The Big Agnes C Bar 2 is a budget tent that goes all-in on light weight. 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 the shoulder room is minimal. If you can stomach the extra weight, there 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.
Big Agnes C Bar 2 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, easy to pitch
Cons: Small interior, single door and vestibule
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Compare to Similar Products
Big Agnes C Bar 2
|Price||$199.95 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$159.00 at REI||$139.00 at REI||$158.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$169.00 at REI|
|Pros||Lightweight, easy to pitch||Two side doors, easy to pitch, large trapezoidal vestibules||Lots of headroom, large vestibule, easy to pitch||Headroom, large tent doors, ventilation||Roomy, two doors, included footprint|
|Cons||Small interior, single door and vestibule||Doors can be annoying, heavy||Poles pinch under fly tension||Heavy, unsteady in high wind, cheap stakes||Smaller vestibules, small pockets, no top vents|
|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 inexpensive tent is just a good as a 1P as it for two.||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.|
|Rating Categories||Big Agnes C Bar 2||REI Co-op Passage 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||The North Face Stormbreak 2||Marmot Catalyst 2|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (10%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||Big Agnes C Bar 2||REI Co-op Passage 2||REI Co-op Passage 1||The North Face...||Marmot Catalyst 2|
|Measured Packaged Weight||3.96 lbs||5.29 lbs||3.92 lbs||5.89 lbs||5.19 lbs|
|Floor Area||28 sq ft||33.75 sq ft||20 sq ft||30.5 sq ft||32.5 sq ft|
|Packed Size||6 x 19 in||7 x 22 in||7.25 x 22 in||7 x 22 in||7 x 21 in|
|Dimensions||86 x (52 x 42) x 41 in||88 x 52 x 40 in||88 x 36.5 x 40 in||87 x 50 x 43 in||88 x 53 x 44 in|
|Vestibule Area (Total, Sq Ft)||7||18.75||8||19||16.2|
|Peak Height||41 in||40 in||40 in||43 in||44 in|
|Number of Doors||1||2||1||2||2|
|Number of Poles||2||2||2||4||3|
|Pole Diameter||Not provided||8.5 mm||8.5 mm||Not provided||8.5/9 mm|
|Number of Pockets||3||4 + 2 door stuff pockets||2||4||2 + light pocket|
|Pole Material||DAC pressfit aluminum||7001 aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum||Velocity HD aluminum 7000|
|Rain Fly Material||Polyester taffeta||Coated polyester taffeta||Coated polyester taffeta||68D lightweight polyester taffeta, 1200 mm PU||68D polyester|
|Inner Tent Material||Polyester & mesh||Nylon/Taffeta Mesh||Polyester||68D polyester taffeta, 1500 mm PU coating||40D/68D polyester|
|Type||Freestanding||Freestanding||Freestanding||Two door, 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 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.
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 with a similar design. Consequently, 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).
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.
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, there are some tents with a really straightforward X-pole design that go up in no time.
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.
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.
Other durable high performers are the REI Passage 2 and The North Face Stormbreak 2 (though both are considerably heavier).
Weight & Packed Size
Weight and size are where this tent 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 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 significantly 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.
If weight and size are high, high priorities for you, this is the tent that we would recommend above other similar models.
This tent costs above average for models in our budget review. It doesn't have the same exceptional value that other models 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.
The C Bar 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