The Gear: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Classic

As a traveling music festival photojournalist, I don’t have a home. And as a traveling music festival photojournalist, I don’t make a ton of money, which means during the summer I’m staying in hostels, surfing on couches, and sharing rooms.

The one place where I do get some privacy is my tent, and my specific requirements for 100 Nights of Summer are lightweight and compact, but roomy enough that I can hang out in there without feeling claustrophobic. It’s got to be durable enough to put up with variable conditions (including the natural disaster that is drunk and drugged out festies) and of course, waterproof, because I am the God of Rain.

Big Agnes sent me me a Copper Spur UL2 Classic to test this summer, and I put it through the stress test of traveling to 15 festivals in 15 weekends in 15 different countries across Europe. I lived in the tent for three and half weeks, while lugging it around the continent in my backpack. Let’s take a look at how it did.

Setup and Breakdown

The tent sets up in minutes. Clip in the poles and then snap on the rain-fly and the tent is ready to dive into as yet another summer thunderstorm hits. As someone who always grabs the wrong end first, I appreciated the color coded poles and rain-fly snaps. Breakdown is even easier and usually took me under five minutes.

Weight

Europe is chock full of cheap flights. The catch? You can’t bring on a bag larger than 11kg (22 pounds), or you need to pay a baggage fee which can be anywhere from $25-$40. By bringing a light tent, I can literally save hundreds of dollars each year. With a packaged weight around 1.5 kg (3 pounds, 7 ounces), the Copper Spur UL2 was well within my weight requirements.

Packing

The other big restriction with carry-on bags are size requirements, and fussy gate attendants will definitely check, so I need my tent to as compact as possible. By using a compression sack, I made it manageable — about the size of a pair of jeans rolled up with a t-shirt.

Comfort

This is the other big selling point for Copper Spur. I was able to sit up inside the tent without hitting the roof. I didn’t have any overnight guests, but imagine that even though is technically a two-person tent, it would be a bit cramped. As a one-person tent, it’s incredibly spacious.

Storage

I don’t own much, but everything I own, I bring with me on 100 Nights of Summer. To save money on festival food, I typically haul in my own beer and food along with my 35 liter pack. The Copper Spur UL2 features two vestibules which help out immensely for space. You don’t really want to leave anything “outside” your tent at a music festival as it tends to walk off, but non-essentials like beer and shoes tucked away under the spacious vestibules are key for indoor comfort.

 

Durability

This is a solid tent which survived more than a few festies crashing into it late at night. In England, the ground was so dry, I couldn’t get the stakes in more than a couple inches. Already late to shoot a show, I took off hoping my bag and pathetic attempts at staking would hold. It didn’t, as morning rainstorms brought along 60mph wind gusts. I found my tent ten feet from where I had pitched it, intact and with no rips. The two tents next to me — completely destroyed by wind.

I also don’t have room in my pack for a ground cover to protect the bottom of the tent, and while you would imagine, that I’m always setting up in lush, grassy fields, I’m more often than not setting up on some less forgiving hardpack. No issues with abusing my tent.

Waterproof

The harshest lesson most festies learn about buying a $20 tent is that it won’t be waterproof, finding everything they own under an inch of water. No problems here, as I stayed bone dry all summer. Two festivals with three days each of non-stop rain in the United Kingdom heavily tested out the dryness of the Copper Spur and I never had any issues.

Materials

I had a lot a trouble with the rainfly zippers on the Big Agnes, especially when the material was wet. They tended to catch on the on the fly, driving me crazy in the rain. The screen doors became frayed in a couple spots, with a few small holes.

Overall Verdict

A solid addition to the 100 Nights of Summer travel gear. Sure, you can pick up a tent for $20 that will flood with rainwater, tear when you try to get into it, and be thrown into a landfill three days later, or you can purchase quality product that with the right care, will last you for years.

Technical specs

Best Use
Backpacking
Seasons
3-season
Sleeping Capacity
2-person
Minimum Trail Weight
3 lbs. 1 oz.
Fly / Footprint Pitch Weight
2 lbs. 7 oz.
Packaged Weight
3 lbs. 7 oz.
Packed Size
6 x 21 inches
Floor Dimensions
88 x 52/42 (L x W head/foot) inches
Floor Area
29 square feet
Vestibule Area
9 + 9 square feet
Peak Height
40 inches
Number of Doors
2 doors
Number of Poles
2
Pole Material
DAC Pressfit aluminum
Pole Diameter
8.7 millimeters
Canopy Fabric
Breathable ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
Floor Fabric
Silicone treated ripstop nylon
Rainfly Fabric
Silicone treated ripstop nylon
Footprint Included
No
Design Type
Freestanding