Gear Review Big Agnes Bitter Springs UL2

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
This is more of an ongoing review that's developing as time goes on. I'll clean it all up and make an "official" review once I've got some more experience with it.

In summer OR 2014, Big Agnes announced a new tent series: the bitter springs. It utilizes a hoop and trekking poles. Catch it at 1:41.


The 1 man comes in at a featherweight 1 lb 13 oz, and the 2 man at 2 lbs 5 oz (not including stake weight)

The moment I saw this tent I was excited to try it out. I liked the concept of the scout UL2, but I didn't feel like it quite met my needs as a tent. I'm excited to see if this tent will make its way to my #1 spot. These should be available from your favorite Big Agnes Retailler this spring.
 
Last edited:

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
Here's what it looks like in the backyard. This is my first time pitching it, so it'll look better as time goes on. With the afternoon wind, it wasn't as structurally sound as I'd like, which I blame on my poor job pitching this tent.

IMG_8505.JPG


IMG_8507.JPG


Look at the size of that vestibule, it's HUGE! It's almost as big as the tent area itself.


It's a windy day, so I got a little feel of what it'll be like in wind. Stability definitely depends on your staking abilities.

IMG_8508.JPG


Speaking of stakes, the tent requires 5 stakes and the fly takes a whopping 13 stakes. That's 18 stakes, which definitely add to the weight and time required to set the tent up. I'll see if I can find a way to pitch multiple loops with a single stake. All 18 stakes won't be necessary for a wind-free night.

IMG_8509.JPG


It's a single head-entry tent. Nice bathtub floor that comes up. I like the way the trekking poles mount. It reminds me a lot of the scout, but with the ability to remove the rain fly if needed.

IMG_8506.JPG


I don't think it's possible to pitch the tent in storm mode only, where you just pitch it with the rain fly. I think the hoop is required for its structure, and I don't see how the hoop could attach to just the rain fly. Stay tuned as I experiment with this.
 
Last edited:

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,650
If camping above tree line, it seems inevitable there will be some wind at some point, morning or evening, in most places, especially in high alpine environments. So, depending on the trip, I could see where the need to take along 18 stakes could be a turn off. I usually frown at anything that takes more than 6-8 stakes. I'll be interested in seeing how you do coming up with a more efficient way to make it stable in the wind. Other than that, it looks great! Weight is impressive too.
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
I've never seen a tent this big that weighed so little. I don't do much camping above the treeline, so I'm not going to be the best guy to test that. I may copy the way tarptent does their guylines so I can cut the stake count by 4 or 5 at least.

I really like the Sorex carbon stakes that ruta locura sells. They're 6g each, so 15 stakes come in at 3.2 oz. 10 stakes come in at 2.1 oz.

http://www.rutalocura.com/Tent_Stakes.html
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
I spent the night in this tent last night. It got down to 21*. It's an extremely warm tent, and the dual-wall was 100x better than the old scout 2. As is common when sleeping below freezing, there was quite a bit of condensation on the inner wall of the rain fly, but it never got on me due to the dual-wall design. A huge improvement over the scout.

The material that big agnes uses doesn't stay taught over time. After being pitched for a few hours, it became necessary to re-tension and in some cases, re-stake the corners to keep them taught. I remember this being an issue with the scout as well.
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
Things I like:

- Extremely lightweight for a double-wall 2 man tent
- Pole is super light and very effective
- HUGE vestibule
- good use of trekking poles
- great ventilation while still offering storm protection
- awesome hooks that attach the hoop to the tent


Things I don't like:

- the need for 15 states to set it up
- setup can be tricky since the rain fly only attaches to the tent in 2 spots
- the roll-down entry door is a pain because you end up stepping on it all the time. I'd much prefer a door that stowed away above the entry
- the toggles for rolling up the vestibule door are a pain. Fortunately you can just flip the door over the roofline
- storm flaps get caught in the zippers, they aren't stiff enough
- the velcro on the storm flaps should be reversed. The "hook" side is on the door that rolls up. In wind, this can blow and come in contact with the mesh door. once these come in contact, the hook side of the velcro sticks to the mesh and chews it up when you pull it off.


I think if they could find a way to make the fly attach to the loops of the main tent, they'd have a winner for sure. All we need are some buckles or stretchy elastic between the two (like the tarptent stratospire). It'd also be cool if the fly could be pitched without the inner net, but I'm not sure how many people would actually use it that way. If the fly could be pitched first, like a hiilleberg, then you pitch the inner tent beneath it, it'd keep you a lot drier in a storm.
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,939
How is getting in and out of it? I'm not really a fan of front loaders, and it seems like this one could actually be even worse since you have to get out the front and then out the side. Or is it about as easy as it would be with a regular slanted fly over a front loader?
 

steve

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2013
Messages
2,140
Keep in mind that I'm a midget, but I think it's a lot easier than a traditional front loader with a slanty fly. On tradtional front loaders with a slanty fly, I have to do a dance to avoid the rain fly, then avoid the tent.

WIth this one, they're two separate actions, which is nice. You climb into the vestibule area (which is almost as big as the tent), then you climb into the tent from there. The vestibule is what makes the front-entry not very cumbersone.

