The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 backpacking tent combines the best in ultralight backpacking materials with unmatched stargazing. The steep walls offer plenty of headroom and six pockets provide storage for all those pesky little things that find their way into the tent. Throw on the fly and there is complete protection from the elements. This freestanding tent is a perennial favorite on the John Muir Trail and other Sierra treks.
It’s not hard to see why Big Agnes has a loyal following with tents such as the three-season Copper Spur. The 2015 model is lighter than previous models but retains the ease of setup and liberal ventilation that it always had. At 3 pounds 9 5/8 oz (user verified weight for the tent, footprint and fly) it’s not the lightest tent on the market but it’s a comfortable tent. The inclusion of two doors keeps backpacking partners from tripping over each other and the high ceiling prevents cabin fever when pinned in the tent due to inclement weather. Made of silicone-treated, rip-stop nylon with a polyurethane coating, the floor and fly are waterproof even in a deluge. The upper tent body is made from a fine ultralight nylon and polyester mesh that is practically invisible at night, yet keeps tiny insects out and lets starlight in. Poles are made from DAC TH72M aluminum, which is finished with the Green Anodizing process that is less toxic to the environment than a previous polishing procedure. Small features that make a difference include gear loops inside to hang a clothesline, light or a Big Agnes wall gearloft and color-coded webbing to facilitate ease in set-up. There is a vent in the fly that is somewhat hidden but provides some ventilation. Side vestibules provide gear storage when the fly is used.
Named after the spur trail to the Copper King Mine, located behind the Big Agnes warehouse in Milford, Utah, the Copper Spur UL2 incorporates a bit of local history into its name. The spur trail connects to a large network of tracks. Big Agnes itself is named after a peak in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area.
The Copper Spur was exposed to opposite weather conditions on a warm, dry backpacking trip to Yosemite National Park and a wet, chilly canoeing trip in the Yukon wilderness. It performed equally well on both trips.
On the Yosemite backpacking trip, temperatures soared into the nineties and, with the ongoing California drought, was dry as a bone. The footprint was used and the initial setup was easy, first seating the connected pole sections together, inserting the ends into the grommets and pressing the “H” and curved Twist clips into place. The fly was left off and the star gazing was so remarkable that it was hard to get to sleep. The pocket setup, with three pockets for each person, was handy for storing the phone, charger, earplugs, glasses, hat and assorted other items. It looked like there were two pockets but one has an extra layer of mesh over another so it’s really two separate pockets.
The eight-day canoeing trip down the Teslin and Yukon Rivers involved daily rain, sometimes heavy. Having a dry tent to escape to at the end of the day was essential. There was enough tree cover to get the tent and fly erected that the interior remained dry. There was no star-gazing on this trip. The color-coded webbing that matched the pole colors simplified the setup in the rain and assured the head of the tent was where it was supposed to be. The bottom of tent stayed dry but a couple of times dampness was noted on the solid wall of the tent where the sleeping pad touched it, probably due to condensation. Periods of sun in the mornings were taken advantage of by removing the fly and letting the interior get some air, and by hanging the tent, footprint and fly on a line when everything felt damp due to the humidity. When there was sun and a slight breeze everything dried within fifteen minutes. Eight days is a long time but the steep walls and plentiful headroom made the tent feel spacious and airy, and there was enough room to do stretches and change clothes without getting twisted like a pretzel. The vestibules were adequate to drag the large dry bags in so that at least the opening would stay dry when packing and unpacking. Even with the dry bag in place near the head of the tent there was room for shoes in the part of the vestibule near the foot.
The Copper Spur UL2 is a traditional lightweight tent made from quality materials that stand up to the rigors of backpacking in the Sierra as well as canoeing in the Yukon. It goes up easily and reliably, provides a great deal of headroom and can be used with or without the fly to accommodate different weather conditions.
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 backpacking tent
Available for $399.95 from Big Agnes or REI and $319 from Amazon.
- Trail weight: 2 b 13 oz
- Packed weight: 3 lb 2 oz
- Footprint weight: 6 oz
- User verified weight (tent, poles, stakes, fly, tootprint, stuffsacks): 3 lb 9 5/8 oz
- Floor area: 29 sq ft
- Vestibule area: 9 sq ft
- Head height: 42”
- Foot height: 22
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes but the opinions expressed are solely my own.