Overview: From backpacking in the Rockies, Sawtooths, Sierras, Whites and Winds to chasing pike through Canada's backcountry and even a few car camping adventures I've gone through my share of tents. I've endured wind, rain, sleet, snow, and more than a few companions in these temporary shelters. Along the way I've learned a few things:
First, being wet while backpacking/camping sucks.
Second, being cramped for space in a tent while backpacking/camping sucks.
Third, having two doors on a tent is much nicer than having one.
Keeping that in mind here are some things I look for in a tent:
Buy a three-person tent, unless your travel companion is someone you want to get real cozy with. Sure a three-man tent is heavier, but you can split the weight between two people and it’s not too bad. It’s worth it. Trust me. If you have three people – use more than one tent.
Get a tent with two doors. There is nothing worse than a tent-mate needing to get up in the middle of the night to relieve themselves (sometimes, more than once) and having to crawl over or around you to make their escape.
A 3-season tent will suffice, unless you intend to do any winter camping or plan to travel where heavy snow is a possibility – then you will want to invest in a 4-season.
There's a ratio that you need to find between comfort and weight. A light tent feels good in the pack, but if it's not comfortable to sleep in or doesn't keep the weather out, what good did it actually do you? I favor comfortable tents in the 3.5-5.5 pound range (for a three-person) anything heavier than that starts to be a burden and anything less isn't typically comfortable.
My current go-to is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3. This three-season, three-person ultralight tent sets up super quick and easy, provides two doors, ample headroom, incredible weather protection with dual vestibule space and weighs in under four pounds. It retails for $499. Note: they have added even more features to this model since the version I have.
What I like: There are a number of things I love abut this tent, but here are some of the highlights:
I've weathered a number of serious mountain storms in this tent with high winds and a lot of water and never once has it failed in the floor, in the fly or in any other way. For as light as it is this tent seems bombproof.
Speaking of light, this tent surely is. It's a three-man tent that weighs in under four pounds. With state of the art materials and smart design, this tent is very light in the pack.
The Copper Spur has pretty decent floor space (41 square feet) and headroom (43 inches). Granted it is rated as a Three-person tent. While I have slept three adults with gear in it, it's a great tent for two people and gear or two people and a dog. Either way it doesn't feel cramped and the headroom is not claustrophobic.
The Copper Spur features two doors and two vestibules, one on each side. Two doors is the only way to go. Trust me.
This tent is packed with smart features including dual low-vent vestibule doors and high fly vent to maximize active and passive airflow, a Quick Stash door-keeper, velcro tabs that connect the fly to pole structure providing perfect pitch and extra stability, pre-cut guylines and tensioners attached to fly, reflective guylines and webbing on tent corners that make it easy to see at night and multiple interior loops for attaching gear lofts and accessories.
What I don’t like: There's a LOT to like about this tent and just a couple things I will note in terms of dislikes.
First, I mentioned that this tent is decently roomy both in floor space and headroom, and I have slept 3 adults in it. That being said, the Copper Spur three-man, like most any three-person tent I have used, is (in my opinion) best suited for two people comfortably.
One other small item is that (I think for weight savings) this tent comes with only eight stakes. That provides one for each corner, one for each vestibule and two for the fly, but none for the additional guylines on the rainfly (4).
Perfect for: For me, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HVUL3 is a perfect three-season ultralight backpacking tent for two to three people (two is better). It is crazy tough and crazy light is simple to set up and has a number of smart features.
Stars: 4.5 out of 5
Learn more: https://www.bigagnes.com/Copper-Spur-HV-UL3-2020?quantity=1