Keep in mind this is an ultralight tent, so you're going to sacrifice some comfort that you'd find in a heavier tent. Zippers are heavy, as are designs that allow a side entry. It's much more elegant than a tarp, but not as featureful as a 3-5lb tent.

Is it as nice as my dual side-entry tarptent? No. It's not as convenient, but it is a tiny bit lighter. Plus tarptent isn't available from major retailers, so most entry level backpackers are never going to see a tarptent in their first 5 years of backpacking, and will be timid buying from a small company with a less forgiving return policy than REI.

When compared to cottage gear, I prefer the tarptent, SMD, and HMG offerings. When compared to other commercially available tents found at REI or a similar retailer, it's one of my favorite ultralight tents for the weight. The hoop keeps the sides of the tent off of you, so you stay dry. I think the $400 price tag might be a little steep, but it's pretty dang light.

This is all archair cowboy talking here, although I spent a night in it in my backyard, I need more time with it in the woods. I don't foresee it becoming my #1 tent, due to the many stakes and tricky pitching, but it's a very solid tent for the weight. It's leaps and bounds better than their scout line.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Jackson Big Agnes Tent Durability Gear 11
Bob Big Agnes coupon Gear 1
B Upgrading Big Agnes tent question Gear 10
kimbur96 Tarptent Double Rainbow or Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2? Gear 2
SKLund Big Agnes Bag Gear 6
John Goering Big Agnes Cooper Spur UL3 Gear 1
Dustin Gent Big Agnes Shield 2 tent - 1st impression Gear 15
katuah Big Agnes demo tent sale Gear 9
E FS: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 with footprint Gear 0
Mike K Big Agnes vs...a Tarptent? Gear 29
steve Gear Review Big Agnes Scout UL2 Plus Gear Reviews 16
Dave Big Agnes Grouse Mountain Gear 1
Tyler Gear Review Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 backpacking tent Gear Reviews 1
Deadeye008 Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 40% OFF Gear 0
Deadeye008 Gear Review Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad - Long/Wide Gear Reviews 4
Deadeye008 Gear Review Big Agnes Sand Mountain Insulated Pad - Mummy - Long Gear Reviews 0
T How big are the Mirror Lake campgrounds in the Porkies? Trip Planning 6
scatman Big Willow Canyon - June 11, 2022 Hiking & Camping 33
BJett Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area Packraft/Backpack Loop (TN) Backpacking 6
Rockskipper Big Day - Please participate, esp. Scatman! General Discussion 9
LarryBoy SLC: Terrace Hills Drive to Big Mountain Peak Trip Planning 16
CodyL Winds- Big water slide Trip Planning 3
Outdoor_Fool A week in the Big Belly Backpacking 17
WasatchWill WRHR: Day 1 - Big Sandy to Cirque of the Towers Backpacking 19
regehr Lower Horseshoe Canyon and Big Spring Trip Planning 7
wsp_scott Honey Creek (Big South Fork) Backpacking 9
J Death Valley Natl. Pk: Funeral Pk, Slit Canyon, and Big Dune. Dec 21-22, 2020 Hiking & Camping 1
wsp_scott Big South Fork Views Backpacking 14
Gunnahafta Green River <> Big Sandy WIND RIVER RANGE Trip Planning 1
norwegianxplorer Big SEKI loop, Sequoia Kings Canyon Backpacking 1
J Pahranagat Country: Big, open, room to roam Nov.9-10, 2019 Hiking & Camping 0
Tim Valentine Big Pine Creek Eastern Sierra Backpacking 10
NorthwestWanderer My Yearly big timelapse video 2019 General Discussion 10
pstm13 A Family Trip in the Winds: Big Sandy and the Cirque Backpacking 11
misSOULa Montana's Bitterroot Mountains: Big Creek Lakes and Ranger Point Backpacking 2
stevecochranephotography Desert Winter Run Off - Big Dominguez Canyon Hiking & Camping 2
NorthwestWanderer Big Four Ice Caves Hiking & Camping 1
toddrparr Easy family backpacking in Big Thicket Preserve, Texas Trip Planning 0
Scott Chandler Starting Out 2019 in Big Sur Hiking & Camping 10
Born to Hike Windriver 36 mile loop: Skull Lake, Washakie Pass, South Fork Lakes, Lizard Head Trail, The Cirque, Big Sandy Lake Backpacking 6
Mike Jones Big Sur or Zion Next Week? Trip Planning 20
Perry Posting Panoramas - File Too Big Questions, Suggestions & Support 4
Tim Valentine Biking Big Sur Everything Else 6
wsp_scott Packrafting the Big South Fork (KY) On The Water 7
Seamus NYC weekend tripper, occasional big treks! Noobs: Introduce yourself! 2
Perry Gregory Zulu 30 - Too Big for a Day Pack? Gear 6
S White Cloud route, Big Boulder Lakes to Boulder Chain Lakes Trip Planning 3
Eugene Paria Canyon from White House to Big Spring Backpacking 3
hamtron5000 Big Dominguez Canyon Overnight Backpacking 0
SKLund Dromedary, Platypus, or Big Soda Bottle? Gear 27

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top