Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent 2020 Review
The Best Gets Even Better!
If we were allowed only one backpacking tent this would likely be it
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 2020 is likely the best all-around ultralight backpacking tent that will appeal to the greatest number of hikers. Since 2008 this category-leading ultralight tent has been constantly improved and refined to be one of the very best backpacking tents. And the 2020 model’s new features continue to keep the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent at the head of the pack.
The 2020 Copper Spur bridges the gap between lightweight construction and livable design that will appeal to car campers, weekend warriors, and long-distance backpackers. This means it has something for everyone: it’s light enough to be split between two gram weenies without sacrificing convenience and livable space. It sets up easily, has a stable pitch, and is packed with features like interior pockets and a super cool new awning design we haven’t seen anywhere else.
Also See: Best Backpacking Tents 2020 | Lightweight & Ultralight for a complete overview of the best tents on the market including the competition for the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 2020.
Full Video Review of Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Tent
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words what is a comprehensive video of the tent review worth? There’s stuff in here that we can’t begin to cover in worlds.
Key Highlights of the 2020 Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 2020 is one of the best all-around ultralight backpacking tents that will appeal to the greatest number of hikers. Extremely versatile, spacious, lightweight, and user-friendly.
- Highly livable and lightweight
Livable volume maximized by a number of key features: pre-curved tent poles and a spreader pole on the top of the tent create vertical walls for more livable volume. Plenty of large interior pockets create more livable space since you don’t have to spread your gear all over the floor of the tent. Low weight | This is also an extremely low weight for a tent with this many features and creature comforts. Only 2.7 pounds!
- Great Pockets
2020 ads huge pockets on the foot and the head end of the ceiling. This improves interior space and liability — getting everything off the floor to increase floor space, and easily finding and accessing what you need. You can leave your pack outside the tent Everything can be stashed and organized and is right at hand when you need it.
- Awning for ventilation
One of the biggest updates for 2020 was the new awning feature. This is great for ventilation, cooking, and ease of entry-exit in light-to-moderate rain.
- Simple setup
Even for one person in the wind, this tent is very fast and easy to pitch. It has hubbed poles, everything color-coded, and it also has new three-function TipLok Tent Buckles.
- Weather-proof and stable
Nice, high fabric on inner tent walls keep rain and dust out, and make for a fairly wind-free sleep, even with the rainfly off. This tent is excellent for sleeping warm and stargazing. We tested this in a variety of conditions and it’s darn stable and wind resistant for a tent of this weight — especially if you use the already attached (4) guylines strategically located mid-fly on each corner of the tent.
- Condensation control
Fully double-walled construction and flexible vestibule door options do a great job of managing tent condensation in humid conditions.
- Cost | We think you get what you pay for but its price might put it out of reach for some hikers
- Floor Fabric | The good news is that the 2020 upgrades the floor fabric to a stronger, more tear, and puncture-resistant material. Even so, you’ll likely need to use a footprint at most campsites. But pretty much any sub 3 lb, 2-person tent will have floor fabric of this weight and it may not be as strong as the 2020 Copper Spur fabric.
- Corner Stakeout Loops | Are not adjustable. As such, if there’s a rock where you want to put the stake you can’t move its location. But there’s an easy fix.
- Tent Stakes | Are a bit on the light side. We have recommendations for some better stakes that are easier to handle and pound into hard ground. See here
Key Specs | Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Design: 2 person | 3 Season | Double Walled, Freestanding tent
Min. Trail Weight: 2 pounds, 11 oz | (1.2 kg)
Area/pound: 17.5 ft2/lb
Interior Space: 29 sq ft / 2.7 sq m | Vestibule Space: 2 x 9 sq ft
Find the full Spec’s here
Overview of the 2020 Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Tent
This update to one of Big Agnes’s best-sellers is a wonderful improvement in features and livability. It pretty much has it all: the ease of use, easy setup and creature comforts most folks want without being too heavy. The livable space is maximized for the weight, with an extended crossbar in the pole hub that creates near-vertical walls and plenty of shoulder space to sit up and shift around.
Great Livability & Features for the Weight
While it’s definitely on the pricier side, the combination of trust in Big Agnes, quality construction, thoughtful design, and a lot of space for not a lot of weight have made this tent worth it to backpackers of all types. The newer and stronger fabrics go a long way to fixing past issues with fabric tears. And of course, it’s tops in liability and creature comforts for a sub-3-pound two-person, freestanding tent.
Dry and Condensation Free
Like many double-walled freestanding tents, the Copper Spur makes good use of venting options and strategies. The two doors and two vestibules have double zippers, allowing for multiple access options. This lets users minimize precipitation getting into the tent while not preventing it from venting. The low-vent vestibule door paired with high-fly vent increases the access of both active and passive airflow. In short, if you set this up strategically and use the different venting options, you won’t collect condensation in your tent. Win-Win.
