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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 > Test Report by Ray Estrella
I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.
Manufacturer: Big Agnes Inc
Quick and Dirty, Nitty Gritty
Constantly improving on the designs of proven winners like the Seedhouse SL and Copper Spur UL, the Jack Rabbit SL seems to be a fusion of those two tents (both of which I owned 2P and 3P versions, see reviews) and ends up with a great tent. The two side-entry doors make it a better fit for two people and the crossing pole adds a lot of room. Partial-height solid walls help keep dirt off my gear and wind out of my face, while the upper mesh keeps things aired out and the fly shape is better in winds. Now if Big Agnes will just make a version with the UL materials… Please read on for the details.
The Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 (hereafter called the Jack Rabbit or tent) is a lightweight three-season tent, the newest addition to the company's Super Light series. Here is a picture of the separate components.
Like all of my present and past Big Agnes tents the Jack Rabbit uses a DAC Featherlite NSL pole and hub system. The poles are made of TH72M aluminum; the hubs are of some kind of hard nylon or plastic. Together they weigh 16.9 oz (478 g). The main pole is the spine of the structure and has a center section that goes into a hub at each end, two poles at each end go into the hubs too, forming a sort-of elongated X, or a stick-man with no head. One set of the end poles is shorter than the other end, these go to the foot of the tent. The ends of the poles are placed into grommets at the corners of the body. Big Agnes includes a storage sack for the poles which weighs 0.56 oz (16 g). Once the pole ends are secured in the grommets the tent body clips to them with DAC pole clips.
Once the body is up another crossing pole goes over the top of the tent. This pole just sits on top of the spine, the ends of it snap into clear plastic grommet-like keepers. Once attached this crossing pole pulls the tent body out forming steeper sides which give it more room inside. It also gives support for the fly. Here is a picture with all the poles in place. Note the two standard size sleeping pads in place. All these pictures were taken above the Red River of the North at M.B. Johnson Park in Moorhead, Minnesota.
The 19.6 oz (556 g) body of the Jack Rabbit (inner tent) is comprised of a bath-tub floor made of silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. Above the 6 in (15 cm) tub the walls are pale yellow lightweight nylon for the first half and then switch to polyester mesh the rest of the way. The exception to this is that the foot-end is entirely made of mesh. A large D-shaped door is on each side of the tent. Each door has a two-way zipper. When opened the doors may be gathered and held in place with a loop and toggle.
High and to the side of the doors are triangular mesh storage pockets. Gear loft loops at the head end of the tent will also accommodate the optional 1 oz (29 g) Wall Gear Loft which is installed in the picture below.
A 23 oz (653 g) rain fly made of same material as the floor covers the Jack Rabbit attaching with color-coded quick-connect buckles at the pole/body junctions in the corners. There are pockets under the fly to slide the crossing pole into.
The fly pulls straight out from the sides of the tent to form two vestibules with angled doors and storm flaps over the zippers. The fly and floor have all seams factory taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape. The fly comes with reflective guylines pre-attached.
Ventilation is provided by the mesh walls as is common with the Big Agnes tents I have owned. But the Jack Rabbit also uses a high vent on the fly that is positioned just above the sleeper's heads.
The Jack Rabbit comes with 10 hefty, round aluminum J stakes that weigh 0.51 oz (14.4 g) each. They can be stored in the included storage sack which weighs 0.25 oz (7 g). The whole works can go inside the 1 oz (29 g) stuff sack. The cord-lock equipped stuff sack has a Tyvek-type tag with the set-up instructions printed on it. Lastly, there is a emergency pole repair splint included.
Big Agnes kindly supplied the optional 6.31 oz (179 g) footprint. Besides protecting the floor from abrasive terrain the footprint can also be used with the fly alone (no inner tent) to make a lighter weight shelter when insect protection is not needed/desired. In this Fast Fly mode the weight, with the minimum stakes needed (two) and no stuff sacks, comes in at 2 lb 15.2 oz (1.34 kg).
