Big Agnes Blacktail 2The Big Agnes Blacktail 2 strikes the balance between weight, space, and affordability like no other. It's made for hiking in the backcountry and features two doors for easy access, two vestibules for storage, and a generous amount of internal living space. All this comes wrapped up in a durable and affordable package. View Latest Deal
Big Agnes is renowned for making excellent ultralight tents that are awesome for backpacking adventures. But, as with most ultralight tents, they are overall very expensive. Their most popular models, like the Copper Spur and Fly Creek, cost around $400 which puts them out of reach for most of us’ budgets.
However, the Blacktail 2 is Big Agnes’ answer to an entry-level ultralight tent that is far more affordable. You’ll have to compromise on the overall weight by and pound or two but you’re still getting the awesome features that Big Agnes’ tents are known for plus a boost in durability and weather protection.
In this review, we break down how the Big Agnes Blacktail 2 performs across categories including materials, durability, weather resistance, performance, livability, and more. Have a read to see if it’s the answer to your ultralight tent needs.
Most tents in the ultralight world have to compromise on durability in order to get their weight to a minimum. Thin materials are light but they’re also delicate and susceptible to rips and wear and tear.
The Big Agnes Blacktail 2 avoids some of this issue by not being quite as light as other ultralight tents., and while this does add to your pack weight, it also adds to the durability of the tent.
The Blacktail 2 consists of a breathable polyester and polyester mesh inner tent that’s great for ventilation and blocking out any biting insects that fancy you for a quick meal.
The floor and rainfly are made from 68D polyester with a waterproof polyurethane coating that gives it a 1500mm waterproof rating.
Both are quite robust and will handle a lot of wear and tear compared to other backpacking tents, plus the waterproof rating is 300mm higher than other backpacking tents too.
The D count is much greater compared to other ultralight tents like the Big Agnes Tiger Wall at 15D and the Nemo Dagger at 20D, but they are a lot lighter.
The poles are made from aluminum press-fit. They are sturdy and come together to form a solid structure that can handle the elements without any worries.
In terms of durability, the Blacktail does a better job than most other ultralight tents thanks to the use of thicker and heavier materials. It is between 1.5lbs and 2.5 lbs heavier than tents like the Nemo Hornet, or Big Agnes Copper Spur though, but it is a lot more robust.
The 68D polyester will handle a lot more wear and tear compared to 20D or 15D but it is still quite thin overall and you should still be careful when using the Blacktail even though it has a higher D count.
We highly recommend using a footprint with the Blacktail. The floor is, after all, the one part of a tent that gets the most abuse, and using a footprint will make it last a lot longer.
The aluminum press-fit poles are corrosion resistant and strong while being semi lightweight. They are no way near as light as DAC Featherlite NFL aluminum poles but do they get the job done all the same.
Keeping you dry, warm, and not blowing away is a tent’s number one job. Weather can change quickly in the backcountry and a 3 season tent should be able to handle whatever gets thrown at it, outside of winter of course. So, how does the Big Agnes Blacktail 2 handle the wind and rain?
The Blacktail uses an aluminum press-fit pole system that is quite light and creates a solid structure that can handle heavy wind with ease. The poles naturally flex with the wind, so that they don’t snap, and once the wind has passed, retain their original shape to give you the interior space you’re meant to have.
The Blacktail also comes with pre-cut guy lines and tensioners, plus 8 staking points to ensure the tent stays firmly anchored to the ground.
The Blacktail’s floor and rainfly and both waterproofed to 1500mm and come with a waterproof polyurethane coating. This means that a 1500mm high column of water can be held up against the wall or floor for one minute before a drop falls in. It’s not the highest waterproof rating in the world but it is sufficient for 3-season camping and 200mm higher than most other ultralight tents.
The rainfly also offers full coverage and there are storm flaps on the vestibule zippers to stop any rain from coming in when you’re entering or exiting the tent. The seams are also well sealed to ensure there are no pesky leaks.
The internal mesh canopy of the Blacktail offers excellent ventilation thanks to the large gap between it and the rainfly and the two in-built vents. Together they provide ample airflow to ensure that you’ll have no condensation inside the tent.
If you’re not getting enough ventilation you also have the option to unzip the low vent feature in the vestibule doors to get a little extra without the risk of letting any rain inside.
