Piling your gear onto the specific shape of a bike frame presents unique issues. It’s not just the weight or size of your gear that matters but also its shape. Big Agnes is one of few gear manufacturing companies tackling that problem head-on. They’re designing tents with the growing trend of bike touring in mind.
I’ve been burned too many times by hammock camping — a lack of trees perfectly spaced or a lack of them entirely — I won’t use one unless I’m going somewhere familiar. Meanwhile, my (admittedly older) backpacking tent is bulky and not very conducive to bikes.
Ahead of a weeklong bikepacking trip last year, I picked up the Copper Spur HV UL2 from the Big Agnes bikepacking series. It features the brand’s patented Shortstiks, a clever design that utilizes shorter-than-normal tent pole sections to allow the fully packed tent to fit between handlebars, behind the saddle, or within a bike’s frame. I tested it on several bikepacking trips, backpacking trips, and even a few kayak tours. Here’s what I found.
In short: The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent ended up being a light and efficient touring companion, saving space without sacrificing much comfort. It fits two people and our gear snugly and fits easily on a bike. It even had a few unexpected benefits, such as being perfect for backpacking and kayak touring.
For a two-person tent, it can be a tight fit depending on how much gear you have. And it is susceptible to water while rolled up on your bike frame. But what it lacks in those areas, this tent makes up for with sheer versatility and functionality.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent
- Seasons 3-season
- Sleeping Capacity 2-person
- Minimum Trail Weight 2 lbs. 11 oz.
- Fly / Footprint Pitch Weight 2 lbs. 2 oz.
- Packaged Weight 3 lbs. 2 oz.
- Packed Size 6" x 19.5"
- Floor Dimensions 88" x 52/42" (L x W head/foot)
- Floor Area 29 sq. ft.
- Peak Height 40"
- Number of Doors 2 doors
- Number of Poles 1
- Canopy Fabric Silicone-treated ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
- Floor Fabric Silicone-treated ripstop nylon/polyurethane coating
- Rainfly Fabric Silicone-treated ripstop nylon/polyurethane coating
- Footprint Included No
- Design Type Freestanding
- Fits easily on a bike frame, handlebars, or under the saddle
- Comes in 1-5 person capacities
- Easy to set up
- Works great for backpacking and kayak touring also
- With two people and your gear, it's a snug fit
- Susceptible to rain and water when riding
Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent Review
Light but Not Lacking
The two-person Copper Spur is lightweight at just 2 pounds 11 ounces minimum trail weight and 3 pounds 2 ounces packaged weight. Compared to other lightweight Big Agnes tents like the Fly Creek HV UL2 (1 pound 15 ounces trail weight and 2 pounds 4 ounces packaged weight), the Copper Spur is in the middle-weight class.
But the Copper Spur makes up those extra ounces by keeping user-friendly features, such as large vented double doors. For me, the impressive weigh-in of the Fly Creek model wouldn’t be worth crawling in and out headlong over my partner to pee in the middle of the night.
The Copper Spur is also freestanding, so it doesn’t rely on stakes or rocks to keep a roof over my head. That’s a key feature for some of the terrain I’ve camped on, especially when arriving late and beat from riding all day. It sets up quickly with a single pole, and color-coded webbing on the corners is easy to follow (more on this below).
A Tight Two
Big Agnes is somewhat renowned for its tents’ easy setups. Two main poles are pre-connected at a cross point in the middle. Those effortlessly snap together and push into their respective, color-coded ends. The middle pole clips into the dome of the roof, and the tent takes shape. Viola! Your shelter is ready.
My go-to camping method in the humid Midwest summers is to keep the fly off, risking any surprise storms, while keeping the rain fly hooked to the poles on one side. That way, at the first sign of drizzle, I can get out and quickly throw it over.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 lends itself well to this method. It uses snaps to hold the fly on instead of the traditional eyelets to thread the ends of the poles through.
There’s plenty of space for shoe and gear storage in the roomy vestibules. That space is clutch, it turns out, if you plan to use this for two people. Because when Big Agnes says “two people,” it really means “two people who are emotionally close enough to be proximately on top of each other.”
The tent fits our sleeping pads side-by-side, barely shoved against each other, with the outer edges pushing out the tent walls. But they do fit!
Any gear outside of a jacket and a book needs to be stored elsewhere. I had the roominess of the tent to myself on a solo trip and got a little spoiled, which made the first trip with my husband a bit of a shock.
But all in all, it works fine with two people. You should just be aware of what you’re getting into. If you have any spatial anxieties, you might consider upping to the 3-, 4- or even 5-person Copper Spur for extra wiggle room.
That’s part of the beauty of the Copper Spur tent line. It’s made in 1-5 person capacity versions, which is a huge range of sizes. It also comes in a mtnGLO version that includes durable, lightweight LED lights built into the tent walls to light things up without a headlamp or flashlight.
Besides interior space, the only other drawback (besides the $550 price point) is how it’s supposed to attach to your bike. The poles fit in their own bag, which is great for splitting weight while packing. Then that bag attaches to the main bag via the webbing to keep everything together.
The process of feeding the straps through the webbing to each other and then the bars is tight and tedious. Pulling out the bag and redoing the straps each day for multiple days would get old quickly. I was happy to bypass that process by picking up a bag that fit the tent perfectly (plus extras) and fixing that to my bike instead.
Water protection on the handlebars is another hindrance too. Without fair-weather fortune on your side, and without some kind of waterproof cover for the Copper Spur, you’ll be sleeping in a sopping tent by nightfall. The daisy webbing is a nice option for bike attachment. But I don’t see myself using it that much outside of a last resort.
An Unexpected Benefit
I bought this tent for bikepacking and to upgrade my backpacking tent. But I didn’t realize how beautifully it would sync with another of my favorite sports — kayaking. We love to do overnight and multi-night trips to enjoy Missouri’s riverways, one of the greatest geographic features of this state.
My Perception Carolina kayak has seen much of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. But it’s older and features a slightly outdated narrow hatch that makes packing for touring difficult.
Most of my trips have required toploading dry bags onto the deck lines because so few things fit inside the storage. But the Copper Spur’s Shortstik Poleset allows the tent to squeeze through that narrow opening into the dry storage of my boat. That’s a huge bonus!
And kayaking probably isn’t the only bonus sport this tent will work for. Even on the backpacking side, shorter poles allow me to arrange my backpack more seamlessly, something normal backpacking tents don’t always offer.
Copper Spur HV UL2 Conclusion
You may need to get cozy, but this tent is excellent at what it does. The lightweight design makes long trips over rough elevations a breeze knowing that a comfortable, easy home for the night is riding alongside you.
It has its downsides. It isn’t the roomiest or most spacious tent you could bikepack with. And it can get wet while riding if you aren’t prepared to protect it from rain. But it is very light, fits onto a bike perfectly, and even proved useful for other sports like kayaking and backpacking. And with the range of capacities this Big Agnes tent comes in, there’s an option that can meet everyone’s needs.
This tent has come in clutch on my recent bikepacking tours, backpacking trips, and kayaking expeditions and will continue to. Like most of Big Agnes’ products, this is a very functional, reliable piece of gear for going the distance, no matter how you do it.