The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack is a tent for bikepackers but due to its small packsize and low weight it is a super choice for backpacking couples too. Enjoy the review!
- Weight: 1943,6 grams
- Packed size: ø16 x 33 cm
- Price: $ 599,99 / € 625,00
In the country that I live in – The Netherlands – the American brand Big Agnes is not the best known brand. The fact that distributors came and went didn’t help. That said, I do know the brand and it is interesting to me, just as those other US-brands; MSR and Sea to Summit. Last year I was contacted by HikersHouse. HikersHouse rents out backpacks, sleeping bags, mattresses and tents. They believe in a more shared economy instead of owning a lot of gear that you only use a couple of times a year. They asked me if I wanted to review the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack since they thought it was missing on my channels. I couldn’t agree more! So they send it to me together with the optional footprint.
Not for Bikepackers only
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack is an – ultra – lightweight tent for 3 persons. It is designed for bikepackers and the stuff bag is indeed super designed; it will attach easily to a lot of different carriers like for example on the Trek 1120 Bikepacker. But from this moment on, I am skipping the bikepack part since the tent is so much more.
Sizes and weights
With UL3 in its name it is obvious that the Big Agnes is an Ultra Light tent for 3 persons. I put the tent on my calibrated scale and weighed 1943,6 grams and that was almost spot on with the 1.93 kg Big Agnes claims. I broke down the total package and weighed all individual parts at:
- Fly 611,9 grams
- Inner tent 539,8 grams
- Poles 548,2 grams
- Pegs 111,5 grams
- Stuff bag 132,2 grams
- Separate additional footprint 325,3 grams
The packed size I measured is ø16 x 33 cm and that is indeed very compact. The reason why it can be so compact is because of the very short 30 cm/12” long pole segments.
Big Agnes is not very revealing on the website about the exact specification on the materials used for the tent.
The lower part of the inner tent is made of double ripstop nylon with a solution-dyed ripstop grid. This ripstop nylon upper provides privacy while the upper half is made from a fine polyester mesh. Super for warm nights and sleeping without the fly. And – minor detail – it protects against bugs of course. The floor of the inner tent is made of ripstop nylon with a PU-coating and taped seams to keep moisture out.
A ripstop polyester with a solution-dyed ripstop grid is used for the outer tent. On the inside the fabric is PU-coated to make it waterproof. All seams are taped to make them watertight. On the outside it has a silicone coating. This coating makes water bead off easily.
Poles and pegs
DAC is responsible for the Featherlite NSL Green poles. The Korean brand is probably the best pole manufacturer on this globe and as far as I know the only one that does a more environmentally friendly version of the tent aluminum pole. The ‘Green’ means that the poles are produced using an environmentally friendlier way than is normally the case. Especially in the anodising process a lot of water is saved. The Copper Spur comes with 8 – so called Dirt dagger – aluminum pegs that are – to be honest – ok, but not that good. They bend too easily and don’t have much grip in soil. Also… a few pegs extra would be better.
Pitching the Big Agnes Copper Spur
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is an almost freestanding tent (only two pegs) and pitching it is easy, but is a bit depending on the kind of weather and configuration that you want to pitch. But, like a lot of US-tents, it’s pitching the inner tent first and then the fly.
The first thing is laying out the separate floor and pegging it down with 6 pegs. Next is pitching the inner tent. The tent has one big spider-like poleset that is color coded so no mistakes here. A third shorter pole creates more headroom at the entrances and extends the fly above the doors. So a little canopy is created and the entrance is more sheltered from wind and rain. Connecting the inner tent to the poles is done with plastic clips and on the four corners you’ll find metal rings that hold the pole ends. On these four points you can place a peg. With warm dry weather and only using the inner tent you are done.
Getting the fly over the inner tent is child’s play. Just throw it over the inner tent. Situate the short middle pole in two cups, connect all the loops (velcro, I hate it), connect the plastic color code clips (with reflective material on the strap) to the corners, extend the awnings with two pegs and attach the two loops on the side of the tent with two pegs. When it is windy you can use the four (and 3 extra are in the stuff bag) reflective storm lines but no pegs left so you need to buy at least 7 extra pegs… Kind-a-stupid.
Like I wrote above: ‘Pitching the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is easy but is a bit depending on the kind of weather and configuration that you want to pitch.’ If you want to travel really lightweight it is possible to leave the inner tent at home and just pitch the Copper Spur using the floor and pitch only the fly. Or even leave the floor at home and use the fly as a ‘tarp’ shelter. Without the inner tent the space under the fly will fit a bike, luggage and one person sleeping….
Vestibules and door configurations
With the pitched inner tent and fly you get a nice symmetrical tent with two rather large vestibules with two doors. The depth of the awning is about 70 cm and storing a backpack or a couple of bike panniers is possible.
The vestibules can be opened in more than one way. Opening the two way zipper in the middle and rolling the door to the right (with storage loop and toggle) is a nice configuration when weather is a bit colder and windy. The half door gives a decent amount of protection.
