Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Review

Featuring two doors, two vestibules, a full rain fly, a top vent, a freestanding hubbed aluminum pole system, interior pockets, and a spacious interior, the Copper Spur HV UL2 packs every major feature into a solid, 3 lb package. My review:

The Copper Spur HV (for Higher Volume) is a redesign of one of my all time favorite  backpacking tents, the Copper Spur UL2. This reworked tent has been built around a new hubbed frame design constructed from DAC NFL Featherlight and NSL aluminum, depending on the section. The frame provides a high of of interior volume thanks to small bends near the top, varying stiffnesses of pole section, and a high tension central hub that forces the structure upwards when pitched. A brow pole lays across the top of the frame, lifting the walls of the tent vertically also, further increasing volume. The fly and floor are silicone/polyurethane coated high tenacity rip-stop nylon, while the body is a combination of breathable nylon and no-see-um mesh. Aside from the features listed above, the tent includes two interior pockets, one media pocket, double zippered doors and vestibules, Velcro reinforcement tabs for the pole/fly connections, quick stash sleeves for the doors, and stuff sacks for the tent, poles and stakes. The dimensions come in at 52″ wide at the head, 42″ at the foot, 88″ long and a peak  height of 40″. The tent weighs 3 lbs 1 oz packed, and retails for $449. It also comes in a tan color scheme.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

What I liked

Pitching the copper Spur HV 2 is as simple as they come. Lay the tent down and stake down the corners to keep it from flying off first. From there, all the poles come together as what is essentially one shock corded frame and a brow pole. Once that’s assembled, just pop the ends into small grommets in the tent body and lift the mesh body up and attach it to the frame via plastic clips. The brow pole is laid over the frame and popped into ball clips above each door. From there, the rain fly clips on and can be tightened down via simple pull tensioners. It’s fast, painless, and can easily be pitched by one person in strong winds in just a couple of minutes. Using the Velcrow tabs, the rain fly aligns up perfectly every time, further improving the pitch.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

When it comes to livability, it’s one of the most comfortable ultra-light tents I’ve tested. With the high ceiling, adequate shoulder room, and the completely vertical walls from head to foot, I always found myself with more than enough room inside. Two people can easily sit up side by side without bumping elbows or rubbing their heads across the mesh, and there is plenty enough room to clean up, get dressed, or whatever else you need to do inside. Having two pockets, one by each sleeper, and an impressively large centralized media pocket across the ceiling, it provides ample space to stash headlamps, cameras, snacks or whatever else you may bring inside the tent, and there is extra room at the shoulders and feet for jackets, extra clothes and other larger items. Pair this with generously large vestibules that easily hold filled packs, boots, and all of my cooking equipment, and the interior is able to stay clean and clutter free, only enhancing the enjoyment of being inside. There are even attachment loops on the ceiling for extra pockets or a media loft; great for strapping a tablet and headphones to the ceiling for a backcountry movie during rough weather. Getting in and out is easy also, thanks to the large “D” shaped doors that allow the user to pivot out, instead of crawling. The vestibule zipper can be a bit of a stretch, but it’s accessible without having to crawl for it. It’s a shelter that I absolutely do not mind spending long hours inside until the rain stops.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Speaking of weather, the HV UL2 has proven to be very resilient in even the worst conditions. It’s withstood constant 20-40 mph winds that lasted for 14 hour, non-stop rain, and incredible gusts that actually blew me over while in camp (video below). One storm actually started ripping tent stakes up from the ground (later reinforced with large stones), and the shelter held strong without showing any signs of wear or tear. while other shelters were being pulled apart or blown flat, it held strong, kept it shape. It never once caved in or had issues with buffeting or sway. It just rocked gently while absorbing the impact, despite being completely exposed with no wind break. Upon properly setting up the tent with guy lines, the Velcro tabs in place, and a nice taut pitch, the Copper Spur HV can withstand some intense weather. The rain fly does a great job of keeping out all rain, even with the vent open, and it keeps gear under the vestibule dry too. This impressive stability is due to the clever, tensioned hub design that creates a strong truss under pressure, and the generous guy points located from every angle. The new randomized rip-stop nylon that’s being used on this model does a great job of resisting tearing too. It’s just as light as typical rip-stop, but it’s unique patterning provides 25% more strength and better resistance to stretching when wet. The sturdy pitch also stays quiet , minimizing creaking and squeaking under for a nice, calm night’s rest despite the weather outside.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Overall build quality is excellent. The Spur’s pole system is made from the best aluminum on the market , and it includes my favorite DAC tent stakes, sturdy reflective guy lines, robust yet ultra-light fabrics, and the entire shelter is reinforced with multiple stitches and a solid factory seam seal. I’ve had no leaks or fraying, and camping on granite, limestone, dirt, mud and even sticks and briers has had no effect on the floor, despite it’s ultra-light construction. Even the zippers do an excellent job of avoiding snags, with a little care.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

