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Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Review

   

Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 4.5/5
Overall avg rating 4.5 of 5 based on 6 reviews. Most recent review: October 13, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $300 - $400 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros:  Above average space-to-weight ratio, comfortable for two people, guy points and low profile end make it strong in winds.
Cons:  Fabrics are less durable and less strong than SilNylons and cuben fibers used in ultralight shelters, 24 ounces heavier than lightest tent tested.
Best Uses:  Luxurious, moderately lightweight, three-season trips.
User Rating:     
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 (4.8 of 5) based on 5 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (5/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ December 30, 2012  
Overview
The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 is a high performance two-door backpacking tent for people that want more space than lighter tents offer. It weighs in at 55 oz. or 3 lb. 7 oz., has two spacious vestibules, and has an above average space-to-weight ratio. The tent has high quality ultralight fabrics that could be stronger and more durable. It competes fiercely with the Tarptent Double Rainbow and Hilleberg Anjan and Rogen.

Check out our full Backpacking Tent Review to see how these tents compare to others. Consider an Ultralight Tent for "hardcore" ultralight backpacking.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Livability
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.

The tent has the sixth highest space-to-weight ratio of all 24 tents tested. An impressively tall 42" peak height makes it easy to sit up at the front. 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 tents. Two 9-square-foot vestibules easily cover shoes and a moderate size pack. Two supportive side pockets hold nighttime essentials and an optional gear loft quenches the organizational thirst of the messy basecamper. Color-coded pole and fly connectors, and reflective quick adjust guy lines make setup brainless.

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Two doors and two vestibules, such as the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2's show here, provide lots of space for storing gear.
Credit: Max Neale
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Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 interior with optional wall pocket. Note the two side pockets and tall peak height.
Credit: Max Neale
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Julia enjoys the Marmot Plasma 30 with her New Yorker and tea. Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 tent.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab
Weather Resistance
The Copper Spur has a sturdy and well-designed pole construction that helps to offset its fragile fabrics. The tent uses the same materials found on the Fly Creek UL2. They're 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. Big Agnes uses a lightweight polyurethane coated ripstop nylon. A silicone coated ripstop or cuben fiber would be much stronger for the same weight and would greatly improve the tent's performance in serious storms or on long trips. See our Buying Advice Article for more about fabrics.

The Copper Spur has wonderful geometry that produces a tight pitch and holds steady in winds that bend many other light tents over. 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 to combat condensation (the company's Fly Creek series misses this critical feature).

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MSR Hoop as seen from the top of the Incredible Hulk (11,420). The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and Black Diamond Firstlight are also visible (can you find them?).
Credit: Max Neale
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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.
Credit: Max Neale
Weight and Packed Size
The Copper Spur 2 weighs 55 oz. or 3 lb. 7 oz. with the included DAC V stakes. This is 24 ounces heavier than the lightest tent tested. The tent packs down small for a two-door tent.

Adaptability
We give the tent a score of 1 here (the highest score is 3) because it must be pitched in the exact same way every time, which can be a drawback for long distance hikers or anyone forced to camp in sites that don't allow an optimal pitch. ultralight tents are much more adaptable. The Copper Spur works better than most when fast-pitched with the fly, footprint, and poles, but we don't believe fast-pitching is viable for serious backpacking. Nor do we recommend buying footprints. See our Buying Advice Article for more info on these topics.

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The Hilleberg Rogen and Anjan (left) are the only tents that pitch in a floorless configuration, which increases versatility and reduces weight, and is much stronger, lighter, and more weather resistant than "fast pitching" (right).
Credit: OutdoorGearLab and MSR
Limitations
The Copper Spur'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, which is a significant drawback if it was to get punctured. 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 (one might also want a lighter tent).

A relatively minor drawback: the Copper Spur isn't as stealthy as dark green tents such as the Hilleberg Anjan, Mountain Hardwear SuperMegaUL 2, and Terra Nova Solar Photon 2. If you want to be stealthy, dark green is generally the best color for the greatest variety of landscapes.

