Big Agnes has taken one of the best backpacking tents…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Big Agnes for testing and review)
Big Agnes has taken one of the best backpacking tents on the market, its Copper Spur UL2, and made it even better by adding integrated LED lights, called mtnGLO. In addition to adding the lights, they also updated the color scheme to a dark gray, light gray, and orange.
Not only is this sub-three pound tent beautiful, it is incredibly functional as it is free-standing, has two big full sized doors and two large full-coverage vestibules, and can handle just about any weather thrown its way. In addition to being ultralight and loaded with features, the Copper Spur setup is as fast and easy as it gets.
- Low weight
- Dual vestibules and doors
- Fast fly compatible
- Built-in LED lights
- Handles wind and rain like a champ
- Vents well
- Easy to set up and take down
- Durability issues with stake loops (possible durability issues with floor)
- 42" peak height at head end, foot end short at 22"
- 90" long floor
- Head end width is 52" and the foot end width is 42"
- 29 square foot floor
- 9x9 square foot dual vestibules
- Trail weight: 2lb 14 oz
- Packed Weight: 3lb 4oz
What it comes with:
- 2 DAC NSL +NFL ultralight aluminum poles (one double hubbed body pole and one short brow pole)
- 8 lightweight and very durable J-stakes
- Tent body
- Pole field repair kit
Construction & Durability
The body of the tent is composed of a waterproof bathtub floor, a very breathable nylon section, and a generous sized mesh section.
The floor is a deep bathtub style floor that is treated with 12000 mm PU coating. I am not sure of the denier, but it is pretty thin.
I feel it needs either a footprint or some sort of ground cloth. I recommend a footprint because this tent is fast-fly compatible, meaning you can go super ultralight and use only the footprint, poles, stakes, and the fly to set up the tent.
The Copper Spur has dual rainbow style doors that roll completely down for a great al fresco feeling and also to make entering and exiting the tent really easy.
The dual rainbow style doors provide some great views!
Buckles and Stake Loops
The tent and the fly clip together by buckles at the corners of the fly and body. They are reflective and color coded, so it is easy to set up in the day or night. They are also adjustable, so you can select the optimal pitch depending on your weather situation. The buckles seem to be very durable and meant to last.
The stake loops are a little bit thinner than I would like. After a storm one night, one of the loops that was staked into the ground split almost completely down the middle. It is still serviceable right now and it has lasted through several storms even after it was split.
The Copper Spur uses very durable and easy to use plastic clips called Twist Clips to fasten the tent to the poles.
The Copper Spur has a total of six pockets. Each side at the head end has a mesh pocket for storage of small items, such as sunglasses, headlamp, gloves, etc.
Each side wall also has a set of double mesh pockets that are geared towards media devices, such as tablets, phones, or IPods. They are both big enough to hold a tablet. There is also a headphone port located at the bottom of the double pocket for clean wire routing if necessary.
The ultralight fly that comes with the Copper Spur is made of silicone treated nylon rip-stop with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating.
A large vent at the head end of the tent helps fight condensation.
The fly has two two-way zippers on the center-zip vestibule doors for increased ventilation options. The zippers also have reflective "Big Agnes" logos on them.
The fly has four reflective guy lines: one at the foot end and three at the head end.
The Copper Spur has two large 9'x9' vestibules. As you can see, they extend all the way to the ground to offer more gear protection.
The Copper Spur uses two poles, one large, double hubbed pole and one short crossover pole.
The pole has a clear piece, called a Swivel CH that has one side for the short pole to snap into on the top and round bottom piece that the H Clip clips into.
Eight ultralight and super durable aluminum “J stakes” are included with the Copper Spur UL2. They do not bend and provide a very solid anchor. There were several times that I stayed in campsites with very hard ground and I had to use a rock to hit the stakes into the ground, but they were not affected whatsoever.
They can be tricky to remove sometimes if buried deep enough, so I also knocked them loose from the side with a rock, as well. They were again unaffected. I do wish that the Copper Spur had ten stakes for the ten guy out points, but I found the eight to be sufficient.
Reflective tabs on the tent and fly and guy lines
One thing that I noticed about the fly is that it is lacking Velcro stays that fasten on the tent poles. I put the Copper Spur through some serious wind and rain, but there was never a situation where the fly came off the ground or was anything other than taut. So I guess that was a pretty smart move to cut the weight and not include them. There are so many guy out points on the tent, I can’t imagine it needing them.
The Copper Spur UL2 is one of the easiest tents to set up that I’ve ever attempted. It only uses two poles, which are color coded at the bottom. The fly is also color coded.
