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Preview: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 & 3 || Best of Fly Creek + Copper Spur

The new Tiger Wall UL tent from Big Agnes is similar to the Copper Spur in that it’s 2-door and 2-vestibule, and more dome-shaped. But its price and weight is more similar to the Fly Creek.

New from Big Agnes for Spring 2018 is the Tiger Wall UL tent. Through May 31 the Tiger Wall is available exclusively from REI, and is available in two sizes:

The Tiger Wall UL sits between BA’s extraordinarily popular Fly Creek UL and Copper Spur UL series, and combines elements of both. Versus the similarly priced Fly Creek, it’s roomier; the 2-person is 4 oz heavier but the 3-person is 4 oz lighter. Versus the Copper Spur, it’s lighter and less expensive, but has less interior room.

The Tiger Wall UL overlaps with and will probably kill off the Copper Spur Platinum.

Here is the spec comparison:

Geometry

The Tiger Wall is semi-freestanding, like the Fly Creek. The head end is tensioned with a wishbone-shaped pole; at the apex junction, a single pole spans the remaining apex to the foot end. Unlike the Fly Creek 2, the Tiger Wall 2 and 3 have a horizontal pole across the apex pole, to improve interior canopy room at the cost of an ounce or two.

The two-door, two-vestibule shelter is a side-entry, like the Copper Spur. This is much more convenient than the head-entry of the Fly Creek, especially for backpackers who are less able to contort into pretzels during entry and exit. It also allows for greater ventilation, which in addition to campsite selection is the most surefire way to minimize or eliminate condensation.

The Tiger Wall is semi-freestanding; the foot corners must be staked out.

In terms of square footage, the Tiger Wall UL meets the minimum standards for 2- and 3-person shelters. But it’s tight, with few inches leftover after inserting two or three 20-inch mattresses. If you use a 25-inch mattress or if you want some extra space, I recommend that you size up, i.e. buy the 3-person even though you’ll only use it with one other person.

In addition to the normal fly/inner setup, the Tiger Wall can be pitched in a Fast Fly configuration, using the fly and the aftermarket footprint (2-person, $70; 3-person, $80). This drops the weight by a few ounces, improves ventilation, and increases interior room, but sacrifices insect protection.

Fast Fly mode

Materials

Big Agnes is known for pushing the limits of material strength and waterproofness in their lightest tents, and they have done so with the Tiger Wall, too. It was apparently toying with a 10d nylon for the fly, but ultimately played it safer with a proven 15d, like with the Fly Creeks. The floor is heavier duty than the fly, at 20d.

The waterproofness of the fly and floor is rated to 1200mm. This sounds low compared to the 4,000 mm HH ratings that are seen nowadays with cottage sil-nylons and DCF fabrics. But it must be adequate — otherwise BA would have received so many returns that it would have changed the spec.

The 2-person version uses 8.7-mm DAC NFL poles, as with the Fly Creeks and Copper Spur Platinum. The 3-person poles are wider diameter, at 9.3 mm.

The head end. The horizontal pole across the apex adds considerable interior space relative to the fin-shaped Fly Creek.

Buying recommendations

Without having used the Tiger Wall in the field, here is my reading of Big Agnes’ new product line:

Since the Tiger Wall is only available in 2- and 3-person sizes, a solo backpacker will have to stick with the Fly Creek 1 UL, assuming that they only want a Big Agnes tent and that they aren’t willing to carry a few more ounces for the more generous Fly Creek 2 UL.

For two people, my vote would be the Tiger Wall 2 UL. It’s only a few ounces heavier than the Fly Creek 2 UL, but it offers easier entry/exit, better cross ventilation, and more interior space. This seems like a worthwhile tradeoff. In contrast, the benefits of the Copper Spur (freestanding vs semi-freestanding, and some extra room) don’t seem worth another 8 oz.

For three people, the Fly Creek UL 3 has just one advantage: it’s easier for the middle person to get in and out. Otherwise, the Tiger Wall UL 3 is lighter and has more interior room. The Tiger Wall 3 UL is also significantly lighter than the Copper Spur 3 UL, by 12 oz.

Questions about the Tiger Wall UL? Trying to determine what shelter is best for you? Leave a comment.


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28 Responses to Preview: Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 & 3 || Best of Fly Creek + Copper Spur

  1. Max February 6, 2018 at 12:47 pm #

    Looks good! I’ve got the Fly Creek 2 and the Nemo Hornet 2- which is very similar to this new Big Agnes.

    Do I need another tent? Holy cow. My back account can’t handle it (or can it?)

    Usually I stick the kids in the flycreek with Mom and me in the Nemo.

    Or I’m just with one kid we take the Nemo.

    Alone?: either a tarp, bivy, tarp and bivy, or a hammock, depending on conditions and weather.

    • Jamie Botdorf March 21, 2018 at 12:28 am #

      I’d also be interested in thots on the TW2 vs Nemo Hornet 2P.

      • Andrew Skurka March 21, 2018 at 4:43 pm #

        I will speculate without having spent a night in either.

        Just based on geometry, the TW2 will give you more interior space. The Hornet uses the “fin” geometry like the Fly Creek. Lightest weight but little head/shoulder room. The horizontal bar on the TW adds marginal weight but gives you much more verticality.

        • Jamie Botdorf March 26, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

          Thanks, Andrew!

  2. Chris February 7, 2018 at 8:59 pm #

    At first glance, these seem amazing. I get room and hardly any weight. I am nervous about how thick the fabric is though. I’m looking to replace a 15 year old Mountain Hardware Thru Hiker (2 man, min weight 5 lb 12 oz, packed weight 6lb 8 oz). The MH is still perfect, just heavy and rather bulky.

    Will this tent last? I guess I’ve done less than 50 nights in my current tent over the years, but I’d want this next one to do 100 nights over ten years. Is the fabric going to damage easily, and what about UV … will it bread down and no longer be waterproof if I leave it up during some days?

    I’m also confused as to why the High Route is heavier than a 3 man tent that comes with poles. Is the HR tougher and more likely to last me 15 years?

    Thanks,

    • Andrew Skurka February 8, 2018 at 7:22 am #

      BA has been using very lightweight fabrics for years, and I would assume that if the materials were prematurely failing then they would have gone back to heavier fabrics with higher hydrostatic head ratings. I have a friend who works there now and I’ll have to get BA’s insight on these decisions, but I haven’t had that conversation yet.

      The thickness of the fabric is perhaps less relevant than its HH ratings. Some very lightweight fabrics (specifically, Cuben, at .75 oz/yd2) have absurd HH ratings, like 3500mm+. Or, you could have two fabrics with identical weights/thicknesses but with different HH ratings. For example, MLD uses a 1.5 oz/yd2 sil-nylon that has 4000mm of HH, whereas a more budget-friendly Coleman nylon may have just 1500mm HH.

    • Andrew Skurka February 8, 2018 at 7:34 am #

      In regards to the High Route…

      Its minimum weight is 2 lbs 5 oz, which is 2 oz heavier than the Tiger Wall UL 2.

      Part of the explanation is fabric weight. The High Route uses 20d nylon on the fly and 30d on the floor, whereas BA is using 15d and 20d. The High Route fabrics have higher HH and should be more durable (although I can’t be sure of that without seeing lab testing on their fabrics).

      The other explanation is that the High Route is about as big as the Tiger Wall, and it definitely is more featured. It has 36 square feet of protected space (versus 44 for TW), a 48-inch peak height (vs 39 for the TW), and two vertical walls for maximum interior space (vs sloping walls on TW). In addition, look at all the pitching configuration options for the High Route.

      At SD we could have made the decision to make the High Route smaller or to call it a 2-person tent (if we’d included a 2-person inner with it) but ultimately decided that in the conditions for which it’s designed that a tent of its size is much better, and that most people would just a 2-person BA tent anyway.

  3. allen February 24, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

    It would be nice if you could indicate how well the tents accommodate persons of heights above 6 foot. The Shire is not the whole world.

    • Andrew Skurka February 24, 2018 at 11:40 pm #

      I’m 6-foot, so this is not lost on me, even if I don’t address it specifically. Just look at the specs: with just 28 square feet a 39-inch max peak height, this is not 2-person shelter for big and tall guys. It might work as a solo shelter, but it still hangs low.

      In general, BA is not known for generously sized shelters. They combine very light fabrics with minimum dimensions to win the spec war, and that seems to work well for them. Unfortunately, a lot brands do this, and it’s actually hard to find a XL shelter that’s otherwise still premium. It’s like they assume that if you’re willing to carry extra weight for extra space that you don’t care much about weight, so they penalize you by making their larger shelters out of cheaper/heavier materials.

  4. John Hogan March 17, 2018 at 6:42 am #

    Thanks for this preview. I’m really impressed with this one. I’ve got a silly number of tents, the latest being a heavier material, more durable fly creek knock off. I like the rain and snow shedding steepness but concluded that the same basic structure can have two doors with minimal added weight. Enter this new one! I think it’s the one that makes me try ultra light, but only the ul3… That’s light enough to easily carry solo while being sensible for two people. I’m impressed. The fly creek knock off pitches pretty tight with just four pegs. This new design looks like it needs six but will be heaps tighter with better solidity from all directions of wind. I’ve found the copy version surprisingly good and I used it in some variable weather in Tasmania but I wouldn’t trust those IP thieves to build a trustworthy ul tent. I wouldn’t have flown in the Russian space shuttle for the same reason lol. Cheers John

