Big Agnes Slater UL2+ Tent Review

Intro:
Fall morning with the Big Agnes Slater UL2+
I've put a lot of nights in the Big Agnes Slater UL2+ tent and I wanted to give my thoughts on this awesome tent that gets overshadowed. When I tell people I sleep in the Slater UL2+ most people say that they've never heard of it, but everyone has heard of Big Agnes' Fly Creek or Copper Spur series. I really think people should take a closer look at the Slater series from Big Agnes because I feel that for many hikers and backpackers the Slater series is better than other Ultra-light (UL) tent options available.

Wide enough and long enough for two Exped synmat 7 pumps and 4 season sleeping bags.

Construction/Material:
The Slater UL2+ is a double wall tent with a single pole design with a central pole hub above the door. Setting up the Slater UL2+ is very quick as once you get the poles onto the 3 floor mounting points, you only need to clip the tent hooks to the poles. One of the reasons why I prefer the Slater UL2+ over the Copper Spur 2 or the Fly Creek 2L 2 is floor area to weight ratio.
Slater UL2+
Fly Creek UL 2
Copper Spur UL 2
The Fly creek UL2 is without a doubt the smallest in dimension and the lightest while The Copper Spur is the heaviest and most expensive but does come with 2 doors. An UL tent for 2 people should of course be light weight but livability still matters! looking at the Floor Area/Trail weight ratio is one of the best methods of gauging this. The Slater Ul 2+ shines in this area because for the weight, you get the most floor area for what you're carrying on your back. Not all of backpacking is good weather, and the extra space counts when you confined to your tent. It is for the Floor Area/Trail weight ratio as to why I bought the Slater Ul2+ over any other UL tent including Big Agnes' other UL models.
Big Agnes UL 2 person tent comparison, highlighted boxes are best in category.




Performance:
I have used this tent more than any other tent I owned and in more locations because it's amazingly light yet livable. From Lunch counter on Mt. Adams at 9000 feet, to Horse-shoe Lake in the snow and rain in October at 5000 feet, this tent has seen it all. One of the unique features to the Slater tents is it's absence of mesh. By replacing the mesh walls on the tent body with their lightweight, but breathable nylon rip-stop, it provides extra warmth in the off season while adding privacy. I haven't noticed any ill side affects in the middle of summer that I originally thought it may bring.

Some considerations is that the rain fly needs to be guyed out to keep the main body fabric from touching the fly to minimize condensation. I didn't do that once and when the rains came in the morning the sides of the tent got wet, and hence my sleeping bag, because the rain fly was in direct contact with the tent body. More of a user error than a tent fault.

The only fault I have with the tent is the rear portion. The main pole goes down the middle and doesn't split out. This means that you pretty much have to guy out the back or else the tent just falls in on itself. The same issue will occur on any of the fly creek tents due to the same pole/tent construction. The Copper Spur series is the only  UL tents from Big Agnes that's truly free standing. When I say, "free standing" I mean fully usable. If you don't guy out the Slater/Fly creek tent rear you loose a lot of usable interior tent space, even though these tents are technically, "free standing". I would rather carry a little more weight if they added a small pole to keep the rear of the tent taut and fully free standing. I only noticed this issue when camping in rocky soil like on Mt. Adams or the Enchantment area of the Cascades.
Eightmile Lake - Central Cascades, WA

Summary:
For Backpackers looking for one of the lightest, most live-able, true 3 season tent, price be damned, the Big Agnes Slater Ul2+ sets the bar so high that it may take years for something comparable to come along. Without a doubt, the Slater UL2+ has been a game changer in how good a tent can be.

Lunch Counter on Mt. Adams

Pros:
  • 37 Sq. Feet is more living space than any UL tents for 2 people.
  • 96" length tent makes it fantastic for tall people and those wanting more items in tent.
  • Packed weight is less than 3lbs!
  • Weatherproof for all 3 season needs.
  • No mesh means warmer nights
Cons:
  • Somewhat free standing- rear of tent needs to be staked out and taut 
  • No mesh means green house effect 

Slater UL 2+ in the Fall 
***Update - 9/2/2016 ***
I have noticed for hot summer trips that the lack of mesh does make the tent fairly warmer than tents that are mostly mesh ( Big Agnes - Fly creeks, Marmot - Force, etc...) This can be annoying when one wants to get in their tent early to avoid bugs but the sun is still shinning on the tent because it can get too warm in the tent. Conversely, because the tent has no mesh, colder nights in the backcountry are more comfortable. I certainly noticed this with my UL 30 degree sleeping bag as I slept much better in the Slater than other tents that are mostly mesh.
Slater UL 2+ in Glacier Peak Wilderness - WA


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