Camping With Big Agnes: Fast Packing Sleep System

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Basic summary: A lightweight and easy-to-use sleep system for fast packing, lightweight overnights, or quick setup and takedown before an early morning adventure run.

MSRPs:

Features:

Copper Spur UL2 Classic Tent:

  • Trail weight: 3lb 10oz / 1.39kg
  • Fast fly weight: 2lb 7oz / 1.11kg
  • Packed size: 6″ x 21″ / 15 x 53cm
  • Floor area: 29 sq ft / 2.7 m²
  • Head height: 40″ / 102cm
  • Vestibule area: 9 x 9 sq ft / 0.8 x 0.8 m²
  • Fly and floor material: silicone treated nylon rip-stop with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating
  • Tent body material: breathable nylon rip-stop and polyester mesh
  • All seams taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape
  • DAC Pressfit pole system with lightweight hubs
  • Ultralight plastic clips attach tent body to pole frame
  • Color-coded attachments for tent poles and exterior fly
  • Dual-sided zipper doors and vestibules
  • 4 interior mesh pockets, 2 media pockets

Q-Core Deluxe Pad:

  • Weight with stuff sack (size 20” x 72”): 1lb 9oz / 0.71kg
  • Minimalist I-Beam construction for stability and comfort
  • Quilted top sleeping surface
  • Larger outer chambers keep you centered on pad
  • Built-in heat reflective technology
  • Antimicrobial treatment inside pad

Picket SL 30 Sleeping Bag:

  • Weight with stuff sack (long version): 2lb 4oz / 1.0kg
  • Nylon rip-stop shell fabric with a water repellent finish
  • Polyester spandex stretch fabric shell and lining with a water repellent finish
  • Polyester taffeta lining
  • Offset quilted construction
  • Primaloft Gold insulation in stretch side panels
  • Vaulted footbox
  • Low profile cordlock at hood
  • Anti-snag draft tube along zipper
  • Interior fabric loops for sleeping bag liners
  • Exterior loops for hang drying or storage

Deep dive:

Lightweight and convenient sleep setups are a valuable commodity in the spring through fall; we use them for fastpack adventures, quick overnight excursions, and for car camping near the start of a race or adventure run. Over the past several weeks we’ve gone through each of these scenarios with a set of Big Agnes items, which have a combined overall weight of less than 7 lbs. All three pack small enough to fit in a 26L backpack, and provide enough comfort and protection to get a solid night’s rest before a big day on the trail.

The Copper Spur UL2 Classic Tent can easily accommodate 2 sleepers, with plenty of headroom and storage space, dual vestibules to stash shoes and muddy gear, and double-sided entryways to let each person come and go as needed. Its footprint is long enough for our pair of taller-than-average sleepers (6’2” and 5’9”) to stretch out without bumping into the end panels, and mesh pockets on each side keep your phone and keys within easy reach.

It’s highly intuitive to set up, as the main double-wishbone pole system is all in one piece and is color coded to match the correct end of the tent for attachment. A smaller crossbeam rests perpendicular to the top pole to widen the top profile and provide more head space. The fly attachments are also color coded so you avoid the frustration of trying to figure out what attaches where. We were able to set the entire tent up from start to finish in less than 10 minutes. When fully staked and flyed, the Copper Spur UL2 Classic provides excellent wind and water resistance for its weight and interior spaciousness.

On the floor of the tent we used the Q-Core Deluxe Pad along with a Q-Core SL (superlight) purchased more than five years ago. In comparison to the superlight model, the Q-Core Deluxe is only 6oz heavier, but adds a quilted top surface that increases comfort and decreases noise when you’re moving around in your sleep. Inflation is easy through a large one-way air valve, and when the pad is almost full, you can press the micro-pressure adjustment button to let small amounts of air in without it escaping back out.

A hallmark feature of Q-Core pads is the arrangement of air channels to distribute your body weight evenly and keep you on the center of the pad. Alternating I-beam air channels give the pad a quilted look and prevent the dreaded sensation of your hips sinking lower to the ground than your shoulders. Larger air channels on the perimeter of the pad help keep you centered, although this pad is relatively narrow and it is easy to roll off when switching from back to side. The pad has heat reflective technology to preserve warmth, and antimicrobial filaments to decrease the stink factor on multi-day outings.

Big Agnes Q-Core Deluxe Pad

Big Agnes Picket SL 30 sleeping bag

Many of Big Agnes’s sleeping bags are matched to a particular pad through a sleeve in the back side, but the Picket SL 30 is a versatile model with innovative fabric construction that can be used with a variety of pads. It is shaped like a traditional mummy bag, but has stretch side panels that expand enough for you to easily roll over, or even fully bend your knees upright with your feet flat on the sleeping pad if you’d like. The side panels contain Primaloft Gold insulation that maintains warmth even when stretched, and the draft tube along the zipper keeps cold air out effectively. Another comfort upgrade to traditional mummy bags is the vaulted footbox that allows you to sleep on your back with your feet upright instead of pointed forward.

Stretch side panels allow knee flexion

The interior lining of the Picket SL 30 uses soft taffeta that feels smooth against your skin, and the hood is spacious enough to accommodate a small pillow while still covering your forehead. A low-profile cord lock at the right side of the hood makes it easy to cinch the hood closed with a single hand, but proved a bit trickier to loosen without using both hands. There are interior loops for a bag liner if you choose to use them, which increases the insulating capacity, but we haven’t needed one this season, even when sleeping in the open air with the Picket SL 30 and temps in the high 30s.

None of the component pieces we tested above are the best in category for minimalism; you can certainly find lighter tents, bags or pads on the market. However, we’ve been quite pleased with the combination of light weight, comfort, and user friendliness of the sleep system described above, and if you can afford to bring a few extra ounces here and there, your experience of actually sleeping in these pieces should be satisfying.

The Copper Spur UL2 Classic Tent, Q-Core Deluxe Pad, and Picket SL 30 Sleeping Bag are all available now at www.bigagnes.com.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America's National Parks. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

1 Comment

  1. Good gear picks, but hard to get behind using the word “fastpacking” in the title….. They total a whopping 7lbs 7oz. Even my Colorado Trail thru-hike trio included a 20 degree bag, cost the same, and weighed 3lbs 10oz!!!

    And I were truly fastpacking I would go even lighter, and suck up the cost. Or borrow gear.

    Appreciate the research, regardless.

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