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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, the Tiger Wall has 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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4 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.

  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.

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