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.
Much like the Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum UL2 that I already own, the UL2 is a well-made tent that provides plenty of room for one person. The tent has plenty of pockets for gear storage, and the structure of the tent and tent fly combined ensure I stay dry, even in the hardest downpours.
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 are listed below. Requirements sometimes change based on the trail I’m hiking.
- Light Weight – Lightweight is essential on long-distance hikes, but not as much for section hikes. I try to minimize town stops, so I reduce weight to combat fatigue.
- Ease of Set-Up – I usually hike up until dusk, and I want to set up quickly before dark. Setting up quickly in bad weather is also essential.
- Reduced Condensation – Condensation is aggravating in Dyneema shelters. This should not be an issue in the BA Copper Spur UL1.
Copper Spur UL1 Review – Quick Specifications
- 2lbs, 6oz
- The weight above is the packed weight, tent body, fly, poles, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, and 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 was the aluminum stakes. They were heavier than my titanium stakes and more difficult to use in the rocky, hard-packed ground.
The packed tent itself was small. Compressibility 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.
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 its color-coded poles and clips. The pole tips clip quickly into the keyholes 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.
There are several things to keep in mind when packing up the tent. 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 a time. I also start with the back poles since there is less tension.
There are two tie 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 tent’s corners and the four tie-outs on each end and the sides of the fly itself. These tie-outs were more than sufficient for even gusty winds.
If camping at high altitudes or the high deserts of California and Arizona, the extra tie-outs will 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 eliminate fly flapping that can make for a poor night’s sleep.
There are zipper pulls on this tent that have rubber covers. I don’t find these necessary because Big Agnes uses quality cord, but they are easy to find and pull in the dark. Florescent ties on the zippers would be more practical for use at night.
Tent Clips/Pole Tip Keyholes
Big Agnes claims a proprietary construction that makes tent set up very easy, and I agree that this structure is straightforward to use. As mentioned above, it is nice to have all mechanisms in one location – tent buckle, tension strap, pole tip keyhole lock, and 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. The tent kept me dry in heavy rains, and I did not have any splash or condensation issues due to the double-wall construction.
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. Silnylon is easier to pack than Dyneema.
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. This is part of my regular daily routine. 2) If packing the Fly and tent in a stuff sack, I place the stuff sack 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 a silicone treated proprietary ultralight double rip-stop mixed denier nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. The tent kept me dry in at least two good downpours and a constant night of steady rain. All seams and zippers are taped, and nothing needs to be sealed.
The rain Fly vestibule has two doors that zip shut. If you face the tent, the right half of the vestibule has another zipper on the right side. This zipper is included 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 this feature.
If I were 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 my gear and cook more safely during rainy weather.
My foot provides perspective on the height of the tent walls and floor. There is no issue with splashback from hard rains, and I had no condensation on the tent’s interior.
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 easy to get on this floor. I would suggest a thin piece of plastic or Tyvek be used as a footprint. There is no reason to purchase the expensive footprint that comes with this tent.
The Copper Spur UL1 is 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-sized dog would have been tight.
I’ll add that I hiked around another hiker recently for about ten days on the Colorado Trail. She used this tent and seemed very comfortable sleeping with Her Blue Heeler in the tent with her.
One thing I noted 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 at 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, and that added additional room.
I’ve already mentioned the pockets in the tent, and this was a feature I appreciated. I counted five, all large and within easy reach. This helped organize my gear and made it easier to find things in the dark. There were also gear loops to 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 pole system is an easy system to use, with the poles quickly snapping together and into the keyhole 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 keyhole locks found at the tent’s corners.
One convenience of Big Agnes tents is that they color code the poles and corner clips. The front hooks and tension cords are grey and match the poles’ extensions that clip into place. The poles and clips at the foot of the tent are orange. These colors are convenient when you begin to feel those first large drops of cold rain!
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 vestibule’s interior in the mornings, this was insignificant 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.
- This tent has a huge vestibule with much more room than any of my Dyneema shelters. The vestibule also zipped, not allowing water to leak into the vestibule area.
- Weight – it is about 22.5 ounces heavier than my Altaplex Shelter by Zpacks.
- The awning was not necessary for me, and the extra zipper added unneeded weight.
- I cannot set up as quickly as my tarps in the rain.
Would I Purchase This Tent Again?
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.
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