Sleep In The Dirt

Big Agnes and Jake Lah – an Award-Winning Partnership

Company News
The 2022 Copper Spur Long
The new addition to the Copper Spur series, the Copper Spur Long. Photo: Noah Wetzel

When we first introduced the Copper Spur series of tents in 2008, we wanted to make a series of packable, spacious, ultralight tents with enough features and bomber materials to make you feel like you were living the high life (even if you hadn’t showered in a few days). Our entire backpacking tent line has grown since introducing the Copper Spur, especially the ultralight category, and these tents inspired it all. And in 2022, we have expanded the Copper Spur line to include the HV UL 5-person, and Copper Spur Long in both 2- and 3-person.  

The Copper Spur tent with Jake Lah architecture.
The Copper Spur tent with Jake Lah architecture. Photo: Noah Wetzel

We’ve won some awards over the years and evolved these tents into more than just a best-selling line; it’s the signature architecture, high-quality DAC tent poles, and the two-door design that can be spotted on trails, in campgrounds, and remote roadside sites around the world. We are pretty humbled by the success but it’s the tent we’ve all been sleeping and loving for years.  

“The Copper Spur is such a timeless and classic tent that has evolved over more than a decade to also be one of our most innovative,” said Big Agnes co-founder Bill Gamber. “A legacy of the brand, recognized globally in camp sites and on trails.” 

Big Agnes team with Jake Lah and family.
Big Agnes team with Jake Lah and family.

The award-winning Copper Spur series is the result of our partnership with longtime tent designer, Jake Lah. As the founder of premium tent-pole manufacturer DAC, Lah has been an important Big Agnes partner over the past 20 years. His experience developing stronger, lighter, and more efficient tents was integral to the development of our Copper Spur series. His expertise is founded on three decades of materials research, manufacturing refinement, and the rigorous tent testing in the DAC wind tunnel. The Copper Spur series’ success stems from the collaboration between ‘Architecture by Jake Lah’ and our internal team of tent designers. 

After completing his MBA at the University of Michigan Lah saw an opportunity in high-strength aluminum. Returning to South Korea, Lah founded DAC (Dongah Aluminum Corporation ) in 1988 as an expert in aluminum alloy and as he grew the company, he became known as a leader in progressive structural designs for tents.  

“It’s quite odd,” Lah shared with Outside Business Journal. “There seems to be no connection between my past and aluminum.” 

Jake Lah with Bill Gamber at DAC
Jake Lah with Bill Gamber at DAC.

Evolving The Iconic Copper Spur Series

Twenty years of tent design collaboration with Lah has culminated in the unique and innovative architecture found in our Copper Spur HV UL series. 

“Over several trips to the DAC facility our tent design team worked with the DAC team and Jake to finalize the concept of the single hub design,” said Gamber. “After rigorous testing in their wind tunnel, we knew the single hub design would evolve the Copper Spur UL to the minimalist high-volume tent it is today.” 

Testing a Big Agnes tent in the wind tunnel at DAC.
Testing a Big Agnes tent model in the DAC wind tunnel.

One of our best-selling, full-featured, ultralight backpacking shelters, the Copper Spur HV UL series is designed with a high-volume hub to maximize strength and increase living space without adding weight. Prior to its high-volume hub design change in 2017, the Copper Spur classic remained largely unchanged.

Big Agnes designers worked in conjunction with Lah to minimalize the tent design from two hubs to a centralized hub, equipping the series with updated hardware that make setup even easier while maximizing interior volume. Even Lah sometimes surprises himself when inspiration yields innovative designs or processes.  

Big Agnes at DAC in 2007
Big Agnes at DAC in 2007

“Almost every time I try new things, I feel like I’m pushing against a wall, and that there’s nothing I can do,” Lah shared with Outside Business Journal. “I try, try, try, and finally, I might find a crack in the wall, or a small hole, and oh! Maybe I can find a way out.” 

After eight years developing more sustainable manufacturing methods, Lah introduced Green Anodizing to DAC poles. The process removed harmful chemicals used to anodize poles and replaced them with a mechanical process. Big Agnes continues to partner with Lah in architectural design and utilizes DAC poles in our tent line as part of our mutual commitment to sustainability. 

DAC poles in the Big Agnes development room.
DAC poles in the Big Agnes development room.

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