  5. Kevin Guzda March 25, 2018 at 9:27 am #

    Hey Andrew, just was wondering if you’d take a few moments to guide me in my tent selection. A little background, I’m a casual weekend backpacker hoping to get in about 6-8 trips 1-3 nights in length from late Spring to Late fall. I’m 45 years old and starting to lighten my load and get weight conscious but not obsessively so. I bought a couple of Gregory Optic 58 and Paragon 68 packs, switched to a quilt, dyneema stuff sacks etc…..I have a 2P tent that I’m happy with in the Nemo Dagger 2P, it’s 3lbs, 7 ounces trail weight and provides good space for trips with my daughter or wife. I think I’d like to get a solo tent for when it’s just me in the tent on trips by myself or with buddies or maybe I have just been led to believe I need a lighter tent than the Dagger. Anyways, I don’t hike with trekking poles and I’m 6’3 215 lbs. I hike in the Northeast up in the Whites and Daks and want something as freestanding as possible for use on tent platforms and pitching on rock face. I’ve narrowed my options to a BA Copper Spur HV UL1, Tiger Wall 2, Nemo Hornet 2, staying with the Dagger or a Tarptent Rainbow. I’m leaning towards the CS HV UL1 tent by Big Agnes. 90% of the reviews rave about its roominess for someone my size in a 2lb one man tent but then there are a few reviews on the other end of the spectrum.. Please help, haha

    • Andrew Skurka March 25, 2018 at 9:46 am #

      Have you read this series yet? https://andrewskurka.com/2016/buyers-guide-my-go-to-backpacking-tent-tarp-hammock-bivy-systems/

      If you primarily backpack in the Northeast, without hesitation I will recommend that you look at a hammock. I do not sleep on the ground back there.

      • Kevin Guzda March 25, 2018 at 11:41 am #

        Thanks for responding, I should have qualified my question with the fact that I don’t like hammocks and was looking for tent options, I left out the most important detail, sorry about that. Honestly, Where I backpack Inever have an issue with finding a tentsite even when stealth camping.

        • Andrew Skurka March 26, 2018 at 9:20 am #

          Of the shelters you mentioned, I have very little experience with them. I have a Tiger Wall 3 in my office right now that’s going on a trip next month. The proposition that it’s a 3-person shelter is laughable, even for medium-sized people (I’m 6′ and 160 lbs, and my wife is smaller than that). The 3P is good for a couple, the 2P is probably good for a soloist.

          Without spending an exorbitant amount of money, the BA shelters generally win the spec wars. So if you went with a larger solo BA shelters, that’s probably about right for you — it’ll be about the lightest for what it is.

          I don’t like the “fin” geometry of the Hornet. For very little weight savings, it sacrifices a lot of head/shoulder volume.

          • Kevin Guzda March 26, 2018 at 3:20 pm #

            Thanks Andrew, I think I have narrowed it down to an REI Quarter Dome 1 ( the newer model) or the Copper Spur HV Ul1. I agree with you on the Nemo Hornet so have ruled that out..

  6. Dan March 28, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    I will have to check out this tiger wall tent! Would you recommend Tiger Wall UL2 over Copper Spur HV UL2? Because of weight saving?

    • Andrew Skurka March 28, 2018 at 4:54 pm #

      The Tiger Wall is quite a bit lighter, 9 to 12 oz for the 2- and 3-person models, respectively. But don’t buy something just because it’s lighter.

      The Copper Spur is completely free-standing, whereas the Tiger Wall’s rear corners must be staked out in order to tension the floor (the apex pole anchors into the center of the foot edge). I believe the Copper Spur is a bit roomier, too, due to another inch of ceiling height and, more importantly, steeper head and foot walls.

  7. stoli April 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm #

    I just got this past weekend for two people camping. I never owned the tent before so I have nothing to compare to (aka not gonna worry about pros / cons) and figured this is better deal than other light tents in terms of money / weight. At first, I worried that fabric would be thinner than other tents but this article convinced me that this tent’s denier is no different from most of other light tents. Very happy with purchase so far

    • Andrew Skurka April 4, 2018 at 12:39 pm #

      Clarification: The fabric used on the Tiger Wall is no different than other fabrics it has used and is using on other shelters. BA does not disclose much about their fabrics (e.g. denier, hydrostatic head ratings), so it’s hard to make comparisons with other brands.

  8. Adam W April 3, 2018 at 11:41 pm #

    Looking at the TW UL3 vs the Double Rainbow as a 2 person option. Can you add the inner after setting up in Fast Fly mode in order to keep the inside dry when setting up in the rain? I realize in order to do this, I must purchase footprint. I’m trying to decide if weight penalty (and cost) of adding the footprint to the Big Agnes is worth the extra roominess it gives over the tarptent (using two wide pads).

