< Go to Backpacking Tents

Hands-on Gear Review

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Review


Backpacking Tent

Click to enlarge
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $430 List | Sale $409.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Above average space-to-weight ratio, comfortable for two people, guy points, pole configuration and low profile end make it strong in winds
Cons:  Delicate fabrics require special treatment, 17.2 ounces heavier than the lightest tent in this review
Bottom line:  Our favorite tent for all your backpacking needs.
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes

Overview

The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 is a high performance two-door backpacking tent for people that want more space and comfort than lighter tents like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 offer. It wins our Editors' Choice Award because it is the best lightweight and comfortable backpacking tent. It weighs 52.6 oz. or 3 lb. 4.6 oz., has two spacious vestibules, and has an above average space-to-weight ratio. It does great in harsh weather, keeping its contents dry. The tent features high quality ultralight fabrics that could be stronger and more durable. It competes closely, and comes out on top, with the NEMO Blaze and the Tarptent Double Rainbow. We believe it is the most comfortable and easy to use of the three.

Big Agnes Spur Now Comes with Ambiance
Click to enlarge
If you're a night owl like this reviewer, but stress about draining the batteries on your headlamp, check out the Copper Spur HV UL2 mtnGLO. With integrated LED lights, a push of a button can control three light settings for optimum lighting for all your late night activities.

RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking tents

Compare Side-by-Side

Compare all Backpacking Tents >

Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Jessica Haist
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
November 24, 2016
The Copper Spur UL2 is an outstanding balance of weight savings and comfort, making for a top performing backpacking tent. We love its double doors, storm protection, and ample head room, all for just a tad over three pounds. This is truly a tent that we could take anywhere, from sea kayaking adventures to peak bagging missions.

Performance Comparison


Click to enlarge
The Copper Spur UL2 wins our Editors' Choice Award for being the most livable lightweight tent we tested.

Comfort


The Copper Spur strives to be both lightweight and spacious…and it succeeds! This is our favorite tent for luxurious lightweight backpacking with lazy afternoons spent reading The New Yorker, drinking tea, and frolicking around in fluffy down sleeping bags. It is a great compromise for two people backpacking together who want to go light, but don't want to sacrifice things like two doors and head room. For an even lighter option, but slightly less comfortable, check out the NEMO Blaze 2P.

Click to enlarge
Two ladies and all their junk go backpacking with the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. It's a cozy fit and Jessica is snug as a bug in the Women's Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 sleeping bag.

This tent is in the top five of the highest space-to-weight ratio of all 16 tents tested. An impressively tall 42" peak height makes it easy to sit up at the top, and it only slightly tapers down in the foot area so you hardly notice the change. Twenty-nine square feet of interior space and steep walls provide plenty of room to spread out and use the floor area to a greater extent than is possible on many lighter, cramped tents like the Copper Spur's little brother, the Big Agnes Flycreek HV UL2.

Two 9-square-foot vestibules easily cover shoes and a moderate size pack. A two-door tent is a luxury that most tents in this weight category cannot afford but makes sharing a tent a lot easier. Big Agnes has added four upper pockets along with the two supportive side pockets that were found in the previous version to hold nighttime essentials, and an optional gear loft quenches the organizational thirst of the messy basecamper.

Click to enlarge
Big Agnes has doubled up the pockets in the latest version of the Copper Spur UL2.

This is the best storage of any tent under four pounds that we've seen. We also like the updated bright and cheery orange color – although it is less stealthy than some tents we tested. The Copper Spur's inner doors zip down in a rainbow shape. We prefer a door that opens in a D pattern and find the Copper Spur's doors allow more dirt to enter the tent unintentionally because of the way they zip to the ground.

Click to enlarge
We like the new color combination of the Copper Spur, although it is less stealthy when trying to go unnoticed.

Weather Resistance


The Copper Spur has wonderful geometry that produces a tight pitch and holds steady in winds that bend over many other lightweight tents, including the Fly Creek UL2. Three guy points at the head and one at the foot help to secure it better than most light tents. A large vent above the head area helps combat condensation (the company's Fly Creek series misses this critical feature). The geometry is very similar to the MSR Hubba Hubba, and we noticed that both tents' fly materials squeak against the poles in high winds. We sat out many rain storms inside the Copper Spur, without a care in the world and stayed cozy and dry.

Click to enlarge
We sat out some serious rain storms in the Copper Spur and, along with our gear, stayed cozy and dry.

Durability


Big Agnes sacrifices a degree of durability to keep the Copper Spur's weight down. We think it is a good compromise – but you need to take good care of the tent. Its fabric is not particularly abrasion resistant and you'll need to make sure that it is well staked down if you are going to leave it unattended when it's windy out or you'll come back to it shredded to pieces. This tent has a sturdy and well-designed pole construction that helps to offset its fragile fabrics. It uses slightly more durable fabrics than the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (20D versus 15D), but they're still neither strong nor durable, and it's important to care for them like a baby.

A slight bit of bushwhacking tore the stuff sack and floor of a Copper Spur that was sticking out of the top of one tester's pack. For this reason we recommend always packing your tent inside your backpack to avoid any unnecessary abrasion. The NEMO Blaze sacrifices durability in its fly materials to the extreme and only has a fabric weight of 7D. We believe that silicone-treated nylon fabrics like the Copper Spurs and the Anjan are high quality and will stand the test of time better than cheaper coated polyester materials like the REI Passage 2 has that will degrade over time while stored in your garage (Hydrolysis) and are therefore less durable. To learn more about this process visit our How to Choose the Best Tent for Backpacking article.

Click to enlarge
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 uses ultralight material. Tear strength and abrasion resistance are compromised for weight savings. The stuff sack is made of the same material as the fly.

