Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 Review: Small Tent, Big Winner

Have you met Big Agnes? Maybe you’ve seen it perched excessive on a shelf at REI or lounging at an area campground. Not ringing a bell? It may very well be that you just’re not sufficient of an ultralight tenting nerd to have been launched. 

The Steamboat Springs, Colorado-based firm makes a few of the most bleeding-edge tents within the open air business, however solely on the higher finish of the market, aimed toward hikers and backpackers who need the lightest, highest-performing tents and have the money to pay for them. The Copper Spur collection was up to date in 2020 to incorporate a vestibule that may be propped open with a pair of trekking poles like a porch awning. The newest mannequin comes with lighter-weight cloth and a brand new tent buckle system for the guylines.

I gave it a multiweek check in California’s Death Valley and Arizona’s Grand Canyon, subjecting it to temperatures that diversified from near-freezing to over 90 levels Fahrenheit (32 levels Celsius) and campsites from damp mountains and thicketed riverbanks to roasting desert flooring. Keep studying to seek out out why, even with a few vital drawbacks, I like to recommend the Copper Spur UL1 as the very best ultralight backpacking tent in the marketplace. If you need the very best, typically you must pay for it.

Weighting Around

With a path weight of two kilos, 2 ounces (about 960 grams), it’s on the chopping fringe of ultra-lightweight tents. The Copper Spur is a completely freestanding tent, just like the rival MSR Hubba Hubba NX, which suggests it doesn’t depend on guyline tie-outs—traces you connect to the bottom or different objects—for core structural integrity. Ties-outs on the outer wall improve outer-tarp protection and vestibule area, however they aren’t strictly mandatory. There are semi-freestanding tents, just like the Sea to Summit Alto TR1, which keep most of their construction with poles however require a couple of tie-outs to take full form. Freestanding tents just like the Copper Spur usually flap round much less in sturdy winds and will be utterly pitched even when the bottom is just too agency to drive tent pegs into.

Because this tent is made with such a light-weight nylon cloth, you’ll have to take care with it. It’ll stand as much as adventures, however in case you carelessly drag it round, it’ll develop holes and tears. That’s the trade-off for shaving kilos off your load. 

It’s a good suggestion to make use of a groundsheet or footprint to guard the tent ground from abrasion, and also you’ll should shell out $70 for a type of. There’s a bike-packing footprint for $80 that additionally covers the vestibule floor area, in case you’d like a bit extra protection. While the groundsheet isn’t thick sufficient to withstand punctures, I strongly suggest it for such a frivolously constructed tent. It’s lots cheaper to exchange a groundsheet than to spring for a complete tent.

Pole Position

Setting up for a chilly evening at Mather Campground on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, I used to be gingerly flexing a pole into its grommet on the inside wall after I heard a crack in one of many aluminum DAC Featherlite poles. Ultralight tents’ poles require care throughout meeting and disassembly, since they’re extra fragile than customary tent poles. Yet in a complete profession of climbing, tenting, and climbing, I’d by no means damaged a pole. Maybe the near-freezing temperature had made them extra brittle than regular, however I’m solely guessing. It was however a chip within the fringe of the pole, however a number of days in a while a equally chilly evening the chipped piece lastly shattered solely. 

That mentioned, utilizing the included pole splint, I saved the tent useful for the remainder of my journey, and to its credit score it survived some wickedly sturdy sundown wind gusts on the Boucher Trail. The tent dealt with excessive winds nicely in conditions the place different tents I’ve examined would’ve had me hanging on for pricey life. That’s partly all the way down to good tent design, and partly to good poles. Setting up the tent was fast and straightforward—actually faster than the Hubba Hubba NX—so even with the annoyance of the one damaged pole, I used to be blissful. 

Repairs have been additionally easy. After I returned house, Big Agnes fastened the damaged pole for $4 per section, plus delivery each methods, which is very low cost. The firm additionally despatched it again to me rapidly. That’s among the finest producer restore packages I’ve seen, and costs for different fixes are pretty cheap too. I plan to make use of the Copper Spur once more in chilly temperatures  in Idaho or Utah later this yr. I’ll report again if my repaired poles endure comparable breakage once more.

Buckling Down

Photograph: Big Agnes

In a market section the place each producer is jockeying to distinguish themselves from the competitors, certainly one of Big Agnes’ main calling playing cards is its TipLok Tent Buckle. It’s a elaborate title for a buckle system that joins the pole suggestions, outer wall (rain fly), footprint, and guyline tie-out loops through grommets and buckles, like these used on backpacks. Rather than tying guylines to tent pegs, as is conventional, the whole lot simply buckles collectively. Adjustments are simple, and there’s no sophisticated flopping round to connect a groundsheet below the tent. The buckles have been intelligent after they labored, however coarse sand had a bent to get caught there, disabling them till I may fish out my knife and really rigorously dislodge the grains.

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