This concludes the Initial Report. Weather permitting I am heading out tomorrow to use the Jack Rabbit in the field. Please come back in two months to see how it did there.
Because of my recovery from a very badly fractured ankle/lower leg for my first use of the Jack Rabbit I went camping to try the ankle out without a pack. I stayed at the Canoeist Primitive Campground outside of Hendrum, Minnesota (MN). It got crazy hot and a bit humid when the sun came out but was cloudy part of the day too. The temps were from 90 to 54 F (32 to 12 C). It rained in the morning coming in but did not that night. I had the vestibule up on the Jack Rabbit just in case. Terrain was mowed grass/weeds. The picture above is from this trip.
Next was an overnight backpacking trip to McCarty Lakes in the Paul Bunyan State Forest, starting at North Country Trail (NCT) parking but taking Halverson Trail. I had a starting pack weight of only 16.6 lb (7.53 kg) as I carried no water; I made it in camp since I only walked 2.5 mi (4 km). It was very cloudy, sometimes cool. The temps ranged from 60 to 42 F (16 to 6 C). Terrain was dirt and actually rocky as I had three of eight stakes hit rocks half-way in.
On the next backpacking trip a very rainy night was spent at Hovde Lake in Chippewa National Forest off the North Country Trail. The temperatures ranged from 80 to 42 F (27 to 6 C) and the terrain where set up was a wet mix of cut-down grasses, weeds and poison ivy.
For helping a neighbor I ended up with permission to access his farm land which includes miles (kilometers) of Red River of the North frontage and 50 acres of hardwood forest north of Halstad, Minnesota. My first time out there I went to the northern-most of his three sections and stayed on a bluff above the river just out of the forest. This trip was hot and a bit humid, making it up to 80 F and a low that night of 47 F (8 to 27 C). Here is a shot of the Jack Rabbit in the tall grass.
The last trip was a horribly buggy, muggy, backpacking trip in the Smoky Hills State Forest. It was very hot with a high of 83 F (28 C) but 93% humidity. It rained in the early afternoon but not at night so the Jack Rabbit stayed dry. (Kinda…)
The Jack Rabbit seems to be a mash-up of the Seedhouse SL and the Copper Spur UL series tents (I had both the 2P and 3P in both). While not using the lighter materials of the Copper Spur it does have the half-height solid walls, center crossing pole, and double side-entry doors.
Thankfully the Jack Rabbit has excellent waterproofing. I have not seen a drop make it inside. Well from rain that is. I have seen some massive condensation but that is no fault of the tent. Rainy weather, close proximity to lakes and rivers, and saturated ground pretty much guarantees it.
I like to sleep with the fly off, or at least pulled back half-way, but other than the trip north of Halstad on the Red River I have had to keep the tent buttoned up. Later this month I am heading to Montana for a couple nights (at least) and hope to be able to sleep with the moon in my eyes and the fly in its stuff sack.
Since I have been using the Jack Rabbit solo I have been able to bring my pack inside with me. But in the case of two people using the tent the Jack Rabbit has plenty of room in the vestibules to protect a backpack each while still allowing unhindered access to the inside. Here is a picture of my Exos 46 sitting in one of them.
I have been very grateful for the footprint. Not only has it been very wet here, but this is the worst year for poison ivy I have ever seen. What looks like grass in most of my pictures is actually chopped down weeds. Except for the shots on the Red River outside of Hendrum all those sites have poison ivy mixed in with the other moist green stuff. The footprint is keeping the bottom of Jack Rabbit from getting poison ivy oils on it from me crushing the plants as I move my big body around in the tent. At the end of the season I will just throw the footprint in the washer, something I can't do with the tent itself. In the meantime I fold the footprint in on itself to keep any oils from getting on my hands. (I still have gotten hit a couple times so far, but from my shoes, not the tent.)
Being trapped inside by cruddy weather or swarms of bugs makes me appreciate the roominess of the Jack Rabbit. This is a great design. I really like the doors. They are big enough to get into easily, much better than on a couple of my other Big Agnes tents.
