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Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent Review

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 is a two person dome style tent with two side doors for convenient entry and exit.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 is a two person dome style tent with two side doors for convenient entry and exit.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent

Comfort
Ease of Setup
Weather Resistance
Durabilty
Weight
Packed Size

Excellent

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 is a lightweight couples backpacking and camping tent with two doors and vertical walls for maximum comfort. Color coded components and a freestanding design make it easy to set up.

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The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 is the latest generation in the ultralight Copper Spur line of tents, boasting increased interior volume and livability by integrating steeper sides walls into the inner tent. The result is an outstanding balance of comfort and function in what I consider one of the best three-season lightweight tents available today.

Gear Weight vs Comfort

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 weighs 2 pounds and 12 ounces (minus stakes) making it a good backpacking tent for two people who want to lighten the weight of their gear, but still want a tent with two doors, lots of interior space, and good ventilation to stay cool and condensation free. The Copper Spur HV UL 2 delivers all of these.

The single hubbed pole architecture and horizontal spreader wall create near vertical walls that increase volume and livability.
The single hubbed pole architecture and horizontal spreader wall create near vertical walls that increase volume and livability. The doors of the inner tent are huge, allowing for easy entrance and exit.

Two doors

If you plan to camp out with a companion at night, having a tent with two doors is a must-have in my book because I don’t want to be woken up every time my partner gets up at night to go to the bathroom. Two doors also means two vestibules, so double the space for gear storage, and more room for you inside the inner tent.

Interior space

The HV version of the Copper Spur uses a single hub pole structure, with a horizontal cross pole which is different from the previous two hub models like the Copper Spur Platinum UL 2. The new pole architecture creates a boxier inner tent with nearly vertical walls all around, providing more room to sit up or dress without ever touching the mesh inner walls. The new HV UL 2 is so much more spacious than the older Copper Spur models that it feels like an entirely new tent.

A large protected roof vent helps release moisture, even when it's raining
A large protected roof vent helps release moisture, even when it’s raining.

Ventilation

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 has excellent ventilation even when the tent is buttoned up in bad weather. In addition to a large protected roof vent, you can stake the front walls (without doors) to promote ventilation under the fly (see center stake above), and there is a large air gap between the inner and outer tents to promote airflow and help reduce internal condensation buildup. Solid fabric on the lower half of the inner tent walls blocks cold breezes and provides increased visual privacy, without compromising on mesh venting higher up, extending the season that the tent can be used in cooler weather.

While I’m impressed by the airflow through the tent, I wish there was a rear roof vent to make pitching the tent less directional. As it is, you have to think which way the wind is blowing when you set the tent up, so you can position it properly if you want to keep the top vent open. A minor point perhaps, but when you’re tired at the end of the day, these things feel insurmountable.

The inner tent doors are cut large so you can get past gear stored in the vestibules without having to crawl over it
The inner tent doors are cut large so you can get past gear stored in the vestibules without having to crawl over it.

Covered Storage

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 has spacious side vestibules that provide plenty of gear storage so you can store your trail shoes, backpack, and wet gear outside of the inner tent, but under cover. The doors of the inner tent are cut large so you can get past gear stored in the vestibules without having to crawl over it and have rain flaps over the zippers to prevent rain from pouring down the roof on to your head when you open the doors in chucking rain (ask me how I know.)

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 has a tent-wide mesh pocket at the head end for stashing phones and power chargers, with ports for running headphones or cords
The Copper Spur HV UL 2 has a tent-wide mesh pocket at the head end for stashing phones and power chargers, with ports for running headphones or cords.

Interior Comfort

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 is higher volume than its predecessor, most notably at the head and foot ends, and in the corners. The interior is tapered however, so you’ll want to be cognizant of the head and foot ends when setting it up, although being nearly freestanding it’s easy to pick up as a unit and turn around. The tent width at the head end is 49″, narrowing to 39″ at the foot end, but still probably wide enough to fit two 25″ wide pads as long at they have a mummy shape and taper toward the feet.

Each occupant has a mesh pocket by their head for personal items as well as a tent-wide mesh pocket on the ceiling, but not a gear loft. There are numerous hang loops along the ceiling for hanging lights and other items as well.

