Hands-on Gear Review
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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.
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Luxurious moderately lightweight three-season trips.
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.
The Copper Spur comes in these various sizes:
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1, $369.
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3, $500.
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4, $629.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 1, 2014
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