Hands on Review
While the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 isn’t the lightest ultralight tent on the market, its interior space, double doors, plentiful storage, and weather resistant design make it a perfect choice for one or two outdoor adventurers.
Comfort & Livability
The UL2 is a two person tent, though it’s important to note that – as with all ultralight tents – it’s a cozy fit for two adults. Many users have pointed out that it ‘s hard to fit two sleeping pads inside unless they are 20 inches wide or less. If you have larger pads, a lot of gear, or if you and your hiking companion enjoy more personal space, the UL3 may be a better option despite the extra weight. However, couples or solo hikers with a canine companion find that the UL2 is a perfect fit.
Inside, you will find plenty of storage thanks to the four corner storage pockets and two overhead media pockets. The media pockets allow a cord to be run from a device down the wall of the tent, which makes listening to audio books or recharging from a battery bank easier.
The tent also has loops where you can attach an optional gear loft if desired. Combined with the storage provided by the two vestibules, you’ll have more than enough room for all of your things. This makes the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 ideal for multi-day stays or for long trail hikes since you can spread out your gear while keeping it out of the rain and mud.
Unlike other ultralight tents, the UL2 offers a lot of headroom. The near vertical walls and innovative pole design allow for 42 inches of height at the peak which makes dressing as well as entering and exiting the tent easier. The UL2 also has not one but two doors and two vestibules with 9 square feet of storage space combined. On cold mornings, the head room and vestibule space make it possible to set up a small kitchen under the rain fly and make coffee or cook breakfast while still inside the tent.
In older versions of the tent, the doors are a ‘rainbow’ design, which are perfectly usable but can make putting on muddy boots more difficult. The zippers also go quite low to the ground which may allow more dirt inside. The rainbow style of door can also let insects into the tent when entering and exiting. The 2017 “HV” design features D-shaped doors which are much more practical. Unzipping the bottom edge of the door makes it easy to put on shoes or reach gear in the vestibule while keeping the door mostly closed. This style of door is also more natural for dogs to use.
Like other ultralight tents, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 is a three season tent. The rainfly and pole structure are sturdier than other tents of its class, but heavy snow and winter temperatures would be challenging to endure in the UL2. Nevertheless, the silicone treated bathtub style floor does an excellent job of keeping water out of the bottom of the tent, and the rain fly does an admirable job of repelling the heaviest downpours and can handle several inches of snow.
The seams come already taped, and the solvent-free polyurethane tape that Big Agnes uses is not only waterproof but eco-friendly as well. Velcro tabs on the vestibule doors ensure that your gear will stay dry as long as the ground is not sodden. There are very few issues with condensation inside the tent thanks to the mesh walls and the steeply sloped sides of the tent.
The footprint for the UL2 is sold separately from the tent, and if you plan on camping in truly swampy conditions, it’s worth shelling out the extra money to ensure the bottom of your tent stays as free of water and mud as possible, but because of the design of the tent, most people can use the Copper Spur UL2 as-is without leaks.
Ease of Setup
The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 offers a few setup options. If time is on your side or if the weather is clear and warm, you can set up the footprint and tent without the rain fly. During inclement weather, you can erect the rain fly first to provide shelter, and set up the tent beneath its protection. You can also use the footprint and rain fly without the tent as a lighter weight shelter when every ounce counts.
Thanks to the innovative hub and pole design, you should have no problem setting up the entire tent in a handful of minutes. The poles are color coded to make things even quicker and easier. The hub design of the older tents are slightly different from the 2017 “HV” tents, but both versions of the Copper Spur UL2 are relatively intuitive and are simple enough for even novice hikers to assemble right out of the box.
The rain fly attaches to the tent very quickly. Big Agnes uses quick release clips on each corner of the rainfly, which means you can remove the fly if the weather is clear and you want to enjoy some stargazing. If rain threatens, the fly can be attached and guyed out in minutes.
Big Agnes struggled with the durability of their lightweight tents in the past, as the fabric they used was vulnerable to rips and abrasions. Thin material saves a considerable amount of weight, but it made the tent more delicate than traditional backpacking tents. Although this wasn’t an issue for casual hikers, people who used the tent heavily or for more than one season would often report that the stuff sack for the tent (made from the same material as the rain fly) would begin to suffer wear after very little use.
Big Agnes clearly heard this consumer feedback, and the newer 2017 “HV” line of the Copper Spur tents are made with an updated proprietary fabric. The random rip-stop pattern nylon is more durable than before and has a 25% increase in fabric tear strength. This is splendid news for hikers who frequent campgrounds with rough ground and for anyone who likes to bring their dog along during multi-day hikes, as the claws of excitable canines are a real threat to thin tent walls.
You can increase the lifespan of your tent by purchasing a footprint. In campsites where punctures are more likely, this bit of equipment will protect the bottom of the tent from excessive wear. Even without the footprint, with careful use, you should expect to be able to enjoy your Copper Spur UL2 for many years.
Weight & Packed Size
The Copper Spur UL2 isn’t the lightest two-person ultralight outdoor tent on the market, but neither is it the heaviest. Compared to some of the lightest two person tents – which are typically around two pounds – the UL2 is often dismissed by ultralight hikers out of hand for lighter tents. But at a comfortable 3 pounds 1 ounce packed weight, it is light enough for even a solo hiker to use in the backcountry. If you leave the tent body at home and use only the fast fly footprint and rain fly for shelter, you can reduce the weight to 2 pounds 1 ounce.
