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Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Review

A comfortable, lightweight tent great for a weekend or a week
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $500 List | $499.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocket
Cons:  Small vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior space
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 24, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 14
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 offers all of the same great features of its two-person sibling, so it's no wonder that we like it just as much. With its two large side doors and expansive headroom, it maintains a lot of livability and earns a Top Pick Award as an excellent 3-person option. It has good weather resistance, and it all comes together in a package that is lighter than many of the two-person tents in our review. The tapered floor doesn't serve it quite as well as it does for its smaller counterpart — it is better used as a roomy two-person than a full-fledged 3P; however, it's still a rock-solid tent.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Copper Spur 3 offers a lot of versatility; it is, of course, designed to accommodate three people. However, its weight means that it is still a reasonable load if it's split between two. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 takes a top spot against other three-person options and even performs well relative to other 2Ps.

Performance Comparison


Truly a solid tent for two or three people.
Truly a solid tent for two or three people.

Comfort


This tent has its comfort, pros, and cons. We love the two large doors on each side, which make entering and exiting the tent easy. Some of our testers find the dual-zipper configuration a little inconvenient because it requires two hands and a little more time to open and close, but this is a minor inconvenience. On the flip side, the (minor) benefit is that if you are lying down and realize you need to grab something from the vestibule, the zippers are already in the right position to open just a little bit to stick out your arm.


The gear storage pockets are a huge plus. There are two massive pockets, one overhead and an even larger one at the foot end to store a ton of gear. There are also smaller side pockets that help organize small items that you would want to reach for easily. At 70" at the head, it is just a nudge wider than other 3Ps in this review. With its 43" peak height, it falls in the middle, but it does bump the length up to 90" from the 2-person's 88". The tent also comes with pre-bent poles to maximize interior volume. All good so far.

There is just enough room to fit three in this tent  though it could feel pretty cozy  especially with the taper at the foot.
There is just enough room to fit three in this tent, though it could feel pretty cozy, especially with the taper at the foot.

The drawback is the taper. It's a much tighter 62" at the foot. For context, a standard sleeping pad is 20" wide, so three of them take up just about every bit of wall-to-wall space at the foot. This geometry serves to save weight and keep it feeling roomy, without sacrificing the more crucial head-and-shoulder space. In the two-person version, it's a real asset (reducing overall weight without diminishing the feel of the interior volume).

There is enough room for a pack and a pair of boots in each vestibule but the third person will have to find room elsewhere.
There is enough room for a pack and a pair of boots in each vestibule but the third person will have to find room elsewhere.

However, you notice the narrower dimensions much more with three people, especially if that middle person is sleeping head-to-toe (also worth noting is that the privacy panel tapers and disappears entirely on the sidewalls of the tent at the foot). It is a cozy fit for three people.

The storage bin at the foot is truly massive. It can accommodate the volume of an entire sleeping bag. There are additional smaller but still very large pockets overhead and on each side of the tent.
The storage bin at the foot is truly massive. It can accommodate the volume of an entire sleeping bag. There are additional smaller but still very large pockets overhead and on each side of the tent.

Ease of Set-Up


The Copper Spur HV UL3 is easy to set up, even for one person. It offers a fairly typical structure: two primary poles in the shape of an X connect at a metal hub at the apex, with each end of the poles fitting into a teardrop-shaped hole at the corner of the tent that secures it from sliding out.


There is a cross pole that runs the width of the tent to increase lateral space for sitting up. It comes with a color-coded fly clip and pole design, so you always know how to orient each of the pieces before attaching them.

The bungee-connected poles are easy to manage and one person can set up this tent in a few minutes.
The bungee-connected poles are easy to manage and one person can set up this tent in a few minutes.

Our only note of caution is that this tent also comes with generic-looking grey shovel stakes. They are effective and bend-resistant, but they don't come with any reflective or colorful cord attached, as many other stakes often do, so we recommend attaching some before you head out, so you don't lose any in the duff.

One minor inconvenience that we noticed is the fly clips at each corner can get 'clogged' if you happen to be pitching on sandy earth.
One minor inconvenience that we noticed is the fly clips at each corner can get 'clogged' if you happen to be pitching on sandy earth.

Weather Resistance


We like the Copper Spur HV UL3 for its weather resistance. The stakes at the head and foot create some space between the tent body and the fly so that they don't touch in the rain. The vestibule is super adaptable. The fly doors can be opened up into awnings that are stabilized with a set of trekking poles (though depending on what time of day you roll into camp, you may or may not find it worth it to do that particular dance). There are also a lot of in-between configurations that the doors can take, allowing you to control the balance between ventilation and protection from wind and rain.


There is also enough of a bathtub floor that splashback above the waterproof PU-coated ripstop nylon is minimal. The tent comes with guyline and tensioners already installed on the fly. Though there is nothing exceptional about them over other tent guylines, in practice, having them pre-attached is a huge benefit because you are much more likely to use them. We pitched ours in heavily forested areas, but there are a fair number of reports that the Copper Spur doesn't always hold its own in high winds. Though the fly is admirably waterproof, it does also seem to retain more water for a little longer than its ultralight counterparts.

The fly converts into an awning  which can be really nice for ventilation on warm days and for precipitation protection.
The fly converts into an awning, which can be really nice for ventilation on warm days and for precipitation protection.

Durability


This tent has decent durability, but at the end of the day, you have to remember that it uses materials that are meant to reduce weight. The material is strong for its weight, but of course, is still susceptible to punctures. This tent is made of quality materials, and we had no major durability issues with it during testing. If you want to make it last, though, we would always recommend a relatively inexpensive piece of plastic contractor tarp, Tyvek wrap, or polycro to protect the bottom.


The pole structure helps to ensure that the tent is stable and will last in the long run.
The pole structure helps to ensure that the tent is stable and will last in the long run.

Weight & Packed Size


This metric is where this tent makes its worth evident. Its dimensions are meant for three (or two plus a dog), but its sub-four-pound packed weight also makes it reasonable for two people to carry.


That is, this tent is even more versatile exactly because of its light weight. If you are on the fence between a two- or a three-person shelter, the Copper Spur HV UL3 can do the job either way without adding too much extra weight if it's just two of you. If you are considering roomier two-person options and could afford the (considerable) premium, we would recommend this version instead; it's wider and lighter than either of those other options (by a lot).

Even the three-person version of this tent is under four pounds!
Even the three-person version of this tent is under four pounds!

If you are into the fast-fly approach and don't mind shelling out for the footprint, then you can cut the weight down even more to right around three pounds. It packs down to 21"x6", which is also smaller than some of our larger 2-person competitors. Split three ways, it averages out to just over a pound and a quarter per person.


Value


We think the value primarily depends on whether or not you are going to take advantage of its versatility. If you are looking primarily for a roomy two-person option that can also fit a dog at your feet, there are some great tents in this review that won't cost you nearly as much. However, if you could see yourself using it equally as either a two- or three-person shelter, then this is a valuable one to own.

Conclusion


This tent earns its Top Pick Award for its great set of features and its versatility. Its two large side doors make entry and exit simple, while its unique pole structure and vertical walls make the most of some otherwise tight-sounding dimensions. It is lighter than some larger two-person tents, so if you are a couple of backpackers that want to cut down on weight, but not on comfort, and you are willing to shell out the extra dollars, this tent is an exceptional choice.

Two side doors and lightweight construction make this 3P a tempting draw for those looking to spend some nights under the stars.
Two side doors and lightweight construction make this 3P a tempting draw for those looking to spend some nights under the stars.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch