Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye
$450, 2 lbs. 3 oz. (men’s medium)
If you’re shopping for an ultralight tent with two doors that doesn’t require an engineering degree to pitch, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 has long had much to recommend it—including a weight of 18 ounces per occupant. Now, B.A. has made the latest update of this laudable shelter even more appealing to weight-conscious backpackers, with fabric that’s highly resistant to UV degradation and comes with substantial green cred, thanks to a production process that uses radically less water, energy, and chemicals.
I shared this tent with my wife for four nights backpacking in the Wind River Range, when we had no rain but some wind. I’ve also tested and reviewed the previous generation of this tent, the Tiger Wall UL2—which, except for the fabric, is basically identical to the current model—backpacking in the Grand Canyon, on nights that lived up to the canyon’s reputation for wind that can push an ultralight shelter to its structural limits. But the Tiger Wall UL2 withstood afternoon and evening gusts of 30 to 40 mph as well as steady rain on a separate camping trip in Idaho’s (also notoriously windy) City of Rocks National Reserve.
Big Agnes redesigned the Tiger Wall UL2—one of the very lightest two-person, two-door, semi-freestanding tents on the market—with solution-dyed fabric, which besides being extremely light, uses 80 percent less energy and chemicals and 50 percent less water in production, according to Big Agnes. That makes it better for the planet, including the places where we like to pitch tents.
At barely over two pounds, the Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye is almost in a class all its own—and beyond weight, it outclasses competitors of similar weight by many measures. The Tiger Wall UL2’s fast-fly setup—just the rainfly, poles, and a ground footprint ($70, 6 oz., sold separately here), weighs 1 lb. 11 oz. And yet it’s sturdy enough for most three-season circumstances that backpackers face, standing up to moderate winds and with a rainfly and drip line that keep rain outside the tent’s interior. While you should avoid very exposed camps with this tent and many others in its weight class, its radically low weight and bulk plus an easy setup make it ideal for backcountry travelers who prioritize weight and don’t need a shelter for extreme conditions.
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The semi-freestanding, hubbed, and color-coded DAC Featherlite pole assembles in seconds and, with just three grommets to insert pole ends into and several clips to erect the interior canopy, the tent pitches quickly and intuitively. The two corners at the foot end must be staked to make the tent taut but staking a tent is essential in the backcountry, anyway. An adequate distribution of staking points around the perimeter keep the tent stable and quiet in moderate wind—even in the exposed camps above 10,000 feet that we had in the Wind River Range.
The short, bridge section of the pole lifts the side walls of the mesh canopy outward, improving headroom and making the interior feel spacious and livable. Plus, the ends of that pole sit in tiny pockets on the rainfly, improving the tent’s structural integrity.
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As usual with ultralight backcountry shelters, living space represents the biggest tradeoff. The interior’s 28 square feet of floor space and 39-inch peak height (enough for six-footers to sit up, although some will find their head rubbing the ceiling), comparable to some two-door tents that weigh a few to several ounces more, make the Tiger Wall reasonably comfortable for two average-size people. No, it’s not spacious—two big people might find it cramped—but my wife and I (five feet 10 inches and five feet eight inches) had enough sleeping space and length. We fit two standard, 20-inch-wide air mats in there with little room to spare.
The tent features abundant interior pockets, including capacious mesh pockets overhead and at the foot end that can be used for drying damp layers.
The two vestibules, eight square feet each, have space for a midsize pack and boots and the two flaps roll and tie back, creating the options of a completely close vestibule, having it partly open, or fully tied back for maximum cooling, air flow, and stargazing. The ventilation created by having two opposing doors, two-way vestibule zippers, and an all-mesh canopy eliminates condensation as an issue in the great majority of three-season weather conditions.
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And seemingly minor design features, like the TipLok buckles, elevate the Tiger Wall’s performance and ease of use, as do the dual zippers on the two large doors that open separately and join at a bottom corner of the doorway; this allows opening just one side slightly to pass something through or to put on shoes without letting bugs inside.
The rainfly and tent floor are made of water-repellent, silicone-treated, solution-dyed nylon ripstop with a 1200mm PU coating, while the tent body is comprised of lighter solution-dyed nylon and mesh. The nine stakes that come with the tent are light and durable and hold well in ground—among the better stakes I’ve used. The packed size of 5.5×18 inches occupies proportionately less space in a pack than heavier tents; that goes far in enabling you to use a smaller, lighter backpack.
The Tiger Wall UL3 ($500, 2 lbs. 10 oz.) weighs just seven ounces more, but adds 10 square feet of interior space, making it lighter but more spacious than many two-person, two-door, double-wall tents—so it legitimately pulls double duty as a two- or three-person shelter.
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Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye
While compromising somewhat on living space, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye balances reasonable livability and comfort with solid three-season stability and performance as one of the lightest, two-door, double-wall tents on the market. And with the new fabric, not only will you sleep well inside it—you won’t lose any sleep over its carbon footprint.
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You can support my work on this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase a Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Solution Dye at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or rei.com, or another version of the Tiger Wall Solution Dye tent at backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, or rei.com.
See “The 10 (Very) Best Backpacking Tents” and all reviews of backpacking tents, ultralight backpacking tents, backpacking gear, and ultralight backpacking gear at The Big Outside. See also “5 Tips For Buying a Backpacking Tent” and “How to Choose the Best Ultralight Tent for You.” (Both of those stories require a paid subscription to The Big Outside to read in full, which costs as little as six bucks, or just pennies over $4 per month for an entire year.)
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Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “How to Plan a Backpacking Trip—12 Expert Tips,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all gear reviews and expert buying tips.