Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent
Use: Ideal for lightweight camping and backpacking
Ease of Use
Price reflects the quality of the tent
Three season and good durability against wind and rain
Fast to erect, spacious but let down by the zips
I Don't Like
If you're looking for a backpacking tent that’s spacious, light, packs small,
and will survive the elements (even in Patagonia!), then look no further.
How we used Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Why there’s nothing worse than an overly heavy rucksack
We’ve all been there: we’ve all overpacked our rucksacks and paid the price with sore shoulders, aching feet and the fact that you spend more time concentrating on the heavy load on your back than on the scenery in front of you. I like hiking but I don’t like regretting the weight I’m carrying.
That’s what I was desperate to avoid with my recent trip hiking in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. We’d chosen to trek the nine-day Full Circuit or ‘O’ and wanted our focus to be on the incredible landscapes rather than on our rucksacks.
I’m not going to lie, when we started on our trek in Chilean Patagonia, we saw a lot of others on the trail weighed down with huge – and heavy – rucksacks. My boyfriend had admitted to me before I’d left that when he packed for the ‘O’ in Torres del Paine National Park, he ended up carrying roughly 30kg of gear on his back. 30kg. Over the John Gardner Pass. Ouch.
We didn’t want to do the same. And while we knew that we could reduce the weight of food we were carrying (I’ll be posting a guide soon to exactly what food we packed with us for our nine-day hike in Torres del Paine National Park), there’s nothing you can do if your basic equipment – i.e. your tent – is overly heavy or bulky.
Making careful, practical choices about the equipment you pack
I’m not going to go into detail here about exactly everything I packed in my backpack (instead, I’ll be posting my equipment list for hiking the Torres del Paine Circuit) but what I will say is that the best decision we made was researching and investing in a new, lightweight backpacking tent.
We chose the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, possible the top backpacking tent available on the market. At over $400 (£309) she was an investment, but Big Aggie as she came to be known, was worth every penny.
Is Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 right for you?
Big Agnes without her outer layerI'm not going to lie: if you're only planning on hiking and camping once or twice on your travels in Patagonia or South America and you want something cheap, cheerful and that'll do the job, Big Agnes just isn't the tent you're looking for.
Instead, you've got a couple of options: check out the Terra Nova Zephyros, a two person tent that I've camped all over Patagonia and South America with - another great lightweight option and one that at around $160/£117 doesn't break the bank.
You can also rent tents and camping equipment in Puerto Natales itself from Erratic Rock, who hire out essentials at prices per day. It's not the cheapest option, but if you only plan on hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, it's probably cheaper than investing in a tent.
However, if you've keen to invest in a tent that's not only so light that you barely notice you're carrying it (seriously, I ended up having Big Agnes in my rucksack on day three and she's so light I genuinely didn't notice the extra weight) and one that will be perfect for any other adventures you have in Patagonia (or anywhere else in the world), then Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is for you. For what you get for the money, she is one of the top lightweight backpacking tents on the market.
1.4 kg (3 lbs. 1 oz)
2.7m² (29-sq. feet)
Vestible Area (area between the inner and outer parts of the tent):
0.8m² (9-square feet) outside both doors (e.g. enough space to fit your rucksack and hiking boots).
1 metre (40 inches)
Number of Doors:
We were pleased as punch with Big Aggie on our trip hiking the Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park. The main areas that really impressed us were:
Weight and Spaciousness
- The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent is seriously lightweight but also incredibly spacious. One of the biggest selling points is that there are TWO doors. This means you can easily get out for a wee during the night without waking the other person!
- It’s also tall enough that you can sit up inside the tent and have enough room to get dressed and pack away your stuff. Thanks to its 2.7m² (29-square foot) floor, there’s enough space for both of you to be doing this at the same time – but I always opted for an extra ten minutes in bed…
- This tent was impressively durable. She withstood high winds - although I wouldn’t want to pitch Big Agnes somewhere where there isn't at least a bit of vegetation cover.
- It withstood the rain, even when it poured down one night. Although this made it a lot heavier to carry the following morning, the tent dried exceptionally quickly in the wind when it was put up the next day.
Ease of Use
- Very quick to put up and take down (we recommend you attach the groundsheet to the inner with cable ties as this makes it a lot easier to pitch in windy conditions). There are three poles that are quickly attached to the inner before you can get the outer on but even in rainy conditions this takes very little time. Thanks to the mesh inner, it’s always very quick to dry, either in the sun, wind or with the help of a towel.
- I didn’t realise this until about day five of using this tent, but the guy ropes have a reflective trim so it’s easy to locate if you’ve nipped out to the toilet in the night!
- The tent bag has a bit of extra room which means that when you roll it, it doesn’t have to be perfect (my biggest bug bear for the – otherwise – incredible Terra Nova Zephyros)
- Bonus feature: the inner is fully made of mesh, meaning if you're camping somewhere warm (i.e not Patagonia in early autumn) you can leave the outer layer off and enjoy the stars!
But there are some things that while they weren't enough to put us off buying the tent (and didn't cause us too many problems while we were using it), they're still worth considering.
The Things to Consider
Ease of Use
- The zips catch a lot and given how thin the material is, you need to be very careful that you don’t tear the outer layer.
- The same goes for the floor (and why it’s essential you cable tie it to the inner first).
- Because the inner is made mainly of mesh, it’s not the warmest tent I’ve ever slept it – make sure you have a good sleeping bag, particularly if sleeping near a glacier as we were in Torres del Paine National Park!
- Big Agnes is more expensive than other backpacking tents. However, given what is included in this specification, it's unlikely you'll be finding anything much cheaper that is as lightweight and roomy.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent is not the cheapest available on the market but she's a seriously worthy investment. For this weight, there are few other backpacking tents available that are in a lower price range, although my Terra Nova Zephyros two man tent is a decent alternative and and REI Co-op Half Dome Two Plus has also received rave reviews and costs about half the price.
That said, we were seriously impressed and are looking forward to our next adventures with Big Aggie!
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