If You Need a Slightly Larger Tent
We’d love to see 32 square feet of interior space for the Copper Spur HV UL2, but that likely won’t happen with a two-person, freestanding tent, that’s under three pounds. If you want the extra space, you can go to the Tiger Wall 3, which weighs 2 pounds, 15 ounces, has 38 square feet of interior space, and costs the same as the Copper Spur 2.
Key 2020 updates and overall best features for the Big Agnes Copper Spur
Below we list the key 2020 updates and the best features that make the Big Agnes Copper Spur a standout.
Awning mode for vestibule doors
This is one of our favorite updates for 2020. The awning mode extends out from the side-entry doors, and creates a ventilated, spacious area for cooking or hanging out in light precipitation. It secures with two trekking poles and is a fun, creative feature we haven’t seen anywhere else.
What people don’t realize about interior pockets is that they aren’t just good for keeping track of your headlamp. With plentiful and spacious interior pockets, you actually get more use out of your interior, as your gear and small items aren’t scattered all over the floor of your tent. Generously sized and well-located pockets means you can have an organized base camp and keep key items like glasses or a headlamp easily found and easily accessible.
Along with the head-area pockets, the Copper Spur also has a large off-floor storage space as the foot of the tent, and media pockets with cord spaces so you don’t get tangled up at night.
More durable, tear-resistant fabric for same weight
The Copper Spur is built with double ripstop nylon; a mixed-denier fabric that has extra tear-strength capabilities and is puncture-resistance without adding weight. This is a significant improvement from the earlier models, making the 2020 stronger and more durable.
Three-function TipLok Tent Buckle
The “TipLok buckles” have keyed holes, which securely locks the pole tip in place when you pith the tent. They have a hinged design that helps to stabilize the setup of the tent by equalizing the force between the three parts: the tent body, the rainfly, and the stake that it’s attached to.
Overall ease of use
This tent is very user friendly. There is a real attention to detail and refined design with this 2020 update. The zipper pulls are easy to find and gripped for easy grasping, even with cold or wet hands. The quick-stash door keeper holds the door open and the vestibule door can be rolled up like a window shade and completely out of the way. Even the initial setup and adjustments are great: pitch can be stabilized and tensioned with the eight supplied tie-out cords with tensioners attached.
Recommendations for Improvement
Below we list some changes that would make the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 even better
- Stakes are not on par with the overall quality of the tent. A bit small, not easy to palm in. (They were chosen to reduce overall tent weight and not function.) We suggest (4) AnyGear 7075 Aluminum Tent Stakes (easier to get) or these Nail Stakes (more bomber) and (4-6) of these MSR Carbon Core Tent Stakes.
- You’ll want more than 8 supplied stakes pitching the tent in exposed and windy areas.
- The thinner fabric on the tent floor is not up pitching on most ground except soft grass. Most hikers will need to use the Big Agnes Footprint (2020) or a Polycryo (Tent Footprint) Ground Cloth (our choice). We don’t really see this as a deficiency as almost every tent in the weight rage has a similarly thin 15D or 20D floor. It goes with the territory.
- While strong this tent is not up to extreme winds in exposed places. For that, we’d suggest a more mountaineering-style tent like the SlingFin Portal.
- No adjustability of stakeout points for the four tent corners. If there’s a rock or tree root where you need to put the stake, you’re screwed. Easy Fix i just to tie on your own extender cord to the existing tie-out loop. See our video at min 5:15.
- Some of the door tie-out toggles are too tight.
- We can’t get both sides of the vestibule taut at the same time… would be great to have a slight modification here.
- While Big Agnes does everything right to maximize livable internal volume—near-vertical walls, tons of pockets—29 square feet of floor area is not huge. Large hikers and/or hikers that are carrying a ton of gear may feel cramped if forced to spend a long time in the tent (with all their gear) during sustained rain. For us, with our UL gear kits, this was definitely not an issue though. More something for larger or taller hikers to be aware of. An alternative “2-person” tent more room at a similar weight would be the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 3.
Competition for the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
The most comparable tents by design are fully double-walled, freestanding tents for two people. But we include one trekking pole supported tent that’s very light and a great value.
Weight:1 lb. 15 oz.
Overview: Though you save money and almost a pound with this model the livable space is reduced by the more sloping tent pole design, lack of a top spreader pole, and the fact that it only has one door and one vestibule. Finally it is only semi-free standing, needing the rear corners staked out.
Weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz.
Overview: The Tiger Wall 2 is perhaps the closest in direct comparison to the Copper Spur 2. You lose one square foot of interior space, and the walls are less vertical, especially at the foot end making it seem even smaller. And it lacks some of the creature comforts like the Copper Spur’s great pockets. But you save 10 ounces of carrying weight, and you still get the two doors and two vestibules. Finally, it is only semi-free standing, needing the rear corners staked out.
Area: Interior: 38 ft2 | Vestibule: 16 ft2
Weight: 2.6 lbs
For a Larger Tent: we include Big Agnes Tiger Wall 3 (34% more area) for those who need more room than the Copper Spur HV UL2 provides, but still need a sub-3-pound tent.
