The new Tiger Wall tent from Big Agnes blends two of their best backpacking designs—the popular Copper Spur and Fly Creek—into one intriguing ultralight package. We took the UL2 model backpacking in Utah’s Canyon Country and found the mixture worked: the two door and vestibule layout and hubbed pole system offer decent livability, while the tapered foot end and semi-freestanding build keep weight to an absolute minimum. The tent still is tight inside for two backpackers, but it’s one of the least compromised designs on the market for its weight. Below we break down the Tiger Wall’s interior space, weight and packed size, durability, storage, and more. To see how the Tiger Wall UL2 stacks up, see our article on the best backpacking tents.
Ultralight tents almost always sacrifice interior space, but we think Big Agnes did a good job maximizing the small footprint of the Tiger Wall UL2. Taking cues from the Copper Spur, the head end is nearly vertical and opens nicely with the hubbed pole system. Further, the side walls are stretched by a center ridge pole. This makes it easier for two people to sit upright when compared with an option like the Nemo Hornet that doesn’t have the extra pole across the middle. The tent does taper aggressively downward at the foot end, but Big Agnes squared off the bottom corners to create a box-like area around the feet. All told, the Tiger Wall UL2 is very spacious for one and certainly is workable for two backpackers who prioritize weight above all-out comfort.
Where the Tiger Wall falls short of a tent like the Big Agnes Copper Spur is in its semi-freestanding design, which means you must stake out the foot end of the tent to give it a solid structure. This wasn’t an issue for us on dirt, but was one night in Canyonlands when we set up camp directly on rock. In this situation, the non-freestanding end of the tent was particularly difficult to get taut, which made the foot end of the interior cramped. This won’t be an issue for many backpackers, but if you occasionally have to camp on rock or at other challenging sites, it may be worth choosing a freestanding design like the Copper Spur or Nemo Dagger.
Among two door and vestibule builds, the Tiger Wall is one of the lightest on the market. With a minimum weight of 2 pounds 3 ounces, it easily undercuts popular options like Nemo’s Dagger (3 pounds 5 ounces) and MSR’s Hubba Hubba NX (3 pounds 7 ounces). Further, it’s 8 ounces lighter than the Big Agnes Copper Spur, although all three of the aforementioned tents are freestanding. You can go lighter with the Nemo Hornet (2 pounds even) or the crazy light Hornet Elite (1 pound 12 ounces), but those tents are significantly more cramped inside. All told, the Tiger Wall lands in a desirable spot in the market: it’s light enough to please almost all ounce counters but with enough space and features to not feel overly compromised.
The Tiger Wall’s packability is equally impressive as its weight. The thin nylon, mesh, and superlight DAC poles with a minimalist hub all compress into the included 5.5 x 18 inches stuff sack. We had no issues finding a space to store the tent in a range of 60, 58, and even 38-liter packs. Moreover, the stuff sack has enough extra space inside to accommodate a poor packing job if you have to break camp quickly in the morning (nothing is worse than stuff stacks that leave no room for error).
For a tent weighing just over 2 pounds, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you sacrifice on durability. The tent has a 15-denier floor and rainfly, which is extremely thin and should be treated with care—and used with a footprint on most occasions—to extend its lifespan. Big Agnes did increase tear resistance by adding a silicone treatment to the solid fabric, but you can’t get around the fact that all materials are so thin they’re see-through. If you’re used to ultralight gear, this won’t be a deterrent (and Big Agnes does have a knack for making their gear last, plus the DAC poles are a proven design). But casual backpackers and those that are hard on their gear may want to steer clear of such an ultralight build.
The Tiger Wall doesn’t have the rigid structure of a freestanding model, but it’s been designed to handle most 3-season conditions well. The rainfly offers complete coverage, and we like that Big Agnes attached pre-cut guylines on all sides of the tent (you will need to pack extra stakes to use them). But the semi-freestanding build does have an impact on wind and rain protection. The single pole that runs from the middle of the tent to the bottom of the foot end makes the structure less sturdy and more prone to being pushed around by a strong gust from the side. Further, you’ll need to set it up very well with all the guylines to keep it from sagging in the rain. With practice and by fully guying it out, however, the Tiger Wall should offer plenty of protection for most backpackers and thru-hikers.
We haven't had to fully test the ventilation capabilities of the Tiger Wall just yet (our Utah trip was cooler than normal), but we don’t expect it to be a standout. The tent body has a generous amount of mesh and there’s good spacing in the double-wall construction, but the rainfly does lack built-in vents. This means that you’ll need to strategically stake out the fly to maximize airflow, and on warm days that aren’t rainy, it’s a good idea to unzip the top or bottom portion of the vestibule doors to release muggy air. Given the option, we would have preferred Big Agnes included a large roof vent like you get with the Copper Spur, although this does add some weight.
One of our main complaints with the Big Agnes Fly Creek is its single door, which limits storage space for two backpackers and isn’t convenient for getting in and out. The Tiger Wall addresses this with two doors and vestibules that provide 16 square feet total, enough room to store a pack and other small items without inhibiting access to the interior. Stacked up to the competition, this is a good amount of usable space: it’s double the vestibule area of the Fly Creek and surpasses the two-vestibule design of the Nemo Hornet by 3.6 square feet. Heavier and more feature-rich tents do offer quite a bit more space—the Nemo Dagger has a whopping 22.8 square feet—but we think most lightweight backpackers will be happy with the vestibule layout of the Tiger Wall. On the inside, storage is good considering the minimalist ethos: you get one large pocket along the ceiling and two small pockets that can be accessed while lying down.
Set up and Take Down
Almost all modern pole-supported backpacking tents are fairly easy to set up, and the Tiger Wall is no exception. The poles are color-coded with corresponding webbing and grommets on the tent body, making it easy to align the poles and rainfly in the correct direction, and the single hubbed system is a cinch to snap into place. As touched on above, the only real difficulty comes when setting up the tent on a surface like rock where you can’t stake out the foot end. Otherwise, the Tiger Wall goes up easily and is equally simple to tear down and stuff away into the generously sized storage bag.
What We Like
- Successful mix of the Copper Spur and Fly Creek designs. The Tiger Wall is very lightweight, decently livable, and has a convenient two door and vestibule layout.
- The center ridge pole makes the tent more livable inside than a competitor like the Nemo Hornet.
- Made with high quality materials throughout: the silicone-treated nylon increases durability, and the seam taping and DAC poles are top notch.
What We Don’t
- Pretty snug on the interior for two people. If you prioritize interior space, it may be worth upgrading to the 3P version or the Copper Spur.
- Semi-freestanding build is difficult to set up on rock and isn’t as weather worthy as a freestanding design.
- As with all ultralight gear, the materials are thin and require extra care for long-term durability.
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2||$400||2 lbs. 3 oz.||15D||28 sq. ft.||39 in.||2||2P, 3P|
|Nemo Hornet 2P||$370||2 lbs. 0 oz.||15D||28 sq. ft.||40 in.||2||1P, 2P|
|MSR Hubba Hubba NX||$400||3 lbs. 7 oz.||30D||29 sq. ft.||39 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
|Nemo Dagger 2P||$400||3 lbs. 5 oz.||30D||31 sq. ft.||42 in.||2||2P, 3P|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||$450||2 lbs. 12 oz.||20D||29 sq. ft.||40 in.||2||1P, 2P, 3P, 4P|
We prefer the Tiger Wall’s layout to Big Agnes’ Fly Creek, but it’s certainly not the only two door and vestibule design on the market. Among ultralight options, the Tiger Wall’s closest competition comes from the Nemo Hornet. The Hornet has the edge in price at $370 vs. $400, weighs a few ounces less, and has proven to be surprisingly durable despite the thin construction. But we think the new Tiger Wall is the better overall tent: the ridge pole across the middle greatly increases interior space, it has larger vestibules, and the rainfly provides full coverage (the Hornet’s rainfly doesn’t completely cover the tent body at the head end). Both options will be popular among the solo backpacking crowd, but the Tiger Wall gets the edge for those that need to fit a second person on occasion.
Two of our top-rated backpacking tents over the past few years are the Nemo Dagger and MSR Hubba Hubba NX. Both hit that just-right mix of durability, interior space, and weight that has major appeal for a wide range of backpacking trips. Where the Tiger Wall has the clear edge over these designs is in weight, undercutting the Dagger by 1 pound 1 ounce and the Hubba Hubba by 1 pound 3 ounces. But it can’t compete in terms of interior space, ventilation, or overall toughness. Ultralighters likely will prefer the Tiger Wall, but for most backpackers, we give the nod to the more balanced Nemo and MSR tents.
A final alternative to the Tiger Wall is Big Agnes’ own Copper Spur. This tent is one of our favorites by combining true livability at a feathery 2 pounds 12 ounces. The Tiger Wall has the advantage in weight by 8 ounces, but if you’ll consistently need the two-person capacity, the Copper Spur is what we’d recommend. The high-volume hub design and center pole open the interior with near vertical walls, and the freestanding build makes it easy to get a taut set-up just about anywhere (for more information, see our in-depth Copper Spur review). Both tents require care with the ultralight fabrics, but unless you are a true ounce counter, we think the Copper Spur is the better all-around tent.
Editor’s note: We usually provide a live price comparison table below our outdoor gear reviews, but the Tiger Wall is currently sold exclusively by REI. You can see the Tiger Wall UL2 page here and support us in the process. Thanks!