Lay the tent flat and stake down for best results (though it is free-standing, so you don’t have to stake it).
Snap the big pole together and place the wide end of the poles at the wide end of the tent and the narrow end of the poles at the narrow end of the tent. The ends of the poles and the grommets are also color coded (orange for the wide end and gray for the narrow end) so that there is no way to confuse them.
Place the pole ends into the grommets and clip on the Twist Clips
Snap together the short pole and place it across the top of the tent and over the top of the main pole. Connect the ball ends into the ball caps and snap the middle of the pole into the clear Swivel CH.
Drape the fly over the tent body and line up the orange and gray snaps.
Stake down the doors on each side and guy out the guy lines on the front and back of the tent. While you are on the wide end, set the vent piece in the Velcro.
The Copper Spur UL2 is one of Big Agnes’s new series of tents that use durable and ultralight strands of LED lights inside, called mtnGLO.
The mtnGLO lights are very simple to use. To get started, insert three AAA batteries into the battery pack, connect the USB power connection, turn on the on/off switch, and then press the power button (once for full brightness, twice for dim or 50 % brightness and three times to turn back off).
To ensure that your batteries don’t burn out by accidentally turning on the lights while packing up the tent, Big Agnes designed the power pack so that you could disconnect the lights from the USB power pack and has a backup on/off switch.
If your batteries die and you have a portable USB power bank, you can use that or any other USB power device. I wish my headlamp had this option!
I was really glad to have the mtnGLO lights and found them very useful. They make a really nice ambient light inside the tent that is helpful for setting up camp, settling in for the night/changing clothes, and just in general to have lights on inside the tent without getting blinded by your tentmate’s headlamp being shined in your eyes.
They are also really nice to have when you are outside your tent because it creates more light in your campsite, and it makes you be able to see your tent from a distance if you go out to gather firewood or leave to cook/eat dinner, or go off for a night hike.
The mtnGLO lights have three settings: off, full brightness, and 50% brightness.
They incorporate one button for each setting. Press once for full brightness, twice for 50 percent, and three times to turn off.
The Copper Spur’s mtnGLO lights are in a “Y” pattern, with the wide end being at the head end of the tent.
Most of the ceiling is covered by the lights, but they are not very bright. I wish that the bright setting was just a little bit brighter in the Copper Spur. I do not recommend trying to read in the Copper Spur with just the mtnGLO lights. You would still likely need your headlamp. The Copper Spur really focuses on being as functional as possible at as low of a weight as possible, so the mtnGLO lights in this tent are really only where you need them.
All in all, the mtnGLO lights are awesome and I wish every tent that I own had them built in. I used them all the time and was so appreciative to have them. Are they necessary? No, but they sure are nice to have and I feel they are worth the price for the upgrade.
I’ve probably used the lights an estimated 25 hours and they still are as bright as they were when I first put in the batteries.
Other features are the dual rainbow doors, the dual full coverage vestibules, and the media pockets. I have already gone over those pretty extensively, so I won’t go back over them.
The Copper Spur UL2 is about as stable as an ultralight tent can be. With ten stake-out points, the Copper Spur pitches very tautly. Other reasons that the Copper Spur is so stable are the strength of the poles, the low profile dome-style design, the strength of the fabric of the fly, and the fact that it is free-standing. I put the Copper Spur through some serious wind and rain testing and it really handled them both exceptionally well.
One of the main reasons that the Copper Spur is in the upper echelon of backpacking tents is because it handles weather tremendously for its weight. I am truly amazed that fabric as light as the Copper Spur’s keeps wind and rain out as well as it does. I put this tent through the ringer and it truly shined (and I’m not even talking about the mtnGLO lights here).
One stormy night at Trapper Lake in Grand Teton National Park, the Copper Spur got hammered by a really strong rain storm that lasted the whole night. I was really surprised when I woke up and noticed that the interior of the tent was completely dry and didn’t have a drop of condensation inside.
Not only does the Copper Spur fend off wind and rain, the ultralight fabric of both the tent and the fly on the Copper Spur dry surprisingly quickly, as well.
The Copper Spur is one of the few tents that I’ve ever used for an extended period of time that did not experience some sort of condensation. I left the tent set up in my yard for seven straight days of rain and when the rain finally stopped, a thick fog developed one evening. The humidity level was 100 percent when I went to check the status of the interior of the tent. It didn’t have one drip of condensation. It also never developed any condensation when my husband and I stayed in it through several rainstorms.
