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:
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.
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.
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.
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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