Home / Gear Reviews / Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Tent Review

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Tent Review

made by:
Philip Werner
Version:
2015
Price:
369.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On May 19, 2015
Last modified:August 26, 2016

Summary:

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 is a two person backpacking tent that only weighs 2 pounds, making it an excellent choice for backpackers who want to reduce the weight of their gear but still prefer a double-walled tent. Just a few ounces heavier than the one person Fly Creek UL 1, the two person Fly Creek UL 2 is much more spacious for a single person, while still providing the ability to bring along a good friend to share your tent with.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 is a two person backpacking tent that weighs 2 pounds 4 ounces, making it an excellent choice for backpackers who want to reduce the weight of their gear but still prefer a double-walled tent. Just a few ounces heavier than the one person Fly Creek UL 1, the two person Fly Creek UL 2 is more spacious for a single person, while still providing the ability to bring along a friend (person or dog) to share your tent with.

Here’s a detailed weight breakdown of the minimal components needed to pitch the Fly Creek UL 2 on a backpacking trip, totaling 35.8 ounces. This  doesn’t include any stuff sacks, since people frequently discard manufacturer tent sacks and replace them with ones lighter weight or differently shaped to make them easier to pack.

  • Inner Tent, including guy lines (13.5 ounces)
  • Hubbed DAC pole (7.5 ounces)
  • Rain Fly, including guy lines (11.5 ounces)
  • Minimum of 8 stakes required (3.3 ounces)

Like all lightweight tents, Big Agnes had to make a few compromises  on interior space when designing the Fly Creek UL 2 tent in order to get the weight so low, so it’s important that you understand the strength and weaknesses of this shelter before you buy it based on weight alone.

Fly Creek UL 2 Inner Tent
Fly Creek UL 2 Inner Tent

The Fly Creek UL 2 comes with a single, three-armed hubbed tent pole making it very fast to pitch. Once extended, the inner tent connects to the pole using plastic hooks, while the pole ends slot into grommets in the front corners and rear end of the tent.

The design of the Fly Creek UL 2 assumes that you’ll sleep with your head behind the front door below the mesh cupola at the head end of the tent, and your feet at the low-end of the tent, in front of the triangular mesh panel at the tent’s rear, which has less head room. The rest of the inner tent is covered with a solid fabric, which prevents wind from blowing through the tent and helps keep it warmer in cooler weather.

Jakes foot connector with reflective webbing
Jakes foot connector with reflective webbing

The Fly Creek UL 2 rain fly drapes over the hubbed pole, locking into color-coded Jakes feet connectors at the front and rear of the tent above the pole grommets. The webbing on the rain fly is reflective at night making it easy to find your tent in the dark if you’re wearing a headlamp.

The rain fly forms a front vestibule for gear storage.
The rain fly forms a front vestibule for gear storage.

The front of the rain fly forms a shallow vestibule which can be used to store gear or to keep it out of the rain. While it’s large enough to store two backpacks, you’ll have to move one of them out of the way when you exit the front door. The door opening, which is formed with two side wings, requires two stakes to secure open. A solid door, with a two-way zipper, shuts out the elements, while providing additional airflow if unzipped part way.

The rain fly connects to the inner tent twice using small plastic gloves hooks, half way down each side. It's important to stake out the rain fly on the outside of the hooks because these pull out the sides of the inner tent, providing more interior head room.
The rain fly connects to the inner tent twice using small plastic gloves hooks, half way down each side. It’s important to stake out the rain fly on the outside of the hooks because they pull out the sides of the inner tent, providing more interior head room.

The rain fly also connect to the sides of the inner tent using two small plastic glove hooks, about halfway down each side. When the fly is staked out, these hooks help expand the volume in the inner tent creating more vertical interior walls and more head room inside the tent.

When staking out the side wall, the two guylines can share the same tent stake.
When staking out the side wall, the two guylines can share the same tent stake.

If two people are sharing the tent, they will touch the inner fly when they sit up, even if the rain fly has been staked out along the sides. If the tent only has one occupant, positioning your sleeping pad in the middle of the floor (lengthwise) provides the most interior space to maneuver and get dressed.

The Fly Creek UL 2 is quite spacious for one person, but a bit more snug when used by two.
The Fly Creek UL 2 is quite spacious for one person, but a bit snug when used by two.

Pitching the Fly Creek UL 2 in the Rain

One of the downsides of using a double-walled tent is that you can’t pitch them in the pouring rain without getting the inner tent wet, since the inner must be pitched before you can cover it with the rain fly. However if you prepare in advance, it is possible to pitch the Fly Creek UL 2 with the inner tent and rain fly pre-attached, using the Jakes connectors and glove hooks.

The inner tent and rain fly are pre-attached for pitching in rain.
The inner tent and rain fly can be pre-attached for pitching in rain.

The advantage of doing this is that the rain fly covers the mesh of the inner tent, keeping it dry, when you take them out of your pack and stake them out. After that, you need to insert the pole between the fly and the inner, hook the inner tents hooks around the poles, and stake out the side of the rain fly. This is easy to get down after a few tries, but it’s much more difficult to keep the inner tent dry when you pack it up in the morning, if the rain fly has been soaked overnight by rain.

Recommendation

If you’re looking for a lightweight tent that’s easy to pitch, fully seam taped and waterproof, the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 is an excellent choice, particularly if you’re looking for a three season tent than can be used by one or two people. Weighing just under 2 pounds 4 ounces, the Fly Creek UL 2 provides a nice balance of features so you can go light without sacrificing on ease of use or convenience. Though somewhat snug for two people, the Fly Creek UL 2 provides ample room for a single occupant to spread out in comfort while still enjoying the benefits that a double-walled shelter provides.

Likes:

  • Fully seam taped and waterproof
  • Gear loft and mesh side pockets for personal items
  • Very fast to set up

Dislikes:

  • Front tent vestibule is on the small side
  • Front zipper must be treated with care to prevent snagging
  • Small for two people; more like a 1+ for interior space.
  • Not truly freestanding. Must be staked out.

Disclosure: Big Agnes loaned Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a Fly Creek UL 2 Tent for this review.

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22 comments

  1. Ken and I have been using this tent for many years. We hiked in GR20 in Corsica, FR. Japan Northern Alps, many pack packing trip in ME, NH, MA. We love it to carry for long backpacking trip such as 1-2. When we used guy lines in very strong winds at >300M elevation, it stood very well. When I moved to CA, I purchased the same tent which I used in winter hike in Mt Shasta (14k ft). As long as I got into winter sleeping bag, I had no problem to sleep. Tent was set up by me at 10k ft and it was solo backpacking trip.

    • An endorsement for you two is golden, knowing how much you both get out. This is a nice tent and one that I’d have no problems using myself, either in winter (since the fly coverage is so good), or for more extended trips where I want more space to spread out at night instead of using a tiny ultralight tarp.

      It is amazing how lightweight Big Agnes has gotten this tent. They’ve really pushed lightweight backpacking into the mainstream.

  2. I really like the tent but I agree with the vestibule issue. I’ll keep my Snugpak and continue to bring a Silnylon Tarp to use as a vestibule…

  3. I have a Fly Creek UL2 and love it. I recommend the footprint, Its made out of the same material as the tent floor and weighs 5 ounces. In the rain, pitch in fast fly mode then go in and set up the tent. This will keep the tent body dry. The footprint also helps with abrasion, which can be a problem with this tent.

    • I’ve been meaning to give that a try. I figured no one uses the fast fly option (as an alternative to a tarp setup) but if it solves the rain issue, it would be golden. It’s a wonder why Big Agnes doesn’t document it as such.

  4. As much as I like my BA copper spur 1 and use the foot print for fast pitch mode, I can’t fathom how BA can charge such a crazy amount for the foot print! It’s absurd how expensive they are for these tents!

  5. I chose a Copper Spur UL1 over the Fly Creek because I am old and out of shape and a side entrance makes life easier. It is also plenty roomy for one. I have used the fast fly approach as well but did not want the weight penalty (or cost) of the ground sheet. Instead, I just cut some dyneema lengths, tied cinch loops on the end, and tied them together in the middle to form an x. I set the tent up in traditional fashion to get the proper length for the line. I can loop each pole to the diagonally opposite pole and the frame is ready for the fly. Almost zero weight penalty and works just fine on the rare occasion that I need to erect the fly before the inner tent. Not sure this would work as well with the fly creek as the pole configuration is somewhat different.

  6. I have a BA copper spur 2, I picked this over the fly creek because of the side entrance. The side entrance made it easier to get into and allowed easy storage of things I didn’t want to store in the vestibule. The downside is I need to find a back country site that’s a bit wider to allow for easy access. The bottom line is I really like the BA products.

  7. I tried the Fly Creek, but went with the Copper Spur UL1. The side entrance and more vertical walls make it much more livable for me. (I’m 6′-0, 175lb and not as flexible as I used to be.) It’s also free standing. I bought the previous year’s model on clearance to take some of the bite out of the price. I’ve been very pleased with it.

  8. My very first backpacking trip I rented a Fly Creek 1. I set it up in the pouring rain, my first time setting it up. Did not even think to pitch the fly first. Lesson learned and always carry a towel or sponge. But I also learned I do not like front opening tents. I bought an REI version on sale and made weight modifications like titanium stakes. But it cannot touch that weight as much as I try.

    And because I am that cheap, I use an emergency blanket as a footprint. I will stalk work sites and the Habitat for Humanity store for a piece of Tyvec.

  9. I have a Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL 2 Tent which is similar, but really freestanding instead of almost freestanding. For one person + gear its great, though it could use an extra inch here and there. In particular the foot is narrow and low. Easy pitch, well made, and you can find them on sale.

  10. I chose the Fly Creek Platinum 2 over the 1 because the weight penalty was just a few ounces more, and love the feeling of spaciousness i have with the 2. I pitch in the fly only mode when rain is forecast. While not as light as my cuben GG tarp, the coverage is better with a smaller footprint and less dependent on pegs for a good pitch in Sierra decomposed granite soil. I take it in fly only mode when there is no chance of rain, which is quite often in California these days. I have not had an occasion to use with both tents pitched. Also, because of the high profile, it can be very difficult to set up in windstorm conditions.

  11. Very timely info as I am taking my new Big Agnes on my first hike of the season this coming weekend. I like the idea of putting the tent and fly together beforehand.

  12. I use the UL 1 (aka “the giant slug”) and have been very happy with it. Getting in and out is a bit of a pain, but the tent stays good and warm. Small footprint has been useful when ground space is limited.

  13. I have a Big Agnes Slater UL2+. It is the same pattern as the Fly Creek, but a bit wider and longer, with a fabric inner tent (no mesh). It is 2 pounds 15 ounces, not much to carry for a bigger tent.

    If you really plan to have two people in your tent, consider it.

  14. I’m actually planning on buying a new tent and my brother recommended this. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with this! Any other tents of the same category you would recommend?

  15. Phillip. I agree with you on all points. I love this tent! For 2 people, it’s…ummm…cozy, like most “2person” tents. It has plenty of room for me and my 60 liter backpack.

    Unless it’s gonna be inclement weather, I just use the 2 stakes at the foot. I first went with a silnylon tent/tarp but it kept sagging which meant I was frequently having to get it taut again. Frustrating. I use a sheet of polykro for the the pad. I’ve used it for two summers now. I wonder when I’ll have to spray it with Nikwax to keep it waterproof. Any idea? walt

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