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Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Review

This is a lightweight, semi-freestanding tent that offers excellent livable space for an ultralight tent
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2
Photo: Big Agnes
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $400 List | $359.96 at Amazon
Pros:  Exceptional headroom for its size and weight, two large side doors, lightweight
Cons:  Odd tent and fly zipper configuration, rain can splash underneath fly onto tent
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 28, 2019
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 12
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 earns one of our Top Pick Awards for its outstanding balance between weight and comfort. As a semi-freestanding tent, it shaves ounces by reducing the total number of pole segments required for setup. It's easy to pitch and packs down small. Our favorite part about this lightweight wonder is that it offers a uniform amount of headroom from wall to wall so two people can sit up in it, a rarity in the ultralight tent world. There are a couple of things that annoy us about its performance in the rain, but we think that the advantages of this model more than compensate for them.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $359.96 at Amazon$400 List$449.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Exceptional headroom for its size and weight, two large side doors, lightweightExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of interior space and weightLightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocketGenerous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability
Cons Odd tent and fly zipper configuration, rain can splash underneath fly onto tentTapered foot, pockets are high upExpensive, delicate materialsSmall vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior spaceSmall doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly
Bottom Line A surprisingly comfortable, lightweight tentA exceptional choice for both front and backcountry adventuresThis tent balances the key aspects of a backpacking tent better than all other modelsThis tent offers enough room for three, without weighing you downA tent that offers comfort and quality at a good weight
Rating Categories Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 NEMO Dagger 2
Comfort (25%)
6
8
8
8
8
Weight (25%)
9
7
7
7
6
Weather Resistance (20%)
6
8
8
8
8
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
7
8
8
8
8
Durability (10%)
7
8
7
7
8
Packed Size (10%)
9
8
9
9
6
Specs Big Agnes Tiger... NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper... Big Agnes Copper... NEMO Dagger 2
Packaged Weight 2.56 lbs 3.16 lbs 3.09 lbs 3.88 lbs 3.76 lbs
Floor Area 28 sq ft 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 41 sq ft 31 sq ft
Packed Size 18 x 5.5 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 6 in 21 x 6in 19.5 x 6.5 in
Dimensions 86 x 52 x 39 in 88 x 50 x 41 in 88 x 52 x 40 in 90 x 70 x 43 in 90 x 50 x 42 in
Vestibule Area (Total) 16 sq ft 20 sq ft 18 sq. ft 18 sq ft 22.8 sq ft
Peak Height 39 in 41 in 40 in 43 in 42 in
Number of Doors 2 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 3 3 1 3 2
Pole Diameter 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.5/9/9.6 mm
Number of Pockets 3 3 3 5 2
Gear Loft No No No No Sold separately
Pole Material DAC featherlight NFL aluminum DAC Featherlite NFL DAC Featherlite NFL Aluminum DAC featherlight NSL
Guy Points 5 5 4 4 10
Rain Fly Material Silicon-treated ripstop nylon 20D Nylon Ripstop 15D 1200mm Silicone Nylon RipStop proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop (1200mm)
Inner Tent Material Silicon-treated ripstop nylon 15D Nylon Ripstop [Body] 10D Polyester mesh
[Floor] 20D Nylon RipStop
proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating [Body] 15D Nylon Ripstop / No see um mesh
[Floor] 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm)
Type Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

This tent is light in our packs, but still provides the comfort we need after long days of hiking. This tent is not as light or as spacious as some other models in this review, but it does a significantly better job of balancing those competing priorities than other tents. The Tiger Wall sneaks into the top tier of our review, bolstered by its weight and packed size.

Performance Comparison


This tent performed well in a variety of metrics during a thru hike...
This tent performed well in a variety of metrics during a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Photo: David Heese

Comfort


This model prioritizes lightweight without skimping too much on comfort. The peak height of many UL tents typically rises to a single, small point. In practical terms, this means that only one person can sit up and only directly in the middle of the tent.


The Tiger Wal UL2l is different; the cross pole expands the canopy, which creates an interior with enough space for two people to sit up at the same time — a small, but potentially critical feature for long-distance hikers.

Two Thermarest sleeping pads fit side-by-side with (just) a little...
Two Thermarest sleeping pads fit side-by-side with (just) a little extra room around the perimeter. The crossbar maximizes the advertised peak height.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We also love the two large side doors, which make it much easier to enter and exit the tent without having to climb over your partner. The high privacy panels are helpful if you find yourself in a crowded campsite on a warmer night when you don't want to put on the fly, and the mesh canopy makes for excellent stargazing.

The large side doors and comparatively generous peak height make...
The large side doors and comparatively generous peak height make this tent more comfortable for lanky hikers.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The vestibules are a little on the small side, but there is still enough room to tuck away a mid-sized pack and hiking boots without having too much exposure to the elements.

Given its size and weight, there are ample storage pockets — one on each side at the head end and another large one on the wall above the sleepers' heads. However, we wish there was a canopy pocket at the very top, either in addition to or in place of the sizeable media pocket.

The overhead storage pocket can hold a variety of small items.
The overhead storage pocket can hold a variety of small items.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ease of Setup


This model offers a traditional setup for a semi-freestanding tent, but also has a couple of trickier-to-navigate features. It has DAC Featherlite poles that provide the primary structure, with a perpendicular cross pole that widens the tent ceiling. It requires two stakes at the foot end to set up fully.


