Someone at Big Agnes is thinking, and they are out thinking most of the outdoors industry. Two things that anyone who has ever gone on an overnight or long distance hike knows: Lighter gear is always beneficial to our backs and feet over the long haul, and anything we can use in multiple capacity cuts down on ounces, hence the sporks you see being sold in the camping section. Whether its packing for a day trip or for a multiple week hike, the fact of the mater is that less weight is better.
Whenever we put our gear together we have to consider what is absolutely necessary to the days or weeks ahead of us on our hike. There are the things that we must have to make an overnight or multiple day excursion possible, food, shelter, water. And then there are things we need to support those needs, cooking pots, utensils and stove, water filter, etc. With each and every item we add to our gear, we also add extra ounces which can quickly add up to pounds. Why should the essential items have to weight us down though? The Big Agnes Scout UL 2 is the perfect tent for anyone looking to cut down on those extra ounces that must-have items often add up to.
The Big Agnes Scout UL 2 combines aspects of several styles of ultralight tents to create a tent that hits on all the things you want in an tent while sidestepping many of the problems that many ultralight tent designs have had.
The Scout UL 2 is a is a single walled design, which I am always a fan of due to it saving on weight and making for ridiculously easy setup and take down. Some would argue that single wall tents tend to hold in more condensation then a double walled tent, and in some cases that is true, my former single wall could leave me feeling like I had woken up in a sauna at times.
On top of the weight saved by being a single walled design Big Agnes also has saved in the weight department by ingeniously designing the Scout tent to use trekking poles instead of traditional tent poles. Since most hikers(especially long distance hikers) are carrying these anyway, they are able to take a tool that would have only one function, and instead, use them at the end of the day instead of just setting them in the corner all night. Unlike most ultralight tent models that use trekking poles though, the Big Agnes Scout UL 2 sets itself apart by being an enclosed unit, with a floor and no space between the bottom of the tent and the ground to let bugs in. With the floor it also ends up saving the weight of having to carry an extra ground cover compared to most other hiking pole supported tents. A common complaint among many users of that style of tent.
I was able to field test the Big Agnes Scout UL 2 in Moab, and a few other locations in Utah recently. Little did I suspect that Moab would offer such diverse conditions while I was there. Even having arrived after recent rains I didn’t imagine I would be able to test the Scout UL 2 in such humid conditions, at least not in the desert.
As a comparison, the first night in Moab, I set up my old single walled two person tent, and woke up the next morning with dew hanging from everywhere inside the tent. Just getting out without getting soaked was a trial. The second night under the exact same conditions I set up the Scout UL 2 and was pleasantly surprised to find that other then a few small patches of dampness on the ceiling there was almost no moisture inside of the tent, despite walking out to find almost everything completely covered in dew. The Scout UL 2 performed just as well for me when nights got cold in the Dixie National Forest, as well as warmer drier nights as well.
As far as testing the set up of the tent I approached it as basically as possible. No looking at directions, simply set it up by feel. Here it’s almost laughable how easy it is to figure out. Within minutes of pulling the Scout UL 2 out of its bag, I was securing the last guy line to the ground with the ultralight stakes that came with it. Its simplistic concept of an A frame style tent with the two trekking poles in the center, one on each end, with four corner stakes, and 8 guy lines for support is so self explanatory that directions are almost not needed at all.
Add on top of that the Big Agnes Scout UL 2 comes in with 34 square feet of floor space and 43 inches of head room, makes it feel plenty roomy compared to my other “lightweight” two person tent. My only concern with the set up was that with the pole in the rear of the tent not being flush with the back wall, my dog might knock over the trekking pole while in the tent, or that I might bump it while sleeping. Neither of these concerns turned out to be an issue. Once the pole was secured it was solidly in place and I had no issues with it moving or shifting.
One of the great struggles I found when I was living in Alaska was that even my “light weight” tent would often end up being a burden when I was hiking 25 miles or more on an overnight hike. Hiking up and down in those steep mountainous areas always seemed to made every extra ounce add up even more by the end of the day, and finding a bargain priced two person tend seemed impossible. For someone on a budget there were always tradeoffs in what you got for the price you pay. I was relatively happy with what I got out of my tent for the price I paid for it, but thought at 3.5 pounds there had to be something better.
While looking to lighten my load by cutting the weight of my sleeping bag, I came across Big Agnes’ web site. Browsing through their tents I found out about the Big Agnes Scout UL 2. Seeing what Big Agnes had designed the Scout UL 2 to be, I couldn’t wait for it to be released. Here was a tent weighing in at almost half of what my current tent did, with a price tag that was under 300 dollars. A lighter tent with a heavier wallet was exactly what I was looking for. If you believe that a tent under 2 pounds shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg but don’t want to lose out on quality, the Big Agnes Scout needs to be on your radar.
The Big Agnes Scout UL 2 in the end is a perfect example of the combination of two simple principles. Lighter is better, and using a tool a second way if possible can save weight. Combining these two principles Big Agnes has managed to build a tent that is capable of collapsing to the size of most air mattresses people haul along with them. Weighing in at a mere 1 pound 10 ounces, this tent is light. With the combination of using trekking poles in place of tent poles, Big Agnes has managed to take a tool that almost all long distance/overnight hikers have with them anyway and given them a second purpose, structuring a tent. Whether a car camper or a weight savvy long distance hiker, the Big Agnes Scout UL 2 is a tent everyone should be lining up to buy.