The Big Agnes Tigerwall UL2 Solution Dye is an ultra light tent that promises better UV protection, a more eco-friendly manufacturing process, and an 2 lb. 8 oz. packed weight all wrapped into a feature packed two person shelter. This is my review:
The Tigerwall UL2 features two doors, two vestibules, each with dual zippers that act as top and bottom vents depending on how they’re configured, and an interconnected three pole DAC Featherlite NFL frame with a brow pole to increase the internal volume. It comes with 9 Dirt Dagger aluminum stakes, 4 guy lines, and four large interior pockets. It weighs just 2 lb. 8 oz. packed weight, stands 39″ tall at the peak, with floor dimensions of 52″/42″ (head/foot) x 86″ long. It retails for $399.95.
What I liked
Let’s start out with what is new about the 2021 Solution Dye Tigerwall (old model review here). The most notable improvement being, well, the solution Dye technique that is used to produce it. Solution Dye refers to the new process of actually coloring the fabric of the rainfly and tent body. This new technique claims to use less water and electricity in the manufacturing process, which is in turn better for the environment. While I can’t verify any of this first hand, it is stated that the solution dye technique reduces energy consumed in manufacturing by 80%, uses 80% fewer chemicals, and consumes half of the water of traditional dye processing. As an added benefit, the end result also provides better inherent resistance to UV light, which is usually the first thing that causes a rainfly to fail in my experience, short of physical damage. The benefits here are wide, numerous, and hopefully will catch on in other sectors of the outdoor industry. Anything that both improves a product while helping to preserve the environment is a huge plus and should be applauded.
Despite the changes in process, the Tigerwall UL2 SD is just as durable, if not more so, than their previous models. The fabric has an improved tactility, feeling a little more like fabric and a little less like plastic to the touch. It retains the internal rip-stop fiber and silicon/polyurethane coatings for tear and fire resistance, thankfully, meaning tear strength shouldn’t change. The improved UV rating means it will survive much longer in harsh sun exposure, which should hypothetically translate into improved waterproofing and long term durability as it ages. UV damage generally results in brittle fabric or breaking down of the waterproofing properties. Time will tell on that front but I’ll report back if I run into any issues. This is still an ultra-light tent, so some care has to be taken to protect the tent floor and such. I’ve been using it without a footprint, as I always do, and neither this nor high winds have promoted any damage or early signs of wear and tear.
Tent stability is rather good. Once pitched properly, it stands taut and sturdy with an easy to master pitch, holding up to strong wind and surprise gusts with little buffeting or swaying. It comes with enough stakes to pin down every corner, so it is generally solid from any angle. This is important if/when the wind shifts. It does come with a single extra stake so you can guy down one corner at a time, preferably the one facing the wind, which further adds stability. A non-guyed down corner can move and flex inward a bit, with minor bowing in stronger winds, but I haven’t run into anything concerning yet. This is especially true if the brow pole and pole connections (Velcro or pole tip pockets) are used to lock the rain fly in place along the aluminum frame. Adding three extra stakes to the kit greatly sturdies up the shelter so all four guy lines can be used at once, and I do highly recommend this even for nice weather. It adds a minor but measurable amount of weight, but greatly improves wind performance and in the end the lifespan of the rain fly and poles. Using only the included stakes, camping under the tree line should be no problem at all. But, I wouldn’t recommend camping on peaks or fields without throwing a few extra stakes in the bag.
The pitching/setup process itself is ‘connect the dots’ easy. Simply snap the color coded, corded poles together (gently), line the pole tips up with the corresponding colors of the tent corners, pop them into the sockets and lift the tent while attaching the pole clips. From there, the rain fly is also color coded. The corners have clips that just clip into each corner of the tent body via plastic connection points. Only six stakes are needed for a basic pitch. I suggest doing the four corners of the floor first, then popping in the poles, but there is some flexibility here. Eight stakes create a fully functional pitch with an extra 4 being needed for proper wind protection. I again highly recommend connecting the fly to the poles with the Velcro tabs on the bottom side, and slip the brow pole into the pockets that are also on the underside of the rain fly. This only adds about 30 seconds to the pitch, but adds a lot of stability. Setup in general is extremely simple with little room to go wrong, even in windy conditions. It packs up easily too, with the clips and connections easily coming undone with minimal effort, even with cold wet hands.
