Our Big Agnes Blacktail 2 on Deer Lake
Our Big Agnes Blacktail 2 on Deer Lake in the BWCA.

The Big Agnes Blacktail 2 is a lightweight 2 person backpacking tent that is perfect for anyone looking to get their hands on a high quality tent with low weight and an affordable price (you can purchase the Blacktail 2 on Amazon for $250).

We recently took two of the Blacktail 2’s out on our trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (you can read about our entire trip here) in northern Minnesota and found that it was the perfect tent for our trip.

Our Big Agnes Blacktail 2 on Deer Lake
Our Big Agnes Blacktail 2 on Deer Lake in the BWCA.

Prepping For Our Trip

The trip was a 5 day four night adventure where weight was a big concern since we had many long portages planned, one nearly two miles over a rough and steep terrain.

Before we went on the trip we did a quick set up of both tents to ensure everything was in proper working order. Doing a dry run in your backyard is always a good idea before heading out with a new tent, or even an old tent. This is the time to look everything over and make sure it is in perfect working order so that you do not run into any problems while on your camping trip.

Our Big Agnes Tents, Sleeping Bags and Air Pads laid out in the living room.

We found that the Blacktail was very intuitive to set up. A basic three pole frame, 2 main poles and one smaller cross pole to keep the roof nice and high, means that anyone who has ever set up a tent before should figure the set up out very quickly.

The first time I set up my tent, it took between 3-4 minutes to get the tent body up and another minute or two to get the tent fly set up on top of the body.

Packing The Blacktail 2

We were easily able to fit the Trail Ridge 2, two Big Agnes sleeping bags, two Big Agnes insulated air core mattresses (note: The Big Agnes Sleep System sleeping bags and air mattress are awesome, read our full review here) and 2 sets of clothing into both our Gravity Gear Superior One (which we also fit a ton of other gear into as well) and our Granite Gear Quitico (which at 5,000 cubic inches, still had room for more gear). The official packed size is 6″ x 20″.

If you were packing for 2, I think you could easily fit the tent, stuffed sleeping bags, clothes, food and more into a standard 3,000 cubic inch backpacking pack without any issue.

The Blacktail weighs in at 4 lbs. 8 oz. for trail weight and has 29 sq ft of floor space with an additional 9 sq ft of vestibule space. While not ultralight is still incredibly light and perfect for most any backpacker, camper or canoeist.

My Favorite Features of the Blacktail 2

Double Doors

Personally, the Blacktail had a few features that I really loved. First, double doors are a huge plus, especially when you are fitting two people into a small two person tent. I was easily able to get in and out of the tent without having to climb over my wife, which we both appreciated very much.

Our Big Agnes Tent

Two Vestibules

Each door also has it’s own vestibule. Each vestibule is the same size and I found that mine was plenty big to place my pack, shoes, camera case and any other small items under while still having enough room to walk though getting in and out of the tent.

Storage and Media Pockets

Since the Blacktail 2 is a small lightweight tent, it does not have a lot of extra floor space for storage. My wife found that she could easily place her dry sack with her clothes in the space between her feet and the end of the tent. I however had just inches between the tent and my head and feet.

This was not a problem since I was able to keep my pack within an arms reach in the vestibule and keep my itch cream (I literally had over 50 mosquito bites), pocket knife, flashlight and my wife’s bear whistle all in the storage pockets in the ceiling.

Below the storage pockets there are two media pockets with holes for headphone cords as well. We didn’t use these, but I do see how they would be useful for many campers.

Bathtub Bottom

The floor of the Blacktail is a bathtub style meaning that the floor material extends up the sides of the tent to help prevent water from leaking into the tent. What is really nice about this is that it keeps the seams where the floor attaches to the walls from being on the ground.

Big Agnes Tent with Wenonah Canoe

Other Features

Some of the other features worth mentioning about the Blacktail 2

  • Storm flaps on vestibule zippers.
  • Reflective guy lines and webbing on tent corners.
  • Aluminum poles are durable and light weight.
  • All seams are pre-taped.
  • Body and floor have 1500mm water proof polyester coating.
  • The rain fly can be set up separately without the tent body.

 

Using The Blacktail in the BWCA

Once we were in the Boundary Waters (you can read about our entire trip here), setting up the Blacktail ended up being one of the easiest parts of setting up our campsite.

At each new campsite my wife decided to set up the tent, sleeping bags and air mattresses while I set up a shade tarp, cooking area and anything else in the campsite we needed.

Kelly and Ryan on our campsite on Deer Lake.
Our Campsite on Deer Lake.

Typically it took her roughly 10 minutes to get the gear out of the pack and get the tent set up with an additional 15-20 to set up the air mattresses, sleeping bags and anything else in the tent.

Packing was about the same, taking us usually about 15 minutes to do together with most of that time being spent tightly packing up our portage packs.

My Final Thoughts

The Blacktail 2 is the perfect tent for those who don’t want to buy a low quality tent at your local retail department store. It costs $250 which means that while not at cheap as your a retail dept. store tent, it is much better made and will last you many years of hard camping. You can purchase a Blacktail 2 from Big Agnes on Amazon for $250.

Big Agnes seems to have combined everything necessary to make a high quality, durable, yet light weight tent that packs small.

I think it would be perfect for any entry-mid level backpacker, any level of canoeing or any family camping trips.

 

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