As backpacking season has rolled around again, not a moment too soon, I find myself recommending one piece of gear more than any others when pressed for gear upgrade advice: The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 ($450) tent. Though it’s been out for a few years now, I’ve yet to find a tent with a better all-around package of weight, setup ease, comfort, and robustness. Plus, new in 2020, they’ve added hiking pole supported awnings, which are brilliant.
If you’re on the market for a new living space that can carry you through the rest of spring on through fall, it’d be awfully hard to beat this tough little tent.
At only three pounds, two ounces, the Copper Spur HV UL2 tent is still large enough for two tall adults but light enough to be used as a luxurious one-person tent. I’ve done both. During a recent trip to California’s Emigrant Wilderness, in a freezing rain that didn’t let up for hours, my wife and I, both well over six feet tall, comfortably lazed in the tent waiting out the storm. This is a rarity for us in a two-person tent—especially one geared toward the ultralight crowd—because, according to most tent manufacturers only children and adults under about 5’10” apparently sleep in tents.
Unbelievably, for a freestanding, two-person tent that weighs only three pounds, you get two doors and two full-sized vestibules, plenty large enough to park backpacks, boots, and cooking gear beneath, on either side. The doors are cut on the small side, so getting in and out occasionally requires impromptu yoga, but it’s an easy trade-off when it comes to weight. Plus, those awnings!
Setup is super intuitive. A single hubbed and color-coded main pole set (DAC Featherlite) erects the corners, and a cross pole gives you that blessed vertical headroom. The fly is just as easy to set up, is color coded, too, and there are four guy points should you require them, though you’ll want to bring extra guy line, as the tent ships with pretty short lines.
I’ve been very impressed with this tent in inclement weather. The fly stretches strong and taut and the tent geometry laughs off strong winds and rain.
The fly and floor of the tent are made of a waterproof 20d silnylon, and if you’ve got durability concerns, I don’t blame you. But after months of use, I’ve not had any rips, tears, major scuffs, shroud of Turin-level stains, anything like that. I wouldn’t dream of setting this up without a footprint (not included), or packing it outside my backpack, but take care with it, and I’ve no doubt it will provide years of pleasant lightweight tenting.
Big Agnes Also offers the Tiger Wall UL2, an even lighter, semi-freestanding option that will tempt many hikers with a weight savings of roughly 8 ounces over the Copper Spur, but it feels a bit smaller on the inside and is a little claustrophobic when camping with two adults. Plus, the tent floor is only a 15d nylon, even thinner than the Copper Spur, which is a bit too ethereal for my taste.
$450 • BUY
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It’s pretty hard to beat Sierra Designs in the bang for the buck category. Their Meteor 2 tent is roomier than any other tent listed here, and sure, it’s slightly heavier and slightly less packable, but it’s durable, would have been a top of the line tent 10 years ago, and costs only $290.
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