A Tent Lighter than Your Pack!!!

As an alpine climber, on nearly every trip I’ve found some gear item that I could’ve either left at home or should’ve upgraded to a MUCH lighter item. Because, damn, after 18+ hours of moving every ounce matters. But, when it comes to where we will be sleeping, there is an EXTREMELY fine line between light weight and a ridiculous squeeze that really serves no other purpose than an overly glorious sleeping bag cover.

Fear not, alpinists and explorers alike, Big Agnes tent makers to the rescue! This past summer I knew I was going to be piling on the mileage, but still wanted a little oasis from the heat, bugs, wind, snow, rain, and everything else. I splurged and got the 3-season Ultralight Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 person tent system. Viola! Here was a tent that got the dimensions just right, while shaving off the oz’s.


Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Zion National Park Trek

Big Agnes, fly-free, Zion West Rim #8 (Potato Hollow)

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Mount Rainier Camp Muir

Big Agnes Copper Spur, with fly, Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier.

The Pro’s:

  • 3 season (let’s face it, we can’t buy a tent for everything and 3-season fits everything except the most extreme)
  • 3 lbs, 2 oz packed (damn! That’s light for a 3 season, seam-sealed tent, note: this does not include the 5 oz footprint)
  • free standing (I can set this tent up very quickly without becoming tangled in a bunch of poles. Specifically it has 2 poles, 1 main pole, the other as ceiling structural support)
  • 2 side doors (I don’t have to roll over my climbing partner to pee in the middle of the night!)
  • size and ceiling (they measure this space just right for 2 people, and minimize tent claustrophobia with a “vaulted” ceiling)
  • Extremely packable! (the fabric easily conforms in my pack for a tight fit, without the super wrinkles that more heavy tents seem to pick up)
  • It fits in really small spots! (Like, a very small pull-over at the side of a hiking trail…Oh, yes, had to do this at Zion once we found the only water we’d seen in 14 miles)
  • VERSATILITY (3 season, ultra lightweight, and fits a variety of sized people…aka when I have different climbing partners we can bring my tent because they will fit too!)

The Details aka Specs:

material: silicone treated nylon ripstop, nylon body
weight: 3 lb, 2 oz
poles: 2
floor space: 29 sq ft
head height: 42″ (foot height 22″)
floor length: 90″
floor width: 52″ head, 42″ feet

Other tent options, and why I prefer my big agnes–

Alright, so we all have heard our friends say, “I got this really awesome ultralight tent…and I couldn’t fit in it,” OR “There is no way this fits 2 people! I thought this was a 2 person tent!” Luckily, the big agnes is just right on size! My 5’10” boyfriend and 5’7″ self fit comfortably in this tent with room. My 6’2″ friend has measured and got himself into this tent as well. Though I absolutely love other brands for certain gear items, I’m sorry to say that their ultralight tents haven’t gotten the sizing quite right…

Here’s other comparable tents in this category–

(1) Black Diamond Firstlight Tent. At its impressive 2 lb, 13 oz weight, and as a 4-season free-standing tent, it is a very tempting buy. However here we run into the fine line between function and weight. Many of my climbing friends have mentioned that this tent is built for girls…They simply cannot fit their long legs comfortably. Also, the 4 season aspect can make it really hold in the condensation if it rains…or if you breathe…..it’s 42″ tall like the big agnes, but only 82″ in length and 28″ in width. Yikes! That’s small! I love Black Diamond, and maybe with some slight modifications this tent will be a winner.

(2) North Face Pheonix. At 3 lb, 8 oz it is already 6 oz heavier than the big agnes. It has 3 poles (not free-standing) and only 1.7 sq ft increase in floor space.

(3) Sierra Designs Vapor Light. At 3 lb, 12 oz, it is 10 oz’s heavier than the big agnes. It has a similar 2 pole, free-standing design. But increases sq ft by 1.5″, with a length of 93″, width of 42″ and a lower ceiling height of 38″…Though this tent is a bit heavier..it offers 3″ more of space for tall individuals.

So if you’re on the market for a tent, go check out Big Agnes! They are sure to have just what you are looking for!


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