At roughly 3 lbs packed, the copper spur provides an impressive weight to space ratio while staying well within the UL category. This is especially impressive considering it’s fully coverage double wall design and it’s full feature set, which is usually cut to shave weight. It’s light enough that a single person can easily carry it for longer trips, and when it’s split up in two, it weighs roughly 1.5 lbs per person. At this weight and with the amount of space provided, it easy handles double duty as a cushy solo shelter, or a comfortable tandem. Very few tents can achieve a 3 lb. weight, and even fewer without sacrificing the basics like space, vents, full rainflys, double zippers, vents and pockets.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Condensation management is great. The top vent paired with breathable mesh and nylon allows for the tent to constantly cycle fresh air, all but preventing moisture build up in all but the most humid conditions. I’ve camped in clouds, in fields of grass, and have had great luck keeping it dry and manageable, despite conditions that generally cause condensation issues. On the rare occasion that condensation does build up (unavoidable in some situations), the full double wall design kept me and all of my gear, including my sleeping bags, bone dry and comfortable as the outer layer never contacts the inner body. It also dries quickly, which is always a plus.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Other details like privacy nylon panels around the head, huge D shaped doors, easy entry and exit, reflective guys lines, a curved vestibule tip that prevents zipper pull and hanging, nice quick stash pockets that fold back the doors without toggles (I love these things, pictured below) and the ability to fast pitch the fly with a foot-print only sweeten the package.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

What I didn’t like

The 3 lb. 1 oz packed weight does come with a sacrifice, the inclusion of only eight tent stakes. This is plenty enough stakes for a standard pitch, but not enough to actually guy out the tent, which I personally consider necessary for any tent in rough weather. Pitching the tent without the guy lines results in a dramatic loss of stability, although still better than most UL tents I’ve tested. The difference is some rocking and swaying at the top of the tent, and while it’s not going to cause any issues in mild weather, it isn’t advisable in my eyes. I opted to add four additional tent stakes to my pack, adding about two ounces to it’s pack weight. I understand this is an effort to reduce pack weight, but it’s at a cost that I don’t agree with. If you only camp during decent weather (light wind and rain) you’ll be just fine. But, those who like peaks, exposed cliffs, and other windy areas, you’ll want to do some accessorizing.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

The stake points for the head and toe could be a bit longer. In rocky soil, dealing with such a short length of cord can be a real challenge. I’ve had to attach a short length of rope temporarily here to be able to stake it out properly on one occasion as I simply could not avoid a rock within it’s small area of reach.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

I’m not sold on the silver mesh. It provides better privacy for whoever is inside, but I feel like it’s easier to see out with black mesh, despite some claims I’ve heard to the contrary. I know I’m the minority here, but I’d rather be able to see out than to prevent people from seeing in. I camp far outside the general range of the masses, so for me privacy isn’t much of a challenge. Aesthetically, I just like black better too, although the silver does have it’s appeal. This is entirely personal preference, however, and certainly will not make or break a tent.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2

Overall

I knew going in that redesigning a tent that I have spent so many years go back to would prove a challenge to improve. I was initially worried that the taller frame would result in instability, or that they would cut corners somewhere to shave weight. However, I was entirely wrong. It’s clear that every detail has been lamented over, fine tuned, and tested vigorously. Every feature has been reduced to it’s most minimum form and weight while still keeping a keen eye on durability, livability and comfort. I adore the fact that I can take a 3 lb. shelter onto the peak of a mountain without worrying about it collapsing during a storm, and the low weight certainly makes the trip enjoyable on the way up. With it’s ample interior space and generous amount of storage and organization, it makes riding out any storm just a little bit more fun, and quiet design makes sleeping through it easier as well. It’s durable, easy to set up, and still manages to provide a full double walled protective barrier, at a fraction of the weight of most. In the end though, it’s the smaller details that really won me over, like the quick stash door compartments, lots of pockets, and a well needed top vent for my humid local environment. Despite skimping a bit on the included tent stakes, and a couple minor quibbles, the Copper Spur HV UL2 is hands down the best ultra-light shelter I’ve ever tested, and I can without hesitation recommend it to anyone who is serious about backpacking.

The highest of recommendations

For more information on Big Agnes and and their wide range of gear, check out their website, www.bigagnes.com

For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.

I want to extend a huge thanks to Big Agnes for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.

Thanks as always for reading! Don’t forget to follow our blog for future updates and reviews. If you have any questions, comment below, send us an email, or find us on Twitter or Facebook (links on the right).

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