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Hands-on Gear Review
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Review
Cons: Delicate materials, difficult to set up, collapses in high winds
Bottom line: A great choice for lightweight backpacking trip where you'd rather save on weight than have lots of space in your tent.
The Fly Creek HV UL2 tent is Big Agnes's attempt at making this classically lightweight and tight-on-space tent more roomy. It is a lightweight performance double-wall tent that is still the lightest tent in this review, weighing a scant 37.4 ounces including stakes. It performs well in a wide variety of conditions, but its weak point is that high cross winds can collapse its single ridge pole.
To see how the Fly Creek HV UL compared to the its competitors, check out the full Backpacking Tent Review. For even lighter tents than the Fly Creek, check out the Ultralight Tents Review.
RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking tents
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
With an ultralight product comes less durability, and the Fly Creek is quite delicate. It pitches with a single integrated hub pole and has top quality features such as partially solid nylon walls that block spindrift and help to insulate. This tent is quite small, but is a great choice for two people who like to snuggle, or a single hiker.
The lightest weight tent is also the least comfortable. The Fly Creek HV UL2 has a small, tapered interior with a single front door and vestibule. We acknowledge that Big Agnes is trying to address this problem by creating slightly more interior room in the latest iteration of the Fly Creek in their High Volume model. We do indeed notice slightly more room inside, the door is steeper and provides more head room at that end, and our feet no longer brush the top of the tent at the end. However, that is when just one person is sleeping in it.
Big Agnes attempts to make the sidewalls of the tents less saggy by attaching them to the guy points of the outer fly, but we still find that the walls sag in a bit, and the floor is lifted off the ground when the tent is taut, making the interior smaller. If two people are sharing this tent they should be prepared to get cozy. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 is slightly more livable because its roof doesn't sag quite as much. The Fly Creek has a few small pockets that are adequate for stashing your things. The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 is a more comfortable, two-door tent that is a great lightweight choice for two people.
The Fly Creek HV UL2 does a good job at keeping you dry in heavy rains, although we noticed that the HV model has mesh all the way along the sides of the tent, and the bathtub floor only comes up a few inches from the ground. This could result in more splashback getting into your tent in heavy rains. The major problem with the design of this tent is the single hub. With the back pole just going straight into the ground, it is only reinforced by the staked out corners and guy lines. We like the design of the Ghost UL better because it has hubs at either end of the tent for stability. We also think the design of NEMO Blaze is stronger.
It only has a single pole and is not entirely free-standing, but has two side doors instead of one front, which acts to guy out the sides better. Several testers experienced the Fly Creek fully collapsing in a cross wind because the back pole was not reinforced, and were disconcerted with how flimsy the guy line and their attachments seemed. We also had difficulty guying out the tent satisfactorily and experienced a lot of flapping because many of the guy points and stake loops share stakes. If you anticipate high winds, bring your ear plugs or choose another tent. We would recommend this tent for camping below tree line, or where you know you will not experience windy conditions.
Weight and Packed Size
We'll say it again – this tent is light. Weighing 2 pounds, 5.6 ounces, it is a pleasure to carry around. Its super-thin materials make it very packable and it fits into a tiny stuff sack, or you can just shove it into the extra space in your backpack.
The Fly Creek is not an entirely free-standing tent. It has a single hub pole design that creates the font entrance, the back ridge pole comes down in the middle, and the back corners need to be staked out. It is not as easy to set up as a traditional two-pole free-standing tent and it is difficult to get all sides of the tent completely taut with no sagging. The front door vestibule is particularly difficult to tension; we prefer the Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2 cord tensioners that allow you to get it just right.
This is the least durable tent that we tested. It is made from high quality materials that will stand the test of time, but they are paper thin and can easily make you feel like the Hulk when you accidentally tear them with your bare hands. With all ultralight products, being gentle with your gear is the price you pay for low weight.
The Fly Creek UL 2 is a great choice as a light, roomy solo shelter, or a very cozy ultralight shelter for two for any backpacking adventure.
The HV is $40 more than the Fly Creek UL, retailing for $390. Big Agnes claims that the HV has 25 percent more space in the head and shoulders and 10 percent more in the foot box than the regular UL models. We're not sure the few inches are worth that money. Although it may feel like a single-use product to some people because of its high quality construction and materials, this is a high end product. We think the Fly Creek is decent value for the price. If you want a stronger, roomier tent that is still on the lighter end of the spectrum, consider the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2.
The Fly Creek's main limitations are its delicate materials and its lack of strength in high winds. The ultra light 15 denier nylon needs to be treated like wrapping paper on Christmas eve. It is very easily abraded so make sure your tent is properly staked down and won't roll around on the ground when left unattended.
You can't get much lighter than the Fly Creek UL2 in a double-walled tent. If you are looking for something that is more durable and even lighter, check out our Ultralight Shelters Review.
Other versions and accessories
Big Agnes makes the Fly Creek HV UL in a one-, two- and three-person version. For an even lighter version of this tent check out the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Review. Big Agnes makes the Platinum in one- and two-person versions.
— Jessica Haist
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 24, 2016
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