Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Two large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weight
Cons: Expensive, delicate materials
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This tent is an outstanding balance of light weight and comfort, making it a top-performing backpacking tent. We love its two large side doors and ample headroom. This is truly a tent that we could take anywhere, from sea kayaking adventures to peak bagging missions.
The Copper Spur HV UL2 strives to be both lightweight and spacious…and it succeeds! It is an excellent compromise for two people backpacking together who want to go light, but don't want to sacrifice things like two large doors and headroom. This tent takes the unique approach of having two different zipper tracks on the doors (as opposed to one track with two zippers). We have to say that we didn't notice any huge performance difference.
Perhaps the most notable thing is that when the door is closed, the zippers are automatically in the right spot in case you want to stick your hand out to reach something in the vestibule instead of having the slide the zips around to the right place first. The tent itself is a solid 88" long and 52" wide at the head. The taper down to 42" at the bottom is noticeable, but the pre-bent poles make for some steep walls and contribute to a high interior volume while the cross pole creates a lot of lateral space at peak height.
A really respectable 42" peak height makes it easy for both people to sit up. Twenty-nine square feet of interior space provides plenty of room to spread out and use the floor area.
Two 9-square-foot vestibules easily cover shoes and a moderate size pack. This model features large overhead pockets (one overhead and one at the foot end) that can store pretty much anything reasonable that you would carry into the backcountry. Two supportive side pockets can hold nighttime essentials. The privacy panels taper from head to foot but we found that they were high enough to keep us covered from most angles. This is some of the best storage that we have seen for a tent under four pounds.
Ease of Set-Up
The Copper Spur HV UL2 is relatively easy to set up. It has an interconnected pole structure, including a cross pole that is responsible for much of the headroom. It is completely free-standing, so no funky stakeout maneuvers are required to get it to full volume. This tent goes a little further than the traditional grommet that often holds each pole in place at the corners; instead, this model comes with a teardrop-shaped mechanism that holds the pole fast, which we appreciated when we had to pitch it solo. Its stakes are decently strong, and the tent comes with enough of them for all of the critical points.
It comes with color-coded poles so that you can quickly tell how to orient them. You can also "fast pitch" it (just poles, fly, and footprint) if you purchase a footprint, sold separately, but we don't think this is the best way to use the tent.
This tent has a nice geometry that produces a tight pitch, holding steady in the wind. The vestibule is hugely adaptable. It can pitch in a more traditional format with full-volume vestibules. The fly doors can also be propped open with trekking poles and guyline to create an awning that allows you and your stuff to stay protected in light mist or harsh sun while maintaining excellent ventilation. There are also a variety of intermediate options that allow you to balance ventilation and protection.
We also appreciate the flap over the fly zipper than prevents water from seeping through. The guy points at the head and foot help to secure this tent better than most lightweight competitors. A large vent above the head area helps combat condensation.
Durability is a delicate balance with a tent this light, but for the most part, it does a good job. We think it is a good compromise — but it requires more care than burlier models. Its fabric is stronger than it looks and feels, but at the end of the day is still going to be less rugged than a model with a 65D polyester floor.
This tent has a sturdy and well-designed pole construction that helps to offset its potentially fragile fabrics. They provide both flexibility and rigidity. Some tents can stand a little more abuse than others. This is one of those models that will treat you well for a long time so long as you treat it well. We wouldn't necessarily recommend it for a night out with the kiddos, and we have our concerns about the nails of our four-legged friends on the nylon floor.
Weight & Packed Size
This tent weighs in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces. It does an excellent job of minimizing heft while maximizing interior space. Split between two people and the load is a breezy pound and a half per person.
This model's materials are very packable with bagged dimensions of 19.5"x6". We wouldn't hesitate to take it for a couple of weeks in the backcountry.
One person can pack the whole tent and still have enough room in their pack for personal gear and food for a few days. As noted above, there is a fast-pitch option if you are willing to drop additional dollars on a custom footprint. Overall, leaving the tent body behind will save you about a pound, which, for us, quite honestly isn't all that worth it if given all of the benefits that the tent itself offers.
The Copper Spur UL2 is a serious investment for your backpacking gear. We think this is a decent value if you are planning on doing a lot of backpacking, but not if you are only going to use it for, say, the occasional car camping trip. However, if you use it consistently and care for it, we think that the load you don't carry on your back will make up for the initial price tag.
This contender wins our Editors' Choice Award because it takes a share of the title for best all-around backpacking tent we've tested. This two-door tent does an exceptional job of balancing comfort and weight. Despite its lightweight fabrics, it has solid weather resistance. It comes with a big price tag, but we think it is worth the investment if you know you will be doing a lot of backpacking, particularly with a partner.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch