Copper Spur UL1 Review – Bomb Proof Little Tent!| Average Hiker
Copper Spur UL1 Review
This Copper Spur UL1 Review reminded me of why I enjoy using free standing tents. On my recent Fall hike on the New England Trail I tried out some new gear. I have been using ultralight Dyneema shelters like my Altaplex for the last several years.
It was time to try out a couple of the best selling, double walled, single person, free standing tents. I still have fond memories of my old Clip Flashlight tent – cutting edge in it's day.
There are a lot of single person tents that fall into this category on the market right now, but one of the tents I see on the trail quite often is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 tent. This free standing tent has good reviews, and I like the small awning you can set up with 2 trekking poles.
I have always had good experiences with Big Agnes tents, and am not surprised at the popularity of their one person tents. Their tents are well made and very popular in the backpacking community.
Table of Contents
- Copper Spur UL1 Review
- Table of Contents
- My Shelter Requirements
- Copper Spur UL1 Review – Quick Specifications
- Copper Spur UL1 Review – First Glance
- Copper Spur UL1 Set Up/Pack Up
- Copper Spur UL1 Review – Materials/Construction
- Copper Spur UL1 Review – Post Hike Thoughts
- Would I Purchase This Tent Again?
- Related Posts
My Shelter Requirements
My Shelter Requirements for backpacking and hiking have not changed much over time.
- Light Weight – Light weight is important on long distance hikes, but not as much for section hikes. I don't usually take a lot of time off the trails when I hike long distances, so to combat fatigue I reduce weight.
- Ease of Set-Up – I usually hike up until dusk, and I want to be able to set up quickly before dark. Setting up quickly in bad weather is also important. Not only was the Hexamid quick, but it stays dryer than a double walled shelter when setting up.
- Reduced Condensation – I'm hoping the higher peak will allow better air flow in the Altaplex, and reduce condensation, even from just breathing at night.
Copper Spur UL1 Review – Quick Specifications
- 2lbs, 6oz
- This is the packed weight, and includes the tent body, fly, poles, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, and other accessories such as pole repair sleeves or patch kits.
- Peak height: 38″ (97 cm)
- Width at head: 38″ (97 cm)
- Width including vestibule: 56″ (142 cm)
- Vestibule space: 28″ (71 cm)
- Length: 88″ (224 cm)
- Floor Area: 20 ft² / 1.9 m²
- Vestibule Area: 9 ft² / 0.8 m²
- Packed Size: 17.5″ x 5.5″ / 44 x 14cm
Copper Spur UL1 Review – First Glance
Out of the box, this tent provided everything I needed to begin camping immediately – tent, fly, poles, stakes, tie out lines, and a pole repair sleeve. The only thing I would replace were the aluminum stakes. They were heavier than my titanium steaks, and more difficult to use in rocky, hard packed ground.
The packed tent itself was small. This is one of the things I have always appreciated about silnylon. It packs up small and is easy to pack in my backpack. Silnylon packs more quickly than Dyneema which is a stiffer material.
The tent was well made, using quality materials. I would expect no less from Big Agnes.
Tip: I use a lighter weight titanium tent stake. Purchase stakes with bright colors on the head, or paint them yourself. This makes it much easier to find the stakes in high grass or thick undergrowth.
Copper Spur UL1 Set Up/Pack Up
The tent itself is very easy to set up with it's color coded poles and clips. The pole tips clip quickly into the the key holes on the corners. The same mechanisms for setting up the tent and fly are all combined in on location, so locking in the poles, attaching the fly, and staking out the corners all happen together at each corner.
One note when packing up the tent and disconnecting the poles. Be careful! The opposite pole will pop back when detaching the poles and may pop you in the face or eye. I disconnect all clips before taking out the corner poles one at at a time. I also start with the back poles since there is less tension.
There are two tie out lines on the front of the tent fly, but I never had any reason to use them. On windy nights I would stake down the corners of the tent and the four tie outs on each end and the sides of the fly itself. This was more than sufficient for even gusty winds.
If camping at high altitudes or the high deserts of California and Arizona these ties might come in handy. There are also Velcro loops on the inside of the fly that you can attach to the tent poles. Between these and the ties, you should be well anchored and able to eliminate a lot of fly flapping that can make for a poor night's sleep.
Zipper pulls on this tent and fly have rubber covers. I don't find these necessary because Big Agnes uses quality cord for the ties, but they are easy to find and pull in the dark. Florescent ties on the zippers would be more practical for using at night, at least for me.
Tent Clips/Pole Tip Keyholes
Big Agnes claims a proprietary construction that makes tent set up very easy, and I agree that it is very easy to use. As mentioned above, it is nice to have all mechanisms in one location – tent buckle, tension strap, pole tip keyhole lock, stake out loop. All four are very easy and quick to use.
