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.
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers 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
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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 as the NEMO Hornet Elite or as spacious as the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, but it does a significantly better job of balancing those competing priorities than either of those other top contenders.
The Tiger Wall sneaks into the top tier of our review, bolstered by its weight and packed size.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The NEMO Hornet Elite is another high-quality tent made from light and thin silnylon, so if you are looking for a highly stuffable, portable shelter, this one should get your attention.
We would recommend the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 to long-distance backpackers, whether hiking alone or with a partner. It would be a decent car camping option as well, but if you are not going to spend a ton of time toting your tent, there are other, less expensive and more spacious, options like the REI Half Dome 2 Plus.
Retailing at $400, 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.
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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch