Home / Gear Reviews / Big Agnes Copper Spur UL-1 mtnGLO Backpacking Tent Review

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL-1 mtnGLO Backpacking Tent Review

manufactured by:
Philip Werner
Version:
mtnGLO
Price:
429.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On September 2, 2016
Last modified:September 25, 2016

Summary:

The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 may be the nicest 1 person double-walled tent I've ever slept in. It doesn't feel cramped at all and has a lot of extra space along the sides, head, and foot ends so you can spread out your stuff with plenty of gear pockets for electronics and personal items. The tent is outfitted so its pitches astonishingly quickly and is nearly freestanding (you need just one stake for the fly) so you can pitch it on a wide variety of surfaces, including rock ledge. The mtnGLO LED lighting is icing on the cake, providing even more livability, and a way to find your way back to your tent after a midnight stroll, with little weight penalty. Big Agnes really knows how to build a tent!

The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 has plenty of internal space for a one person tent with vertical side walls that improve livability
The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 has plenty of internal space for a one person tent with vertical side walls that improve livability.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO may be the nicest one person double-walled tent I’ve ever slept in. It doesn’t feel cramped, which is unusual for a one person tent, and it has a lot of extra space along the sides, head, and foot ends so you can spread out your stuff. The tent is outfitted so it pitches astonishingly quickly and is essentially freestanding so you can pitch it on a wide variety of surfaces.

The integrated mtnGLO LED lighting system is icing on the cake, providing even more livability with little weight penalty, and a good way to find your way back to your tent after a midnight stroll. Weighing slightly more than 2 pounds, there’s a reason the Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO is one of Big Agnes’ best selling tents.

The Copper Spur UL1 has plenty of vestibule space to store a large backpack without blocking easy entry and exit to the inner tent
The Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO has plenty of vestibule space to store a large backpack without blocking easy entry and exit to the inner tent. A top vent can be propped open to provide further ventilation.

Pitching

Pitching the Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO is easy because Big Agnes has color-coded the poles and corners. Why can’t all manufacturers do this? Beats me. Simply spread the inner tent on the ground, insert the poles, and clip the inner tent hooks to the poles. The inner tent is freestanding since the poles will hold it up, important if you want to camp on hard surfaces like a rock ledge overlooking a view.

The rain fly clips to the corners of the inner tent so there's no need to carry additional tent stakes
The rain fly clips to the corners of the inner tent so there’s no need to carry additional tent stakes

The rain fly clips into to the four corners using jakes feet connectors, which eliminates the need to stake them out separately. There’s really only one guy-out point required to secure the tent’s front vestibule closed (none – if you roll back the vestibule doors in nice weather), although it’s still useful to tie out the back and side of the rain fly to promote better ventilation.

Livability

There is a surprising amount of interior space inside the Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO, a pet peeve of mine with so-called 1 person tents. With extra width along the sides of your sleeping pad, and at the head and foot ends of the inner tent, there’s ample space to store gear, clothing, or personal effects. Mesh pockets in the corners make it possible to store a digital audio player or smartphone, and there are even headphone ports for ear buds so you don’t disturb other campers or animals. Gear loops distributed around the perimeter of the ceiling also make it easy to hang gear and glasses and provide compatibility for Big Agnes’ gear attic accessories.

The interior of the Copper Spur UL1 has lots of room to spread out inside. It's easy to sit up inside the tent, turn around, change clothing, and even pack your pack the next morning without having to go outside of the tent.JPG
The interior of the Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO has lots of room to spread out inside.

Near vertical side walls, enabled by a top cross pole, provide lots of clearance for your sleeping bag or sleeping quilt. It’s easy to sit up inside the tent, turn around, change clothing, and even pack your pack the next morning without having to leave the tent. The usable floor space inside the inner tent measures 84″ (long) x 42″ (wide at the head end)  x 27″ (wide at the foot end) which is luxuriously long and wide when compared to other lightweight one person tents and good for larger people or hikers who like to hang out in their tents and not just sleep in them.

The seam-taped waterproof floor ensures that you stay high and dry and partially solid walls help prevent cold air or dust from blowing inside you when it gets windy, while a top vent helps to release warm moisture generated by your breath, a leading cause of internal condensation. The two-tone grey color scheme is also quite pleasant, providing plenty of ambient interior light (and even moonlight) while blending better with natural surroundings.

mtnGLO interior LED lights are positioned at the head end of the Copper Spur UL1 tent in the tent ceiling and corners
mtnGLO interior LED lights are positioned at the head end of the Copper Spur UL1 tent in the tent ceiling and corners.

mtnGLO LED Lighting System

I honestly never thought I’d review a tent with mtnGLO LED lights in it, but I have to admit that they are a real convenience for reading and trip planning after dark and a comfort for keeping bad dreams away (just turn on the light if you’re spooked.) They’re also a real convenience for finding the right tent to get back into after a midnight stroll to the bushes or rest rooms.

The LED lights are powered by three AAA batteries and come with a power pack that you can lock in the off position to prevent accidental power drain. The power pack also lets you switch between 50% power, which is fairly dim, and full power which provides just enough light to read by. The lights are sewn into a cloth channel that runs on the top and sides of the head end of the tent and are designed to withstand repeated folding and stuffing from packing and unpacking the inner tent body.

The mtnGLO LED lightning system provides an interior reading light and makes it easy to find your tent at night
The mtnGLO LED lightning system provides an interior reading light and makes it easy to find your tent at night

The mtnGLO lighting system only adds 1 ounce to a Classic orange Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent, so it has little impact on the weight of the Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO version. Don’t want to carry AAA batteries? No worries. The mtnGLO LED system can also be powered by a USB power pack since it’s USB-plug compatible. This is a great feature if you already carry a USB battery pack to keep a smartphone GPS charged up on backpacking trips.

The mtnGLO LED lighting system is also plug compatible with USB battery packs
The mtnGLO LED lighting system is also plug compatible with USB battery packs

Durability

Lightweight backpacking gear manufacturers are increasingly focused on gear weight for 1 and 2 person tents and moving to very lightweight tent fabrics. While this is exciting for gram counters, moving to lighter weight fabrics can result in lower durability and abrasion resistance if you are rough on gear or camp in harsh terrain. Both the Copper Spur UL1 (classic) and Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO reviewed here, are made using a 20 denier rip stop nylon. While not the lightest seam-taped waterproof tent fabric in use today, it represents a good compromise between weight and durability.

The Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO has a roomy interior with a large side door providing ease of entrance and exit
The Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO has a roomy interior with a large side door providing ease of entrance and exit

Recommendation

The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO is a 1 person backpacking with a roomy interior for hikers who want more living space and comfort. Freestanding, the tent is very easy to pitch on any level surface giving you a lot of flexibility in choosing a nice campsite. While it’s not the lightest, one person double-walled tent you can buy today, the 2 pound 5 ounce Copper Spur UL 1 mtngGLO strikes an exceptional balance between comfort, packability, and durability.

While it features a USB-powered LED internal lighting system and ambient gray color scheme, the Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO ($430) is priced at a premium compared to the LED-free, orange Copper Spur UL 1 Classic ($380). Price is really my only reservation in recommending this tent to others.

Bottom line. If you want a one person, lightweight tent that doesn’t skimp on space and luxury features, take a look at the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 mtnGLO. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed using the loaner Big Agnes sent me to review and was disappointed when I had to send it back.

Likes

  • Muted color scheme
  • Partially solid inner walls to block wind/dust
  • Plenty of internal space and pocket storage
  • Pitches and packs very quickly
  • mtnGLO LED light system runs off USB power or AAA batteries
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Lightweight

Dislikes

  • Expensive

Specs

  • Big Agnes Floor Dimensions: 90 (long) x 42 (head end) / 30 inches (foot end)
  • Usuable Floor Dimensions measured by SectionHiker 84 (long) x 42 (head end) x 27 (foot end)
  • Floor Area: 22 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 10 square feet
  • Peak Height: 37 inches
  • Number of Doors: 1
  • Number of Poles: 1
  • Pole Material: Aluminum DAC Featherlite
  • Best Use: Three+ season backpacking
  • Minimum Weight (without tent stakes or stuff sacks): 2 pounds 5 ounces,

See Big Agnes Product Page for complete product specifications

Disclosure: Big Agnes loaned Philip Werner a Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO Tent for this review, but he had to return it. This post contains affiliate links 

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26 comments

  1. BA makes some nice tents,and this looks like no exception, But like other BA tents, it’s no bargain at $429.95… ouch!. I’ll stick with my Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker –13 oz lighter, more floorspace, 45 inch peak height (granted it does slant more rapidly from the peak). And if I’m really struck by the christmas tree light bug… BA MtnGlo lights for $39.95 and ENO Twilights are $19.95.

    • It’s easy to dismiss this tent based on the price or weight, but most people still prefer double walled tents over single walled tents made by cottage manufacturers for the following reasons:

      -Free-standing (or nearly so), so you can pitch it in seconds without having to worry so much about staking and surface conditions (making setup virtually idiot-proof)

      -Almost zero internal condensation transfer since the moisture is captured by the rain fly.

      -Less drafty because they don’t have to be wind tunnels to combat internal condensation – meaning you can use many double walled tents in winter, when you’d never use a single walled tent.

      -Seam taped, so you don’t have to seam seal the tent with silicone and paint thinner in your basement.

      -No need to carry trekking poles if you don’t use them.

      The fact that double walled tents are now available with lightweight fabrics that brings them close to 2 pounds or under, sweetens the benefits even further.

      As a proponent of lightweight backpacking, I feel it’s my duty to provide people who prefer double-walled tents with realistic product reviews despite the protestations of the the ultralight backpacking single-walled tent faction. Things get a lot more interesting in the two-person double-walled tent category, with sub 2 pounds tents that are now price competitive with those from Tarptent and others.

      • Phil,

        You have excellent points on the advantages of of double-walled vs single or semi-single walled shelters such as mine. I like double-walled tents. There are always tradeoffs on features/benefits and for some people those features are worth the premium.

        I have a REI quarter-dome 3 which has a similar configuration to the BA UL3. I really like it when sharing a tent with another hiker. It retails now for $379 and it comes in at just over 4lbs — I agree things do get interesting when moving into the 2 person category.

        JC

  2. Did you actually measure the interior floor dimensions to verify the BA specs? The CS1 “classic” is advertised as 90 inches long, but the actual dimensions are not even close. At the time (a couple of years ago), BA told me that they measure from stake point to stake point – making their stated dimensions useless for anything but marketing. If this really is 90″ as measured on the interior, this is worth a look.

  3. Nice in every respect except for one… Price.. My Eureka! Copper Canyon 12 Mondo Condo cost less than this one man tent by $100.00… So that is a big huge No thank you..

  4. It looks like the inner tent door wants to rest on the ground in the unzipped position. Was that an issue for you or does it fall easily into the tent to avoid direct contact with the dirt?

  5. I wonder if I’m the only one who hates the idea that campsites are going to start filling up wth Light pollution? If I were out in the backcountry at a campsite and someone’s LED lights brightened the sky… I might get pretty mad. Is there enough light put out to affect stargazing and people camped nearby?

    • Light and music pollution are two bugaboos for me. I agree. Leave the lights at home in the city. Love my Seedhouse – but the entry slopes in causing rain/snow to fall in. – the side entry has some appeal.

  6. Buy once, cry once I guess. I’ve always been happy with the BA tents I have. I always recommend them to friends. If you are the type to have more than one tent, then these could get expensive in a hurry!

  7. These newer freestanding tents break my first rule of shelters; keep it simple. There are so many extra parts to break that you would have trouble with in the backcountry. I understand the desire to innovate, but they are going in the wrong direction by my view. This would be relegated to car camping were it given to me; I’d never outright buy it.

  8. I saw it in a sports store. Looks even smaller than in the photos :-)

  9. What? No porch light? Seriously, the Copper Spur UL1 (without the lighting system) is a spacious tent with more-than-adequate vestibule area. It’s a good choice if you hike with an 80-lb. black Lab–much better, if you’re with a canine, than the one-person Fly Creek model, which I thought was cramped even without a largish medium-sized dog when I looked at BA tents at my local REI. I do wonder about the durability of these tents, however, and have passed on them in the effort to lighten up in favor of an MLD tarp and inner nest. Still, if my wife follows through on her promise to hike with me, I’d take a good long look at the Copper Spur UL 2, because she likes the sense of being enclosed within a tent. Not sure we could squeeze the dog between us, though.

    • I’m not sure what the weight difference is between the Copper Spur 2 and the Copper Spur 3, but when we were looking for a backpacking tent for my wife, me, and our 80lb dog, we decided the 3 was definitely the way to go and we don’t have any regrets.

  10. Nice review. I tried the Fly Creek UL1 but found it much too claustrophobic. The CS UL1 suits me just right. It’s like a 1 1/2 person tent. I’ve used it in some really nasty weather with no issues at all. I got it on an end-of-year clearance to soften the blow to my wallet. I don’t have the built in lights, but I’m fine with that.

  11. I’m not a huge fan of the way the door opens on the copper spur. A few years ago, I jumped on a super good deal ($180) on a BA jack rabbit 3. It’s pretty comparable except for the door and weight. I use it a few times a year with my wife and dog and it still looks brand new. BA definitely has found a pretty good compromise between durability, weight and livability.

  12. I look at most of the commercial tents today and wonder what’s going to happen if they’re set up while it’s raining.

    Is it possible to set the rain fly up on this tent first, then the inner tent?

    • The manufacturers of most double walled tents claim you can pitch the fly first if you buy their tent footprint, but it’s not the greatest solution cause you’re still likely to get the inner tent damp if the wind is blowing. If getting into a wet tent is a big deal for you, I suggest you get a hammock with a really big tarp. It will keep you much drier. Works great.

      As a matter of course, most weekend backpacker don’t get rained on because they reschedule their trips to avoid bad weather. I do it all the time. I also backpack in the rain when I have to, but manage to avoid bad weather most of the time.

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