The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 was the top choice when spaciousness and weight were primary concerns. The most significant interior space and vestibules with a trail weight that equates to 1.3 pounds each for a group of four is an impressive pair of specifications. Waterproofing was excellent; the only dings being some pinhole punctures in the floor and one case of partial wall deformation during extreme winds that also affected other tents in the test.
A quick perusal of the Copper Spur HV UL4 gives away it’s spacious internal environment: 67 square feet of floor area, 2 x 14 square foot vestibules and 50-inch head height. The floor dimensions are 86 x 96 inches. These factors, combined with the nearly vertical walls, gave this tent far and away the most shoulder room of the test. Even 6-foot plus testers with long sleeping bags had enough length for sleeping without compressing insulation against tent walls. Going four wide also didn’t elicit any sardine-in-the-can feelings. The Copper Spur HV UL4 was the one tent that seemed honestly designed for use by four campers most of the time, not “three campers plus a dog, or four in a pinch.”
The Copper Spur HV UL4’s flyweight fabrics packed down small. This was tied as the most compressible tent of the test, both as one package and divvied up between multiple campers. All this packability did come at a cost as this was the only tent that had a fabric breach whatsoever (explained below). The effective compressibility partnered well with the lightest weight of the test.
The Copper Spur HV UL4 is one of those tents you can unfurl from the pack and figure out the setup; each arm of the single hubbed pole terminates at the corners, while a brow pole spans from door to door; color coding further clarifying configuration. Diminutive clips handle tent body to pole connections, while Velcro tabs anchor fly to poles. Ten stake out points, all in the standard locations, complete the textbook pitch. This tent was the only tent that went up 100% correctly the first time, without consulting directions or backtracking during the process.
The only negative was the length of the hubbed pole section; it proved unwieldy at times, particularly in the wind and when erecting the tent solo.
The Copper Spur HV UL4 and the other tents in this test are rated “three-season.” This tent warded off heavy spring rainstorms, the low-slung fly and vestibules and 1200mm polyurethane coating keeping all contents and people dry. Where the tent faltered compared to another tent was in very high winds. The tall profile allowed one side of this tent to bow into the interior space during gusts in a desert windstorm (wind velocity unknown) while another tent from the test category held strong. It is subjective at some point what wind velocity was within “three-season” range, as the Copper Spur HV UL4 was one of two tents out of three that caved in under those gusts.
The floor, comprised of a proprietary, random-patterned ripstop, claimed to boost strength by 25%, was punctured by blades of thick, dry grass during a test pitch. None of the other tents pitched in the same field suffered the pinhole punctures (none of them had a footprint in use). Although these tiny punctures never posed a problem over the remainder of the testing period, these could potentially leak water should it start running under the floor. Tape easily patched the holes.
A significant amount of mesh in the tent body always kept condensation at bay, even in the high humidity conditions of early summer in Texas.
The Copper Spur HV UL had just the right number of amenities for the participating testers. Storage pockets adorn each interior lower and upper corner of the tent body, allowing each camper to store personal items and electronics separately. Both pairs of fly doors and tent body doors stow away when open. The doors employ two separate zippers with dedicated seams and were amongst the easiest to open and close. The ceiling of the tent body accepts an optional gear loft, and this tent allowed the most natural light to enter through both fly and tent body, which was good and bad, depending on the situation.
The fly only had one vent with a propping “kickstand”; During some hotter and more humid nights when leaving the fly off was risky, testers yearned for at least one more vent. Corner guy out points and all guy lines are reflective, and the lines have tensioners. Aluminum J-stakes complete the package. The fly pitches in a fast fly format with an optional footprint.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.