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Hands-on Gear Review

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Platinum Review

Fly Creek HV2 Platinum
Top Pick Award
Price:   $550 List | $409.99 at REI
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Extremely light, easy to set up, clips separate the inner and outer tents
Cons:  Not strong, not durable, rear walls cave in during high winds, small vestibule, expensive, not adaptable
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Big Agnes

Our Verdict

With a trail weight of 1 lbs 10 ounces (without the included stakes), the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Platinum weighs less than any dedicated-pole, double-wall tent we've tested. It's super simple to set up and features bomber weather protection on all sides. The Platinum is one of our favorite shelters for ultralight backpacking and bicycle touring. Most ultralight shelters, when you include the weight of adjustable trekking poles (required for set-up), weigh more than this double-wall tent, and don't provide as much protection from blowing rain. A lack of headroom for sitting is this product's main drawback, but if you don't travel with trekking poles, you won't find a lighter tent with top-notch weather resistance. The Fly Creek Platinum earned a Top Pick for Ease of Use, and we recommend it to anyone who wants an extremely lightweight shelter, but doesn't enjoy complicated rigging.

Update - May 2017
The Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum is now the Fly Creek HV2 Platinum (which is pictured in the main photo above). The latest model sports a new hub for its pole structure which gives it 20% higher volume. The product links will take you to this new model since we believe it will be more easily available from major retailers as the older version gets phased out. Keep reading to learn more.

The ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent won our Editors' Choice Award; in comparison to the Fly Creek, it also delivers a class-leading light weight and great weather protection, but is much roomier inside for two folks (you can sit up). If you hike with adjustable trekking poles, we think the Hexamid is the best ultralight shelter for backpacking and thru-hiking. However, the Fly Creek Platinum and Hexamid come with high price tags to match their high scores. The Mountain Laurel Designs Grace Tarp Duo receives our highest recommendation, if you're on a tight budget, for an ultralight backpacking shelter.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ultralight Tents, Tarps and Shelters

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Score Product Price Type Total Weight Fabric
83
$350
Top Pick Award
Flat tarp 10.2 oz DCF8 Dyneema Composite Fabrics
78
$599
Editors' Choice Award
Pyramid with floor 19.4 oz .51 oz/yd Cuben Fiber, Mesh, 1 oz/yd Cuben Fiber Floor
76
$695
A-frame tarp 28.3 oz CF8 Cuben Fiber, Mesh, CF11 Cuben Fiber Floor
75
$170
Best Buy Award
A-frame tarp 19.1 oz SilNylon Ripstop
72
$550
Top Pick Award
Double-wall tent 33 oz Ultralight SilNylon PU Ripstop, Mesh
71
$385
Pyramid 33.1 oz SilNylon Ripstop
63
$350
Pyramid with floor 37 oz SilNylon Ripstop, Mesh
61
$200
Pyramid 35.5 oz SilNylon Ripstop, Mesh
60
$300
Double-wall tent 38.7 oz PU coated Nylon Ripstop, Mesh
51
$330
Double-wall tent 42.8 oz SilNylon & PU Ripstop, Mesh

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Brandon Lampley & Max Neale

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 18, 2017

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The New Fly Creek HV2 Platinum Versus the Older Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum


The latest model of the Fly Creek is updated to include a new hub design which results in a 20% volume increase. An issue with the older model was the lack of head space, so we'll be curious to see how much of a difference this makes. The colors are slightly different but very similar and the silhouette of the tent is now more sleek looking. According to the folks at Big Agnes, there are no other changes to the product. The price tag remains the same at $550.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the new Fly Creek HV2 Platinum pictured on the left and the older Fly Creek 2 Platinum version shown on the right.
Fly Creek HV2 Platinum
 


Here's a summary of the key differences between the Fly Creek HV2 Platinum and the previous version:
  • New Hub — The latest model of this award winner features a new hub for the pole structure.
  • Increased Volume — As a result of the modification mentioned above. There is now 20% more volume. Lack of room was a complaint we had about the older Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum, so we'll be curious to see how much spacier the new model will feel.
  • Colors — While the colors are similar, the shades in the Fly Creek HV2 Platinum look to be slightly muted compared with the Fly Creek 2 Platinum.
  • Shape — The silhouette of the tent changed. The previous model featured a hump-like shape towards the back end of the tent. The new model looks more sleek and simple in design. Due to the new hub and pole design, the door/walls are now more verticle.
  • Vestibule — While the vestibule looks different in the new model, both models have 7 square feet of space.

