Big Agnes Copper Spur UL-1 mtnGLO Backpacking Tent Review
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 the 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.
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 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.
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.
Near vertical sidewalls, 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 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 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 restrooms.
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 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.
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 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.
- 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
- 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,
Disclosure: Big Agnes loaned Philip Werner a Copper Spur UL1 mtnGLO Tent for this review, but he had to return it.
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