Big Agnes Gold Camp 3 UL Review - ''Great for use with groups due to the abundance of headroom and space whilst keeping compact and fast to pitch.''

Posted by Trek Scotland on Aug 21, 2023

After using a pyramid tent for the first time a few years ago this style of shelter quickly became a favoured choice of ours. Great for use with groups due to the abundance of headroom and space whilst keeping compact and fast to pitch. Used as simply a tarp over a bivy bag in bad weather, or a communal base for food prep and a chat of an evening. A walking pole can be used instead of a dedicated pole system, saving weight with less kit carried, and the variety of set ups can make pitching in a wide range of ground types less of a headache.

The Big Agnes  Gold Camp UL 3 is very much like pyramid tents we have used previously. Pitching is familiar and you can have the outer set up in just a few minutes. Peg out the corners, extendable pole or walking poles in the centre, secure a few extra guylines and you’re ready to go. The included pegs are decent enough although for a super secure set up it would be best to purchase a few additions with a bit of extra length. At a weight of 1220 grams this will work great as an easy to set up and secure tarp for solo and group use when out for multiple days in warmer weather. The pack size is relatively small although you can reduce the size by quite an amount using our own stuff sac rather than the one provided.

Adjusting the height of the included pole can make this a very liveable space with fantastic headroom. Great for 2 or 3 people including kit. Due to the shape of the Gold Camp, any rainfall quickly sheds away down the steep sides. The only problem with having quite a tall shelter is it can suffer a bit in higher windspeeds and it's preferable to pitch the Gold Camp in less exposed areas if windspeeds increase over 25mph. The guylines we would much prefer to be slightly longer, increasing the angle, and providing better stability. This can be easily altered by adding a bit of additional cordage.

The adjustable pole splits into 3 sections and fits perfectly to the side of our pack taking up little space. Easy to adjust and hard-wearing. 2 walking poles and a couple of voile straps worked just as well for when keeping the weight down was a priority.

A large mesh inner offers full midge protection, a waterproof base with reinforced centre for the pole, and a great feature we liked is that it includes a small porch for keeping boots out of the main sleeping area. The internal dimensions will inevitably be tighter than with the outer fabric alone, although it still has a very liveable space for 2 people and kit, and at a push 3 people who don’t mind having to cram together for an evening. We spent a night away using the Gold Camp with the family, it was easy to share the weight and the internal space was plenty to cover all the extras the little ones require. At just over 1kg and a similar pack size to the outer, it's easy to share the load between the group. Our only concern would be the high amount of mesh and how this might hold up over time, so a bit of care is needed to not snag the sides when moving around.

Condensation is no issue as there is plenty of airflow although it is good to point out that you will feel a breeze flowing through to the sleeping area when it's blustery outside.

A feature we have found on many  Big Agnes tents is the quick stash door keepers. Our much-preferred system with little design elements like this makes life just that little bit easier whilst out and about. You can also pre-attach the mesh inner to the outer fabric for a quick set up in bad weather although it will not fit in the provided stuff sac.

At an extra 268 grams, there is an additional  footprint. The Gold Camp does favour lighter fabrics mostly consisting of 20D Polyester so this would be a wise investment to keep the base in great condition. It does also make a great floor fabric for midge season adventures when you can ditch the inner mesh and travel lighter. We’ve spent many nights like this in similar tents and is perfect for on the move activities such as bikepacking.

Our Verdict

The Gold Camp from Big Agnes came as a bit of a surprise and certainly became a great shelter to use when looking for a shelter with increased headroom and liveable internal space. It’s not what we would call a proper high mountain shelter as it does struggle in increased windspeeds. Although for family adventures, bikepacking, and as a lightweight accompaniment for groups and bivvy bags, the Gold Camp certainly came in very handy on multiple occasions. A bit of care is needed as the fabrics are quite fragile, and the guylines need extending. But overall, there is plenty to like about this versatile shelter. 

Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...

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