We like Big Agnes' color-coded system, which makes it easy to know which poles connect to which grommets. Attaching the fly can be a little more challenging than we prefer. There are no tension adjusters at the foot (an otherwise typical feature of backpacking tents), which means that you often have to do a little finagling at the head to get it just right. The fly also has two tiny "pockets" for both ends of the cross pole. These pockets are under a lot of tension in use, so the manufacturer used a heavy webbing material to make them, which is tough to manipulate and hard to set up correctly.

The low-profile stakes are lightweight but sturdy. Do note they are gray, so they are easy to lose in the duff. We would recommend taking a minute before your first adventure to tie off a small piece of reflective or brightly colored guyline cord to make them more visible when you are pulling them out of the ground.

These stakes are so low profile that they are very challenging to...
These stakes are so low profile that they are very challenging to spot in the dirt. If they are sunk too deeply, you might end up losing a couple.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Weather Resistance


Weather Resistance is the metric that most concerns us with this tent. During testing, rainwater consistently splashed underneath the fly at the head end of the tent.


Though the ripstop nylon and waterproof coating extend a few inches up the side, this didn't always prove to be enough protection; water would sometimes find its way through the mesh and inside the tent.

In heavy rain, water splashes underneath the fly and onto the tent...
In heavy rain, water splashes underneath the fly and onto the tent. The material above the seam at top is not at all waterproof.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We also found that the unique zipper configuration of the doors and fly made for an unusual entry and exit. There are two tent zippers that you have to open in opposite directions, and the fly zip doesn't go up high enough. With clear skies above, this is all just a minor annoyance, but in inclement (or buggy!) conditions, it means that it both takes longer to get in and out of the tent, and water on the fly goes everywhere.

The configuration of the fly zipper blocks the top portion of the...
The configuration of the fly zipper blocks the top portion of the door.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Durability


We were pleasantly surprised by the durability of the Tiger Wall UL2.


Typically, to get a tent this lightweight, this means a manufacturer has to use a thinner material, which compromises durability; however, we didn't experience any failures in craftsmanship. Though we have has similar DAC Featherlite poles crack on us in the field, it is so-far-so-good with the Tiger Wall UL2.

We never had any issues during testing, but our experience tells us...
We never had any issues during testing, but our experience tells us that this type of plastic pole hub can crack and fail over time, or if it is rotated in the wrong direction.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

With that in mind, if you are particularly rough on your gear, we think it is well worth investing just a few extra dollars in a piece of Tyvek or contractor tarp to protect the floor on sandy or gravel surfaces.

Weight & Packed Size


This tent is one of the lightest in this review. Though Big Agnes sacrificed a few ounces by including a cross pole for added headroom and slightly heavier material in the privacy panels, it still comes in at a sprightly 2 pounds, 9 ounces.


Measuring in at 5.5" x 18", the Tiger Wall UL2 packs down with the best of them. Split between two people, it offers a super reasonable load for a semi-freestanding shelter.


Some of our backpacking tent award winners. From left to right: the...
Some of our backpacking tent award winners. From left to right: the REI Half Dome 2 Plus, NEMO Dagger, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, and Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Value


This is not a budget tent by any means, but there is still great value to be had. For an ultralight tent, it offers considerable comfort for two people. We recommend using a footprint or a (much less expensive) piece of Tyvek Homewrap to protect the floor from wear and tear, but if you treat it nicely, this tent will be a reliable refuge for years of outdoor adventures.

This tent blends in well with a sandy backdrop.
This tent blends in well with a sandy backdrop.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Conclusion


The Tiger Wall UL2 offers one of the best compromises between weight and comfort that we have ever seen in a traditional backpacking tent. It offers large side doors and notably more headroom than its closest competitors. We think that Big Agnes should consider some simple zipper design changes to keep out the rain, but we are delighted to award this tent a Top Pick.

Unsurprisingly, the 3P offers many of the same features as the 2P.
Unsurprisingly, the 3P offers many of the same features as the 2P.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

3-Person Version


The 2P does such a nice job of balancing weight and comfort that we wanted to see if the 3P could offer the same. It does, for the most part, but some of the things we love about it become less relevant when it's scaled up to accommodate three people. It does nudge out the length to 88" (from 86"), and the peak height is also a few inches higher at 42". There is plenty of headroom, but the space at shoulder height becomes more of an issue with three people trying to sit up at the same time. The dimensions bear this out: the somewhat generous 52" width of the 2P only increases to 66" (less a standard 20" sleeping pad). It also tapers to 60" at the foot. What this all amounts to is a tent that slides a little too far in the direction of weight savings over comfort.

You really notice the narrower width of this tent. With three...
You really notice the narrower width of this tent. With three sleepers, there will be quite a bit of shoulder rubbing.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

With that in mind, though, it is still a sub-3-pound tent, which for a semi-freestanding structure is excellent. If you have your crew and minimizing weight is still the top priority, this is a great option. Otherwise, we would opt for a little more space (after all, dividing a tent between three people already reduces the per-person load. On the other hand, if you are extra tall or just like extra space to spread out, this 3P is still lighter than many other 2P models in this review, so it could be worth a look in that instance.

There are still two great doors, canopy mesh, and a lightweight...
There are still two great doors, canopy mesh, and a lightweight package to love.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Otherwise, this version is mostly the same as its smaller counterpart: two large D-doors, two side pockets, and a large overhead media pocket, dual vestibules (which, unfortunately, are the same size as the 2P), and same easy-to-pitch, color-coded pole construction.

We are a little bummed that the vestibules don't get any larger with...
We are a little bummed that the vestibules don't get any larger with the 3P.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch