Gear Review: the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 tent

In our efforts to significantly reduce pack weights we have been systematically sending bricks of cash to various gear-makers in exchange for shaving pounds off of our current stash.  Choosing two tents for the four of us has been an interesting hunt and revealed that a lot has changed in the tent universe since I last cared about how much one weighed.

The Walrus Swift that I used in ’97 was a great little tent, but from what I remember that little bitty 1- person tent weighed 3 1/2 pounds.  This time around the goal was to get two 2-person tents under 3lbs each.  Here is the first of 3 preliminary reviews (read: we haven’t started beating the crap out of these things yet) of tents that are in house and under consideration:

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

This is the only one of the three tents that is a traditional double-walled tent, meaning it has the standard mesh/floor body and a separate fly.  It weighs in at 2lbs 10oz with 10 stakes and guys.  The ground sheet adds another 4oz (and $40) so we’ll put the total at 2lbs 14.8oz.  They list the minimum weight as 2lbs 2oz but honestly, I have no idea how on earth they’re cutting out 8oz.  It has one hubbed pole that, when connected, is in a Y-shape;  this shape allows for a ‘freestanding’, if not totally ideal, option.  Yes, it will stand up by itself without stakes but two stakes are necessary in the foot of the tent to make it liveable.  Here is what it looks like in freestanding mode; you can see how the hiney end needs a little stake help.

The fly attaches to the corners with buckle clips and to the tent body itself so that when the sides are guyed out, the tent is also pulled taught.  Good design.  The vestibule is just barely big enough for one pack and maybe a couple pairs of boots but don’t plan to set your lawn chair up in it.  I’m not sure that you could successfully get two packs in it either but then putting two adults in this tent would be equally tight.  Our plan for this tent was for Addy and I to use it.  Addy is 3 years old and I am 5’6″ which leaves enough room INSIDE the tent for my pack.  Todd (6’2″) found the tent too short; technically he fit in it but his feet were brushing the end of the tent uncomfortably.  Here are 2 78″ long pads to give you an idea of the interior size:

Yes, we have gotten our money’s worth out of that old z-rest.  The other thing to consider, if you are thinking about using this tent for 2 people, is that it only has one door and whatever is in the vestibule will be between you and the exit.  If it’s raining and you have wet nasty gear the vestibule, this will be a pain in the ass.

When you buy the ground cloth you have the additional option of ditching the tent body and just using the fly.  This could be a good lightweight option where bugs or sideways rain are not a concern.  Here is a shot of the pole/footprint set-up before the fly is on and then the view from inside once the fly is up:

All in all this seems like a good little tent and may just work for wee Addy and I.  Because it is lightweight I am sure that durability, both in materials and zippers, is not that of your standard issue canvas hunting tent and only time will tell how it stands up to the abuse of family chaos.

Tent specs (using my scale):

Tent body 14.5oz

Tent fly  11.8oz

Stakes (10 titanium with stuff sack)  and pole repair sleeve 4.6oz

Pole  10.7oz

Footprint 5.4oz

Total weight whole tent (with all stakes)  2lb 14.8oz

Total weight fly-footprint option (5 stakes)  24.5oz or 1lb 8.5oz

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) Retails for $369 but saw it recently at REI for $269 on sale.  You can find the footprint for $40 out there.

Preliminary Pros:

Traditional 2-wall design may mean less condensation should we actually go somewhere where things condense.

Sturdy design with the most pole of all three choices.

The tent-body-free option could be great in bug-free, nicer-than-miserable weather situations.

Preliminary Cons:

Least amount of interior space of all three tents.  Two good-sized adults will be tight.

Small vestibule

Only one door

The zippers seem awfully dainty.  I guess we’ll see how they hold up.  This tent will probably not be allowed in Utah where Sand Destroys Everything.

Not made in the US as the other two are

**We’ll report back after seeing what this tent can handle under the tender, gentle care of a 3 year old.

Click HERE for the review of the Tarp Tent Double Rainbow Review

Click HERE for the review of the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo Review

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Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 tent

  1. Just gave in a purchased Sierra Designs Flash 2 hybrid tent. Backpacker mag loved it and I had an REI Dividend to spend. Size looks good and it is light. I’ll let you know how it works when I finally get outside. Thanks for the tent reviews!

  2. I have gotten THOUSANDS of hits on these tent review pages and no one ever chimes in so thanks for stopping by! we’re taking out tents out to Canyonlands this weekend for warm sandstone – time to get the kids into backpacking mode for the summer. 🙂

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