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Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Review

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $450 List | $449.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Above average space-to-weight ratio, comfortable for two people, guy points, pole configuration and low profile end make it strong in winds
Cons:  Delicate fabrics require special treatment
Bottom line:  Our favorite tent for all your backpacking needs.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Big Agnes

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a high-performance two-door backpacking tent for people that want more space and comfort than lighter tents like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 or Tarptent Double Rainbow offer. It wins our Editors' Choice Award because it is the best lightweight and comfortable backpacking tent in our review fleet. It weighs 49 oz. or 3 lb. 1 oz., has two spacious vestibules and has an above average space-to-weight ratio. It does great in harsh weather, keeping its contents dry. The tent features high-quality ultralight fabrics that could be stronger and more durable. It competes closely, and comes out on top, with the NEMO Dagger and REI Half Dome 2 Plus. Our testing determined that it is the most comfortable and easy to use of the three.

Big Agnes Spur Now Comes with Ambiance
If you're a night owl like this reviewer, but stress about draining the batteries on your headlamp, check out the Copper Spur UL2 mtnGLO. With integrated LED lights, a push of a button can control three light settings for optimum lighting for all your late night activities.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Backpacking Tents of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jessica Haist
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
May 20, 2017

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The Copper Spur HV UL2 is an outstanding balance of weight savings and comfort, making for a top performing backpacking tent. We love its double doors, storm protection, and ample head room, all for just a tad over three pounds. This is truly a tent that we could take anywhere, from sea kayaking adventures to peak bagging missions.

Performance Comparison


The Copper Spur HV UL2 was the highest ranked backpacking tent in our review and our clear favorite, winning our coveted Editors' Choice award.


With extra head space, comfort levels are high in the Copper Spur. We took this tent on a couples camping adventure and were pleased with our results.

With extra head space  comfort levels are high in the Copper Spur. We took this tent on a couples camping adventure and were pleased with our results.
 

Comfort


The Copper Spur strives to be both lightweight and spacious…and it succeeds! This is our favorite tent for luxurious lightweight backpacking with lazy afternoons spent reading The New Yorker, drinking tea, and frolicking around in fluffy down sleeping bags. It is a great compromise for two people backpacking together who want to go light, but don't want to sacrifice things like two doors and head room. For an even lighter option, but slightly less comfortable, check out the Tarptent Double Rainbow or the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV.


If you're looking to go the other direction and sacrifice weight for palatial room and home-base comfort, we'd recommend the REI Half Dome 2 Plus. It's heavy at 5 lbs. 7 oz., but offers a roomy 38.1 square feet of living space. The Copper Spur tent is in the top three of the highest space-to-weight ratio of all 15 tents tested, earning an above average score of 7 out of 10 for comfort.

Looking out over the Sierras  while lounging in the Copper Spur HV.
Looking out over the Sierras, while lounging in the Copper Spur HV.

An impressively tall 42" peak height makes it easy to sit up at the top, and it only slightly tapers down in the foot area so you hardly notice the change. Twenty-nine square feet of interior space and steep walls provide plenty of room to spread out and use the floor area.

The roomy interior of the Copper Spur HV UL 2.
The roomy interior of the Copper Spur HV UL 2.

Two 9-square-foot vestibules, comparable to another favorite in this review, the Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO, easily cover shoes and a moderate size pack. A two-door tent is a luxury that most tents in this weight category cannot afford but makes sharing a tent a lot easier. Big Agnes has added four upper pockets along with the two supportive side pockets that were found in the previous version to hold nighttime essentials, and an optional gear loft quenches the organizational thirst of the messy base camper.

This is the best storage of any tent under four pounds that we've seen. We also like the updated bright and cheery orange color — although it is less stealthy than some tents we tested. The Copper Spur's inner doors zip down in a rainbow shape. We prefer a door that opens in a D pattern and find the Copper Spur's doors allow more dirt to enter the tent unintentionally because of the way they zip to the ground. Other top scorers in the comfort metric includes the REI Half Dome 2 Plus, earning a perfect 10 out of 10 for its top tier comfort capabilities, along with the NEMO Dagger 2, The North Face Triarch 2, and the NEMO Galaxi 2 - which all scored near perfect 9 out of 10s. These are the first tents we'd reach for if comfort is the number one priority.

The interior of the Copper Spur HV UL 2 with fly deployed.
The interior of the Copper Spur HV UL 2 with fly deployed.