It is also possible to roll the left part out of the way (again with storage loop and toggle), which widens the entry but also gives a wonderful panoramic view from inside the tent to the outside. Super with dry weather and a bit dew in the morning.
Opening the middle and the second zipper on the right enables me to roll the door to the top (yes, 2x loop and toggle) and enlarge the entrance. On top of the tent there are two daisy chains. They are very practical because you can store the door here as well. This is probably the configuration I used most.
Because of the two zippers it is also possible to use the door as an awning. The only thing that you need is two sticks (when you are biker) or trekking poles (handy if you are a backpacker) and the extra storm lines provided with the tent. Again… You need pegs too! Sitting under the rather large awning is nice because it provides shelter against a cold night and even with not too heavy rain it is quite useful. Nice as a sheltered spot to do some cooking.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is designed to sleep three persons. Big Agnes explained on the website how this is done: the person in the middle sleeps with its head between the feet of the outer two. And… you will need to use tapered mattresses for this because the innerspace is not that big. I measured a floor of 150 cm at the feet-end and 173 cm at the heads end. The length I measure at 220 cm. My numbers are a bit smaller than the Big Agnes numbers. They measure: 157 x 178 x 229 cm. On the height we almost agree: I measure 110 cm against the 109 cm from Big Agnes. All in all the tent will sleep 3 persons but if you are three big blokes or girls or a combination…. think again. I would rather call the Copper Spur UL3 a UL2+ tent.
The Big Agnes inner tent has two entrances. Convenient because – with two – you can always get in or out the tent without disturbing the other. The doors have two zippers with large pulling taps. The horizontal zipper runs smoothly but the curved zipper… It has difficulties passing the curved part and most of the time I need two hands. The opening is more than generous and getting in and out the tent is easy.
Inner tent features
I always like it when a tent has enough storage space in the inner tent. Well… this is the case. In the ceiling at the wider end of the tent it has one big pocket and four smaller ones. Two of them – so it is a 2+ tent – are dedicated for the use of a smartphone and a headphone: a small hole is in the pocket to guide the headphone wire. On both sides, next to your head, a small pocket is made for – in my case – my glasses. On the feets end of the tent a huge storage pocket is created and on a lot of spots in the ceiling you’ll find 13 loops in total for washing lines or connecting extra gear loft that are sold seperate. They work fine for hanging headlamps too.
On the outside of the inner tent a special loop is made to store a bike (or climbing) helmet. Clever design!
Ventilation and condensation
I can be short on this: yes, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 suffers from condensation in the morning and ventilation could be better. Let me explain this.
Ventilation on the Copper Spur is generated by the low-high ventilation principle. This means that the tent fabric of the fly does not touch the ground. There is about 10 cm of open space here. In the top of the tent there is only one ventilation opening with a little pole to keep it open. Depending on weather circumstances the air will flow from low to high (warm air rises) and so reduce condensation. What also helps a little is opening the two way middle zippers from the top.
I notice almost every morning – even with the footprint covering the whole floor of the tent – that the tent suffers from condensation. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Pitching the tent with the foot end facing the wind direction helps to get more low-high air flow hence reducing condensation. But – to be frank – I would like an extra top vent.
Big Agnes Copper Spur Weatherproof
In practice the tent has proven to be waterproof and fairly resistant to wind. The dome shape helps here a lot. I hardly ever had to use the storm lines except when the wind was coming hard on the back – the foots end – of the tent. What would make the tent a bit stiffer is a connection between the two poles that cross and the third pole that opens up the headspace. But…is it really necessary? It is a 3 season tent, not a four season tent.
That said… in summer it also rains and here the pitching of the Big Agnes has an advantage to a lot of other US-tents. Most tents that pitch the inner tent first, don’t have the possibility to pitch the fly solo separately. Because this is possible with the Copper Spur it is possible to pitch the fly first and attach the inner later. In this way you can pitch the tent in the pouring rain while leaving most gear dry. Breaking down is of course the opposite: packing your gear, taking out the inner tent and the fly at the last moment.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 has a lot of positives going on. The packed size is super small and the weight under 2 kg is more than adequate. Pitching is easy and the fact that you can pitch it in more than one way is super. The doors are big although the top zipper could run more smoothly. Under the awning is enough space fine for cooking and the vestibules are large enough for a backpack or some panniers.
The inner space is designed for three persons but I think it is more of a 2 person tent. The inner tent has a lot of storage possibilities and the design is without doubt clever. Improvements need to be done on the pegs: the tent deserves a better peg and also more pegs. The tent is waterproof and fairly windproof, but suffers from condensation like most lightweight tents nowadays. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 retails for $ 599,99 and that is a fair price. But in my opinion you should buy the footprint too. This one retails at € 99,- and that feels a bit on the high side. I rate the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 at 8.5 points out of 10 total.
For the Dutch: www.hikershouse.nl