Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $390 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros: Extremely light, easy to set up.
Cons: Not strong, not durable, rear walls cave in during high winds, expensive.
Best Uses: Lightweight three-season trips.
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent is a classic high performance lightweight double wall tent. It performs well in a wide variety of conditions and only weighs 34.6 ounces without stakes. This is the third lightest tent we've tested. It pitches with a single integrated hub pole, has top quality features such as partially solid nylon walls that block spindrift and help to insulate. Despite a continuous onslaught from newer competing tents the Fly Creek UL2 still does well in our rankings. We believe this version is more weather resistant and a better value than the $500 Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is an exceptionally well-designed lightweight two person backpacking tent. At 34.6 ounces without stakes, this is the third lightest double wall tent we've tested. The Fly Creek UL2 uses a proprietary single pole/hub system designed in collaboration with DAC. This is shaped like a giant Y with the hub above the door. The pole fits into three grommets: two by the front door and one in the center rear. This leaves the back corners of the tent unsupported; you'll need to stake them out.
The tent body is made of extremely lightweight materials. The floor and rainfly are made of a moderately high quality polyurethane coated ripstop nylon. The walls are a combination solid nylon on the bottom and and mesh on top. We especially like the solid bottom panels because they help prevent sand and spindrift from blowing into the tent during the night. This is a critical feature that missing on the Platinum version.
There are several well thought out features. First, the inner tent's main walls attach in two places to the rainfly, which is then staked out with guy lines. These clips pull the tent walls out, making more room inside and adding stability. For its weight, the tent is surprisingly comfortable. Two of our six-foot plus testers slept comfortably for many nights. There are three pockets: one on each side of the door and one in the roof. The seven square foot vestibule is among the smallest of the tents tested here. The vestibule has enough space to cover some shoes but not enough to cook in or to make getting in and out in the rain easy. Finally, the Fly Creek has reflective guy loops, guy lines and fly clips that make the tent highly visible at night.
While the Fly Creeek UL2 is lightweight and well designed, it is not durable. The tent is made for multi-day mobile trips where weight is the primary concern. The tent will not hold up well, nor will it be comfortable, for basecamping or car camping. Big Agnes does a great job at making this tent light and reasonably affordable, but it would benefit from a higher quality silicone impregnated nylon that's stronger, more durable, and lighter. The Hilleberg Rogen and Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 both use fabrics that we believe to be much better. Further, almost all of the tents found in our Ultralight Tent Review use better materials and some use cuben fiber, which blows the Fly Creek's fabric out of the water.
The tent performs well in lightweight applications with rain, but, like many of its ultralight competitors, it's not strong enough to handle high winds. Despite orienting the rear end into the wind, the pole structure flattens considerably and, like many other tents, displays remarkable resiliency.
Versatility is a characteristic absent from the Fly Creek. When compared with the two door tents reviewed here, the Fly Creek is small and cramped. Two door tents offer more comfort for people that car camp and backpack.
The Fly Creek has been around for a while and can be found for less than its $350 retail price. The tent is a reasonable value- see our Price versus Value Chart for details. If ultralight backpacking is your objective we strongly encourage you to consider an ultralight tent, the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2, or Tarptent Double Rainbow.
Other Versions and Accessories
There are five versions of this tent:
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, $330, is the little brother of the Fly Creek UL2 and the smallest of the four tents in this series. This tent is also available in a three and four person version, the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3, $450 and the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL4, $500.
You can purchase a footprint for this tent, the Fly Creek UL2 Footprint, $60, as well as the Fly Creek UL1 Footprint, $50, the Fly Creek UL3 Footprint, $60, and the Fly Creek UL4 Footprint, $80.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: June 16, 2014
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