Copper Spur UL1 Review – Materials/Construction
The Copper Spur UL1 is a silnylon tent. In heavy rains the tent kept me dry and I did not have any splash or condensation issues due to the double wall construction. One of my favorite things about silnylon is how easy it is to pack up!
When packing I quickly stuff the tent into the pocket on the outside of my backpack, or stuff sack if the backpack I'm using has no large pocket. I then pack the tent Fly on top of the tent after shaking out the tent Fly well. When I stop for a mid-morning break I take out the Fly to dry.
Tips: 1) I always dry my Fly or shelter out on breaks when the sun is out. It is part of my regular daily routine. 2) If packing the Fly and tent in a stuff sack, I place the package upside down in the outside pocket on my backpack. This prevents rain from running into the opening of the stuff sack.
The tent Fly is silicone treated proprietary ultralight double rip-stop mixed denier nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. It kept me dry in a couple of good downpours and a constant drizzle. All seams and zippers are taped, and nothing needs to be sealed.
The rain Fly vestibule has two doors that zip shut. If you are facing the tent the right half of the vestibule has another zipper on the right side. This is so you can set up this half of the vestibule as a small awning. I did not use the awning on my trip. I typically hike until dusk and really had no use for the awning.
If I was doing more camping and less hiking the awning would be convenient in either sunny or rainy weather. It would also make it easier to pack up gear and cook more safely during rainy weather.
My foot provides perspective on the height of the tent walls and floor. There is definitely no issue with splash back from hard rains, and I had no condensation on the interior of the tent.
The floor is the same proprietary silnylon as the tent Fly. Silnylon is not as durable as Dyneema, and this floor is no exception. Stains and tears are VERY easy to get on this floor. I would suggest a very thin piece of plastic or Tyvek be used as a footprint. There is no reason to purchase the expensive foot print that comes with this tent.
The Copper Spur UL1 is definitely a one person tent. I'm 5'11” and had just enough room for me and my gear. Another person would not have fit and a medium size dog would have been tight.
One note though is that although the length was much less than my Altaplex it felt like the UL1 had more “USEABLE SPACE.” I was able to put my backpack in the foot of the tent and have my quilt and head brush up against the other end without worrying about condensation. The walls were also almost vertical so that added space.
In my Altaplex condensation is always an issue, so I'm constantly waking up during the night to make sure my puffy pillow and quilt or sleeping bag are not touching the walls. On many nights I sleep with my rain jacket over the foot of my sleeping bag but it often slides off.
The other thing I really liked about this tent was all of the pockets. I counted five, all large and within easy reach. This definitely helped organize my gear, and made it much easier to find things in the dark. There were also gear loops so I could hang a tiny line to dry sweaty clothes on if needed.
The pole system for the Copper Spur UL1 tent is the commonly found hub and spoke system. This is a very easy system to use, with the poles easily snapping together and into the key hole locks near the fly clips.
The tent itself easily clips to the tent. There is also a small extension bar at the top of the tent whose tips clip into the same type of key hole locks found at the corners of the tent.
One convenience of Big Agnes tents is that they color code the poles and corner clips. The front clips and tension cords are grey, and match the extensions on the poles that clip into place. The poles and clips at the foot of the tent are orange. This is nice when that imminent thunder storm is beginning to drizzle cold rain on your head as you rush to set up the tent!
Copper Spur UL1 Review – Post Hike Thoughts
- Weather resistant – I stayed very dry and the tent withstood rainy, windy weather well.
- While there was some condensation on the interior of the vestibule in the mornings, this was insignificant when compared to my Dyneema Shelters.
- Plenty of room to organize my gear in the pockets.
- More useable space that allowed me to sleep more soundly due to not worrying about puddles and condensation.
- Easy to set up
- Smaller footprint meaning it was easier to find camping spots.
- Could set up the tent and then move it to the perfect flat spot before staking it down. This isn't nearly as easy with tarps or tarp-tents.
- A very large vestibule with much more room than any of my Dyneema shelters. The vestibule also zipped, not allowing water to leak into the vestibule.
- Weight – it is about 22.5 ounces heavier than my Altaplex Shelter by Zpacks.
- The awning was not really necessary for me, and the extra zipper added unneeded weight.
- Cannot set up as quickly as my tarps in the rain.
Would I Purchase This Tent Again?
This tent reminded me of why I enjoy free standing, double wall shelters, and I would absolutely purchase this well made shelter again. I was reminded of how much I enjoy the cozy comfort of a single person, free standing tent.
The UL1 was bomb proof in bad weather and wind, and easy to set up. Although it was heavier, I really did not mind the weight. It was offset by the convenience and comfort of a worry free night's sleep.
This tent was purchased new, and tested on a backpacking trip for this review. It is in like new condition, and can also be purchased from Average Hiker's STORE at a discount. Thank you.