents - Backpacks - Sleeping Bags


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 number listed.
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 within a week. 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 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. Orders over $100 are sent via Priority mail for $45. Priority Mail 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 or exchanges?
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 you have any feedback or 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 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 I use?
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 projects.


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 measure here.

Are ZPacks backpacks waterproof?
The Cuben Fiber material is waterproof, and the packs are very water resistant. The seams and attachment points are the only water entry points. As of June 2013 the Blast and Arc Blast backpacks have fully taped stitching and should be relatively water tight. The Zero backpacks are not seam sealed by default but it is an option. In either case, consider adding a second layer of protection such as a Pack Cover, a Pack Liner / dry bags, or a poncho.

How much weight can I carry in your backpacks?
Our Arc Blast backpack has a frame and can handle heavier loads of up to 30 lbs (13.5 kg).

Frameless packs like the Zero and the normal Blast backpack 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.

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 trips.

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 material?
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 significant.

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 available.

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 unblocked unless you are getting wet from rain spray. A small peak vent would not make much difference in air flow.

Can you sew a Cuben Fiber floor into a Hexamid instead of using a separate bathtub groundsheet?
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 away from the rain. If your tent is wet you can un-clip the separate groundsheet and dry the tent and groundsheet twice as fast.

If you prefer a solid, sewn in floor, we now have Solplex and Duplex tents!

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?
Check out the Hexanet, or a Bivy.

How strong is the Cuben Fiber tent material? How about the groundsheets?
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 Tape.

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. This is an option on the tent pages.

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 packed together.

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 peak height.

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?
We've done several upgrades to our tent poles to help them withstand higher winds. The current poles are thicker than they used to be, and also have double layered internal ferrules, and wrapped joints to prevent them from splitting under stress. Trekking poles are a sturdier alternative to tent poles!

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 sack?
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 materials page.

  1. Cut both ends of the zipper tape so the sliders can pop off.
  2. Push on the new sliders with your fingertip. The sliders have grooves in the sides which must match the orientation of the zipper tape. (In other words the zipper tape needs to fit in the grooves). Make sure the two sliders come together evenly at the center.
  3. Tape the ends of the repaired zipper so the sliders can't slide off.

Sleeping Bags

Is your Goose Down ethically and environmentally sourced?
Yes. Our down supplier works hard to conform to environment and animal welfare regulations and standards. They buy no product from suppliers that live-pluck birds. They are Bluesign certified for environmental performance.

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 or x-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' 9" bag should cinch around the neck of a person who is 5' 9" tall.   If you are a bigger person, or 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 same volume.

The amount of down we use in our sleeping bags is explained Here

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-

Free Shipping on U.S. orders over $100!
Otherwise shipping is just $3.95 in the U.S., $15.95 Internationally and up.

Please send us an email with any questions!

Who we are:
Joe Valesko founded ZPacks in 2005. He designed and tested all the gear, and has thru-hiked over 9,600 long distance miles including the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Te Araroa Trail, and TGOC Scotland. Joe is available to answer any questions about gear recommendations, sizing, trail info, or anything requiring an experienced opinion.

Matt Favero receives your orders, oversees production at our shop, and ships out your orders. He has hiked much of the Florida Trail, parts of the AT, and TGOC Scotland. Matt handles most routine emails about your order. We love feedback and suggestions about our gear!

Please email us for our Address if you need to send any packages. We like to know what's coming! Our Phone Number is not listed. We are able to give a more informed answer via email, and we are normally very responsive. Please email us your questions and we will reply ASAP.