The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL is a great choice for those who value lightness and good interior space. However, this doesn’t come cheap.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Very lightweight
- Easy to setup – that’s a bonus after a long day on the trail
- Roomy interior and practical design
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- There could be some longer-term durability concerns with the lightweight fabric used
- Prescriptive in terms of how the interior space is used
If you’ve done any research on lightweight hiking tents at all, you’ve no doubt already encountered the Big Agnes Copper Spur. It has a well-earned reputation as a great choice for those looking for a combination of light weight and durability without compromising interior space. The tent’s design prioritises interior space – so you’re less likely to feel cramped up inside and two entrances and vestibule areas certainly add flexibility. But the design is also prescriptive: The tent tapers, so sleeping head-to-toe is not really an option. The lightweight material used may also present some long-term durability concerns. Finally, there’s the cost: This tent is expensive – in fact it’s one of the most expensive tents we’ve looked at in this round up.
Compare to Similar Products
Looking for more inspiration? Be sure to check out our overall guide to the 25 Best Small 2 Person Backpacking Tents of 2023
Analysis and Test Results
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL is a well-regarded tent. It has a string of Editor’s Choice and Best in Test awards to its name and these accolades are well deserved. Whilst by no means the lightest we have assessed, it still strikes a good balance between weight, durability and protection from the elements. What’s more, the design also optimises interior space. This is a subjective quality, but the Copper Spur’s design aims to ‘feel’ roomy. That said, some concessions have been made here, likely to save on weight and packed volume, and the tapered footprint of the tent means that sleeping head-to-toe (a great way to make a small tent feel more spacious) is not really an option. Also, this is one of the more expensive tents in our round up and we think there are other options that better hit the price/performance ratio.
The Copper Spur has always been well regarded for its internal space. The design means that the sides are near vertical for most of their height – and speaking of which, this tent has a generous maximum height of 102cm (40in) in its two-person variant. The tent has a tapered footprint – that means it’s longer on one end than the other (132cm/52in vs 107cm/42in). All of this combines to give a good sense of internal space and there’s certainly going to be no problem for two adults to sit up side by side in the tent. But aside from the numbers, roominess is a more subjective quality and it’s fair to say that the shape of the tent dictates how you use the internal space: the tapered design no doubt saves weight and packed volume, but it also means that if there’s two of you sharing then you have to sleep side by side and head by head. If you want to sleep head to toe – which is a great way to make a small tent ‘feel’ more spacious – then one person will have considerably less space in the Copper Spur – the same goes if you want to sit facing each other rather than side by side. So, the space in the Copper Spur certainly comes with some restrictions, though whether these will be an issue for you is certainly a personal matter, and you may want to factor in whether you camp with your buddy or your romantic partner in this decision.
Beyond this, the Copper Spur offers some great features: There’s an entrance on either side – which adds weight, but also great utility – there’s no need to clamber over your hiking partner if you need to take a toilet break in the night. There’s plenty of storage pockets inside the tent to help keep your tech and accessories organised whilst in it’s in use and the tent also features a decently sized vestibule area around each entrance – big enough for boots and a backpack and, what’s more, the entrance material can be propped up on hiking poles to offer a sort of awning configuration which also adds to sense of space and indeed Big Agnes also offer a Copper Hotel Rainfly accessory that replaces the regular fly sheet and converts this awning into an extra dry storage space.
Big Agnes describe this as a Three Season tent and we’d agree. A fully breathable inner layer can be covered by a waterproof fly cover and floor. Lightweight nylon fabric is used throughout.
Looking at the raw data alone, The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL weighs in at 1.42kg (3lb, 2oz) complete – and of course it could be made lighter if you didn’t need to take the guy lines or fly sheet. Whilst there are several lighter tents in this round up, the Copper Spur sits at the lightweight end of the scale – perhaps not surprising considering its high price. However, we believe that absolute lightweight is not the most important factor for most hikers. Whilst every last gram you can save will matter on some expeditions, most hikers will gladly trade a weight increase for a larger, better featured tent and in this regard, we think the Copper Spur gets the balance right: Big Agnes could surely have made the tent lighter by removing one of the entrances and vestibules, these are exactly the features we like in a backpacking tent.
In its two-person variant, the Copper Spur packs down to approximately 50x15cm (19.5x6in). That’s about par for the course for this kind of tent and the same information we’ll state elsewhere in this round up is also applicable: that this will likely fill most of a backpack but should still allow many hikers to carry a fair bit of extra equipment on top without making the pack unmanageably heavy.
As we’ve been talking about size and weight, it’s worth mentioning that Big Anges also offer a bikepacking variant of the Copper Spur. In terms of assembled size, it’s identical to the tent we are looking at here, but it makes use of poles with more sections and packs down to a markedly smaller 34x18cm (13.5x7in). This smaller pack size comes with a 170g weight increase relative to the regular Copper Spur and a fairly substantial price increase too. That weight difference would likely be unnoticeable in a fully loaded hiking pack, but the amount of volume saved is not trivial and could make all the difference with regards to the size (and weight!) of the pack you choose to bring. Weight and space saving in hike planning is a complex subject and we can see a good example here of how the lightest product is not always the best choice: Choosing the heavier, but physically smaller, bikepacking variant of the Copper Spur may actually allow a hiker to save on the overall weight of their fully loaded pack.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur has been around for a number of years and in that time, its earned a good reputation for build quality and durability. We have no reason to doubt that a properly cared for Copper Spur would last for a very long time indeed.
However, there is the issue of the fabric used in the tent. As with most of its competitors, the Copper Spur makes use of ripstop nylon and this fabric is rated in Denier (which you may be familiar with from nylon tights) and the higher the number the more durable the nylon can be said to be. Simply put, competitors use material that on paper at least is more durable than the nylon used in the Copper Spur. However, the Denier rating alone isn’t the only factor that influences how strong nylon fabric is: how it’s woven and what it’s blended with can also play a major influence here. Big Agnes are a premium brand with a reputation for quality and we don’t think that their fabric choice will be poor in any way, but none the less, this does sow a seed of doubt.
Ease of Setup
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is a very subjective subject. Big Agnes provides comprehensive written instructions on how to set up the tent, but these have minimal illustrations and rely on technical language in the text that many users may not be familiar with. So far, this doesn’t sound great, but the reality is that the setup system for the tent is well thought out with colour coding to help guide users in terms of what connects to what. If you’ve setup any other recently made dome tents, assembling the Copper Spur should not pose any significant issue. There are also plenty of videos online showing how it all goes together.
As always, if you have just bought a new tent or are generally unfamiliar with how to pitch a tent, we strongly recommend a ‘practice run’ in a controlled environment: the time to learn how to pitch a tent is not at the end of a long day hiking, especially if the weather is, or the light is failing! Your practice run should also include packing the tent down properly as getting everything back into the compression bag can be harder than it looks.
The Copper Spur is definitely one of the pricier tents we’ve assessed. At writing, it costs $540/£449.95. There’s no two ways about it, that’s expensive! For most casual hikers, this tent will simply be too expensive, but, if you camp out a lot on the trail, the solid reputation of this tent might make the cost a little easier to swallow.
This tent’s reputation proceeds it and it’s not difficult to see why: the design is well thought out and it strikes a good, some might even say close to perfect balance between weight, size and features. But we cannot ignore the cost and we also wonder if this tent coasts on its reputation a little too. None of this is to say that The Big Agnes Copper Spur is a bad tent – very far from it and a vocal community of happy owners will attest to this. However, we can’t help but wonder if some lesser known players might be offering more for less.
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