Monday, August 5, 2013

Big Agnus Scout UL2 Review


My Scout in the Winds last week.

 As I had a hard time finding many reviews of the Scout before I purchased mine, I thought maybe I should write one now.

 To give you a bit of background, I live in Jackson, WY and spend most of my free time in the summer hiking and backpacking. (50ish days and almost 500 miles last summer.) For years now I've used and loved Sierra Designs Lightyear. I have both the one and two person versions and it's a solid, simple, and inexpensive tent. I've had it out in high winds, sand, hail, you name it. I would highly recommend it. But, as I've worked to reduce my pack's base weight, I started looking for a lighter option.

I didn't like using a tarp due to water splashing when it rains, the ability to accidentally knock gear out from under the tarp, having to find good tie offs at all the perfect angles, and the lack of bug-proofing. Mosquitos can be really annoying and I have an irrational fear of spiders. But when I saw the Scout which is much like a tarp but self contained and bug proof, I thought I'd give it a try.

I have used the Scout for an overnight in Yellowstone, an overnight in the Tetons, and a six day Wind River Range trip. It's now been in the wind, multiple rain storms, and two hail storms. And I like the tent a lot.

It is indeed lightweight and simple to pitch with trekking poles, tying it off to branches or trees, or with home made poles. I've done all of those. I replaced the fairly light stakes sent with it with Vargo Titanium stakes saving myself 2.5 oz. Then, since I don't hike with trekking poles, I made two carbon fiber poles, making the rear pole longer so I could run it along the back wall and not have it planted so much in the way of the living space. The weight for both poles is only 3 oz. so with the stake switch, I only added a 1/2 an oz. and don't need to look for branches or trees to tie it off to or carry trekking poles. I am using the ground cloth as the fabric is so lightweight and thin.

The zipper does catch easily on the zipper rain guards as you zip and unzip it. I may end up tearing the zipper out and replacing it with some kind of magnet method of closure, but if you pay attention and are careful, the zipper catching should not be a big issue.

It is spacious! I've never seen a two man tent, especially this light, that had anywhere close to the amount of space inside. Since we got rained on for 6 out of 6 days on our last trip, this was handy. Two people can easily sit upright in Crazy Creeks, not touch the walls or top, and have tons of space left for gear. I really think we could have had four people sitting up in there at once and not felt very crowded. It also feels very long. I'm 5'8" and have long arms. When laying down with my arms stretched out as far as possible above my head, the tips of my fingers and toes barely touch the ends of the tent. When I sleep, there is plenty of room for my full sized 72' pad and having a stack of gear between my pad and the door.

Being a single wall tent, it does get some condensation when I pitched it in damp areas or when there is no breeze to draw air through the side vents. It helps to pitch the side guys with them stretched out as long as possible which raises the angle slightly and allows more air to flow through. The condensation was still minimal, and with all the space in there, it's pretty easy to move around and not touch the top at all. My friend usually carries a small square of some absorbent shammy cloth and it was easy to wipe the moisture off the inside when we woke up, wring the cloth out, and be ready to go. I do live in a fairly dry climate however, so if you are somewhere with a lot more moisture, this could be a much bigger issue for you.

Packing the tent up is quite easy as well. It fits very nicely back into the stuff sack it comes with and is actually smaller than my under 2 pound down sleeping bag when my bag is in a compression sack.

I think condensation would be the only drawback, and as I said, with a way to wipe the inside, all the interior space, and at least with our climate here in the mountain west, it's really not a big issue. And very worth the trade off for much more space and much less weight compared to double wall tents.

 I'm loving the tent and have had several friends that I camp with already decide that it is one they would like to purchase. I plan to use this one for a long time. So go for it, and leave me a comment if you have other questions or found this review helpful.



Two of us sitting upright in our Crazy Creeks with lots of room to spare.

Another campsite in the Winds where I pitched the Scout.

8 comments:

  1. Greetings! Wonderful Review! I am currently looking for a new UL tent and I have been going back and forth on this tent for the last month, reading reviews and comparing it to other lightweight tents. I've narrowed my search down to three tents: The Tarptent Contrail, The hilleberg rajd, and the Scout UL2. Did you consider any other tents before purchasing this one? I've heard some complaints about the location of the poles on this tent, was that at all an issue for you?

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  2. I wasn't really considering tarp tents due to having used a tarp and not liking several things about it as I mentioned above. If none of those things bother you, I think there are several good tarp tents and they are certainly the lightest way to go. I did consider quite a few other tents but am not familiar with the hilleberg rajd.

    I read a lot of complaints about the poles before I purchased my Scout as well. The front one I have not found to be an issue. Getting in and out of the door around it has not been hard, but I suppose being fairly thin and flexible may help with that. I could see a wider person having a hard time with not bumping it over as they enter and exit.

    As far as the rear pole, having it in the middle wasn't a big deal (my friend who I most often camp with and I are not a couple so there's no snuggling for it to interfere with ;) but just for convenience, I made the rear pole longer so I can pitch the tent with the rear pole parallel to the rear wall. At an angle instead of up and down. I did sew on a small catch where that pole meets the top of the tent so it doesn't slide over due to being at an angle. The bottom stays put just fine. I also pitched it by tying the guy line to a branch or tree that is higher than the "roof line" (outside of the tent) and that also worked fine and would eliminate the need for a rear pole altogether. I'm just not willing to look around to find the perfect tree or branch every time I camp and prefer to have everything I need at a moments notice.

    So no. The pole placement has not been an issue. I hope that's helpful!

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  3. Thanks for this review. I keep wondering why there aren't more for this tent. I wonder if it's so old school looking people are afraid of it. I really want one.
    Here is a video from Brad at ProLiteGear showing alternate pitch options (outside poles.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fWS8jX6JUo
    This video made me want the Scout even more, since the inside pole thing was really appealing.
    Thanks again.
    Alison

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  4. Very nice review Alison. I've seen this tent just about a week ago as one of my friends fast paced John Muir Trail in Sierra Nevada, CA (212 miles in 7 days) and he posted pictures from the hike. They were 2 sharing this tent and and were very satisfied with the weight, spaciousness and quick way to setup the tent. There are not many review on this tent, so I took my friend's word for that and purchased it just a day ago.
    Now I found your review with the pictures and how you changed using trekking poles for carbon fiber poles you made. I'm looking all over the web and can't find anything what I should purchase as to make those carbon fiber poles.
    Would you advise where did you get them?
    Thank you a lot for that. I don't like hiking with the poles either.

    Ivan

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    1. I ordered carbon fiber pieces from here, http://www.questoutfitters.com/tent_poles.htm#TENT%20POLES as well as the end caps and elastic cord to make my poles.

      I did have to cut two of the pieces to make them the right hight. You can cut carbon fiber fairly easily by wrapping a nice thick bunch of duct tape around the area and sawing through it carefully with something like a hack saw. A new saw blade is best, and go slowly. The fibers will be held together by the tape and since the tape is the final thing the blade goes through as you cut, not the pole, this method did not create fractures in the fibers running back from the cut edge.

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  5. Hi Ariel,

    You mentioned using tent poles in place of trekking poles and I'd like to do the same. Can you tell me about how long the front and rear poles are? Did you consider buying a third to create the "A" frame at the entryway?

    Thanks,
    Ryan

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  6. I thought briefly about using a third pole, but just didn't want to carry one more, and the pole in the middle of the doorway hasn't been a problem for us. I don't see why it wouldn't work though.

    The front pole is 47 inches. I made the rear one 2 inches longer than that so I could angle it back along the rear wall instead of having it up and down in the middle of the interior space. I hope that's helpful!

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  7. Makes sense to me and very helpful. Thanks! I ask because I'm planning to order aluminum replacement poles from a tarp tent maker at http://www.tarptent.com/. They sell a inexpensive poles intended specifically for this use (trekking pole replacement) with their own tents.

    Ryan

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