I’ll make this a quick post, because when you’re researching gear, you want only the most pertinent information, and for detailed reviews there are much much better websites out there.
Now if you’re considering an Ultralight 3-season 1 person or 2 person tent*, (By this I mean, a tent suitable for 1 person or 2 persons, and not the nomenclature the tent manufacturers use.) Big Agnes makes some of the best tents out there. Other brands you might want to consider who make similar tents are MSR and Nemo. You could throw in REI as well. (Well, surely there are others like Black Diamond, and for the really ultralight, ones like Zpacks)
I currently own a Copper Spur HV UL2, and having used it a couple of times, I really like the tent. The previous 2 person tent I owned was a ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2. For the price it was a really good tent – very spacious inside, easy to setup, durable …etc. But heavy and it caught the wind like crazy. That tent had a trail weight of 5 lbs. 4 oz. and a total weight of 5 lbs. 13 oz. coming in 3 oz. under 6 lbs. As anyone that goes backpacking will attest to, a 6 lb tent is a heavy tent.
The Copper Spur HV UL2 is the High Volume version of the older Copper Spur UL2 tent. I emailed Big Agnes and asked them if I was considering the two tents, and wanted to make a decision, did the older model have an advantage in terms of better materials ? or because of the lower-profile design, better in winds …etc ? They replied back saying there was no advantages in terms of materials on the older model, and in terms of wind resistance, the redesigned poles of the newer tent was actually way better. I compared them side by side at a store, and
- The poles looked beefier,
- The side doors had been fixed not to fall to the ground,
- The tent was roomier on the inside,
- I guess on the negative side, it is slightly shorter now, but at 5′ 11″, I did not have issues with the tent length.
- Another minor negative is, they replaced some of the translucent material closer to the floor of the tent with mesh – I don’t see an issue with this either.
- So, in my opinion, and from what I’ve read elsewhere on the internet, the HV version is better.
Now, when I used this tent a month back trying to summit Mt. Whitney, me and a good friend of mine shared the tent. It was definitely cozy for a 2 people. We both are roughly the same height and same build – neither of us is beefy. We both used regular sized sleeping pads and bags. There was enough space to lay the sleeping pads side by side, but if you slept in anything other than a mummy bag, there would be entangled limbs, or at the very least elbows hitting the other person 🙂 The cold weather on Whitney and the fact that we were both inside our mummy bags zipped up, meant we actually managed ok. If you were going on a longer backpacking trip, the Copper Spur UL2 might not be a great choice. For the weight though, (2 lb. 12 oz, 3 lb 1 oz) it’s great.
I’ve also been looking for a lighter tent to carry for solo backpacking. I just shaved ~1 lb from switching to a lighter sleeping pad, and was determined to shave another 1 lb from the tent. Yay, another liter of water that can be carried! (Ok, roughly 1 liter)
So. I’ve been faced with two questions,
- What do I do about the 1 person tent ? i.e., when I go out backpacking alone.
- Is my current 2 person tent good enough for 2 people ? Are there better options out there.
I’ve kind of narrowed down to the Fly Creek and Copper Spur lines. If you follow and read forums online, it looks like the Copper Spur is preferred by more people for it’s 2 doors/vestibules and it’s fully free-standing structure, compared to the Fly Creek which needs to be staked out – and is not fully free-standing. I agree with this for the most part, but if you compare the weights, and sizes of the tents, you see some interesting things.
Amazingly, Big Agnes’ youtube videos’ weight don’t match their website’s spec weights in some cases. It’s only a few oz, but still. For e.g., the Copper Spur HV UL2 is shown to be 2 lb 14 oz in the video, while it is 2 lb 12oz in the specs. The Fly Creek weights appear accurate.
1 Person Use: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 vs Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1
Keeping in mind the Copper Spur HV UL2 weight ~2 lb 12oz, (3 lb 1oz), I’m looking at a tent weighing ~ 1lb 12oz (2lb 1oz). That tent happens to be the Fly Creek HV UL1. But then considering the Fly Creek HV UL2 is only 4oz heavier, and costs roughly the same as well, I think it is just the better choice.
- Now, remember I plan to use this as a 1 person tent. so the side vestibule vs front vestibule shouldn’t matter.
- What’s amazing is the Fly Creek HV UL2 is actually still 3oz lighter than the Copper Spur HV UL1.
- For that, I guess, you lose the freestanding ability. So if you camped in very rocky terrain where staking the Copper Spur might still be better.
For me though, I’m definitely getting the Fly Creek HV UL2. (The way to swallow the prices of these tents, is to think of expensive lodges in national parks where one night costs between $100 and $300 🙂 )
EDIT: After having purchased the Fly Creek HV UL2, I absolutely did not like the tent. It was spacious inside, and for a 1 person, the door was ok too. But I hated the fact that to keep the side walls from falling in, they had to be staked too. This would make pitching in a rain a pain. So, I decided to go with the Copper Spur HV Ul1, and so far I am happy with this tent. I might even leave some stakes (each measuring 25gms) behind to save on weight.
2 Person Use: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL3 vs Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
Once again, I am comparing the larger tent from Fly Creek to the smaller tent from Copper Spur. This is slightly less clear to me, considering I already own the CS.
- The Fly Creek is definitely the roomier tent, and weighs a mere 3oz over the Copper Spur. 2 lb 15oz vs 2 lb 12 oz.
- In case of the 3 person tent, the Fly Creek is also freestanding I believe – It has poles go out to the 4 corners, unlike the 1 and 2 person models.
- So, it comes down to floor area vs having your own door and vestibule.
- I can definitely see why having 2 doors would be better. You don’t disturb the other person when you need to go outside the tent, put on your shoe, or grab something from your pack.
- Also, the vestibule is smaller. I must say the CS HV UL2’s vestibules were just about large enough to keep my boots and pack from the rain, so a smaller vestibule will be even worse.
- But the extra room inside! Gives you a foot of width over the Copper Spur.
If you don’t mind another ~half a pound, the CS HV UL3 is an option as well.