Expert Review: Big Agnes BlackTail TentPublished on 07/01/2022 · 7 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the tent, which I bought with my own money in February 2020.
All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed
About this Review: This review is my own honest opinion of the tent, which I bought with my own money in February 2020.
The Big Agnes BlackTail 2 Tent is a great two-person tent for mostly car camping that can still handle a backpacking trip if need be. It’s very spacious and easy to set up. It comes with a rainfly and footprint, and it’s really durable in extreme weather.
About the gear
- Product model: Big Agnes BlackTail 2 Tent with footprint
- Size: 2-person
- Height: 5ft 3in
- Weight: 110 lb
- Experience: 25+ years
- When I bought the tent: February 2020
- Days tested: 30
- Number of occupants: Two and a dog, but I have slept in this with three (the other two also being smaller women), and it was plenty comfortable.
- Sleeping pad: Sea to Summit Ultralight insulated pad
- Sleeping bag: Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15-degree bag
- Total pack weight: 5 lbs
- Used for: Car camping, 1-2 night backpacking trips
- Where I’ve used it: Utah desert and mountains, Colorado mountains, Nevada desert
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Summer, spring, and fall
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a tent that could be used mostly for car camping with the occasional backpacking trip if need be. I am not a huge backpacker, but when I go backpacking, I use the Big Agnes Copper Spur since it is a bit lighter. I mostly wanted a tent option that was solid for car camping and could be used for a backpacking trip if I was on an extended road trip and got the urge to backpack for one or two nights.
In terms of priorities, I wanted a tent that was really durable in wind and rain and was comfortable inside. My last tent was really durable in rain but had some features that made it terrible in wind so I was a little traumatized and cared more about weather resistance than weight.
Why I chose this gear
I looked at a few other options such as the Copper Spur from Big Agnes and the MSR Hubba Hubba, but the Copper Spur and the Hubba Hubba are both quite a bit pricier. Although they are lighter weight and it makes sense that they would be more expensive because of that, I decided that since my priority was comfort and not weight. I did not need to spend the extra money for something that is lighter and slightly smaller on the interior. I also liked the green color more than the other options.
What I love about it
- Ease of setup: This tent is really easy to set up. The poles and holes are color coded, and the poles attach to the tent with clips on the outside instead of the poles being looped through the inside, which makes it easier to set up. The rainfly is also super intuitive, and the clips on that are color coded as well.
- Breakdown speed: It is really quick to break down, and it all fits easily in the stuff sack. There is a separate compartment for the stakes and poles, and again the clips make it very easy to take the tent down.
- Performance in rain: It handles the rain really well. The only time I have ever had anything get wet was when there was a little river running through the campground because it was raining so hard, and there was no tent that could have kept that rain out. Even when that did happen, the sun came out later that day, I took the rainfly off, and the tent dried so fast since there is so much mesh and ventilation. Other than that, I have been in some heavy rain and never felt like this tent was compromised.
- Performance in wind: Wind performance was a huge factor for me in purchasing this tent because my last one did so poorly in the wind. This rainfly stakes out in a lot of different spots, making it easy to secure down in windy conditions. The windiest night I ever had with it was in Goblin Valley, Utah, with 45 mph winds, and I didn’t have any issues with the tent staying put.
- Performance in heat: It does well in the heat. I have taken it to Moab, Utah, in the summer, and it does as well as any tent would. Without the rainfly, the whole top is mesh so it does great with ventilation and the bottom part that is not mesh is white, so it doesn’t absorb much heat.
- Performance in desert areas with no trees: Same as in the heat, it does pretty well. This tent has good ventilation so handles these conditions well.
- Performance in wooded areas with lots of trees: It does well in wooded areas. The footprint is pretty thick so I have never had any issues with pine needles poking through or feeling any sticks under the tent more so than I would in any other tent. The mesh top keeps bugs out really well in these conditions also.
- Performance when camping with a partner or group: I usually just sleep in this with my 40 lb border collie, but I have had a few nights that I slept with my two friends, who are about 5 ft 3in and 5 ft 7in, and both about 120lbs, so smaller people, and we all fit well. On one really cold trip, having an extra person in the tent with the rainfly on helped keep us a bit warmer. I didn’t feel too squished, and we still had room for our gear, which is nice because in a smaller tent I think that would have been really uncomfortable and our gear would have had to stay outside the tent.
- Special features: There are a lot of internal pockets that are really useful. I have terrible eyesight; I am legally blind without glasses or contacts and could never even see well enough to walk down stairs without correction. I really like that on this tent there is a red tab where the pocket is on the inside. I store my contacts here at night and I would otherwise struggle to find them in the morning, but with the red coloring on that tab I can see where the pocket and my contacts are. This is something that I didn’t realize when buying the tent but makes me love Big Agnes because it’s really helpful for those who are visually impaired.
- Stability: This tent is really stable in all weather conditions aside from snow which I have not tried it in.
- Durability: I have camped in this tent probably 30ish nights so far and there are no signs of wear and tear and nothing has broken! Seems really durable to me so far.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: This is not the lightest tent. It weighs about 5lbs, so it _could_ be used for backpacking but is much better for car camping. The MSR Hubba Hubba is 2lb 15oz, and backpacking tents tend to be closer to this 3lb range.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was camping in Goblin Valley in the wind storm I mentioned earlier. With my previous tent, I would have had to break it down and wait out the storm in the car because that tent would have either broken or flapped around enough that I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. It was awesome once I realized I didn’t need to worry about my tent breaking in the strong wind and could just go to sleep. I was well rested for climbing and hiking the next day.
Value for the money vs. other options
This tent is on the lower price range at around $220. Most tents that are comparable will be lighter, backpacking-oriented tents that will be closer to $400. For the occasional backpacker who might take a few overnight trips with the tent but values having a roomy and durable car-camping tent, this is the best bang for their buck.
The Big Agnes BlackTail 2 Tent is a great car-camping tent that can handle whatever weather is thrown at it. It’s incredibly easy to set up and take down. Although it is much better for a car camping tent due to its 5lb weight, it can be used as a backpacking tent, too. It has kept me dry and sleeping well every time I have used it!