Ease of Set-Up


The Copper Spur is relatively easy to set up and has a very similar pole design to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. It has a single, interconnected pole with two hubbed ends for extra strength in winds and a cross pole for extra headroom. It is completely free standing, so no funky stakeout maneuvers are required as with Tarptent Double Rainbow, which can be converted to freestanding with a trekking pole. Color-coded pole and fly connectors and reflective quick adjust guy lines make setup brainless. It comes with only minimal guy line attached, and it would be useful to have had more for all the guy points on the tent. Its stakes are decently strong and the tent comes with enough stakes for the critical points.


As with all double wall backpacking tents, the setup of this tent is not very adaptable. You can take the fly off on warm summer days to check out the stars, but fly on and fly off are the two basic options. You can "fast pitch" it if you purchase the expensive footprint separately, but we don't think this is the best way to use the tent. The Hubba Hubba NX and the Anjan are more versatile than the Copper Spur because you can "fast pitch" them without a footprint.

Setting up this model has always been pretty quick and easy. Here a tester pitches the previous version of this tent  the Copper Spur UL2.
Setting up this model has always been pretty quick and easy. Here a tester pitches the previous version of this tent, the Copper Spur UL2.

Weather Resistance


The Copper Spur has wonderful geometry aspects which produce a tight pitch, holding steady in winds that bend over many other lightweight tents, including the Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO. Check out our Weather Resistance chart below to see where the Copper Spur ranked in this metric.


Three guy points at the head and one at the foot help to secure this tent better than most light tents. A large vent above the head area helps combat condensation. The geometry is very similar to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX, and we noticed that both of these fly materials squeak against the poles in high winds. We sat out many rain storms inside the Copper Spur, without a care in the world and stayed cozy and dry.

Durability


Big Agnes sacrifices a degree of durability to keep the Copper Spur's weight down. We think it is a good compromise — but you need to take good care of the tent. Its fabric is not particularly abrasion resistant and you'll need to make sure that it is well staked down if you are going to leave it unattended when it's windy out or you'll come back to it shredded to pieces.


This tent has a sturdy and well-designed pole construction that helps to offset its potentially fragile fabrics. It uses slightly more durable fabrics than the NEMO Dagger 2 (20D versus 15D), but both tents require a little extra care to ensure the walls are not snagged.

We tested the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 on stick-laden ground  and put a big dog inside the tent to see how the floor held up. The Copper Spur took home a 7 out of 10 for comfort.
We tested the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 on stick-laden ground, and put a big dog inside the tent to see how the floor held up. The Copper Spur took home a 7 out of 10 for comfort.

A slight bit of bushwhacking resulted in a torn stuff sack and floor of a Copper Spur that was sticking out of the top of one tester's pack. For this reason, we recommend always packing your tent inside your backpack to avoid any unnecessary abrasion. We believe that silicone-treated nylon fabrics like the Copper Spur and the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT are high quality and will stand the test of time better than cheaper coated polyester materials like the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2 has that will degrade over time while stored in your garage (Hydrolysis) and are therefore less durable. To learn more about this process, visit our How to Choose the Best Tent for Backpacking article. The Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 mtnGLO and NEMO Galaxi 2 are both tents that earned high scores for this metric, rising to the top in terms of durability. The Copper Spur UL2 uses ultralight material. Tear strength and abrasion resistance are compromised for weight savings. The stuff sack is made of the same material as the fly.

Weight and Packed Size


In their latest version, Big Agnes has worked to shave a few more ounces off the Copper Spur UL2, bringing it down to 49 ounces, or 3 pounds one ounce. The lightest tents in our review were the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV, at 2 pounds 5.6 ounces, followed by the Tarptent Double Rainbow, at 2 pounds 15 ounces. The chart below shows how it ranks in packed size amongst the competition.


The Big Agnes Flycreek UL2 and the larger  more livable Copper Spur UL2.
The Big Agnes Flycreek UL2 and the larger, more livable Copper Spur UL2.

The Copper Spur's materials are very packable, but it is a bulkier tent than the smaller Hilleberg Anjan GT. It packs to about the same size as the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and is 3.5 ounces lighter. When we packed up all of the tents, the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV, Tarptent Double Rainbow, NEMO Dagger 2, and Copper Spur had the smallest packed sizes.


All of our contenders. From left to right: NEMO Galaxi  Alps Lynx  REI Half Dome 2 Plus  Eureka Midori  Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight  Big Agnes Copper Spur HV  Hilleberg Anjan  NEMO Dagger  Tarptent Double Rainbow  Kelty Salida 2  and Marmot Catalyst.
All of our contenders. From left to right: NEMO Galaxi, Alps Lynx, REI Half Dome 2 Plus, Eureka Midori, Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, Big Agnes Copper Spur HV, Hilleberg Anjan, NEMO Dagger, Tarptent Double Rainbow, Kelty Salida 2, and Marmot Catalyst.

