If you’ve read some of my past posts, you know I’m a gear fiend. Researching, reading reviews and looking for the best deals is probably just as much fun as using it…well actually using it is the most fun, but man do I love gear shopping. When it came to buying my first tent, an important decision, my skills came in quite handy.
When I started hiking the 4000 footers in New England, I knew I was going to need to do some overnights to be most efficient, but I had never backpacked before and I wasn’t sure if I would even like it. After my first trip, I was hooked, especially after borrowing my friend Ryan’s Big Agnes a few times. His tent was ultralight, freestanding and had two vestibules which made sharing it a breeze.
After much research, reading reviews and finding the best price, I decided on the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. I picked this tent because I loved the ease of the freestanding design and the ultralight weight made it ideal for allowing luxury items on my overnight trips (Read: wine).
This tent weighs in at just over 3 lbs (UL- Ultralight) and offers 9 square feet (HV- High Volume) which makes for a roomy night by yourself and a cozy night with a guest. The tent has only two poles which makes setup fast and easy which is perfect after a long day of elevation gain. Another bonus of this tent are the gear pockets inside that allow you to stow your phone, headlamp and other personal items while you sleep.
I’ve used my Big Agnes tent several times including a 25 mile traverse in Carrabassett Valley, Mount Rainier National Park, and on a few quick car camping trips where the easy set up and take down were necessary. I have only used it once when it was raining lightly, but we were dry and the fly worked perfectly. I’ve also used it when temps have dropped into the high 30s and was still perfectly warm in my 15 degree Big Agnes Roxy Ann bag and Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad.
When researching gear, here are a few tips:
- Talk to your friends– There is no better review than one from someone you trust and who is using it in the same terrain you are. I look to my hiking friends, social media friends and folks I meet on the trail for advice whenever possible. Bonus: your friends may even let you borrow a piece of equipment for a test drive.
- Outdoor Gear Lab- Outdoor Gear Lab is always on my list when I’m in the market for an expensive addition to my hiking and backpacking gear. They have a great rating system that allows you to select gear that meets your specific needs. They also have videos on certain products allowing you to see it at use in the field.
- Read Reviews- It takes a little time, but I always read the reviews on products at all of my favorite retailers. Not only does this help you see what a variety of consumers are saying about the product, but it also helps you find the best price.
- Look for Other Gear Reviews- We know we’re not blazing new territory here, check out other hikers reviews to see how the gear functions in the field. What are the pros and cons.
- Talk to Salespeople- Whether you are lucky enough to have an outdoor retailer in your area or you’re an online shopper like me, talk to the experts about your needs. They can be really helpful in sorting out the pros and cons.
- Be Patient- It can be easy to rush into a purchase when you see something you like. I’m a big fan of taking it slow, waiting for the best deal and making sure I’m making the best possible purchase before dolling out the cash.
Here’s wishing you peaceful nights in the wilderness!