Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3

The Copper Spur UL3 is the tent that I will be taking with me on the PCT this year.  I initially chose this tent based on the PCT book by Yogi.  Being 6’4″ and finding a tent that I can share with Melony on this hike is worth its weight in gold.  A three person tent was the obvious choice in my opinion.  I’m not really interested in being  cramped up and trying to live in a really small tent for the entire PCT.  The size of this tent is worth a little bit of extra weight from a 2 person tent.


Great things about this tent

  • The Size.  In the world of backpacking tents this thing is huge.  There are very few tents that I have sat in that I could honestly say I was not worried about touching my head on the roof all the time.  At 44″ tall on the inside you got a pretty tall tent.  That 44″ is not just at the peak either.  The Copper Spur is set up that it is higher through out most of the roof.  Being able to lay down in a backpacking tent, for a tall guy, is a big deal.  My feet and head both have some room to spare.  Having the extra room to store your gear inside because of the size is great, both of us have wiggle room to move things around without being on top of each other.  During a bad storm or weather we can easily stay inside without feeling too cramped.  Knowing that you are going to split the total weight of this with your hiking partner, 2lbs per person is not bad.
  • Free standing.  Easy set up is essential for a good shelter.  Setting up and taking down this tent is about as easy as it gets.  Two poles is all that is included with this tent.  The main pole is big, but it is one pole with two hubs on each side, and a small pole that sets up directly above the doors.  Being a free standing tent has its own benefit too.  Weather permitting you don’t have to use stakes to set this up.  If you have the footprint you can set the rain fly up as just a shade or when it is pouring down rain then crawl in to set up the inside of the tent without it getting too wet on the inside.
  • Durability.   We weathered in one night at Big Bend, sleet, hail, and a massive downpour of rain.  We did not get wet at all in the tent, and no damage at all from the hail.  Everything is already seam sealed so no extra work, like some other tents I have found.  That just doesn’t make any sense to me, that’s like buying a new car and them telling you it doesn’t come with any tires.  The very next night we had really heavy winds, tent was solid.
  • Price.  This tent is a couple of years old.  Which is good for a couple of reasons, but mainly because you can get these tents for a deal.  I found mine on for $374.  Now that is not cheapest tent in the world but when you compare it to like a Triplex from Zpacks, ~ $700 and its smaller.  I think its a pretty good deal.
  • Great views.  You don’t have to use the rain fly.  If you want to see the stars without the bugs or feeling completely exposed cowboy camping.
  • Storage.  There are four large pockets, one in each corner to put your stuff.  Again this is something that you don’t find on the lighter and lighter tents.  Big Agnes sells lots of accessory storage for this tent if you want to add a loft or gear wall too you could.
  • Entry/Exit.  Because of my height, I usually feel like Jim Carey in Ace Ventura II getting birthed while trying to get in and out of a tent.  Huge entry/exit doors on both sides of this tent make it pretty easy.

  Things I don’t like about this tent.

  • Vestibules are small.  The vestibules are pretty small you realistically are not going to store much gear other than your dirty boots and some other small stuff outside.  They are adequate for cooking while it is raining etc.
  • Vestibules fall down.  If you roll the vestibule back there is a singe loop the hold it back.  The door is too big for that and it sags down and in the way.  I fixed this by using a wood clothes pin, any small clamp would work.  This is no big deal, but it pisses me off, seems like they half assed it here.
  • Hecho in China.  Just like about every other mass produced tent out there.  I wish it was made the USA, but its not, enough said.
  • Tent is for two people.  If you like to go solo this tent is just plain too big.  At 4 pounds it is still a viable option, but you may want to get another tent for solo hikes.  Even if the weight is not a big deal to you, it is bulky because of its size, so it sucks up space in your pack.

Overall I think that this is a great tent for two people.  There are some minor changes that I wish Big Agnes would have fixed but can be overcome fairly easily.  It is a very solid tent and goes up really fast.

Shop the BA Copper Spur 3 Here


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Comments 2

  • Arty : Mar 10th

    I own this tent and disagree with basically all of your complaints.

    The vestibule is small – No, it’s not. It’s called a vestibule, not a front porch. We comfortably fit three packs along with shoes, etc. in ours which makes me jump to item 4:

    Tent is for two people – No, it’s not. It’s a UL3 <<< NOTE THE 3. It's a three person tent. We comfortably use it as such. So of course it's too big for one. DUH! Don't by a 3 person tent for ONE PERSON and your "complaint" goes away.

    Vestibules fall down – No, they don't. Well not if you use them correctly and you are not. You are doing it wrong. Next time we go out I'll take some pictures and reply again with the correct way to do them.

    Made in China – This is just politics and I don't disagree. It is made in China. That being said I am sick of having politics in everything and I don't want it in my hiking. Keep your political views to yourself and blog about what people are here for: Hiking.

    Editors at Trek: Quality over quantity. Don't accept "gear reviews" from guys who complain that a three man tent is too big for one person.

    • Travis : Mar 10th

      Hey thanks for the feedback. I will try improve with your positive criticism, next time. I understand your remarks, but I still stand by my review. All being said I really love this tent. It is like almost anything else though it depends on your tastes and preferences, and there is always room from improvement.


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