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 among the most bleeding-edge tents within the open air trade, 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 one of the best ultralight backpacking tent in the marketplace. If you need one of the best, typically it’s important to 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 totally freestanding tent, just like the rival MSR Hubba Hubba NX, which suggests it doesn’t depend on guyline tie-outs—strains you connect to the bottom or different objects—for core structural integrity. Ties-outs on the outer wall improve outer-tarp protection and vestibule house, however they aren’t strictly essential. There are semi-freestanding tents, just like the Sea to Summit Alto TR1, which preserve most of their construction with poles however require a number of tie-outs to take full form. Freestanding tents just like the Copper Spur usually flap round much less in robust winds and could 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 must 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 flooring from abrasion, and also you’ll must shell out $70 for a type of. There’s a bike-packing footprint for $80 that additionally covers the vestibule floor house, in case you’d like a bit extra protection. While the groundsheet isn’t thick sufficient to withstand punctures, I strongly advocate it for such a evenly constructed tent. It’s quite a bit cheaper to exchange a groundsheet than to spring for a complete tent.

Pole Position

Setting up for a chilly night time 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 once 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 commonplace 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 traditional, 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 night time the chipped piece lastly shattered completely. 

That stated, utilizing the included pole splint, I saved the tent practical for the remainder of my journey, and to its credit score it survived some wickedly robust 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 expensive life. That’s partly right 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 joyful. 

Repairs have been additionally easy. After I returned house, Big Agnes fastened the damaged pole for $4 per phase, 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 applications 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 12 months. I’ll report again if my repaired poles endure related breakage once more.

Buckling Down

Photograph: Big Agnes

In a market phase the place each producer is jockeying to distinguish themselves from the competitors, one in all Big Agnes’ main calling playing cards is its TipLok Tent Buckle. It’s a flowery identify for a buckle system that joins the pole ideas, outer wall (rain fly), footprint, and guyline tie-out loops by way of grommets and buckles, like these used on backpacks. Rather than tying guylines to tent pegs, as is conventional, every little thing simply buckles collectively. Adjustments are simple, and there’s no difficult flopping round to connect a groundsheet beneath the tent. The buckles have been intelligent once they labored, however coarse sand had an inclination to get caught there, disabling them till I may fish out my knife and really fastidiously dislodge the grains.

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