The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is a lightweight three person tent that’s perfect for camping and backpacking. With a packaged weight of 3lbs 14oz, this is one of the lightest freestanding three person tents on the market. Big Agnes updated the Copper Spur lineup in 2016, adding an HV to the name to denote the higher interior volume of the tent. According to Big Agnes the “4-way high volume hub design increases strength by 25% and the useable interior volume by 20% when compared to previous versions of the Copper Spur“. Having used the Copper Spur HV UL3 for almost a year now, I still have a hard time accepting that a freestanding tent this light feels so spacious inside.
My search for a lightweight three person tent began in earnest about 14 months ago. I had just become a father and knew that our two person Tarptet wouldn’t be able to hold Julia, myself, our son, and our two dogs. I’ve since taken backpacking trips to Havasupai, Yosemite, Alabama Hills, Big Pine Lakes, and to a few local mountain trails with the Copper Spur HV UL3. In this review I will detail my experience with the HV UL3 alongside an overview of the tent’s specs and performance.
Tent Specs and Setup
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Tent is a three person tent with two doors that weights 3lbs 14oz when fully packaged. You can make the tent lighter by leaving behind or swapping stuff sacks, guylines, and tent stakes, but I’ve preferred to keep things “as is”. You can see the tent and all of it’s accessories in the photographs below.
- Trail Weight: 3lb 7oz
- Packed Weight: 3lb 14oz
- Packed Size: 4.5″ x 20″
- Floor Dimensions: 90 x 70/62
- Floor Area: 41 square feet
- Number of Doors: 2 doors
- Number of Poles: 2
- Pole Material: DAC Featherlite aluminum
- Pole Diameter: 9.3 millimeters
- Canopy Fabric: Ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
- Floor Fabric: Polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon
- Rainfly Fabric: Polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is very easy to setup, going from packed to pitched in under five minutes. Most importantly, it’s a tent that I can pitch without any assistance. This is key as Julia is usually tending Owen’s needs when we find a campsite.
After laying out the tent body, all you need to do is extend the DAC tent poles and align them with the color coordinated Jakes feet on the corners. The 4-way poles are all connected by a center hub. From there, the pole tips go into the corner grommets and then the tent body clips onto the poles. The final setup of the tent body is to attach the shorter and separate DAC pole across the top of the tent.
As you can see in the picture above, the tent body has high bathtub floor walls. This works well to protect against rain and splashing, and also provides a nice bit of privacy when sleeping without the fly in a campground.
Once you’ve set up the interior tent, it’s just a few quick steps to attach the fly. The inside of the fly has four Velcro tabs to attach it to the poles. The four corners of the fly have the same color coordination as the tent body and DAC poles. The fly then buckles into the attachment on the tent, which means only one stake is needed to secure each corner of the tent.
As I mentioned above, this tent has two large doors and two large vestibules. Each vestibule door requires one stake.
Adjustments and Configurations
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is the kind of free standing tent that you can setup in it’s standard configuration and be more than comfortable in the majority of three season outings. For outings when the weather is a little more of a challenge, there are a few configuration options.
The fly has four guy out loops on top of the four hub poles. Guy lines are provide from Big Agnes and come attached. There are also addition guy out points at the head and foot of the tent at the floor level. This configuration allows for the four stakes on the tent corners, both doors, two points on the head and foot, and four more points midway up on the fly’s four corners.
The vestibule doors velcro shut and have zippers that have operated smoothly since day one. The tent body doors and nice and large, but the tie up points are oddly placed. When I try to tie the door up to keep it out of the way, a large portion of the door is still flapping around.
There is one fly vent that works using a Velcro tab. The vent provides decent airflow, but two vents would be better.
Backpacking and Performance
One of the main reasons I prefer using tarp tents is that they pack small. When researching a free standing three person tent, the size of the setup is what bothered me more than the weight. Julia and I both carry small packs, so having a large tent can be an issue. Luckily, the Copper Spur HV UL3 can be unpacked to fit nicely in my bags. I’ve used this tent with my Osprey Exos 58 and HMG Southwest 2400 without issue. The key is to pack the tent body and fly in a stuff sack, then stash the poles and stakes in the pocket on the side of the pack. I’ve been on a few 10-20 miles hikes carrying this tent, and it’s weight and portability is pretty nice.
When I first started looking at tents, Julia’s only request was that she could sit up straight and feed our son without having to duck her head or brush against the walls. As you can see in the photos below, the Copper Spur HV UL3 fits three sleeping pads very comfortably, with enough head room for each of us to sit up straight.
Although the Copper Spur HV UL3 is billed as a three person tent, I don’t know if I’d recommend it for three fully grown adults. For two adults, one toddler, and two small dogs, this tent offers plenty of room. If our son was fully grown, I think it would be a much tighter squeeze, making it the kind of tent you only use for sleeping.
The inside of the Copper Spur HV UL3 has 5 mesh pockets for all of your electronics and personal items. There is also a loop at the apex of the tent to hang a light.
We’ve been using the Copper Spur HV UL3 in mostly warm weather but did have one night that was below freezing. This tent is perfect for 3 season camping and backpacking, as we’ve been comfortable in a wide range of climates. We got to test the HV UL3 on a few windy nights as well, and I’m happy to say it not only performed well, but was pretty quiet inside, too.
Having a toddler and two dogs means we need our gear to be super durable. The Copper Spur HV UL3 has proven to be a tough and rugged tent despite it’s light weight. After a few months of use and abuse, the tent only has dirt and food stains to show for it. The 20-denier ripstop nylon used to make this tent is showing to be a great middle ground for lightweight portability and long term durability.
With a retail price of $499.95, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is expensive. There’s really no getting around that. If you’re just looking to find a tent for car camping and the occasional short mileage backpacking trip, go for something heavier and less expensive. If you’re like us, and like to take long backpacking trips, camp on mountain tops, and are willing to pay a premium for a lightweight tent, this will be a good option to consider. If it comes down to finding a free standing three person tent that is under 4lbs, the Copper Spur HV UL3 should sit at the top of your list.