The Copper Spur is designed to be condensation-free. The body is mostly mesh, and the fabric that is on the tent body is really breathable. The fly can be guyed out so that there is plenty of room under the tent for air to circulate. There is also a large vent at the head end to aid in condensation management. In addition to all of the other condensation preventing designs, Big Agnes designed the Copper Spur to have plenty of room between the inner tent and the fly for even more ventilation.
Room & Storage
The Copper Spur UL2 is a really comfortable, snug fitting two-person tent. Two pads fit perfectly in place on the sides. It pretty much reminds me of being on a queen sized mattress.
It has a 90” floor, so you still have enough room at the head or foot end for loose item storage (depending on how you place your mat in the tent). The pads are held in place by the tent walls, so you don’t slide off your mattress and your mattress doesn’t drift away from your tent mate. It is great for a couple!
The Copper Spur UL2 has a clear head end and foot end. The head end is 42" tall, which is a very generous amount height. The 42" height doesn’t extend all the way across, so the amount of total headroom is compromised. The foot end is only 22".
I would not want to sleep with my head at the foot end, so I would say that you pretty much have to sleep directly beside each other. For me, this is no problem, but for some it might be a deal breaker. I am not crazy about the foot end being shorter because I really like being able to move around the whole tent.
I would feel a little claustrophobic if I ended up having to pack up or set up the inside of the tent with a tentmate in the rain. But, that would be the only time that the space would be an issue for me. The times it rained while I was in this tent, it was time to go to sleep or I was already sleeping, so it didn’t really affect me.
Another notable design feature of the Copper Spur is the near vertical walls, which also attribute to the amount of space in the tent. There are a lot of backpacking tents out there with similar square footage in the floor, but the interior is cramped due to sagging walls.
I also really like the fact that it has two full vestibules and two full doors. The dual 9 square foot vestibules have plenty of room for both people to put their gear in, store shoes, and exit the tent without tripping over everything. The vestibules are also a full cut design so everything stays dry under them. I despise vestibules that are cut short and leave room for your gear to get wet—the whole point of a vestibule is for dry gear storage!
Other than the vestibules, the other storage options are the six pockets. There are two personal pockets for small items (sunglasses, phone, headlamp, etc), one on each side at the head end. The other four are two dual media compatible pockets for tablets or cell phones/IPods.
The Copper Spur packs down to a very small size and compresses really well. It also fits nicely into its stuff sack. I hardly even notice it in my pack. I normally split the weight of a backpacking tents with my tentmate, but the Copper Spur is so light that I didn’t even mind carrying the whole tent package.
I have tested the Copper Spur UL2 mtnGLO from August – November. It was tested in Grand Teton National Park, Uncompahgre National Forest in Colorado, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in North Carolina, and Columbia, S.C. This tent experienced flooding rain (6+ inches in Columbia, S.C.), high winds and rain, and a few nice, clear nights. The temperatures ranged from the mid-seventies to the low thirties.
My experience with Big Agnes
One of my very first pieces of gear was a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad, so I’ve been using their gear from the very beginning of my backpacking days. I remember that sleeping on the ground was going to be a deal breaker for me to go backpacking, but my friend Ryan showed me his Insulated Air Core and I realized that sleeping on the ground was not a bad thing if you have the right pad. I have bought gear from them ever since.
I have had some gear that needed repairs over the years from them and I can’t speak highly enough about their customer service. Every time that I needed a repair, they had my repaired or replaced gear to me within a week of receiving it, no questions asked. Each representative that I spoke with was very concerned about getting my gear to me quickly so that I wouldn’t miss any trail time.
Their great customer service and repair/return policy makes me buy gear from them without hesitation. Backpacking gear can be really expensive, so knowing that I have bought gear from a company that stands behind their gear is a really big deal to me.
Is this tent lightweight enough for me? Yes
Does this tent have enough usable space? Yes
Is there enough room to set up and pack up camp with two people inside if it is raining? It would be very cramped, so I say “No.”
Does this tent handle wind and rain well? Yes
Does this tent have enough dry gear storage room? Yes
Does this tent have somewhere that I can hang my tablet or enough floor space that I can set it up? Yes
Does this tent fit in my pack well? Yes
Would I buy this tent? Yes
The Copper Spur UL2 mtnGLO is a great backpacking tent for hikers who are looking to slash weight without sacrificing valuable space or weather protection.
If you are looking for a fully weather protected free-standing shelter with two vestibules and doors that weighs less than three pounds, the Copper Spur should be one of your top considerations.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. Thank you to both Trailspace and Big Agnes for the opportunity to test the Copper Spur UL2 mtnGLO. I really enjoyed testing it!