The Big Agnes Platinum series tent use the lightest of materials to get down to astonishingly low weights at 1113grams for a three person, two skin, two door, spacious shelter. My main reason for taking this tent on the Tour of the Matterhorn was to assess its robustness, not so much a long-term durability test but an out-of-the-box assessment of whether the tent was up to the rigours of the trail.
In order to produce the lightest tents Big Agnes deploy very fine fabrics with waterproof ratings (Hydrostatic Head) generally below those of other British manufacturers. This has always been the case and over the years we’ve come to realise that these fabrics are still very effective against heavy rain, with many testimonies from customers who have used them in the UK in anger.
We experienced one really wet night on our tour and the Tiger Wall performed flawlessly, we even managed to get it down relatively dry even though the rain never let up. We usually wait for a break in the rain to strike camp, but on this particular morning it was clear the rain was in for the duration, so we packed out rucksacks inside the tent, donned out waterproofs and got ready to take the tent down. We managed to detach the inner from the flysheet and were sitting on it – this was as far as we could go without actually getting outside.
We opened the doors and moved quickly, getting the flysheet in a rucksack outer pocket and the inner tent in the other rucksack relatively dry. Poles and pegs were stashed and we set off.
The groundsheet is painfully thin, but again it proved that it was up to the job, one night I camped at 2575m and the ground was a mix of rock and moss, the groundsheet survived. It's not magic though, and it’s definitely a vulnerable point, so although its waterproof you need to be careful it doesn’t get punctured. The optional footprint provides extra protection but adds weight. Although a good tip is this; I usually take an extra groundsheet on longer trips, its useful for sitting on or for organising gear, if I was to take a tent footprint I could use it under the tent when camping on rocks and as my ‘extra’ groundsheet when camping on grass. Unlike some manufacturers Big Agnes make very light footprints for their very light tents so the weight penalty is justifiable.
The most stable tents have a fully supportive pole structure – some thing like Big Agnes’s Copper Spurs have a ‘wishbone’ poleset at each end, and this is very stable. In order to keep weight down the Tiger Wall tents have a wishbone at one end and a straight pole at the other, which can leave it vulnerable to wind, what you find is the sides of the tent are blown inwards, severely reducing the internal volume.
We always recommend using Gram-counter Gear Grip-Clips to attach extra guys either side of the single rear pole to solve the wind issue. If you use such guys it stops the problem completely.
The other thing that helps with stability is if the tent has a method of attaching the flysheet to the poleset at key points, usually with a Velcro loop – Big Agnes adopts this system in all their tents and it works very well.
So, while there is compromise in the pole structure this shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
There were two of us and we found the tent to be spacious with very good head height even with thick sleeping mats to sit on. The two doors are an essential convenience and the vestibules are a reasonable size though not huge. Using the tent for three people would be a squeeze but with just two it was ideal, with plenty of internal space we could have all our gear inside the inner tent and just used the vestibules for things like water bottles, boots and cooking equipment.
There are plenty of mesh pockets inside the tent too, which are very useful for keeping us organised.
The tent is easy to put up with colour coded webbing and poles, the pegs supplied are adequate (and very light), though as with any tent you should take a pegset appropriate to your destination.
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall Platinum tents perform well for most three season backpacking requirements, and the three person tent makes for a luxurious camping experience for two people. You would buy this tent if weight is of paramount importance, by keeping your overall weight down you will have a much better backpacking trip, the less you have to carry the better it will be.