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

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 Review: Small Tent, Big Winner Leave a comment

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 could possibly be that you simply’re not sufficient of an ultralight tenting nerd to have been launched. 

The Steamboat Springs, Colorado-based firm makes a number of the most bleeding-edge tents within the outside trade, however solely on the higher finish of the market, geared toward hikers and backpackers who need the lightest, highest-performing tents and have the money to pay for them. The Copper Spur sequence 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 material 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 various 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 important 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 slicing fringe of ultra-lightweight tents. The Copper Spur is a totally freestanding tent, just like the rival MSR Hubba Hubba NX, which implies 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 enhance outer-tarp protection and vestibule area, however they aren’t strictly vital. There are semi-freestanding tents, just like the Sea to Summit Alto TR1, which keep most of their construction with poles however require a number of tie-outs to take full form. Freestanding tents just like the Copper Spur sometimes flap round much less in robust winds and may be fully 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 material, 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 ground from abrasion, and also you’ll must shell out $70 for a kind 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 flippantly constructed tent. It’s rather a lot cheaper to switch 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 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 normal tent poles. Yet in a complete profession of climbing, tenting, and mountain 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 mentioned, utilizing the included pole splint, I stored the tent purposeful 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 properly in conditions the place different tents I’ve examined would’ve had me hanging on for expensive 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—definitely 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 residence, Big Agnes fastened the damaged pole for $4 per section, plus delivery each methods, which is terribly low-cost. The firm additionally despatched it again to me rapidly. That’s the most effective 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 yr. I’ll report again if my repaired poles undergo related 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 identify 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, every part simply buckles collectively. Adjustments are simple, and there’s no sophisticated 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 might fish out my knife and really fastidiously dislodge the grains.

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