2021 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepack: First Look
Big Agnes just released the new 2021 “Bikepack” edition of its Copper Spur HV tents. We had the chance to try out the UL1 for a few nights prior to launch. Here are our impressions alongside all the details, weights, specs, and loads of photos…
For 2021, Big Agnes made some major additions to the entire Bikepack tent lineup. First and foremost, there are now three model lines in the Bikepack Series: the Fly Creek (UL1 and UL2), which is the lightest and most minimal; the Copper Spur (Ul1, UL2, and UL3), which I’d consider to be the full-featured Cadillac of the three (and the most pricey); and the all-new Tiger Wall Bikepack (UL2 and UL3), which we’ll cover very soon.
Available later in November, the new 2021 Copper Spur Bikepack tents saw quite a few tweaks. And, now there’s a three-person option in the mix, the all new Copper Spur HV UL3 Bikepack. We checked out the UL1 model, which received the same updates as the rest of the lineup. Here are the details along with my first impressions after a few nights of use.
The standout feature for the Copper Spur is its double “Y” pole design that allows it to be the only tent in the Bikepack series that’s completely freestanding, a feature cherished by many bike travelers. It’s also the most roomy for the same reason. Generally speaking, the new Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepack is quite similar to the original model we reviewed, which was ultimately awarded a spot in our Gear of the Year Awards. The most visible changes are in the colors used. The 2021 models ditch the orange tent body in favor of a more stealthly and subdued look—a welcome change. They also get a new “chainring” Big Agnes logo on the tent and rainfly. Furthermore, Big Agnes has introduced several structural changes and details. Here are some details on each.
New 12″ Short Stik Pole Set
The biggest improvement that a lot of folks will like is that Big Agnes was able to maintain the exact same overall tent weight as the former version of the Copper Spur HV UL1 Bikepack while introducing a significantly shorter pole set. The old UL1 had a pole set bundle that measured about 13.5″ (34.3cm) while the 2021 model features 10 1/8″ (25.7cm) pole segments that measure about 11 x 2.5″ (27.9 x 6.35cm) when bundled in the included stuff sack.
The Short Stik DAC pole design was the crux of the Bikepack Series’ innovation, so it’s nice to see Big Agnes optimize this in the Copper Spur line. Note that both the UL2 and UL3 models also get the shorter segment size, which is great news for long-distance traveling couples. These are great touring tents and having the ability to store the heaviest part of the tent in the frame bag is a great way to keep weight low and centered.
The 2021 Copper Spur Bikepack models have the same cross-bar pole-tip receptacles as well as the same plastic clips that attach the tent body to the pole set, as you can see in the two photos above. After a lot of use with both, I feel pretty confident in their reliability and durability.
Dirt Dagger UL Tent Stakes
After nearly a decade using the same reliable aluminum stakes, Big Agnes has officially introduced a new stake design with these tents. The new Dirt Dagger UL Tent Stakes feature a patent-pending aluminum I-beam construction and weigh in at 8 grams each (including the paracord loop), making them 2 grams per stake less than the previous design. So, was it worth the change? I’m not 100% convinced. The Copper Spur UL1 includes just seven stakes—which is odd considering there are eight stake points—so it only saves 14 grams. And the old stakes were bombproof. I’ve used them thousands of times over eight years, all the while beating them with giant stones into all degrees of rocky soil. I’ve only had one break and it was a random incident where I tripped over it.
The new Dirt Dagger UL stakes don’t appear to be quite as invincible. I already bent one on my second night of use (see middle photo below). That said, I was using the same unrestrained, caveman rock hammering technique I used with the old ones, so I quickly learned to tone it down a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are plenty strong; but they have a slight weak point at the I-bean indentation where the head can bend if you’re not careful. The overall design is good and they even seem to hammer in easier, but it might be nice to see that indention on the I-beam reduced a little to make them even stronger at that point.
TipLok Tent Buckle System
Also introduced with the 2021 batch of tents, Big Agnes’ new TipLok Tent Buckle is a new tent corner system featuring a swiveling two-piece plastic assembly that combines three functions: pole-tip capture, rainfly attachment and tensioner, and stake-out loop. I’m always skeptical of plastic bits, but I’ve never had an issue with any clips on Big Agnes tents, and these seem fairly simple and work quite well. I suppose if I had one wish it would be that the clips had a split buckle loop to make them easily replaceable, but they also seem simple and tough enough that I don’t really expect to have any issues with them.
As you can see in the photo above, the new TipLok corners also use webbing that’s narrower and thicker than the older tents. Big Agnes claims the new design equalizes forces between the tent body, rain fly, and ground stake, which kind of makes sense, although that’s not something I noticed outright when pitching the tent. However, I appreciate the fact that the new swivel clips simplify the overall corner assembly and make it easier to use.
The Copper Spur Bikepack tents now feature dual-zipper rain fly doors to enable awning-style vestibules. The door corners have paracord loops on the ends and based on photographs on the Big Agnes website, allow them to attach to bike handlebars and create a covered portico at the vestibule. I don’t really see myself using that feature, however, and if I’m in a solo tent, there’s only one bike handlebar, anyways. Either way, it’s nice to have the ability open the door completely while camping and sleeping. The dual zips allow you to roll up the door completely and create a full opening into the tent for easy access, which also provides even more ventilation to help eliminate condensation inside the tent.
The new Copper Spur Bikepack also has the same great features that were carried over from the older model of the Copper Spur HV UL1. That includes the same burly, handlebar mount-friendly bag for the tent and poles, although it has a slightly different color way, with bright orange traps and buckles. One of my favorite features is the gear shelf, which seems a little bigger in the new version, and is a fantastic spot to toss your clothes, layers, and hat to keep them out of the way while your in the tent. In addition, Big Agnes retained all the other pockets (one on the side and several mesh storage areas in the top front), and the mesh vent at the head of the tent, another great little feature to help with ventilation and avoid interior condensation.
- Great design with a roomy interior fit, long/tall-people-friendly footprint, and usable storage
- Shorter pole segments are better for fitting in frame bags of all sizes
- Same weight as previous model but with shorter poles and more features
- More muted colors are a plus
- Very expensive for a one-person tent
- At nearly three pounds, it’s rather heavy when compared to other Big Agnes 1P tents, like the Fly Creek and Tiger Wall; but that’s the price to pay for a completely freestanding model with lots of room
- Dirt Dagger stakes aren’t as tough as their predecessor
- Weight (claimed) 1.28kg (2lb 13oz)
- Weight (actual) 1.276kg (2lb 13oz)
- Weight (Rain Fly / Tent) 358 grams / 323 grams
- Weight (Poles / Stakes(7)) 369 grams / 56 grams
- Weight (Bags/straps) 126 grams
- Actual Footprint Dimensions 85″ x 37/29″ (F/R)
- Place of Manufacture China
- Price $429.95
- Manufacturer’s Details BigAgnes.com
We were stoked with the original Bikepack series of tents, so I was interested to learn what improvements Big Agnes made in the next iteration of this successful line. The first tent we tried of the bunch seemed comfortably familiar, but it was immediately clear that they made some thoughtful modifications. Truth be told, the Copper Spur line isn’t the lightest, cheapest, or most minimal of the three options within the Bikepack series, which generally isn’t my cup of tea. But, it’s definitely the most feature-rich and comfortable—and the only one that’s completely freestanding. For those reasons it’s a top choice amongst long-term bike travelers. Complementing that, it also has significantly more interior room—especially headroom and length—and a few more creature comforts than the Fly Creek series.
For the most part, I’m impressed with all of the changes they made. While the double zipper on the rain fly door might be slightly excessive for the one-person model—particularly as a self-proclaimed minimalist—the fact that they shortened the pole set and maintained nearly the exact same overall weight is quite impressive. Many of the other features are relatively consistent, and the new TipLok corners seem promising. And even though the new tent stakes might not be as caveman proof as their predecessors, I think they’ll hold up with a little extra care.
As mentioned, I only have a few nights in this tent. Based on extensive testing of the previous models, I have no doubt that the fabrics, poles, and construction are all durable, but I’ll make sure to update this post based on further use with the new TipLok corners and Dirt Dagger Stakes. Also, stay tuned for more on the new Tiger Wall Bikepack edition…