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

have you met Big Agnes? You’ve probably seen it lying high on a shelf at REI or lounging at a local campsite. Not ringing the bell? Maybe you’re just not passionate enough about ultralight camping to be recommended.

The Steamboat Springs, Colorado-based company makes some of the most advanced tents in the outdoor industry, but only for the premium segment of the market, aimed at hikers and backpackers lots of people who want the lightest, best performing tents and have enough money. to pay them. The Copper Spur series was updated in 2020 to include a vestibule that can be opened with a pair of awning-like climbing stakes. The latest model comes with a lighter weight fabric and a new tent locking system for the line.

I tested it for weeks in California’s Death Valley and Arizona’s Grand Canyon, leaving it in temperatures that ranged from near freezing to well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) and campgrounds from the mountains. wet mountains and dense riverbanks to the hot desert floors. Keep reading to find out why, even with a few significant downsides, I still recommend the Copper Spur UL1 as the best ultralight backpacking tent on the market. If you want the best, sometimes you have to pay for it.

Weight around

With a trail weight of 2 pounds, 2 ounces (about 960 grams), this is the most advanced of the ultralight tents. Copper Spur is a completely standalone tent, just like the competition MSR Hubba Hubba NX, which means it doesn’t rely on lanyards—lines you attach to the ground or other objects—to ensure the integrity of the core structure. Joints on the exterior wall help increase coverage of the exterior canvas and vestibule space, but they are not strictly necessary. There are semi-free tents, like Sea to the top of Alto TR1, maintain most of their structure by columns but require a few joints for full shape. Stand-alone tents like the Copper Spur typically shake less in strong winds and can stand fully upright even when the ground is too hard to stake the tent in.

Since this tent is made of lightweight nylon fabric, you need to be careful with it. It will withstand adventures, but if you carelessly drag it around, it will puncture and tear. That’s the trade-off to losing weight for you.

It’s a good idea to use a background panels or footprints to protect the tent floor from wear and tear and you’ll have to shell out $70 for one of them. Only one bicycle packing footprint for $80 also covers the vestibular space, if you want a little more coverage. While the base sheet isn’t thick enough to resist punctures, I highly recommend it for such a lightweight built tent. It’s much cheaper to replace a base sheet than to spring for the entire tent.

Pole position

Preparing for a chilly night at Mather Campground on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, I was tipping a pole into its washer on the interior wall when I heard a crack in one of the stakes. Aluminum DAC Featherlite. The poles of ultralight tents need to be handled with care during assembly and disassembly, as they break more easily than standard tent poles. However, in all my climbing, camping and hiking career, I have never broken a pole. Maybe the near freezing temperatures made them more brittle than usual, but I’m just guessing. It was just a dent in the edge of the column, but a few days later, on a similarly cold night, the chipping was finally completely shattered.

That said, using the included pole brace, I kept the tent running for the rest of my trip and thanks to that, it survived some fierce sunset winds. on the Boucher Trail. The tent handled high winds well in situations where other tents I tested would take me a lifetime. That’s partly due to good tent design, and partly due to good poles. Setting up a tent is quick and easy—definitely faster than Hubba Hubba NX—so even when annoyed by a broken pillar, I am still happy.

Repair is also simple. After I got home, Big Agnes fixed the broken pole for $4 a piece, plus shipping both ways, horribly cheap. The company also sent it back to me quickly. It’s one of the best manufacturer repair programs I’ve seen and the prices for other fixes are nice, cheap also. I plan to reuse Copper Spur in cold temperatures in Idaho or Utah later this year. I’ll report back if my repaired poles are similarly damaged.

Bend down

Photo: Big Agnes

In a market segment where every manufacturer is racing to differentiate themselves from the competition, one of Big Agnes’ key calling cards is the TipLok Tent Lock. It’s an interesting name for the locking system that connects to the mastheads, outer wall (rainfall), footprints, and guyline loops via washers and buckles, like those used on backpacks. Instead of tying the profiles to the tent pegs like traditionally, everything just locks together. Adjustment is easy and no complicated moves are required to attach the base sheet under the tent. The locks are smart when they work, but the coarse sand tends to get stuck there, disabling them until I can pull the knife out and carefully remove the particles.


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