Strictly speaking, I shouldn't need a tent on the Camino del Norte. It's a pilgrimmage route and has hiking/tourist/trekking infrastructure. Every 10-15 km there's an albergues, or basic inn that serves food and has bunks. Sometimes people stay in monasteries and nunneries. It's fantastic if you like bunking with smelly, snoring hikers and French people.
I don't. I'm also dropping off the trail to hike the Picos de Europa for a week or more, which are serious 3000 m peaks in the backcountry. Enter: the need for an extremely light solo backpacking tent. My goal: 2 lbs or less. Just to give context, it's difficult to find a single person tent for less than 3-4 lbs. 2lbs, que dificil (Spanish for difficult).
I researched for hours, looking for an exotic solution (Tarptent, Hilleberg, animal skins). The Dusty Camel is sponsered by the innovative folks at NEMO tents, but their tents are handmade and sold out til mid-July. I tried many (REI, Mountain Hardware, MSR, EMS). They all sucked for one reason or another, mostly having to do with the compromises manufaturers make in stability in order to save weight. One model I tried, which shall remain nameless (REI QUARTER DOME T1), simply cut 25% of it's total pole support. It CLAIMED to be freestanding, but a strong exhale or several insects would have knocked it over. They expected you to stake it & guyline it to soil and trees at like 8 different points. I wanted to grab the tent's designer and shake him and ask, "what happens when you're somewhere without trees?! Like in the mountains??" Idiots.
Most other options weren't much better. They required staking to take advantage of the full floorspace or simply weren't long enough (I'm 6'7"). I was out of options and considering a coffin-like bivy when someone suggested the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1.
CUE PANDA RAINBOW EYES:
Isn't she beautiful folks?
I tried the Copper Spur out last week in a friend's backyard in Connecticut. It's astonishing. Weighing in at 2 lbs 6 oz, the UL 1 is a FULLY FEATURED BACKPACKING TENT WEIGHING 2 LBS 6 OZ. That means it stands on it's own supports (using an innovative and cool-as-shit exoskeletal frame that looks like a spine), and has three (THREE) mesh gear pockets, a headlamp loop, a ventilation flap, a large gear vestibule (NOT found in ANY other tent I tried), and fully taped seams. It's easy as shit to set up, and, most importantly, it's palatial. I can stretch out, sit up and f***ing dance in this thing. Amazing.
I've nicknamed my UL1 Joan, after the buxom, curvacious, redheaded Joan Holloway of Mad Man.
The parallels are apparent and delicious.
If you don't care about well-engineered gear that melds form and function, go read another, lesser blog. This tent has already enhanced my life in so many ways. Hats off to the folks at Big Agnes. Do yourself a favor and buy one.