Setup

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 is very easy to set up quickly by one person in 2 minutes, and even faster with two because all of the components are color coded, with jakes feet (see Illustrated Tent Terminology Guide) in the corners, so that the inner tent and rain fly connect to the same corner webbing and buckle assembly.

Tent setup is very easy because the main hubbed poll slots into color coded grommets on the inner tent. The fly connects to these same corners using buckles
Tent setup is very easy because the main hubbed poll slots into color coded grommets on the inner tent. The fly connects to these same corners using buckles.

The tent is virtually freestanding and the only parts that must be staked out are the side vestibules. In other words, you can pick up the assembled tent and reposition it if you like, as long as the vestibule doors aren’t staked out yet. I’d still recommend staking out the corners (4 more stakes). Extra guy lines are also included to stake out the tent in high winds and increase ventilation.

When packing this tent, keep careful track of the horizontal cross-pole because it is very easy to lose or misplace in forest duff. If Big Agnes colored it more loudly, like blaze orange or bright red instead black, it might be harder to lose. You can still pitch the tent without the cross pole if you lose it, but it does help spread out the inner tent walls and raise the height of the tent center.

Trail weight*

  • Total: 44 oz / 1250 g
  • Fly: 16.1 oz / 456 g
  • Inner tent: 15.5 oz / 438 g
  • Poles (2): 12.5 oz / 356 g
  • Inner tent dimensions (actual):
    • Length: 84″
    • Width
      • Head end: 49″
      • Center: 41″
      • Foot end: 39″
    • Height
      • Head end: 21″
      • Center: 40″
      • Foot end: 14″
  • Semi-freestanding
    • Requires a minimum of 2 stakes for side vestibules
    • 8 stakes recommended for taut pitch
    • 1-4 additional for extra wind protection

For complete tent specs, visit BigAgnes.com.

*Most manufacturers leave out stake and stuff sack weights under the assumption that you’ll replace the manufacturer supplied stakes and repackage the tent in different sacks. It also makes the tent look likes it’s lighter weight without the crappy stakes they often include. 

The new 2017 Copper Spur HV UL 2 innter tent (top) has much more headroom and interior space than the older Copper Spur UL 2 (bottom) pole architecture
The new 2017 Copper Spur HV UL 2 inner tent (top) has much more headroom and interior space than the older Copper Spur UL 2 (bottom) pole architecture,

Recommendation

Weighing 2 pounds 12 oz, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 is a refined lightweight backpacking tent that’s easy to pitch and loaded with features. The dual doors, large side vestibules, great ventilation, increased head room, and vestibule storage make this a great tent for couples and a palace for one. The inner tent in the high volume (HV) version of the Copper Spur is so different from pre-2017 Copper Spur models, as to be unrecognizable, with loads more interior volume, headroom, and a much different pole architecture. If the shape and livability of the old Copper Spur line were negatives for you, I’d encourage you to take another look at the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2. It’s a great tent for three season use and should be on your short list. Highly recommended.

Likes

  • Virtually freestanding; just the vestibules require staking
  • Easy to set up: color coded jakes feet corners require fewer stakes
  • Fantastic ventilation – good separation between fly and inner tent, roof vent, two doors
  • Internal pockets and hand loops

Dislikes

  • Primary hubbed pole is bulky to pack
  • Easy to lose horizontal cross pole
  • Tapered floor dimensions may limit use of wide sleeping pads

Disclosure: Big Agnes loaned the author a tent for this review.

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16 comments

  1. Not shopping for a tent, so I hadn’t looked at the new stuff in a while. I like the new design and improvements compared to the Copper Spur. Particularly the two main crossing poles compared to the overly complicated spidery thing of the past. Also love the new, updated BA website. But ay, ay, ay… What I don’t love so much is this new tendency to hide information… What denier are these fabrics? The old BA website seemed much more informative than this one… Also, I used to love how I could click a bunch of tents and they’d show up in this nice table for comparison. It was awesome! Can’t find it anymore…

    Certainly not your fault :D Just lamenting the loss of info accessibility. Good review, Philip!

