The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 Carbon Review

This bank-breaking tent goes all in on ultralight at the expense of almost everything else.
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Price:  $850 List | $849.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Extremely light
Cons:  Incredibly expensive, delicate, cramped
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 16, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 17
  • Comfort - 25% 3
  • Weight - 25% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Packed Size - 10% 10

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Carbon is the lightest dedicated-pole tent that we have ever seen and would be an incredibly reasonable load for one or two people. Despite its futuristic feel, it stands up surprisingly well in the elements. With that achievement, there come a whole host of other considerations that we think don't quite hit the mark. It's a tight fit on the inside for two. Taller folks over six feet are going to struggle with this model, whether or not they have a hiking partner. Given that its primary draw is its minimalism, there are a couple of design features that left us a little confused; and of course, it is expensive. It's a feat of material engineering for sure, but we almost view this more as a concept tent than something folks would want to take out in the backcountry.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Extremely lightExcellent balance between weight and features, many storage pockets, large vestibulesTwo large double doors, good headroom, excellent balance of space and weightLightweight, good lateral headroom, large side doors, large overhead pocketGenerous dimensions, large vestibules, good balance between weight and durability
Cons Incredibly expensive, delicate, crampedTapered foot, pockets are high upDelicate fabrics require special treatment, expensivesmall vestibules, tapered footprint reduces interior spaceSmall doors, expensive, zippers don't always open smoothly
Bottom Line This bank-breaking tent goes all in on ultralight at the expense of almost everything else.A superior tent that balances light weight with excellent features.Our favorite tent for all your backpacking needs.A comfortable, lightweight tent great for a weekend or a week.A high-quality tent that strikes a solid balance between weight and comfort features.
Rating Categories Fly Creek HV 2 Carbon NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 NEMO Dagger 2
Comfort (25%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Durability (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Packed Size (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
Specs Fly Creek HV 2... NEMO Dragonfly 2 Big Agnes Copper... Big Agnes Copper... NEMO Dagger 2
Packaged Weight 1.39 lbs 3.16 lbs 3.06 lbs 3.81 lbs 3.76 lbs
Floor Area 28 sq ft 29 sq ft 29 sq ft 41 sq ft 31 sq ft
Packed Size 18.5 x 5 in 19.5 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 4 in 20 x 4.5 in 19.5 x 6.5 in
Dimensions 86" x 52" x 40" 88" x 50" x 41" 88" x 52" x 42 in 90" x 70" x 43" 90" x 50" x 42"
Vestibule Area (Total) 7 sq ft 20 sq ft 18 sq ft 18 sq ft 22.8 sq ft
Peak Height 40 in 41 in 42 in 43 in 42 in
Number of Doors 1 2 2 2 2
Number of Poles 1 3 2 3 2
Pole Diameter Not provided 8.7 mm 8.7 mm 8.7mm 8.5/9/9.6 millimeters
Number of Pockets 3 3 2 5 2
Gear Loft No No Sold separately Sold separately Sold separately
Pole Material Carbon fiber DAC Featherlite NFL DAC Featherlite NFL and NSL Aluminum DAC featherlight NSL
Guy Points 4 5 9 6 10
Rain Fly Material Dyneema Composite 20D Nylon Ripstop Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating 15D Sil / PU Nylon Ripstop (1200mm)
Inner Tent Material [Body] Nylon ripstop
[Floor] Ultra-lightweight Dyneema composite
15D Nylon Ripstop [Body] Patterned double ripstop nylon/polyester mesh
[Floor] Silicone-treated patterned double ripstop nylon with waterproof polyurethane coating
proprietary patterned random rip-stop nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating [Body] 15D Nylon Ripstop / No see um mesh
[Floor] 30D PU Nylon Ripstop (3000mm)
Type One Door freestanding Two Door freestanding Two Door Two Door Two Door freestanding

Our Analysis and Test Results

It's a dedicated pole tent with the soul of an ultralight tarp. Minimalist in almost every sense, it could be a distance hiker's closest companion. Testing confirmed the exceptional weight and packability of this model but also showed that it just isn't comfortable for two average-sized people.

Performance Comparison


The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Carbon blows the competition away when it comes to weight, but going all-in on that metric leaves us wanting a little more from it in other areas.

This tent is an ultralight wonder in the backcountry.
This tent is an ultralight wonder in the backcountry.

Comfort


The minimalist approach to this tent means that camper comfort isn't a top priority. One thing that immediately became clear is that this tent is very tight for two people. Even though its maximum length (86"), width (52"), and height (40") all seem on par with other models in the category, the interior architecture does not maximize livable volume. Looking down the length of the tent, the sides are a steep triangle, and lateral space is at a minimum.

In fact, one of the pole clips has a comically long piece of webbing that attaches it to the tent canopy, which seems to reduce space significantly. Even with just one sleeper, the feet of a six-foot-tall person touch the end of the tent when lying down. With two people, it proved to be challenging to sit up comfortably, and doing it at the same time, to say, eat dinner, will mean that heads are rubbing against the canopy.

With two sleepers  there really is no wiggle room inside this tent.
With two sleepers, there really is no wiggle room inside this tent.

On top of that, the single front door isn't our favorite orientation; if you are primarily planning to use it solo, then this is much less of an issue. In terms of storage, three pockets are all very modestly sized; one on each side (mostly for quick headlamp access) and a slightly larger one overhead. With this tent, you have to rely on the privacy that the backcountry affords because the tent itself is not going to shield you from others at the campsite. Both the green canopy and the fly are opaque, but you can still easily make out human forms on the inside of the tent. This tent is meant for carrying and sleeping, not for living.

Stays (the vertical black strip) are meant to increase interior space at the foot of the tent. They are better than nothing  but not by much.
Stays (the vertical black strip) are meant to increase interior space at the foot of the tent. They are better than nothing, but not by much.