So far there have been no problems concerning the durability of the tent. Everything is working fine. I do hang it up to thoroughly dry after each trip.
That's about all I have to say at this point. So I think I will call it a day and wrap up this report. Please check back in a couple months for the Long Term report and see how the Jack Rabbit did in a few new places. I leave with a picture of it at McCarty Lakes. (Yeah, it just rained, or is gonna rain, or is raining…)
The Jackrabbit was next used on a 15-day road trip to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City with five days of hiking before it and two days after it. First I took it to Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota, the western terminus of the North Country Trail. I hiked a section of the NCT, and two trails in the State Park and camped by Lake Sakakawea. It was hot and muggy, 81 F for a high and only 67 F for a low (27 - 19 C) with 76% humidity. It sprinkled during the night. Here is a shot at dinner time.
The next three days (two nights) were spent hiking on the Maah Daah Hey Trail in Sully Creek State Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit, and the Little Missouri National Grasslands. It too was very hot with temps from 92 down to 55 F (33 - 13 C) and humidity of 68%. I camped on the bank of Sully Creek which was dry by this time of the year. It rained for about two hours the second morning. (And to think I was done with rain…)
On my way back home I hiked more in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TNRP) and just outside of it on more of the Maah Daah Hey Trail. I stayed at Sully Creek State Park again, but away from the creek as I found a tree to get some shade as it was even hotter than before. The park caretakers told me it was 99 F (37 C) when I talked to them at 5:00 pm after setting up my tent. Here is the Jack Rabbit in my meager shade that evening. Again it rained in the morning.
The last hoorah for the Jack Rabbit was a five-day trip deep in the Superior National Forest, right by the Canadian border. I volunteered to help the United States Forest Service (USFS) build a bridge over Bridal Falls on the Gunflint Trail, The first night I pitched the Jack Rabbit on the grassy USFS heli-pad next to the Cross River. The next two nights were spent on an island in the eastern end of Gunflint Lake that we used as a base camp. The last night the Jack Rabbit got to take a break as I stayed in the USFS bunk-house in Grand Marais. The temperatures on this trip were from 35 to 70 F (2 to 21 C).
Well after the past couple of months I can certainly attest to the Jack Rabbit's ability to handle rain. Every day but one saw some amount of precipitation. One caught me by surprise a bit. In the picture above it had been so hot that I did not put the fly on the Jack Rabbit, a practice I love to be able to do. I enjoy seeing what's around and above and like being cooled by the wind. The next morning I got up before day-break to drive back to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to pick up where I had left off nine days earlier. I planned two more days in this area. I left the Jack Rabbit set-up as I did not have a permit for the TRNP.
I could not leave the tent open during the days while I was off working because of the rain, so it never got much help for the ventilation other than the high vent and the end pull-outs. Yet the inside never got wet, the white breathable nylon stayed dry the entire time. I even was able to dry some gear inside the tent with just my body heat. In this picture my soaked hat and MSR PackTowl Nano are drying above me. Rain is falling and condensation can be seen under the fly, through the mesh. In the morning the hat was just damp and the Nano was almost dry.
On our last day working the sun finally came out and when we had hiked and boated back to camp the Jack Rabbit was almost dry. It is hanging in my garage as I write this to make sure it is totally dry as this will be the last use for a while. (Winter is right around the corner here.)
I have been very pleased with the Jack Rabbit. It sets up fast and has plenty of room. Two people of my height can fit just fine. With the guy-lines placed it handles heavy wind well and the Lord knows it can handle the wet stuff. The zippers have never had any problems and still run smooth.
I wish that Big Agnes would make this tent with the UL materials to cut weight as I think the design is better than the Copper Spur. Good job guys. That is it for this test. I will leave with a picture of it on the bank of Sully Creek.
My thanks to Big Agnes and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me take the Jack Rabbit down the backpackin'-bunny trail. This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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