    • There’s some debate about whether denier is an accurate representation of durability. It’s helpful to know, certainly, but newer fabrics are stronger, reportedly, despite being thin.

  2. After a couple years of using a heavier (+5lbs) 3-person tent, I purchased the HV UL2 over the winter and took it out on the trail for the first time this past weekend. With the near vertical side walls we never felt cramped. We did notice the width at the foot-end of the tent, but luckily one of us had a tapered pad, so it wasn’t an issue. The vestibules had plenty of space for all of our gear. The tent was also quite bright in the morning.

    Overall, fantastic tent. I second Philip’s recommendation.

  3. I used the CS (not HV) with my wife for the first part of a 2016 PCT hike. Something I would add. The desert eats BA tent zippers. Our tent had a failing zipper after around 1000 miles, and we knew many other folks wit BA tents that had the same problem. (Cleaning the zipper did nothing. We did not try pliers on the zipper pull, because I bought from REI and could return) I suspect the placement of the nylon/netting seam contributes to the failure due to the added stress when zipping. We returned the BA tent to REI and picked up a Hubba Hubba NX for the remainder of the trip. Cannot definitively say the MSR tent would have withstood the same treatment better, but it did seem like the construction/materials was a bit higher quality.

    On another note, the CS was certainly roomier for a 6’1″ person than the NX, which I liked. If I were short I would probably go for the MSR because of what I perceive as a better build quality, but if you are over 6′ then you might consider the BA tent more seriously.

    For any of these tents it is worth being aware that the fabrics are thin enough and the construction flimsy enough (all in the name of weight savings) that high winds are a serious problem.

  4. I’ve always loved Big Agnes tents. They continue to make excellent quality products with a lot of premium features. That’s a great weight to be at considering this is a huge step up in comfort compared to a minimalist tent or tarp.

  5. I received this exact tent earlier this year from Big Agnes as a warranty replacement for my old Copper Spur UL2. My wife and I both have the large Thermarest Neoair xlite pads (25cm width at the head) and they both just fit width wise in the new tent. It’s a little tight up at the head of the pads. I wish we had a little more wiggle room on the sides, but we make it work.

  6. > “As it is, you have to think which way the wind is blowing when you set the tent up, so you can position it properly if you want to keep the top vent open.”

    omg lol

    > “The tent width at the head end is 49?, narrowing to 39? at the foot end, but still probably wide enough to fit two 25? wide pads as long at they have a mummy shape and taper toward the feet.”

    wtf

    All said, while a whopping 1.5 kg lighter than my Dragonfly 3XT, I’ll be damned if I think about a sidegrade.
    I guess it’s a fantastic specialised tent – just definitely not for me :)

  7. I was surprised you didn’t specifically mention that the doors are now a ‘D” instead of a ‘U’. I own last year’s version of the UL 1 and the door is only thing I dislike about the tent. Hard for me to justify another $300 for the better door quite so soon :( Also note that in high wind, the velcro tab on the roof vents barely hold down the flap, winds with sand/dust/snow fly right in.

  8. The placement of the vent so high up open horizontally seems much more than an inconvenience – looks like it’s begging to be flooded with wind-driven rain. It would have been just as easy to place it on the side facing downward.

  9. Problem is wind direction can shift in the middle of the night and gusts can hit from changing directions in turbulent weather. I’m not a fan of tapering 2P designs that taper to under 50 in., so wouldn’t consider the 2P, but the 3P is a nice tent other than the vent. The vent placement was a poor design choice.

    • As I said, you can’t replace campsite selection skills with a tent that’s not designed for camping above treeline or in exposed conditions. Bring another tent if you believe this one will fail or camp in a more protected site. We can argue about the tent design all day, but this tent is fine except “perhaps” in the theoretical conditions you cite. Those who need a more windproof tent should get something that satisfies the conditions then intend to camp in. If they overestimate the wind worthiness of this tent, it is unlikely to kill them, and they’ll learn from the experience.

  10. Thanks for the great review. I’m debating on getting the 2p or 3p version for an average size couple + 90 lbs dog. Any thoughts?

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