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Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials...

Tue 06 Sep, 2016 5:11 pm

Hi bushwalkers :)

Warning - If you read on then you will subjected to a lot of rambling :mrgreen:

I got myself into a bit of a dither recently because my dog chewed my much loved Eureka 2p 2kg tent. While tossing up a repair (different thread) I just started googling tents which precipitated a three day tent googling Marathon. I think this has mainly been spurred on by the labour day 20% off sale at the campsaver outlet in the US. I started off looking for bargains then worked my way up into a full feature by feature, measurement by measurement comparison of the following tents.

Big Agnes copper spur ul2
Big Agnes rattlesnake sl2
Big Agnes blacktail 2
Kelty tn2, and tn3 (tn3 because the tn2 is a bit too short and the upgrade adds no real extra pack size and minimal weight)

Quite certain I have looked at specs and youtubes of almost every 2 person tent on the market (gee there are some characters out there!) Through the process I've distilled my list of must-haves and don't-cares. I know that my main priorities are weather protection performance, livability, and hopefully under 2kg (but 2.5 isn't a deal breaker for the right spacious tent) in that order. It must be freestanding and long (because I'm tall) and have plenty of storage space in vestibules and have 2 doors. Durability is also really important because we want it to last and also I don't want to end up in a puddle in a gust of wind in the middle of the night. (Instructions from my better half are 'buy it once, buy it right'... I'm glad my nagging on that matter has sunk in finally). Features are nice too - I like pockets and some gimmicky things that are fun like stargazing (hence the Kelty) and as eye-rolling as it is I secretly think I like the mountain Glo fairy lights. Budget is, of course a significantly weighted factor in all this. The tent will be used in all seasons all over Australia except for when a 4 season is required - we would then rent a 4 season accordingly. The ability to pitch outer first (as with the BA tents when a footprint or webbing is used) is favourable. Shorter packaged weight would be a bonus to fit in my motorcycle panniers or top box (the Kelty is perfect) but we have another tent that is suitable for that (Denali 3).

So the sale ends today and I haven't decided - and my main sticking point that I am lost in is durability. They all have DAC poles (the copper spur is featherlite), which is good apparently, unkike some other cheaper brands I came across in the marathon where reviews complainined of breakages under good weather conditions).
I've tried to inform myself about the different properties of polyester and nylon, coatings, HH etc but I don't know what these mean for long term durability. I've read some threads on here to find out, and got thoroughly distracted... (Did you finish your MYOG tent yet danshell?), and searched the web.
It doesn't help that I can't find the denier weights of the big Agnes fabrics - rattlesnake and copper spur are listed as 'silicone treated nylon rip-stop with 1200 MM waterproof polyurethane coating', with the blacktail being different - no mention of silicone and has 1500mm.
The Kelty ones are floor: 70d nylon, 3000mm, and fly: 40d sil nylon,m1800mm.
So durability and performance in rain and wind with these fabrics ... Does the community have any thoughts on this?

Then ... what did I come across... This.. A preview of changes to Big Agnes' lineup for 2017. ... cription-3

I'm hoping that this will see even better savings on current copper spur models, I wonder when they will release their 2017 models - perhaps before cyber Monday would be good! Now I'm thinking of not spending a stupid amount of money today that I don't have, which is a good thing, right? But I want to be prepared in my tent material specs when sale time comes around again.

Here's a question for owners of the above big Agnes models - how easy is it to roll back the fly for star gazing? While the Kelty is great as it has task specific clips and the ability to drop the fly back down when the rain starts from inside the tent - I don't see these luxuries as essential.

Ok so I promised a ramble and you got it - I hope it was worth it for the link to the Big Agnes 2017 line up.

Thank you for reading :) I hope everyone is enjoying Spring bush walking (and fall hiking for our northern friends)

Dag 1

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 07 Sep, 2016 7:40 am

The Copper Spur UL2 fly is 20D.
The Rattlesnake fly is 40D.
There is no direct strength comparison because the Copper Spur is silicone coated on the outside and PU coated on the inside, the Rattlesnake has no silicone coating.
Silicone adds tear strength, PU reduces tear strength.

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 07 Sep, 2016 8:54 am

Franco, thank you so much - that's very very helpful. I saw you in youtubes too - :) - when I was looking at the scarp2. Am I correct in understanding that tarptent does not make a free standing tent?

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 07 Sep, 2016 3:58 pm

Yes, right now we don't have fully freestanding tents.
The Scarp 1 and 2 stand up by themselves with the external poles but of course I would not dream of using them without pegging them down
I have never used a tent not pegged down anyway...

In the past I used to be amused at having non freestanding tents that work well with 4 -6 pegs and "freestanding" ones that need 10 or 12 but apparently that is only ironical to me...

Mind you, at TT we are not allergic to the freestanding idea, it isn't a priority for us but we do have a few designs that at some point may come out.
Freestanding means more poles so either less usable space or more weight.
A way around is using lighter fabrics and some manufacturers are down to 7 denier but Henry is not comfortable in going below the 30D we are using now.
Still, that can change too.

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 07 Sep, 2016 8:28 pm

Not a real Big Agnes but I have just ordered a Flycreek 3 clone. I'll post a review once I've given it a night out.

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Mon 09 Jul, 2018 10:46 pm

Fwiw - sorry for necroing this old thread almost 2 years on... but in case its of interest to future readers of this post -

After all that research I ended up purchasing the big Agnes sl2 rattlesnake. Great tent. Sturdy, cosy inside for 2 (with tapered mats - note that the tent has ample head/shoulder space but tapers at the feet) but good vestibules for gear.

Got the footprint too which makes this tent much more versatile... so can do a lightweight footprint and fly setup which creates quite a lot of space, or can do a dry setup in the rain, popping the fly up first then attaching the inner tent. And as it turns out I do love the mountain glo fairy lights. I'm happy with the SL vs UL trade off with the SL being a bit more robust... and I'm happy with the double door, double vestibule design which makes a small tent feel a bit more spacious and two-user friendly.

This guy does a good review on the tent's qualities, which I agree with, although I haven't tested it in snow... yet-

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Tue 10 Jul, 2018 8:47 am

I spotted my own comment :
Mind you, at TT we are not allergic to the freestanding idea, it isn't a priority for us but we do have a few designs that at some point may come out.
Not long after that we launched the Bowfin 1 and 2.
They still need at least the door panels pegs to get the right shape but the market calls those freestanding so we go along with that.

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 11 Jul, 2018 5:29 pm

I am a happy BA rattlesnake user too. I have the SL1 which is quite a palace for one- ample width for my giant sleep mat and good amount of head room when sitting up. If just using the footprint and fly can easily squeeze a second person under my 'tarp'.

There are lighter tents out there and I have owned a good many of them at some time or other :) but I really like the BA, so it is a 'stayer' in my tent stable.

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 11 Jul, 2018 5:58 pm

I'd like to see that stable-how do you get the horses in the tents?

Re: Big Agnes backpacking tents - comparisons ... materials.

Wed 11 Jul, 2018 6:42 pm

My camping gear is all stored in my shed, which was formerly my tack and feed shed- although if anyone could find a way to put a horse in a tent it would be me!

I did actually own a 34 inch tall pony at one point, he would have fit in some of my 2p tents.... Actually, no, I am a recently reformed horse-addict, so I shouldn't even jest- it might cause me to relapse ;)
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