We're currently testing the Fly Creek HV2 Platinum but for now, the text and ratings in this review still reflect the older version. That said, we find the changes made to this latest model are not likely to have a major impact on its performance, as the main features and design of this tent mostly remain the same.

Hands-on Review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum


The Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum earned top scores for weather protection and ease of set-up. It is also remarkably light. Add the weight of adjustable trekking poles to the lightest shelters we tested, and most are a good bit heavier than the Platinum and its dedicated aluminum poles. A small living space is the downside of such a light, double-wall tent. There's room for two folks to sleep, but very little headroom for sitting up.

The Fly Creek Platinum is the lighter version of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, which weighs six ounces more. The Platinum uses a lighter floor and fly material, and more mesh for the inner tent walls. We reviewed the UL 2 as part of our backpacking tent review.

Unlike many of its competitors, this tent is available from major online retailers and can typically be on your doorstep within two days. It's also worth noting that our Top Pick for Ease of Use comes with everything you need to pitch it standard: stakes, poles, guy lines, and all modular components. Few other products in this review can offer this ease of purchasing.

The small living area of this tent means you'll perform most camp tasks like cooking dinner outside... which is why we come to the wilderness in the first place!
The small living area of this tent means you'll perform most camp tasks like cooking dinner outside... which is why we come to the wilderness in the first place!

Performance Comparison


Check out the following Overall Performance chart to see how the Fly Creek Platinum scored relative to its competition.


Weather Resistance


The Fly Creek Platinum, like the heavier UL 2 version, offers excellent weather protection. Many ultralight shelters (A-frame tarps in particular) have one or two sides where wind-blown rain can enter. Not the case with the Platinum, you are protected from wind and rain on all sides. Reflective patches on the tent also make it easy to find if you wander away from camp in the dark.


This tent and the Hexamid Twin offer the most complete weather protection at the lightest weights. The slim design defends against high winds well, especially when the rear end faces into the wind. Clips on both sides connect the inner tent to the outer tent, which helps to pull the inner tent walls out, increasing strength and interior space slightly. Our testers have used used the Fly Creek Platinum for years in the Sierra Nevada and Colorado Rockies, enduring several large summer hail storms, and in Alaska's Brooks Range, where campsites often have little protection from high winds. To withstand high winds, it is important to secure all four of the fly's upper guy out points, two on the sides and two above the vestibule.

Big Agnes includes pre-installed cord tensioners on the fly guy out lines  a great ease of use feature. Also  here you can see the inner tent clips to the fly at the side guy out point  creating a little more interior room.
Big Agnes includes pre-installed cord tensioners on the fly guy out lines, a great ease of use feature. Also, here you can see the inner tent clips to the fly at the side guy out point, creating a little more interior room.

Weight


The Platinum is the lightest two-person, dedicated pole, double-wall tent we've ever put on our scale. Weighing in at 1 pound and 12 ounces without the stakes, it is as light, or lighter than, the tarps and pyramids we tested (when you include the roughly 16 ounces for two adjustable trekking poles). With the included stakes, the whole package weighs a little over 2 pounds, or 1 pound per person. This is incredibly light, especially for a shelter that provides such excellent weather protection.

Weight Bottom Line:
Inner + fly + poles = 1 lb 12.1 oz
Stakes: 4.9 oz
Packed away in its cylindrical stuff sack, the Platinum measures 19" x 5" round.


Livability


The main drawback to this very light tent... lack of headroom for sitting up. Our 5'11" tester either hunches over or his head pushes against the mesh inner tent's ceiling.
The main drawback to this very light tent... lack of headroom for sitting up. Our 5'11" tester either hunches over or his head pushes against the mesh inner tent's ceiling.

Both versions of the Fly Creek use an excellent pole design that's reasonably livable for its weight. Two of our six-foot-tall testers sleep comfortably inside; the 28 square feet of floor space is adequate. Along the sides, the inner tent clips to the fly where it stakes out, stretching the inner tent into a little roomier space. On the other hand, headroom is lacking; the interior is about 2 inches short of our 5'11" tester being able to sit up without his head pushing against the ceiling.


Two slim pockets store nighttime essentials along the side, and an overhead pocket can hold a headlamp for reading or other odd and ends. The 7 sq ft vestibule offers enough storage space to stash a couple pair of shoes and a wet rain jacket. Double-wall tents handle condensation better than pyramids with a single waterproof layer of fabric. While condensation can form on the underside of the fly, the inner tent protects your sleeping bag and clothing from drips and the wet fly. Overall, the small inside volume of this tent is its main drawback. The North Face O2 is much more spacious in terms of headroom, but is 6 ounces heavier.