    • Andrew Skurka April 4, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

      I’m fairly certain that you can pitch most of the inner AFTER you have pitched the fly/footprint, but there are a few qualifiers:

      1. The corner tie-outs of the footprint and inner will be twisted, unless you re-order the stack arrangement as you are clipping in each corner of the inner.

      2. Be careful when clipping the inner to the walls. The clips don’t have sharp edges, but I don’t think you want any extra abrasion against the interior of the fly — it’s pretty thin.

      3. I can’t recall how the inner and fly clip to the horizontal pole. If the connection point is shared, you might need to re-order the arrangement when you clip in the inner, similar to what had to be done with the corners.

  9. Joshua R April 29, 2018 at 4:08 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    First, thanks for all of the great advice you present here and for taking the time to write and then updating the Gear Guide.

    Have you used or has anyone on your guided trips used the ZPacks Duplex or Triplex? If yes, given the following, would you chose the ZPacks Triplex or the BA Tiger Wall UL 3?

    I have 2 boys (5 & 6.5) who are now old enough to begin some easy trips, but I carry the weight. They carry their sleeping bags, pads and a I’m looking at the Tiger UL 3 and ZPacks Triplex. From a space, peak height, weight and not needing single purpose tent poles since I use trekking poles anyway, I’m leaning towards the ZPacks.

    The potential downsides that I see with the ZPacks Triplex are: 1) the slightly higher skill set required to pitch, which I have and am used to,but the boys aren’t quite ready for yet 2) the actual head room for me when laying down; and 3) durability since it’ll be used with 2 little (read crazy) boys.

    The Tiger Wall UL3 although having a lower peak height, appears to have more perceived headroom in the tent when laying down.

    Thanks for any advice and for the common sense approach to getting out there.

    • Andrew Skurka April 30, 2018 at 5:50 pm #

      Yes, I’ve had a lot of ZPacks shelters on my trips.

      The Triplex and Tiger Wall UL3 are quite different. I would recommend both for groups of 2 who are willing to carry a few extra ounces for substantially larger space. Yes, technically both of these shelters have enough floor space for three 20-inch pads (Zpacks: 60-inch wide; Tiger Wall: 66 inches wide tapering to 20).

      The Tiger Wall is $250 less, which goes to show how expensive ZPacks and DCF is. Big Agnes is a premium brand that uses expensive coated nylons and has a wholesale markup. But DCF is an amazing fabric, and substantially more waterproof than the nylons that BA uses.

      The Tiger Will has much more interior volume, because its head and foot areas are more vertical. The ZPacks head/foot are barely useable.

      The Tiger Wall is modular: it can be pitched inner-only on dry nights, or with fly+footprint for seasons without bugs. The Triplex is a single-wall.

      Weight difference is big on paper, but when divided over 3 people not so much: 24 oz versus 33 oz, or 8 oz per person vs 11 oz per person.

      • Joshua R April 30, 2018 at 9:52 pm #

        Thanks for the reply. I thought the head and foot areas seemed tight.

        I maybe should have clarified that my boys are little: the 5 yo is 44″ tall & 45 lbs & the 6.5 yo is 47″ & 48 lbs and I’m not large (6′ 155 lbs). We easily sleep on our queen bed (60″ wide) and so the 3 person seems like a good fit since I carry 100% of the weight for the tent, food and all necessities.

        If they carry their bags, pads (short ones) and some of their clothes they’re already at 10-20% of body weight once you add in the 1L of water. Since I don’t like to go above 20-25% body weight I can’t imagine the little ones wanting to either.

        Thanks again!

  10. Larry B May 7, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

    The article says “Unlike the Fly Creek, the Tiger Wall has a horizontal pole across the apex pole.” It should be corrected to specify this is only in the case of the Fly Creek UL2 since the UL3 does have the cross pole.

    • Andrew Skurka May 8, 2018 at 8:33 am #

      Good catch, will get that fixed.

  11. Kurt May 9, 2018 at 11:01 pm #

    Hi Andrew, you mentioned in a comment you took the Tiger Wall UL3 on a trip with your wife. How did that work out? Any further Tiger Wall review notes after using it?

    I’m also looking at getting the TW UL3 for backpacking trips with my wife.

    (I just picked up your 2nd edition gearguide. Love it, thanks for everything!)

    • Andrew Skurka May 10, 2018 at 9:01 am #

      I’m working on a review, but I’ll try to share the highlights:

      1. The 3-person is comfortable for two, but I can’t imagine it for three.
      2. To get it so light, compromises were made. Very thin fabrics; door zipper on the fly could be 12 inches longer; corner and vestibule tie-outs have no adjustability (solve by attaching guylines); #3 zippers on fly the inner, not more durable #5.
      3. Double doors are more convenient and allow for greater ventilation than a single door.

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