Best Application
Luxurious moderately lightweight three-season trips.

Value
The Copper Spur offers good performance for a reasonably high price. We plot retail prices and our scores for each tent in a Price versus Value Chart.

Other Versions
The Copper Spur comes in a few different sizes:

The Spur UL1 costs $369 and is the one person version of this tent. If you're looking for a tent that will provide more space, check out the Copper Spur UL3, $500, the three person version, or the Copper Spur UL 4, $629, the four person version.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 13, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.8)

100% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (4)
4 star: 33%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 5 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Oct 13, 2014 - 09:08pm
WhiteTomato · Hiker
Bought this tent to backpack with my hiking buddy. The tent is light and easy to setup. While the review discusses the weight, we split up the tent parts between the two of us.

It is quite roomy, perfect for two people. I agree with one of the other reviewers, though--I wouldn't use this if I hiked predominantly by myself (although I did take it for an overnighter).
The vestibule is great. Had a windy night and morning recently and used the vestibule for cooking.

The stakes are the one thing I will likely replace at some point for something that holds better. Haven't had any issues with the fabric yet but also haven't had it long enough to know for sure. I have had problems with the fabric catching in the zipper on the fly. Its especially onerous when you are inside trying to get out since its the outside part that gets stuck!

It is easy to set up though. I am tall so its got plenty of room to stretch out and plenty of headroom. Love all the interior pockets too.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 1, 2014 - 02:29pm
Splater · Climber · Grey Matter
This is the best all purpose lightweight backpacking tent for me. Has more interior headroom than the lighter tents.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 24, 2013 - 02:15am
Arc · Backpacker · Stanford, CA
I'm reviewing the 2011 version of the Copper Spur UL 2 now with two years of use behind it.

I really like this tent and agree that it's about the best you can do with double wall tents, aluminum poles, and silnylon. This tent has held up to backpacking and car camping in exposed alpine areas, forests, and deserts. My partner and I have ridden out windy nights and severe thunderstorms without a problem on multiple occasions. Once a severe storm parked over us for hours dropping over an inch and a half of rain but inside we were still dry. I trust it to keep the elements and bugs out when buttoned up or to let me stargaze and enjoy views in nice weather.

This tent is indeed a palace for one person and cozy for two. Honestly, I wouldn't carry it on my back for miles if it was just me using it. Try out a Tarptent Moment DW for that. But, for two this tent is cozy without being cramped. I'm just over 6ft tall and have room to spare at each end of the tent when set-up. I've used it with my partner and with friends.

While the inner side of the rain fly will frequently have condensation after rainstorms or when buttoned up tight in cool humid weather, drips into the living space aren't a problem. But, getting in and out will often result in a damp back.

One thing I did change recently was to swap out the V-stakes for carbon core pegs and I'd recommend upgrading stakes on the new tent as the holding power is a function of surface area and those shepherds hooks are pretty lousy on that count.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 14, 2013 - 07:13pm
simply_light · Backpacker · Midwest, Indiana
The Copper Spur UL2 is one of my favorite tents. It is a good balance between lightweight and durability.

I also love the side entry and that it is truly freestanding. Several other BA tents say they are free standing but use the Y-Frame Tent pole, so that the foot end really needs to be staked out.

Size is also great on this tent. If you use it for one person, it is a palace. Two is a squeeze, but I use it for my daughter and myself, so it is just right.

Pitching is a breeze and you can have it up in a couple of minutes.

Jared
www.simplylightdesigns.com

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 18, 2013 - 01:49pm
Bedz · Hiker · Canton
Love my Copper Spur II (HumbleOutdoors $340 w/free footprint). It is super light, packs small, and has two doors! I roll out without disturbing my partner. The material is thin, so a footprint and some extra care is in order,

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
Credit: Big Agnes
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