As an entry ultralight backpacking tent, does the more affordable price of the Big Agnes Blacktail 2 affect its overall performance? Below we take a look at how easy it is to pitch and its weight and packed size.
Like all modern pole structured backpacking tents, the Blacktail 2 is easy to pitch, no matter what surface you’re on. The freestanding design allows you to set up the tent without the need to stake any part of it down, so when camping on hard rocky surfaces, you can move it around to find the most secure spot.
The tent comes with two identical poles and one cross pole that slip easily into the corner and mid grommets, and then it’s a simple matter of clipping the inner canopy to them. The guy lines are pre-cut for easy staking and are reflective so you can see them at night to avoid tripping over them.
If you have set up a few tents in the past, we’re confident this one will take you around 2 minutes to pitch, even if you’re on your own.
The Blacktail 2 is a lot heavier when compared to other ultralight tents. Its packed weight comes in at 4 lbs. 15 oz. and when you look at the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2’s weight of 3 lbs. 2 oz. or the Tiger Wall UL2’s 2 lbs. 8 ounces, it seems quite heavy.
It certainly isn’t the lightest tent around but it isn’t meant to be. It’s designed as an entry-level backpacking tent where the focus is more on affordability than weight. The Blacktail 2 is half the price of its competitors mentioned above and just a few pounds heavier.
The Blacktails packability is on a par with the competition. It packs down to just 6 x 20 inches and when you compare this to the Tiger Wall’s 5.5 x 18 inches, there is barely any difference. You’ll have no issues at all slotting the Blacktail into your backpack, it’ll even go into a 40L pack without any worries.
The stuff sack is also quite generous in size, making it easy to get everything in there without having to pack it up like a tent rolling ninja every morning.
We know that the Big Agnes Blacktail 2 is both heavier and more affordable than its competitors but, does that extra weight give you some more space on the trail?
Most ultralight tents remove some interior space for the sake of weight reduction. The Blacktail 2 also follows this trend but it still does a pretty good job at maximizing the space available.
It uses Big Agnes’ hubbed pole system to give it near-vertical walls that add a large sense of space when you’re inside. The peak height is 42 inches and gives ample room for two people to sit upright at the same time.
The floor is 90 inches long and 52 inches wide, tapering down to 42 inches at the foot end. The length is ideal for any tall campers over 6 feet and there is enough width to fit two standard sleeping pads quite easily.
Being a two-person tent, it’s a little cramped with two people in it and if you plan on camping with a buddy/partner often and space is more important to you than weight, you might want to consider the Blacktip UL 3-person tent.
Every tent in the world should have two doors, it makes life so much easier. The two doors on the Blacktail make getting in and out of the tent a piece of cake. Both occupants have their own access points without having to climb over each other to get in and out all the time.
On the inside of the Blacktail, there are two media pockets, one on each side, that you can easily reach while lying down. There are also multiple loops on the ceiling for you to tie any accessories to or to use with your own gear loft. It would have been nice if they had included a gear loft here.
The two vestibules provide 9 square feet of storage space each, making 18 square feet overall. This is a huge amount of space that will easily accommodate two 90L backpacks, boots, and anything else you fancy putting out there.
When compared to the competition, the Blacktail does pretty well. Its vestibule size is similar to that of the best and the internal storage is missing a gear loft but is otherwise the same.
The Big Agnes Blacktail 2, as we know, is designed as an entry-level backpacking tent and for what it is, we think it’s excellent value for money.
For half the price of a high-end ultralight tent, the Blacktail 2 has all the same if not better features are more durable, and has a better waterproof rating. We think that is something worth carrying a few extra pounds for, don’t you?
With a score of 90, the Big Agnes Blacktail 2 has exceeded our expectations for such an affordable backpacking tent. The only place it lost marks was in the performance category due to its heavier overall weight. But, if you marked this tent outside of the ultralight world, the score would have been even higher.
The Big Agnes Blacktail 2 has certainly impressed us and anyone looking for an entry-level ultralight or back[acking tent shouldn’t hesitate to add it to their basket and checkout.
The Blacktail 2 is durable, good in weather, spacious, has excellent storage space, is easy to pitch, and easy to access with the two doors. It does everything the best ultralight tents do with more durability and weather resistance for half the price, and a few extra pounds of trail weight.