Big Agnes lit up the tent world with their mtnGLO tech last year. This year brings their first tent designed entirely around the system – the Krumholtz UL2. In collaboration with Goal Zero, Big Agnes created a system that integrates ambient LED lighting, solar charging, and a few nifty gizmos into a water-resistant package that doesn’t impact the integrity of the shelter. What does that all mean for you, the 21st century camper? Read on…

Big Agnes Krumholtz UL2 Tent mtnGLO Review

The Tent

For a (relatively) big manufacturer, Big Agnes is known for pushing the envelope on tent design toward the ultralight side of things. In some cases, they’ll sacrifice living space for weight, which we don’t necessarily appreciate. The Krumholtz, however, strikes a decent balance between space and weight savings, adopting smart material use to shave ounces without cramming you and your tentmate into an uncomfortable situation.

While the head of the tent offers 52″ of space, the foot measures in at only 42″, meaning you aren’t getting a pair of extra-wide luxury pads inside. That said, 52″ is enough that you aren’t sleeping on top of your partner’s head. Adding to the feeling of roominess are the very vertical walls of the tent, achieved via a combination of multiple pole hubs and a very wide eyebrow pole. Thus, even though the floor only provides 29 sq. ft of space, the tent is pretty darn livable.

Two doors with symmetrical vestibules means no one is playing rochambeau to see who gets the better side of the tent. The fly doors can be rolled back entirely or you can rollup the leeward side in inclement weather without exposing the tent. Also important, the fly features a real vent on at the head of the tent which includes a velcroed prop to keep the vent open. We wish more tents had this. It would be even better if you could operate it from inside the tent. Alas, we can’t have everything.

The hubbed pole system makes for relatively easy setup, even if you’ve never seen the tent before. Poles are color coded to matching webbing on each corner and insert into grommets. The fly then attaches to standard, side-release buckles, again color coded, with easy adjustments. Each end of the fly features pre-attached guylines – three triangulated at the head and one at the foot – to pull the fly taught and away from the tent body. While you could use the tent without staking these out, we don’t recommend it.

Speaking of stakes, setup requires eight: four corners, each vestibule, and each set of guys. That’s how many you get with the Krumholtz. They’re nice, aluminum V-stakes that are probably not going to break, but if you’re a worrier, bring an extra. You also receive a pole repair sleeve in the stake sack.

Inside the Krumholtz, you’ll find six standard mesh pockets for small items. Otherwise, the tent body is a well-made, but standard affair. Both the tent floor and the fly are polyurethane coated, silicone treated nylon (silnylon) with a 1200mm waterproof head. All seams are taped from the factory.

Our only quibble with the tent’s construction is with the zipper pulls – Big Agnes attaches webbing pulls directly to the zipper sliders without any metal pull.  The sliders become difficult to pull if the tent is pitched well.  We’ll take the few extra grams for some real zipper pulls!

Big Agnes Krumholtz UL2 Tent mtnGLO Review

mtnGLO

Which brings us to what makes the Krumholtz unique – true mtnGLO integration. Big Agnes worked with Goal Zero to put together a package that integrates almost perfectly together. Where previous mtnGLO iterations were added to existing tents, the Krumholtz receives exclusive features that make the system better…more usable.

If you haven’t seen mtnGLO before, the system integrates small strips of LEDs into the tent ceiling seams. They aren’t exceptionally bright, but they’re enough to play cards or read by. The Krumholtz includes mtnGLO, but also comes with a bevy of electronic accessories. Goal Zero provides a Nomad 7 solar panel, a USB-powered fan and lantern, and a Flip 20 Battery to power the entire system. You can also use the included battery pack and 3 AAAs instead of the Flip 20.

Big Agnes added some features to the tent to make it more solar-friendly. Starting with the tent fly: Big Agnes sews on a pair thin daisy chains in a cross pattern on the apex of the fly. With the included mini-carabiners, you can hang the Nomad panel from the fly. The webbing allows you to relocate the panel as the sun moves across the sky. The fly also has a covered slot, allowing a cable from the solar panel to penetrate into the tent without letting in any precip.

Inside, the tent body also features a covered slot to allow cable access. While we imagine a very determined bug could crawl its way inside, that would be an unlikely occurrence. Inside the ceiling of the tent, you’ll find two pockets. One houses the mtnGLO controller and the other stores the battery pack. In addition to the mtnGLO LEDs, the center, ceiling seam features plastic clips that will hold on to the accessory cables and the accessories themselves, meaning you have multiple mounting locations for the USB-powered fan and lantern.

Livability

On our first overnight, temperatures dropped below freezing. Even with the vent fully open, condensation built up in the tent and froze on the inside of the fly. None of it made it inside the tent. But, it slowed things down when we had to dry out the fly once the sun rose. On other nights, we still experienced condensation, but not to the extent of the first night. When the moisture doesn’t freeze, it has an easier time escaping out the vent. One possible improvement would be to add a similar vent at the foot of the tent to allow cross-ventilation.

That said, we intentionally sealed the tent up everywhere except the vent to see how it would do. There are plenty of other ventilation opportunities – the fly doors can be opened without exposing the inside of the tent. So, we’re not so worried about condensation.

Vestibules are generous enough that you can sit inside the tent with your feet sticking out and have room to cook, eat, or relax without being exposed to the elements. Inside, there’s room enough for two, but probably not for two and a dog unless the dog is on top of someone. One plus a dog and gear is fine.

While the design is reminiscent of the Copper Spur – with its hubs and eyebrow pole – the Krumholtz improves on the older design with more vertical walls at the head and sides. It’s a huge improvement in livability even though the tents share the exact same footprint. And it only weighs an ounce more.

Do you need it?

If it’s time to upgrade your tent and you’d like to get into solar charging at the same time, there is no better, single-package option for the average camper. No tent on the market integrates with solar like the Krumholtz. For $649, MSRP, you get a $500 tent and $160 of solar kit. Of course, with our help, you shouldn’t be paying MSRP!

There are definitely better solar panels out there than the Nomad 7 and we wish the Krumholtz was available as a standalone without the Goal Zero package.

As a tent, the Krumholtz hits all the usual Big Agnes marks. It’s light for its size and feature set, coming in at under 3 lbs. without the Goal Zero kit. In a perfect world, we’d grab the Krumholtz, sell off the Goal Zero kit, and grab a different solar panel and battery pack to operate the mtnGLO.

Specs

Big Agnes listed weights:

Trail Weight Including Goal Zero Kit: 4lb 8oz/ 2.04kg
Trail Weight (Not Including Goal Zero Kit): 2lb 15oz/ 1.33kg
Packed Weight Including Goal Zero Kit 4lb 14oz./ 2.21kg
Packed Weight (Not Including Goal Zero Kit): 3lb 5oz./1.50kg
Fast Fly weight (Not Including Goal Zero Kit): 2lb

Packed Size 7″ x 18″
Floor Area 29sq ft
Vestibule Area 9sq ft
Head Height 39″
Foot Height 16″

Engearment measured weights:

Goal Zero Kit – 1lb 9.25oz
Tent Body – 1lb 2oz
Tent Fly – 1lb 2.5oz
Poles in Sack -11.75oz
Stakes and Pole Repair Sleeve in Sack – 3.75oz
mtnGLO control/battery pack w/ 3 AAA Batteries – 2oz
How we would carry it – 3lbs 6oz
(tent, fly, poles and stakes in sacks, mtnGLO control + Batteries, no Goal Zero kit)