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Hands-on Gear Review
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Review
Cons: Delicate materials, difficult to set up, collapses in high winds
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent is a classic, high performance, lightweight, double wall tent. It is the lightest tent in this review, weighing a scant 35.4 ounces including stakes. It performs well in a wide variety of conditions but its weak point is high cross-winds that collapse its single ridge pole. 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. This tent is quite small and is a great choice for two people who like to snuggle, or a single hiker.
RELATED: Our complete review of backpacking tents
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Fly Creek continues to get lighter and lighter, weighing 7.6 ounces less in our most recent measurements. With an ultralight product comes less durability, and the Fly Creek is quite delicate.
Ease of Set-up
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 SuperMega UL 2's cord tensioners that allow you to get it just right.
The lightest weight tent is also the least livable. The Fly Creek UL has a small, tapered interior with a single front door and vestibule. The roof slants down low, and even our shorter testers found that their toes were brushing the end and the head hitting the top of the tent when they were in there by themselves. Big Agnes attempts to make the sidewalls of the tents less saggy by attaching it 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 SuperMega UL 2 is slightly more livable because its roof doesn't sag quite as much. The Flycreek has a few small pockets that are adequate for stashing your things. The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 is a more livable two door tent that is our preferred lightweight choice for two people.
The Fly Creek UL does a good job at keeping you dry in heavy rains, although the bathtub floor at the foot of the tent is disconcertingly low and may allow splash-back in if the rain hits the sweet spot. The major problem with the design of this tent is the single hub pole. 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 SuperMega UL better because it has hubs at either end of the tent for stability. We also think the design of The North Face Mica FL 2 is stronger, it has the same hub style, 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. We prefer the back corner stake points of the Mica FL because they have tension adjusters. 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.
The Fly Creek is not an adaptable tent. You can sleep in it with the fly off on clear nights – which will help with the flapping noise as well.
This and the SuperMega UL are the least durable tents we tested. They are made from high quality materials, but they are paper thin and can easily make you feel like the Hulk when you accidentally tear it with your bare hands. With all ultralight products, being gentle with your gear is the price you pay for low weight.
Weight and Packed Size
We'll say it again – this tent is light. Weighing in at 2 pounds, 3.4 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's main limitations are its delicate materials and its lack of strength in high winds. The ultralight 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.
The Fly Creek UL 2 is a great choice as a lightweight, roomy solo shelter, or a very cozy ultralight shelter for two for any backpacking adventure.
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 $350. If you want a stronger, roomier tent that is still on the lighter end of the spectrum, consider the Mica FL 2.
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
Fly Creek UL1
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum
— Jessica Haist
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 10, 2016
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