Weight: 2.8 pounds | 45 ounces | 1.27 kg
Overview: While it may not have quite as many refinements & creature comforts as the Copper Spur… The SlingFin Portal may be the lightest, 2-person, freestanding tent that can handle four-season conditions. As such it’s a great fit for camping exposed high above treeline, and other challenging conditions. One key to the SlingFin Portal’s strength & stability are outrigger attachments that allow you to link your trekking poles to the top spreader pole — and its supplied internal gyline system. Finally, the Portal does have a nice set of internal pockets for organization and to get gear off the floor.
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Overview: On paper, this tent looks similar to the Copper Spur, with two doors and two vestibules, plus decent weight savings. The interior space is 27.5 square feet compared to the 29 square feet interior of the Copper Spur, and lest vertical walls which translates to a very tight fit for two people. The tent is more narrow and has a questionable pole hub design that can make space feel more cramped. Finally, it is only semi-free standing, needing the rear corners staked out. Actually we feel this is more of a roomy 1 person tent.
Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.
Overview: Quick and simple to set up, “similar” in interior space to the Copper Spur, and $100 cheaper, this is a very close comparison to the Copper Spur. It weighs a few ounces less, has two doors and two vestibules, and a smart, single-hub pole structure. Like the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 its single pole at the end of the tent creates more sloping walls reducing tent volume at the foot of the tent. And it it is only semi-free standing, needing the rear corners staked out. Still it’s a great balance, of cost, weight and livable volume. Definitely worth a look.
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
Overview: Though this is the least comparable in structure to the Copper Spur HV UL2, it’s definitely worth taking a look at. Relatively inexpensive, simple to set up as far as tarp tents go, and wildly popular, the REI Flash Air is a contender for anyone looking to simplify their gear. Keep in mind that you won’t get the condensation protection that you would from a double-wall, freestanding tent (the Flash air is a hybrid single/double wall design). But it does have nearly 29 feet of interior area, remarkable for such a good price…. $150 cheaper and 10 ounces lighter than the Copper Spur HV UL2.
This is a well-designed update to a fantastic tent that will appeal to pretty much any type of backpacker. Big Agnes has a major corner of this market for a reason, building smartly designed, lightweight tents that provide an excellent balance between space and weight savings. The tent is easy to pitch, vents well, has fun updates for both livability and durability, and we LOVE having two doors and two vestibules.
One of the main things we’d like to see is the option to adjust where you stake. The fact that you can’t change the stakeout points for the tent corners means you’re pretty screwed if you’re near a rock or a shallow obstacle under the dirt.
Depending on where you pitch this tent, the Copper Spur’s floor fabric will do well with some protection. To protect the floor, we recommend putting a $12 Gossamer Gear Polycro Footprint or the Big Agnes Copper Spur footprint under it.
Looking for More?
For tents in the same class check out our 2020 Best Backpacking Tents | Lightweight & Ultralight. And in particular:
Traditional Lightweight Backpacking Tents | 2.5 to 3.5 lb oz | $350 to $450
The 1st choice for many backpackers, these are the “classic,” full-featured, easy-to-setup tents most are familiar with. Carefully selected, the tents in this guide are lighter than most backpacking tents while still being storm-worthy and bug-proof.
Single Wall Tents | 1.2 lb to 2.6 lb | $260 – $680
Single-walled tents are quickly rising in popularity. In fact, some single-walled tent brands are now more popular than some well known double walled tent brands. This makes sense, as a single-walled tent has most of the benefits of a double-walled tent, but for much less weight.
Design: 2 person | 3 Season | Double Walled, freestanding tent
Features: Dual doors & vestibules, awning feature, double-walled, lightweight, spacious
Full Packaged Weight: 3 pounds, 2 ounces | 50 ounces | 1.4 kg
Min. Trail Weight: 2 pounds, 11 oz | (1.2 kg)
Area/pound: 17.5 ft2/lb
Interior Space: 29 sq ft / 2.7 sq m
Vestibule Space: 2 x 9 sq ft
Peak Height: 40 inches
Packed Size: 19.5 x 6 inches
Materials (canopy, floor, rainfly): Ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
Materials (poles): DAC NFL
Included in package: Tent body, rainfly, poles, 8 stakes, guylines, stuff sack
Find all the details at Big Agnes here
Big Agnes Copper Spur Accessories
BA 2020 model year HV UL2 footprint (UL2 currently unavailable)
The footprint features their TipLok Tent Buckles. This can also be used when fast-pitching with fly-only. We do recommend using some sort of footprint or ground protection when pitching the Copper Spur on rugged terrain, over extended periods of time. Note that this footprint is not included with the Copper Spur package, and as we mentioned before, other options for footprints are available from alternative retailers.
This is a pretty luxurious accessory for either car camping or when you really want space to spread yourself and your gear out. This extended vestibule has two awning-type doors, perfect for expanding your sprawl of gear or providing a perfect place for your dog to sleep. Built with ultralight nylon double ripstop, and the awnings can be set up with trekking poles or the included guylines.
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