It feels even more cramped than the NEMO Hornet Elite, another ultralight contender. If you are looking to keep weight down (admittedly not nearly as much), but need more headroom, check out the Big Agnes Tiger Wall.

Ease of Set Up


Set up is simple enough and relatively standard for a semi-freestanding model. The single, "Y"- shaped pole slides into three grommets, one at each of the two front corners and another at the center rear of the tent body. The pole structure attaches to clips on the tent, and super fast. As an aside, we didn't find that it affected set up, but the pole clips on the tent body seem like they aren't quite the right size for the poles; they don't snap into place, they just kind of rest around the pole.

The foot end requires separate stakes for the tent and fly at each corner in order to tension properly.
The foot end requires separate stakes for the tent and fly at each corner in order to tension properly.

The foot-end corners need to be staked out for the tent to achieve full volume. From there, the fly attaches easily, and color-coded clips make it simple to orient correctly. The tent comes with 11 stakes, which seems like a lot for a minimalist tent.

Setting up this model is about as simple as it gets for a backpacking tent.
Setting up this model is about as simple as it gets for a backpacking tent.

This tent is about as easy as they come to pitch, but other similar semi-freestanding models include the Big Agnes Tiger Wall and NEMO Hornet Elite.

Weather Resistance


The 11 stake points do help quite a bit with stability, and perhaps this is why Big Agnes opted for this design. Pre-attached guy line adds even more support. One detail we noticed is that there are no Velcro tabs on the underside of the fly to attach to the tent poles as there are on many other tents.

No sag in this fly; even after a night of heavy rain  the fly remained as taut as when we pitched it.
No sag in this fly; even after a night of heavy rain, the fly remained as taut as when we pitched it.

On the plus side, the Dyneema (cuben fiber) floor and fly don't have any seams. The bathtub floor is fairly shallow, but the fly stakes away from the tent at almost every point. We had a few minor issues with splashback at the foot, but for the most part, stayed nice and dry. The vestibule stakes out at two points, adding more stability and making it easy to tension properly.

The darker green patches (especially visible on the right) are the result of the interior tent pressing up against and sticking via condensation to the underside of the fly. We think this is somewhat inevitable given the limited space offered to two sleepers.
The darker green patches (especially visible on the right) are the result of the interior tent pressing up against and sticking via condensation to the underside of the fly. We think this is somewhat inevitable given the limited space offered to two sleepers.

Durability


We have seen plenty of thin-denier tents in our day, but Big Agnes goes so far as to say that the Fly Creek HV2 Carbon requires special care.

Consistent with its minimalist design, the reinforced sections in high-tension areas are smaller than the typical tent. Also included are two reasonably large squares of self-adhesive repair patches, suggesting that you should at least consider the possibility that you could put a hole through the floor at some point.

The translucence of the fly is particularly noticeable at night. The material will hold up if you are careful  but an errant stick or trekking pole could easily puncture the fabric.
The translucence of the fly is particularly noticeable at night. The material will hold up if you are careful, but an errant stick or trekking pole could easily puncture the fabric.

The tent came out of testing unscathed; however, the pole bag, which is made of the same material, showed signs of pinhole wear (we think from rubbing against a pack all day).

Weight and Packed Size


Maximizing minimalism is why this tent got made. Its Dyneema fabric feels simultaneously as high tech as something you would find insulating a space capsule re-entering Earth's atmosphere, and as disposable as the foam liner you might find in electronics packaging.

Inch for inch  this model (left) doesn't appear that much smaller than the Tiger Wall  however  it packs down tighter and weighs about half as much.
Inch for inch, this model (left) doesn't appear that much smaller than the Tiger Wall, however, it packs down tighter and weighs about half as much.

In any event, if you are committed to the idea of the dedicated-pole tent, this is hands down the lightest one that we have ever come across. We wouldn't hesitate to take it solo camping (in fact, we think that is where it performs best), and if you are willing to tolerate the squeeze that comes with snuggling up next your hiking buddy, you'll each be looking at a somewhat mind-bogglingly low carry weight of less than three-quarters of a pound each.

The packed weight of this tent could be even less if it didn't require so many stakes. It also comes with a pole repair sleeve and adhesive fabric patches.
The packed weight of this tent could be even less if it didn't require so many stakes. It also comes with a pole repair sleeve and adhesive fabric patches.

Nothing else in this category is going to come close, but if you want something approximately comparable in terms of weight (but with way more room and a less eye-popping price), the Big Agnes Tiger Wall is a good place to start.

Best Applications


This tent is best for one. Its weight makes it a perfect choice for a backpacking trip of any length, but especially long-distance hauls where minimizing your load is a top priority. If you want a solo shelter, the Fly Creek HV2 Carbon will serve you well and could fit two people if you are really in a pinch.

Value


At $850, you are getting top of the line ultralight materials. However, from a user perspective, we can't find a way to justify the expense. Our philosophy is usually that it is better, in the long run, to invest in a high-end piece of equipment that you plan to have for a long time, but in this case, we think the value isn't quite there. At this price point, you could buy at least two stellar tents that are between 2-3 pounds (see the NEMO Hornet Elite, NEMO Hornet, Big Agnes Tiger Wall, or Tarptent Double Rainbow). For the truly dedicated ultralight or distance hiker, there are plenty of value options in our Ultralight Tent review.

Conclusion


The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 Carbon. We applaud the effort for pushing the boundaries of material engineering. After all, you don't know where the line is until you cross it. However, we think that this tent crosses it. This model could be right for the ultralight ultra-enthusiast with cash to burn, but we think most folks would opt for something at least a little roomier and a little more affordable.


Ben Applebaum-Bauch