This model has two side  and one overhead pocket built into the mesh inner tent. We love the overhead pocket feature for placing a headlamp to read  or other quick access items.
This model has two side, and one overhead pocket built into the mesh inner tent. We love the overhead pocket feature for placing a headlamp to read, or other quick access items.

Adaptability


Like all double-wall tents, this one received a low rating for adaptability. It has to be pitched basically the same way every time, in a site large enough for its fixed size and to tension out the fly. All tarps are much more adaptable, with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp defining versatility. What the Platinum does offer, is the ability to set up the fly as a tarp, if you purchase the optional fast fly footprint. The fast fly set up (fly, poles, and footprint) weighs in at 19 ounces. In clear but buggy weather, pitching only the inner tent without the fly is great for stargazing and feeling the breeze if it's warm.


Durability


Like most ultralight double-wall tents, the Fly Creek is not very durable. It uses an ultralight ripstop nylon that's coated with silicone on the outside and polyurethane on the inside. Although the Platinum's material is high quality, fabrics coated with silicone on both sides are generally much stronger and more durable. The Platinum's material is weak compared to the SilNylons and Cuben fabrics used by other manufacturers. Yes, it's more fragile, but this is the price you pay for a super light double-wall tent with poles.


Ease of Set-up


We love the ease of setting up a mostly free-standing, dedicated-pole tent. There's no trekking pole length to be adjusted, and less back and forth to adjust stake outs. We found the Fly Creek Platinum the easiest product to set up quickly - well-staked and secured. Six minutes saw us pitched and taut first go round, and three to four minutes was the average one-person set up time. Two folks can be all done in two minutes or so. We find this model the simplest for one person to set up on their own, meaning your hiking partner can get started on yummy dinner. Eleven stakes are included with this tent - nine is the minimum for set up, but 13 is even better for stretching out the fly. Instructions are sewn into the included stuff sack.


Stake out the four corners of the tent and insert the poles. Attach the inner tent to the poles with easy to use clips. Back pole gets staked out too, and the fly attaches at all 5 stake outs, plus both sides and the vestibule get staked out. One drawback to the traditional double-wall design… the inner tent must be set up first before the fly is attached. If it's pouring rain while you set up, the inner tent will get wet. Tarps and pyramids with modular inner tents — the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Shelter and Six Moon Designs Haven Tarp for example — allow you to set up the waterproof outer tarp first, and then hang the inner insert, keeping it dry.

We found the Fly Creek Platinum very quick to set up and stake and guy out securely. One person can pitch it in just a few minutes  but in windy conditions like these  two sets of hands really helps.
We found the Fly Creek Platinum very quick to set up and stake and guy out securely. One person can pitch it in just a few minutes, but in windy conditions like these, two sets of hands really helps.

Best Applications


This shelter is best for ultralight backpacking, thru-hiking, bike touring. The Fly Creek Platinum is the best ultralight shelter we tested for less experienced users. Additionally, it will arrive on your doorstep just days after ordering and you do not have to pick and choose your components, or buy stakes separately. Most of our expert testers love this tent as well. For backpacking or biking trips without trekking poles, or anytime we want bombproof rain and bug protection with no rigging hassles, this is our go-to tent.

Value


With a price tag of $550, the Fly Creek Platinum is one of the more expensive models in this review. It is the lightest two-person double-wall tent we've ever tested, and you pay for this. Keep in mind, if you don't already have a good set of adjustable trekking poles, you should be adding $100 - $150 to the cost of competing products that require them. Same with a $20 - $50 set of ultralight stakes. When we consider that the Platinum's high price tag includes EVERYTHING necessary for set up, its price seems a better value.

Everything you need for set up is included with your purchase of the Platinum  and it is readily available from online and bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Everything you need for set up is included with your purchase of the Platinum, and it is readily available from online and bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Conclusion


The Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum is the lightest double-wall tent with dedicated poles that we've ever tested at OutdoorGearLab. Its quick set-up (regardless of your rigging skills), the fact that everything necessary for pitching is included, and the exceptional weather protection have earned it a Top Pick for Ease of Use. In addition, you should be able to have it tomorrow from your local retailer or online.

Other Versions & Accessories


Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1  tent
Fly Creek UL1
  • Single Person version of the Fly Creek Model tent
  • 1lbs 11oz. (26oz.) for poles, fly and tent body.
  • Less mesh material on tent sidewalls (main reason for added weight)

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2
  • Same dimensions as Fly Creek 2 Platinum
  • 1lbs 15oz. (6oz heavier than Platinum model)
  • $350 ($200 cheaper than Platinum model)
Brandon Lampley & Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 18, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
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