The interior is quite roomy for an ultra light. Two people can sit up inside without rubbing against the walls too much, although there will be the occasional bout of dueling elbows from time to time. For me, at 5’8″, I found that I had plenty of head room and could rotate around without feeling restricted. While sleeping it provides just enough room for two regular sized sleeping pads to comfortably lay side by side (20″ wide x 72″ or 72″ long) with roughly 10 extra inches of width at the shoulders for some added wiggle room, handy for getting dressed or setting up/breaking down camp. The vestibules are generous as well, easily housing enough equipment for two light packers, while still providing room to crawl in and out mostly unobscured if everything is carefully placed to one side. As a whole, it provides plenty of space for most situations when used as a two person shelter. When used as a solo tent, it is a tiny little palace with ample room to toss, turn, gator roll, or whatever else one wants to do in a tent when camping solo. The pockets are large, convenient, and provide great utility as well, clearing up floor space and helping to keep everything well organized and easy to access, which makes the shelter feel even larger.
When it comes to weight, 2 lbs. 8 oz. is exceptional considering the interior volume. It is light enough to be justified as a solo or two person tent, and should fit in basically any ultra-light pack, assuming the rest of the gear is of similar caliber. It packs down small and flat, taking up only a couple liters of space when done carefully (I recommend ditching the stuff sack while backpacking and only using it for long term storage).
Ventilation is good, but not great. The dual zippered doors act as small vents, either at the top or at the bottom, but can’t really be used in rough weather or heavy rain as they will let water get inside. There is also no prop to wedge these open, so it is just a gap in the fabric essentially. When there is even a gentle breeze out, these work well, depending on the orientation of the tent, but they don’t do too much when it is stagnant out. Luckily, air can and does flow under the rainfly from all angles also, which can certainly help ventilate and move out hot, humid air. A dedicated top vent would have certainly been appreciated, but even in humid conditions I found the ventilation to be generally adequate except on stale, humid days when the air just isn’t moving at all. This is a small sacrifice to shed those last few ounces of weight and generally it pays off.
The new Dirt Dagger tent stakes are actually rather great. They hold well, are fairly comfortable to use (pushing in with a hand or pulling them out) and I’ve had no issues with durability (please don’t bash them with a rock though). They’re measurably lighter than older designs and they have so far held up great in fairly rough conditions without slipping out of place. They pack up tiny too.
What I didn’t like
I couldn’t find much to complain about with the Tigerwall UL SD. My only minor complaints aside from the lack of a top vent would be the skimpy number of tent stakes (common these days to minimize packed weight). I do consider, for me, these extra three stakes to be mandatory. However, this is my personal preference and if you never camp in extremely windy conditions, this may not be a consideration.
The previous Tigerwall UL2 designs were already some of my favorite ultra-light backpacking shelter designs, and I continue to keep one for my personal backpacking kit as my solo shelter. The Tigerwall UL Solution Dye only improves on these designs by increasing the UV protection, making small but appreciable changes to tent stakes, clipping systems and reducing the manufacturing impact on the environment. It’s stable, surprisingly roomy for the exceptionally light packed weight, and does double duty as a one or two person tent. Gone are the days of me having a separate solo shelter for when I’m camping solo. Those who want a little more space and ventilation may consider the Copper Spur, but to anyone who prioritizes weight but doesn’t want to sacrifice living space, this is absolutely an excellent option. It’s going in my personal kit for sure.
The Highest of Recommendations
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