MSR Carbon Reflex 2 & the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

A few months back, I picked up the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent (see video of it next to my ZPacks Hexamid Tent HERE). I actually replaced my Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo with the Copper Spur to use as my 2 person tent. Why would I do this, you may ask? Well, here are (my) 3 reasons:

  1. Free standing.
  2. Double wall.
  3. A staked down floor.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Lunar Duo, more specifically the amount of interior room it has (it is a palace, even for 2), and of course the lighter overall weight. However, if I had to pick one thing that I just didn’t like about the Lunar Duo, it is the floating floor. If we weren’t on a totally flat surface, we knew it because the floor would slowly slide. I put some silnylon on the bottom of the floor, which did cling to the tyvek ground sheet and helped a bit though.

So, I decided to look for another 2 person tent. And to be honest, I missed the “free-standing” aspect of our previous 2 person tent (the Kelty Grand Mesa 2), so I decided to look at more mainstream tents. I really focused on Big Agnes, but still considered other options, such as MSR, Marmot and even REI branded tents, among others.

Two tents that I narrowed it down to was the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and the MSR Carbon Reflex 2. In my opinion, both tents are very similar, but there are still a few minor details that set the two apart.

Check out this video to see some of the differences, as well as the similarities:

Without going into a lot of detail here (since I did a bit of that in the video) I will recap some of my personal opinions of the two tents:

  • Cost: The Carbon Reflex costs $100 more, however, both tents can often be found for less than MSRP. My buddy got his Carbon Reflex 2 off of Steep & Cheap for only $250!
  • Weight: The Carbon Reflex’s “trail weight” is listed (according to REI’s specs) as being 1 oz lighter than the Copper Spur UL2. In my opinion, this was not really a deciding factor being that they were so close, and that 1 oz can be evened out easily by the stakes one carries.
  • Set-up: Both tents are simple to set up, even with one person. Stake out the floor. Insert the poles into the appropriate grommets. Clip the tent body to the pole. Done.
  • Living Space: The Copper Spur UL2 has listed specs that would make one think the interior space is larger than the Carbon Reflex. However, the Copper Spur’s side walls really squeeze inward, reducing some of that space, and in my opinion, despite what the listed specs say, I feel like there is more room inside the Carbon Reflex. The side walls on the Carbon Reflex are actually completely vertical, with no squeeze. As well, the head & foot end are pretty close to being vertical too. This really makes the inside feel larger, more open… at least in my opinion.
  • Entry: The Copper Spur has 2 large doors, one on each side, where as the Carbon Reflex has a door on one side, and a zippered slit on the other; which could be used as a door way if need be, but I would not call it that. This is merely a way to access the vestibule on that side of the tent when the rain fly is pitched over the body. As well, the fly only opens on one side as well.

So, why did I go with the Copper Spur over the Carbon Reflex?

At the time, I was able to pick up the Copper Spur for a less expensive price, so while this was not my main reason, this did help influence the decision. What really decided it for me was the fact that the Copper Spur does indeed have 2 full doors, one on each side, and the fly has the same. This means that no one has to crawl over the other person to get in and out. However, I will admit, I wish that the doors opened in a different manner. These open up in a way that the door will fall to the ground when completely unzipped. I wish that they would open and fold to the side instead of this, but this is how they are, so I will live with it. I think it will be ok though…

Also, concerning weight, the Copper Spur is about 10 oz heavier than my Lunar Duo was. However, in actuality, I could split the weight of the Copper Spur up by letting the second person carry the fly and the stakes, while I carried the tent body and the poles. By doing this, my tent weight inside my pack would actually be lighter than when I carried the Lunar Duo since it cannot be split up like this. However, to be honest, being that this tent is used with my wife or son, I just carry the entire tent so that their packs are lighter.

One other thing that I would like to point out that I did not realize until Hiking Shoes brought his Carbon Reflex 2 tent over, is that MSR uses a thicker material for the floor material for the Carbon Reflex than the Copper Spur uses. Quickly looking around, I could not find what denier material is used in the Copper Spur, but MSR list that the floor in the Carbon Reflex is a 40D ripstop nylon. In comparison, the Copper Spurs is thinner.

Either way, it was a tough decision between the 2 tents for me, but in the end, I went with the Copper Spur UL2, and I am happy I did. Although, to be honest, I believe I would have been happy with either. Both companies make quality products, have excellent customer service, and after hands on with both, can say that they are both great tents. But, it just so happened that the doors on the Copper Spur won me out over the Carbon Reflex…

Thanks for stopping by!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: I paid for my Copper Spur with my own, hard-earned money. The Carbon Reflex was my buddies, which he paid for with his own, hard-earned monies. Neither of us are affiliated with either companies, nor required to write about these tents. The opinions in this write-up and in the video are our own, and were formed after personally spending time with the shelters.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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14 Responses to MSR Carbon Reflex 2 & the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

  1. ps can we see some good footage of you on your hikes or trips from this summer. Truly enjoyed seeing your neck of the woods.

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    • Stick says:

      To be honest, I haven’t had many this summer… the last 2 have been postponed for numerous reasons… one of them being this weekend! 😦

      I did get out for a little day hike today at Big Hill Pond State Park. I had my pack already packed all up,so I figured why not… but then the heat got the best of me! Everything went fine, but in 90 degree weather with a high humidity, it is a bit miserable… Anyway, I uploaded some video earlier today from the hike. I will try to get it live sometime soon..

      As well, I am currently preparing for a 6 day hike in the Olympics National park! it can’t come fast enough… I need to write something up on that too…

      In the meantime, I have some packages showing up tomorrow that I should be getting some video up on!

      ~Stick~

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  2. stick you sure go into very good details on your reviews and they sure are helpful to others making decisions. I know it must be a immense undertaking to do all this video and editing and writing as well as photos and lets not forget host tree hugging friends sitting in the shade as well. That in itself is a great undertaking as you are surely dealing with dyed tie dyed t-shirts and sandals and the like. LoL. But thanks for all the hard work and feel free to buy your friend a non coop dinner.. 🙂

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    • Stick says:

      Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them! As for my buddy… he can buy his own meals… trust me, he gets the discounts… 🙂

      ~Stick~

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  3. I have a BA Copper Spur UL1 and I love that tent. It’s big enough for me, my gear and my sister’s dog who I sometimes take in the backcountry with me. I’m a hanger mostly now, but when I need to go to ground, the Big Agnes is my favorite. Great review!

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  4. bob says:

    Dude, Big Sky Mirage 2P is the way to fly. Well made and light enough to work as a solo shelter when you think might need more room to hang out in (like moderate snow camping or whatever).

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Bob,

      Yeah, no doubt the Big Sky Mirage 2P tent is a great tent! However, I have heard of some veeeerrrrryyyyy long waits on Big Sky tents… I will admit though, I have heard that they have made some improvements lately, but for this reason I kind of stayed away from them for now. One day I would like to check them out though.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • bob says:

      Yeah, there can be wait times if stuff is out of stock, but right now (just checked) there’s a lot in stock. I settled on a Mirage 1P this summer but tried a Mirage 2P on one trip as I was trying to make up my mind. I wish I could’ve bought both, awesome, very lightweight shelters.

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    • Stick says:

      Bob,

      Yeah, I understand the wait times. However, in the past, they have a history of the wait times being over a year… But, I have read some threads on BPL in which a few folks have said that they have been able to place orders and actually receive the tents a bit quicker.

      Maybe one day I will pick one up, so long as I keep reading good things about them, and if I can save up the $$… 🙂

      ~Stick~

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  5. Steve M says:

    I recently purchased the Copper spur UL1. I had the same question regarding fabric weight, and wrote to customer service. They responded as follows:
    Fly – 2o D
    Floor – 20 D
    Mesh – 15 D
    Breathable nylon walls – 20 D
    My guess is this is the same spec for the UL2.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Steve,

      Thanks for the feedback. I figured it was all 20D, but wasn’t for sure. Either way, it is still heavier weight than some of the other materials I have been using… 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  6. Scott says:

    Stick,
    I’m a big fan of your blog and it’s been pretty neat to see you evolve from asking basic questions on the Backpacker forum years ago to be pretty much an expert on ultralight gear and techniques now. I had a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 and before I purchased it I cross shopped the same two tents. Like you, I wanted two doors on a tent so the Big Agnes won out. I liked the Copper Spur, but we moved to two 25″ pads for my wife and I, so the taper in the floor would no longer work for us. We now have a Hubba Hubba HP which we like for the square footprint. I think last year MSR added a second door to the Carbon Reflex 2, so it now has two doors and vestibules. Looks like a pretty nice tent. Thanks for the great blog.

    Scott

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    • Stick says:

      Scott,

      That is crazy that just a few years ago I was asking so many questions about this stuff… and while I wouldn’t say I am an “expert” on the matter now, I must admit, I know a bit more.

      As for my blog, it really has been fun for me. It started as more of a live journal of sorts, but I enjoyed the feedback, and it actually ended up becoming another learning tool for me, and obviously for others. For this reason, I enjoy keeping it going… ok, and I like playing with the gear too! 🙂

      As for the Copper Spur, I agree about having to move up with larger pads. I can squeeze my large XLite and another regular size pad in there. The fact that the XLite tapers does help to fit them in, but if it were rectangular it wouldn’t fit well at all.

      And I didn’t realize that the Carbon Reflex now has 2 doors… I must have been looking at some older versions… oh well.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Glad you have enjoyed it, and I appreciate your support.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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