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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.