Improving on an already amazing tent, Big Agnes revitalizes their Copper Spur line with vestibules that double as awnings, improved clips, easier setup, and tougher materials. This is our review:
The Copper Spur HV UL2 is an ultra-light 3 season, two person backpacking tent. It has two doors, two vestibules that double as awnings, two large interior pockets, a top vent on the rainfly, and a hubbed DAC Featherlight NFS/NSL hub system. The tent is constructed out of Big Agnes’ own proprietary double ripstop nylon featuring mixed denier threads. Other features included double zippered doors that double as vents, quick stash pockets for tucking the doors back, multiple interior loops for attaching accessories, and a wide brow pole that enhances cabin volume. The tent includes 8 aluminum j-stakes, a stuff sack, weighs 3 lbs. 2 oz. packed, and retails for $449.95.
What I liked
Setup of the Copper Spur HV is as easy as it gets (Video here). Simply assemble the pole system, pop the tips into the corners of the tent (color coded to eliminate guesswork) and lift the tent body up to clip it in place. The rainfly is tossed over top and simply clipped in place. 6 Stakes is all that is required for standard pitch, but 8 is absolutely recommended to pull the slack out of the head and foot. Breakdown is just as easy, just in reverse. The tent slips easily into the included stuff sack for storage once it is rolled up.
Livability with the HV series is top notch in its class. The floor of the tent is fairly generous in width (for an ultralight) at 52″ at the shoulders, with a tapering cut that whittles down to 42″ at the foot. This provides plenty of room for two standard sized 20″ sleeping pads, while supplying a little extra wiggle room at the shoulders. The hub system is designed with two subtle bends which flex the tent outwards and upwards. This opens up the interior a considerable degree, resulting in more usable space than a standard arched pole design. This being the case, it is absolutely possible for two adults to comfortably sit up side-by-side at the head of the tent without rubbing elbows or the ceiling. The brow pole further improves interior volume by pulling the tent walls outward into a nearly vertical orientation. The result is more room for getting things done, like changing and organizing gear. It isn’t a backcountry mansion, but what is here is exceptionally useful and feels comfortable on those long damp days.
One interesting feature that adds to the livability of the shelter is the inclusion of doors that unzip on both sides to form awnings. This requires two trekking poles and two additional stakes per awning to achieve, but is rather simple to set up. While a seemingly minor addition at first, I often found myself using the feature on sunny and overcast days alike. It provides an excellent view of the surrounding area, while also blocking much more sun than simply rolling back the doors. It is a fun feature that makes the Copper Spur HV stand out in a very competitive field.
Wind stability is also rather good. Despite being an ultralight tent, it holds up well in rough wind and soggy weather. When properly pitched with all guy lines and a couple extra tent stakes, the shelter barely moves in mild wind and takes a surprise ghust with little fuss. A proper pitch does require using two guy lines, connecting the rain fly to the pole system with the included Velcro tabs and brow pole pockets, but the couple extra seconds this requires results in great gains in performance. Anything less than a full pitch does allow the tent to move around quite a bit more, but typical conditions have proven to be a non-issue even in this configuration. In my testing the shelter has held strong and stable, resisting buffeting and annoying flapping, staying quiet and well poised in the wind.
Durability takes a step up from previous models. Big Agnes has introduced new fabrics that utilize varying deniers of fibers inside the fly and body, which improves tear strength. It doesn’t do anything for stabs or slices, so carefully pruning the campsite for sharp objects is still a must, but the build is pretty impressive. The new clips and zippers all feel reliable and secure with the poles and stakes being constructed of the highest quality DAC aluminum. Construction quality as a whole has always been impeccable with Big Agnes, and this also holds true here with exceptional stitching and a fully seam-sealed body and fly.
Weight and packability are both very good. While not the absolute lightest in its class, it does still manage an impressive packed weight of just 3lbs. 2 oz, while including many features that are missing from other shelters. The tent stuffs easily into even small backpacks, taking up minimal space (especially if packing the poles separately). At barely over 3 pounds, this is a viable shelter for any length or difficulty of trip. I’ve managed to stuff the entire tent into a 3″ flat layer inside my backpack, leaving nearly the entire volume free for my other gear.
Circling back to my above comment about features in its weight class, the Copper Spur HV packs some smaller features that I greatly appreciated. It has two extremely large interior pockets that span the entire width of the tent, interior connection points for accessories, their unique quick stash door loops (for tucking the doors out of the way with minimal effort), high quality zippers with storm flaps, a large top vent and even double zippered doors that double as vents. Plus, of course, the awning style doors mentioned previously.
Condensation management as a whole is excellent. The air flows easily under the rainfly and up through the top of the shelter, expelling hot/ humid air out via the top vent and door vents (when weather allows). The interior tent body is also entirely breathable, with the privacy panels mostly blocking a direct breeze while simultaneously providing a gentle circulation of air. Ventilation is as good as it gets and the mesh interior does an excellent job of protecting the interior from condensation should it form.
What I didn’t like
While I love the breathability and visibility of the interior, the type and color of mesh used can create a surprising harsh and bright reflection/refraction as the light passes through. At certain angles the sun can pierce through with a surprisingly sharp intensity, which I found to be hard to look through. I discovered this while laying on my side on a sunny day as I tried to take a peek outside, only to be hit with a concentrated beam of light. Luckily, the awning style doors can provide shade that mostly covers the mesh for most of the day, but when the sun is at the right angle it can be a little blinding. Perhaps a darker color mesh would help.
I do wish Big Agnes would include a few more stakes with this tent. In order to do a proper pitch including the guy lines, another 4 stakes are needed. Two additional additional stakes are required for each awning, assuming that feature is to be used. As equipped, you cannot do either. Adding more stakes will of course add to the pack weight, which is probably why they are left out, but I would still suggest adding at least 6 stakes to the kit, just to achieve full stability and the use of just one awning.
The new retention clips for the doors can be a little hard to grip and manipulate with cold, wet or sore hands. The shape is a sort of quarter arch, with little material to provide any sort of purchase with. This can be a minor frustration in the wrong conditions. They do an excellent job of locking in place, but getting there takes a little more effort than I’m used to.
When choosing a tent, it doesn’t come down to a singular feature but instead the entire tent as a package. The Copper Spur series has always been designed with the full package in mind, and this legacy continues with the 2020 HV UL models. They’re exceptionally roomy, especially when considering their impressive pack weights, but manage to achieve their specs while adding innovative features, instead of cutting them out. I adore the new awning capable doors, setup is a dream, and carrying the shelter never feels like a burden. It’s comfortable, reliable, and provides an excellent suite of features that together helps form an impressive shelter in nearly every aspect, aside from a couple very minor complaints.
The highest of recommendations
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