The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Review

This is a lightweight, semi-freestanding tent that offers more livable space than any other lightweight tent.
Top Pick Award
Price:  $400 List | $399.94 at Amazon
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
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 23, 2018
  • Share this article:
75
OVERALL
SCORE


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

The Skinny

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 strikes an exceptional 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 to two people can actually sit up in it, a rarity in the ultralight tent world.

We have a couple of concerns about its performance in the rain, but we think that the advantages of this model more than make up for it. For a weekend adventure or a long distance backpacking trip, we wouldn't hesitate to spend our nights on trail in the Tiger Wall.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The hype we heard on trail proved to be true. This tent was light in our packs, but still provided the comfort we needed after long days of hiking.

Performance Comparison


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

The Tiger Wall sneaks into the top tier of our review, earning a Top Pick Award for its combination of lightweight and comfort. 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.

Comfort


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


The Tiger Wall 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 extra room around the perimeter. The crossbar maximizes the advertised peak height.
Two Thermarest sleeping pads fit side-by-side with (just) a little extra room around the perimeter. The crossbar maximizes the advertised peak height.

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 nice 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 this tent more comfortable for lanky hikers.
The large side doors and comparatively generous peak height make this tent more comfortable for lanky hikers.

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 exposed 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 large media pocket.

The overhead storage pocket can hold a variety of small items.
The overhead storage pocket can hold a variety of small items.

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 a single, DAC Featherlite pole that provides 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 poles, which make 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. There is so much tension at those two points that these pockets are made from an extremely durable webbing; however, that means the static material is also very difficult to manipulate, and hard to set up properly.

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 spot in the dirt. If they are sunk too deeply  you might end up losing a couple.
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.

Weather Resistance


This 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. The material above the seam at top is not at all waterproof.
In heavy rain, water splashes underneath the fly and onto the tent. The material above the seam at top is not at all waterproof.

We also found that the unusual zipper configuration of the doors and fly made for a strange 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 door.
The configuration of the fly zipper blocks the top portion of the door.

Durability


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


Typically, to get a tent this lightweight, this means a manufacturer has to use a thinner material, which compromises durability. Having said that, 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.

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.
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.

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


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.


Packed Size


Measuring in at 5.5"x18", the Tiger Wall packs down with the best of them.


The NEMO Hornet Elite is the only tent made from lighter, thinner material, so if you are looking for a highly stuffable, portable shelter, this one should definitely get your attention.

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.
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.

Best Applications


We would recommend the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 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.

Value


Retailing at $399.95, this is not a budget tent by any means, but there is still great value to be had. It is $100 less than the NEMO Hornet Elite and offers far more 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.

Conclusion


The Tiger Wall 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.

Stealth camping in the open on the dunes of Lake Michigan.
Stealth camping in the open on the dunes of Lake Michigan.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch