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Big Agnes C Bar 2 Review

A budget tent for those who want to minimize weight and don't mind sacrificing a fair bit of comfort.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $200 List | $199.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to pitch
Cons:  Small interior, single door and vestibule
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 2, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Weight - 25% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Packed Size - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes C Bar 2 is a budget tent that goes all in on lightweight. If you are looking to lighten your load in the backcountry while keeping costs down, this Top Pick Award winner is for you. It has a single head-end door and vestibule with an excellent fly and really nice rain protection. The downside is that you and your partner are going to be cramped. The walls and floor taper significantly and shoulder room is minimal.

If you can stomach the extra weight, the REI Passage 2 and Slumberjack Nightfall 2 are a couple of models that will give you way more space. However, if you want a sub-four-pound tent at a budget price, this is the one.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Big Agnes C Bar 2
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award   
Price $199.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$159.00 at REI$158.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$169.00 at REI$159.96 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, easy to pitchTwo side doors, easy to pitch, large trapezoidal vestibulesHeadroom, large tent doors, ventilationRoomy, two doors, included footprintEasy to set-up, lots of features, roomy
Cons Small interior, single door and vestibuleDoors can be annoying, heavyHeavy, unsteady in high wind, cheap stakesSmaller vestibules, small pockets, no top ventsHeavy, flappy vestibules
Bottom Line A budget tent for those who want to minimize weight and don't mind sacrificing a fair bit of comfort.This basic tent is easy to set up and provides comfortable nights of camping on a budget.This spacious tent makes the most of its dimensions and offers plenty of features that will have you camping in comfort.A comfortable camping tent that serves well in both the front and backcountry.This tent includes a great feature set and a spacious interior to create a model worthy of car camping luxury.
Rating Categories Big Agnes C Bar 2 REI Co-op Passage 2 The North Face Stormbreak 2 Marmot Catalyst 2 Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 2
Comfort (25%)
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4
10
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8
10
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9
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10
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9
Weight (25%)
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9
10
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6
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5
10
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7
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6
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
10
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6
10
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5
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
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8
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9
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9
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7
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7
Durability (10%)
10
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7
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8
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7
Packed Size (10%)
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6
Specs Big Agnes C Bar 2 REI Co-op Passage 2 The North Face... Marmot Catalyst 2 Mountainsmith...
Measured Packaged Weight (pounds) 3.96 5.29 5.89 5.19 5.47
Floor Area (Sq ft) 28 33.75 30.5 32.5 36
Packed Size (inches) 6 x 19 7 x 22 7 x 22 7 x 21 8 x 17
Dimensions (inches) 86 x (52 x 42) x 4 88 x 52 x 40 87 x 50 x 43 88 x 53 x 44 92 × 56 × 43
Vestibule Area (Total, Sq Ft) 7 18.75 19 16.2 19
Peak Height (inches) 41 40 43 44 45
Number of Doors 1 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 2 2 4 3 2
Pole Diameter Not provided 8.5 mm Not provided 8.5/9 mm Not provided
Number of Pockets 3 4 + 2 door stuff pockets 4 2 + light pocket 4 + gear loft
Gear Loft No Yes No No Yes
Pole Material DAC pressfit aluminum 7001 aluminum Aluminum Velocity HD aluminum 7000 7000 Series Aluminum Alloy
Guy Points 7 4 4 4 2
Rain Fly Material Polyester taffeta Coated polyester taffeta 68D lightweight polyester taffeta, 1200 mm PU 68D polyester 68D polyester
Inner Tent Material Polyester & mesh Nylon/Taffeta Mesh 68D polyester taffeta, 1500 mm PU coating 40D/68D polyester 68D polyester
Type Freestanding Freestanding Two door, freestanding Freestanding Freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you prioritize minimizing weight above all else, this tent will do the trick. During testing, we were also pleasantly surprised by the quality fly and solid weather resistance of this model. It's really tight on space, so we don't recommend it for the loungers among us but split it with a backpacking buddy and take it into the backcountry for some nice nights under the stars.

Performance Comparison


The Big Agnes C Bar 2 is one of the lightest weight, most packable options in this review. Its overall score is pulled down because of how tight it feels on the inside.

It's a nice tent for finding your secluded spot in the backcountry.
It's a nice tent for finding your secluded spot in the backcountry.

Comfort


We have to be honest here; this tent is not comfortable with two people in it. Its dimensions are superficially adequate. An 86" length is enough for taller folks. However, its 52" width quickly tapers to 42" at the feet and its peak height of 41" exists only as a narrow, two dimensional plane near the entrance. What proved to be the trickiest area though is the space at shoulder height. The sidewalls of the tent ascend steeply, so the space you have sitting up and, say, eating a meal, is minimal.


The single door at the head is also small relative to other models like the Slumberjack Nightfall 2. Similarly, the vestibule is not large enough for two regular backpacking packs and two sets of footwear (especially if you want to get out of the tent easily).

It's really close quarters on the inside  especially around shoulder height  right around where the mesh begins.
It's really close quarters on the inside, especially around shoulder height, right around where the mesh begins.

The pockets are modest but totally serviceable. There is one on each side at the head in addition to a slightly larger one overhead. Some folks have a lot of stuff they like to store, but we think these pockets will be the right amount of space for most people. The C Bar 2 also offers a fair amount of privacy if you choose to go sans fly. The white mesh makes the tent more difficult to see into, and the red fabric runs high up the sidewalls.

It's actually kind of easy to hide out in this tent. It offers more privacy than a lot of other models.
It's actually kind of easy to hide out in this tent. It offers more privacy than a lot of other models.

Ease of Set Up


This tent sets up in a snap. It has a pole matrix that is a little gangly. There are a couple of hubs that join the 'legs' to the 'spine' of the structure. Once you have the segments locked in, the color-coded pole in one corner makes it clear how everything needs to be oriented, and the grommets and clips come together quickly. The cross pole provides a little more headroom but not much. The fly tensions easily as well, which we find to be an undervalued feature.


This model is simple, but if you like easy, the REI Passage 2 offers a really straightforward X-pole design that goes up in no time.

The single pole skeleton has a lot of segments but they are easy to orient correctly and attach to the tent.
The single pole skeleton has a lot of segments but they are easy to orient correctly and attach to the tent.

Weather Resistance


Mostly owing to the fly, we are really pleased with the weather resistance of the C Bar 2. The sides stake out and away from the tent body. The vestibule runs very low to the ground, which is excellent. There is also a flap of fly fabric that covers over the zipper. This is a very common feature to find between models, but we like that it keeps precipitation from finding its way into the vestibule.


Though there are no vents, the dual zippers of the fly door allow it to open without having to tie it back or unstake any part of it. There is less mesh in the canopy than in many other models, so the opportunity for cross breeze is a little limited, especially because there is just the one door but in terms of wind and water protection, we think this tent does really well.

The fly is nicely designed  hugging the forest floor very closely.
The fly is nicely designed, hugging the forest floor very closely.

If you want a similar design but need a little more space, the Slumberjack Nightfall 2 also offers excellent weather resistance.

The fly door is the primary method of venting the tent.
The fly door is the primary method of venting the tent.

Durability


We think the construction of this tent is solid. The polyester fly and floor are substantial enough that with reasonable site selection, they should hold up well. The standard-issue hook stakes will bend on you at some point, but stakes are easy to swap out.


The pole structure has a chunky hub that adds bulk but seems sturdy, and the DAC pressfit poles are an industry go to that we have rarely had issues with. Having said that, this tent is one of the few budget models to also include a pole brace if you crack or snap a segment in the middle of a trip.

The eight included hook stakes and pole splint. The stakes are likely to bend if they meet resistance during set up and are forced in.
The eight included hook stakes and pole splint. The stakes are likely to bend if they meet resistance during set up and are forced in.

Other durable high performers are the REI Passage 2 and The North Face Stormbreak 2 (though both are considerably heavier).

The pole hubs are chunky but durable.
The pole hubs are chunky but durable.

Weight & Packed Size


Weight and size are where this tent really earns its keep. It's advertised at four pounds even. Ours tipped in at just under that making it the second lightest tent in this review. Split the load between two people and you are looking at a really reasonable two pounds per person.


It also packs down to 6" x 19" making it one of the best space-saving options as well. If you are going out on a solo adventure, that will obviously greatly improve the comfort of the C bar 2 however, once you are carrying the whole thing by yourself, it doesn't feel so light anymore.

The Big Agnes C Bar (middle) compared to the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight (left) and the ultralight backpacking tent Big Agnes Tiger Wall (right).
The Big Agnes C Bar (middle) compared to the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight (left) and the ultralight backpacking tent Big Agnes Tiger Wall (right).

If weight and size are high, high priorities for you, this is the tent that we would recommend above other similar models like the Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2.


Best Applications


This tent is best used by a pair of people who are looking to minimize cost while maximizing miles. It's going to be a tight fit, but if it is more important to have something lighter than something comfortable, this is the tent for you. If you think you will mix in a good amount of car camping into your routine, then look elsewhere.

The side and overhead gear storage pockets are visible looking out on a bluebird day.
The side and overhead gear storage pockets are visible looking out on a bluebird day.

Value


At $200, this tent costs above average for models in our budget review. It doesn't have the same exceptional value that other models like the REI Passage 2 or Slumberjack Nightfall 2 do. However, the quality construction and light weight make it a good value for someone who wants to get into the backcountry without spending a fortune.

Conclusion


This is a sub-four-pound tent that goes all out on weight savings. It has an excellent fly and weather protection as well. It earns a Top Pick Award for its light load, but if you and a partner are going into the backcountry with this model, we hope you are comfortable in close quarters.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch