Ultralight Backpacking Tent
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum
$550, 1 lb. 15 oz.
The sub-two-pound, double-wall, freestanding tent has become like the two-hour marathon of the backpacking gear world: the holy grail that many have come close to achieving, without quite nailing it. Now Big Agnes has set the pace with the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum, a redesign of its Tiger Wall UL2 from 2018 that seizes the grail and—most importantly—avoids shortcomings endemic to other ultralight tents. Taking it out on a six-day, 74-mile spring hike through the Grand Canyon that—not surprisingly—tested the wind resistance of our shelters, I found much to recommend about the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum, and decided it ranks among the very best backpacking tents available today. Here’s why.
The Tiger Wall 2 Platinum remains almost identical to its predecessor, B.A.’s Tiger Wall UL2. But the Platinum version achieves deeper weight savings by using Dominico Textile, a fabric used in parachutes and hang gliders and known for its strength, quality, and durability.
Like the semi-frestanding Tiger Wall UL2, the Platinum version incorporates a hubbed, Y-shaped main pole with a short bridge pole that crosses the center pole. The pole architecture helps create a shelter that’s quite sturdy, especially for an ultralight tent: It stood up to gusts of 30 to around 40 mph on spring nights in the Grand Canyon, which would be a test for any tent weighing three pounds, nevermind under two pounds.
Despite its weight, the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum delivers livability perhaps unmatched among double-wall, freestanding or semi-freestanding tents in its weight class—an admittedly small category, a fact for which this shelter stands out, anyway. While many ultralight tents trade off headroom and living space, this tent feels impressively livable for its weight, largely due to headroom that allows two people to sit up side by side, because of how that bridge pole lifts the walls above each door.
The living space compares with many lightweight two-door, double-wall, two-person tents: 28 square feet of floor area, 86 inches of length, a 39-inch peak height (enough for six-footers to sit up, although some may find their head rubbing against the ceiling), and a floor width that ranges from 52 inches at the head end to 42 inches at the foot. Two standard, 20-inch-wide air mats fit inside with virtually no room to spare at the foot end, but some extra space at the head end. I shared it with a friend—he’s five feet 10 inches, I’m five feet eight inches—and we never bumped each other while sleeping; and with a little sensitivity to the comfined quarters, we moved around inside without invading another’s space much. But two big people might find it cramped.
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Also like the Tiger Wall UL2, the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum is almost freestanding: The two foot-end corners require staking. But with any freestanding model, staking it out fully is almost always required not only to keep it from blowing away or bending in wind, but to achieve a taut pitch and maximize living space and ventilation. The Tiger Wall 2 Platinum’s design still makes it easy to pick it up and move it after assembling it, or shake dirt out of it before packing it up. The color-coded DAC Featherlite NFL poles and just nine clips make pitching and dismantling the tent quick and intuitive.
The two large doors not only increase convenience, but their dimensions make coming and going a breeze. The doors have dual zippers—one each along the bottom and top edges—that open separately and join at a bottom corner of the doorway. This design is either convenient or a nuisance, depending on your perspective and what you’re trying to do. It allows opening the door slightly to pass something through or to put on shoes without letting bugs inside; on the other hand, it forces you to deal with two zippers every time you enter or exit, not always a welcome task in the rain. The oversized zipper pulls are easy to locate in the dark.
With a mostly mesh canopy, two doors, and a double-wall design, ventilation is excellent. The rainfly doorways overhang the interior doors, creating a drip line that keeps rain out of the tent.
The two vestibules each have eight square feet of storage space—enough for a mid-size pack and boots, plus a bit of cooking space, which compares to many lightweight tents. Two-way zippers on the doors allow you to ventilate from the top or bottom, or unzip partway from the bottom to prevent windblown rain from getting inside.
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The interior has two standard mesh pockets and one oversized wall pocket with media cord ports. The rainfly and tent floor are made of silicone-treated nylon ripstop fabric, making that fabric waterproof and stronger per weight.
At an ounce under two pounds, the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum may have no rival in its category when it comes to space-to-weight ratio. (For comparison purposes, tent makers generally provided a minimum or “trail” weight that includes only the tent, rainfly, and poles—not stakes and parts like guylines that vary between models—as well as a packed weight that represents the total poundage for everything in the package.)
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The packed size of 18×5.5 inches (46x14cm) makes it among the most compact two-person, double-wall tents on the market, too.
One caveat: While this tent uses cutting-edge ultralight materials that have good strength and durability for their weight, I always advocate using some care with any ultralight gear—it usually doesn’t last as long as heavier gear. After several trips, I have seen some small tears in the rainfly doors.
At this weight and bulk, the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum ranks among the lightest and most compact ultralight backpacking tents, making it also a legitimate solo shelter for someone desiring a little extra living space than found in many one-person tents. Like many Big Agnes tents, a footprint can be purchased separately ($70, 6 oz.) to replace the inner tent, creating a shelter (with no bug screen) weighing just 1 lb. 10 oz.
The Tiger Wall 3 Platinum ($600, 2 lbs. 6 oz.) weighs just seven ounces more, but adds 10 square feet of interior space, making it lighter but more spacious than many heavier two-person, two-door, double-wall tents—so it legitimately pulls double duty as a two- or three-person shelter.
Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum
For its groundbreaking low weight, livability, sturdiness, and ventilation—all the boxes you’d want to check off when buying an ultralight backpacking tent—the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum stands out as one of the very best models for ultralight and long-distance backpackers, or anyone who simply wants to reduce pack weight.
You can support my work on this blog, at not cost to you, by clicking either of these affiliate links to purchase a Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Platinum or a Tiger Wall UL3 Platinum at backcountry.com or Moosejaw.com.
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See also my “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, which costs as little as five bucks, or just pennies over $4 per month for an entire year.)
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” “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 “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight 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 categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.