Backpacking Related Topics
To ensure ease of access and a proper weight distribution, check out our guide on “How to Correctly Pack a Backpack“. Alternatively, learn about Ultralight Backpacking, and how you can start shaving weight off your next trip.
Packed size is roughly 4 inches by 19.5 inches, though this will depend on whether you use the whole tent or the footprint and rain fly for your camping needs. This is a reasonable packed size, and the tent should fit neatly into a standard hiking backpack.
For true ultralight enthusiasts or solo hikers, the Copper Spur UL2 may be a bit too heavy, and there are plenty of ultralight options that may better meet these needs. Keep in mind that a single person version of the Copper Spur, the UL1, may be a better choice for solo hikers who like the features of the UL2 but don’t need a second door or vestibule.
Although it can handle a wide variety of conditions and heavy rain, the Copper Spur UL2 isn’t ideal for winter camping or mountaineering due to its design. If you need a tent for a hiking trip in which you expect more than a few inches of snow, or if you are likely to experience high winds, a purpose-made four season geodesic tent would be a better choice.
Overall, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 is an excellent choice for multi-day hikes where a balance between comfort and weight is needed. The 2017 “HV” redesign ensured that this tent is stronger, lighter and roomier than previous versions, and the UL2 will serve well as a backcountry tent, as a basecamp tent, or as an overnight car camping tent. The flexibility of the Copper Spur design is truly what makes it one of the most popular ultralight lines.
One of the most identifiable features of the Copper Spur line is their color. Up until 2017, all tents in this line were only available in a pale gray and bright orange color scheme. This combination is highly visible and is a great option for some. However, many hikers were pleased that Big Agnes began offering an alternative olive green version of the Copper Spur line during the 2017 redesign. The green tent blends into the environment more easily and is a superior choice for hikers who would like their campsite to be less visible.
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Other Versions & Accessories
The Copper Spur line comes in four sizes. The UL1 is the smallest and sleeps, one person. Unlike the other tents in the lineup, it has only a single door. The UL3 and UL4 sleep three and four people respectively but share the same features of the UL2. As of the 2017 redesign, the Copper Spur tents come in two colors: the classic gray and orange for high visibility, and olive green for hikers who prefer to blend in with their environment.
As previously noted, these tents were redesigned for 2017, and you may come across earlier models. The tents produced before 2017 differ slightly from the newer Copper Spur “HV” ultralight tents in a few ways. The pole structure has been redesigned for more stability and more head and shoulder room. The doorways used to be a “rainbow” zipper design, but newer tents feature a D-shaped door. Both the “HV” models and the older models of the Copper Spur tents are available in a MtnGLO version. These tents are identical in every way but have integrated battery operated LED lights at the apex of the tent to provide hands-free illumination.
Big Agnes offers many accessories for the Copper Spur line of tents, but among the most useful of these is the tent footprint which may be especially helpful if you plan on hiking in areas where muddy or stony ground is common, or if you just wish to extend the life of your tent by protecting its floor.
|Minimum Trail Weight||2 lbs. 12 oz.|
|Fly / Footprint Pitch Weight||2 lbs. 1 oz.|
|Packaged Weight||3 lbs. 2 oz.|
|Packed Size||5.5 x 17.5 inches|
|Floor Dimensions||90 x 52 / 42 inches|
|Floor Area||29 square feet|
|Vestibule Area||9 + 9 square feet|
|Peak Height||42 inches|
|Number of Doors||2 doors|
|Number of Poles||1 double hubbed pole set + 1 cross pole|
|Pole Material||Aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL|
|Pole Diameter||9 millimeters|
|Canopy Fabric||Nylon/polyester mesh|
|Floor Fabric||Coated ripstop nylon|
|Rainfly Fabric||Coated ripstop nylon|
BEST ULTRALIGHT TENT
Nemo Hornet 2P
The Nemo Hornet 2P Ultralight does the impossible by offering many of the same features of the Copper Spur UL2 – dual doors and vestibules, freestanding structure, storage pockets – but weighs only two pounds. Other features like the intuitive single hub pole system and triangulated guy lines make the Hornet surprisingly sturdy for such a light tent. The interior is relatively cramped, and you’ll need to fully guy out the rain fly to make the vestibules fully functional, but the featherlight weight of the Nemo Hornet compensates for these minor shortcomings.
BEST VALUE BACKPACKING TENT
MSR Elixir 2
For outdoor enthusiasts on a budget, the MSR Elixir 2 person tent offers many of the same features of their competitors but at around half the price. The unique pole geometry of this tent gives it 40 inches of head space as well as two generous vestibules. Although it is a few inches shorter than the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2, it is much wider and provides plenty of space for two hikers and their sleeping mats. At 4lb 10oz, it isn’t featherlight, but nevertheless is a great option for cash-strapped campers.
BEST SUMMER BACKPACKING TENT
The Kelty TN 2 is a great lightweight tent in general but shines as a summer hiking tent. Most ultralight tents are at their best during warm weather due to their light fabrics, but the TN 2 offers a truly comfortable camping experience in hot or humid weather. The airy mesh walls allow for maximum airflow, and the D-shaped doors keep insects at bay. The unique stargazer rainfly can be rolled back for unobstructed views of the night sky but can be quickly deployed from inside the tent if the weather changes.