Weight and Packed Size


In their latest version, Big Agnes has worked to shave a few more ounces off the Copper Spur UL2, bringing it down to 52.6 ounces (they advertise it as 50 ounces – but not according to our scale). The Copper Spur's materials are very packable, but it is a bulkier tent than the smaller Fly Creek UL2. It packs to about the same size as the Hubba Hubba NX and is 3.5 ounces lighter. The NEMO Blaze and Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 are both smaller and more packable than the Copper Spur.

Click to enlarge
The Big Agnes Flycreek UL2 and the larger, more livable Copper Spur UL2.

Ease of Setup


The Copper Spur UL2 is relatively easy to set up and has a very similar pole design to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. It has a single, interconnected pole with two hubbed ends for extra strength in winds and a cross pole for extra headroom. It is completely free standing, so no funky stakeout maneuvers are required as with MSR FreeLite. Color-coded pole and fly connectors and reflective quick adjust guy lines make setup brainless. It comes with only minimal guy line attached, and it would be useful to have had more for all the guy points on the tent. Its stakes are decently strong and the tent comes with enough stakes for the critical points.

Click to enlarge
The Copper Spur UL2 is relatively quick and easy to set up.

As with all double wall backpacking tents, the setup of this tent is not very adaptable. You can take the fly off on warm summer days to check out the stars, but fly on and fly off are the two basic options. You can "fast pitch" it if you purchase the expensive footprint separately, but we don't think this is the best way to use the tent. The Hubba Hubba NX and the Anjan are more versatile than the Copper Spur because you can "fast pitch" them without a footprint.

Limitations


This award winner's greatest limitation is its fabric. Despite a full season all over the High Sierra, including three serious and one record-setting storm, our test model showed few signs of wear. Nonetheless, the fabric tears very easily compared to others like the REI Half Dome 2+ or the Anjan, which is a significant drawback. For many backpackers, the fabric will not pose a serious drawback, but for long distance hikers or anyone traveling to remote areas, we recommend something with increased strength and durability like the Hilleberg Anjan 2 or the Tarptent Double Rainbow.

A relatively minor drawback: the Copper Spur isn't as stealthy as green and grey tents such as the Hilleberg Anjan, or a stony grey like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2.

Click to enlarge
The Copper Spur's low profile end makes it more resistant to strong winds.

Best Application


The Copper Spur UL is a great choice as a lightweight option for two backpackers. Trips like the John Muir Trail or other multi-day backpacking, paddling or just camping would be perfect for this. If you're looking for a roomy, lightweight shelter for one, consider the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2.

Click to enlarge
Grab a friend and head into the backcountry with the Copper Spur UL2! It has an incredible space-to-weight ratio, making it lightweight as well as livable.

Value


The Copper Spur UL2 retails for $430. That's up $30 from last year. This is a serious investment for your backpacking gear. We think this is decent value if you are planning on doing a lot of backpacking trips, but not if you are only going to use it for car camping trips. If you want a great tent for shorter trips, car camping, or very occasional use, check out something less expensive and more durable like the NEMO Galaxi ($250) or the REI Half Dome 2 Plus ($219) or our Camping Tent Review. The Copper Spur is an expensive piece of equipment, and because it is made from lightweight delicate fabrics it needs to be treated with care and stored properly. For more information on caring for your tent check out our Buying Advice article.

Conclusion


This contender wins out Editors' Choice Award because it is the best all-around backpacking tent we've tested. It is the most comfortable, lightweight two-door tent in this review. It is lighter and more livable than the Hubba Hubba NX and we think it is more weather resistant than the Double Rainbow, but not quite as strong and durable as the Hilleberg Anjan 2. Its main drawback is its delicate materials and expensive price tag, but we think it is worth the investment if you know you will be doing a lot of backpacking with a partner.

Other Versions and Accessories


Click to enlarge
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
  • Top Pick Award Winner
  • Ultralight version of the Fly Creek series
  • Same Floor space as UL2 version
  • 1 lbs 9oz.
  • $550

Click to enlarge
Fly Creek UL1
  • Single Person version of the Fly Creek Model tent
  • 1 lbs 11oz. (26oz.) for poles, fly and tent body.
  • $319.95
  • Less mesh material on tent sidewalls (main reason for added weight)
Jessica Haist

Where to Buy?

Seller Price  Shipping Cost Visit
Amazon
$409.95  -  5% off! Check Site

Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 2, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 1 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Dec 2, 2016 - 01:11am
Matthew Bunker · Skier · Lakewood, WA
This is the first and only tent that I have ever bought and I absolutely love it. I've owned it for nearly 5 years now and have 60+ nights in it, in locations ranging from the Adirondacks to the Grand Canyon to the Olympic Mountains. It is not the lightest 2 person tent out there, but it is fairly comfortable and makes for a great solo tent as well. The fabric doesn't seem to be very bomber, but as long as you are careful it will hold up (I never bought the tent "footprint" and the floor of the tent has held up just fine). The only issue I've had with the tent is that one of the ends of the zippers on the rainfly broke, (it still zips shut though) but otherwise everything else has held up. It's super fast to assembly- I can set it up in under two minutes easily. Once while camping in the Catskills it started pouring while setting up camp and in my haste I put the rainfly on upside down - the tent still didn't leak at all! Finally, I've noticed that it does a great job trapping heat on cold nights, I swear it feels at least 10 degrees warmer inside the tent when you wake up in the morning. I cannot comment on wind resistance, most nights I've spent in it the weather has been fairly docile but as long as you securely stake her down I imagine that she can handle winds of up to 30mph without issue.

I would buy this tent again anyday.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Amazon $409.95  -  5% off!
Compare prices at 1 sellers >

*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.
Helpful Buying Tips

Unbiased.