Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 Tent - Gear Review

Monday, September 17, 2012

If I have learned anything over the last few years covering outdoor gear, it is that innovation and a drive to be the "best" is at the forefront of every brands priority list.  It is an incredibly competitive industry, and if you are not innovating you are being left behind.

The crew over at Big Agnes redesigned their Ultra-Light series of tents, the Copper Spur UL's, for 2012.  What I realized shortly after getting this thing set up for the first time was that it was the details that set this tent apart from the competition.  In order to play in this category it needs to be silly light (3lbs 14 oz trail weight, check), pack up small (7" x 22", check) and keep you dry (yeah, not a problem).  If you want to be at the top of the list however, you need to go a little further, to marry new technology with practicality, and that isn't always as easy as it sounds.

Let's start with the pole system.  A drunk monkey could set this thing up in the dark.  Seriously.  What initially looks a little intimidating, basically set itself up.  Once the poles are put together, it is obvious where they go, and the hooks on the tent take only one hand to attach.  I went from bag to shelter in under 5 minutes, having never seen this tent before.

With the top half of the tent completely made from no-see-um netting, leaving the fly off makes for a very comfortable "under the stars" sleeping experience.  If the weather is a bit sketchy, all the way up to hurricane status, once you throw the fly on and get the guy-lines tight, this shelter is more like a bunker.  I was camped on the crest of a hill, with winds whipping off a huge field and never once did I worry about this tent.  When I got up the next morning, I realized that many of the people camping around me were not so lucky, tents collapsed or rain flies up in the trees.  
 
As I said before. it's the details that make one piece of gear at this level "better" than another.  Smart design and quality materials make all the difference.  The zippers work smoothly, there are little supports that hold the side vents open, the walls are nearly vertical optimizing usable floor space.  This tent was built by people that sleep in tents, and you can tell.  Brilliant little touches everywhere.
As with nearly any tent, this 3-person tent CAN sleep 3 people, but it is tight.  I usually go number with sleepers +1 to get the necessary tent size.  With the vestibules, this tent can easily handle 2 adults plus a boat load of gear.  If, like me, you camp with the rug-rats, then you can easily get 1 adult and 2 kids comfortably in here.

Coming in at $499.95, this is not one of the cheaper tents in this range.  That said, this is a 3 season tent that you can literally take anywhere.  From torrential rain to extreme heat, the versatility and flexibility of this tent is unsurpassed and it is built to last, so you won't be replacing this one any time soon.  

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