Limitations


This award winner's greatest limitation is its fabric. Despite a full season all over the High Sierra, including three serious and one record-setting storm, and a testing cycle in Montana, our test model showed few signs of wear. Nonetheless, the fabric tears very easily compared to others like the REI Half Dome 2 Plus or the Hilleberg Anjan, which is a significant drawback. For many backpackers, the fabric will not pose a serious drawback, but for long distance hikers or anyone traveling to remote areas, we recommend something with increased strength and durability, like the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT or the Tarptent Double Rainbow. A relatively minor drawback: the Copper Spur isn't as stealthy as green and gray tents such as the Hilleberg Anjan, or a darker brown like the NEMO Galaxi.

Best Application


The Copper Spur HV UL2 is a great choice as a lightweight option for two backpackers. Trips like the John Muir Trail or other multi-day backpacking, paddling, or just camping would be perfect for this.

Here one tester is looking out from the NEMO Dagger  over at the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV. We found the REI Half Dome 2 Plus easy to assemble  even for one person working alone in windy conditions. This tent  though heavy  scored highly across all categories except for weight.
Here one tester is looking out from the NEMO Dagger, over at the REI Half Dome 2 Plus and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV. We found the REI Half Dome 2 Plus easy to assemble, even for one person working alone in windy conditions. This tent, though heavy, scored highly across all categories except for weight.

Value


The Copper Spur UL2 retails for $450, which is up $20 from last year's model (a $50 over the past two years). This is a serious investment for your backpacking gear. We think this is a decent value if you are planning on doing a lot of backpacking trips, but not if you are only going to use it for car camping trips. If you want a great tent for shorter trips, car camping, or occasional use, check out something less expensive and more durable like the NEMO Galaxi ($250), Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, or the REI Half Dome 2 Plus ($219) or our Camping Tent Review. The Copper Spur is an expensive piece of equipment, and because it is made from lightweight delicate fabrics, it needs to be treated with care and stored properly. For more information on caring for your tent, check out our Buying Advice article.

OutdoorGearLab tests the Copper Spur HV alongside the NEMO Dagger 2. Both earned 8 out of 10s for their remarkable durability in Montana and the Sierras.
OutdoorGearLab tests the Copper Spur HV alongside the NEMO Dagger 2. Both earned 8 out of 10s for their remarkable durability in Montana and the Sierras.

Conclusion


This contender wins out Editors' Choice Award because it is the best all-around backpacking tent we've tested. It is the most comfortable, lightweight two-door tent in this review. It is lighter and more livable than the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and we think it is more weather resistant than the Tarptent Double Rainbow, but not quite as strong and durable as the Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT or Big Agnes Rattlesnake. Its main drawback is its delicate materials and expensive price tag, but we think it is worth the investment if you know you will be doing a lot of backpacking, particularly with a partner.

At OutdoorGearLab  we always start our morning with a fresh cup of coffee. The Copper Spur gave us plenty of room to spread out comfortably during the night  earning high scores across the board.
At OutdoorGearLab, we always start our morning with a fresh cup of coffee. The Copper Spur gave us plenty of room to spread out comfortably during the night, earning high scores across the board.
Jessica Haist and Jess McGlothlin

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 14, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
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2 Total Ratings
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3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jul 14, 2017 - 11:37pm
Michael Haderlie · Backpacker · ID
I own the three-man version of this. I felt that the two man was a little too small. I often have two family members with me. For instance my two sons went backpacking with me this past week. The tent has performed very well. I love the lightweight. It is a huge upgrade from my previous This tent does feel a little fragile and not as durable as I would like . I have been treating it very carefully to try to avoid damage. I have used it fairly extensively since mid spring. I love having full doors on both sides of the tent making it easier to get out without disturbing a partner. The floor does not feel very durable and I felt that I had to purchase the footprint. Luckily it was on sale and I got it for a great price. I love the room of this compared to the fly Creek which a friend of mine has. I would've liked to have seen it offered in other colors. Only negative on the three-man is you have to sleep alternating head to toe. When have you ever been backpacking in the mountains and found a perfectly flat spot so everybody is at a comfortable level. Most likely two people are going to be slightly downhill and one person is going to be sleeping on their head. I don't really view this as a three-man tent so much, but rather a luxury two man.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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