The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 is the latest generation of ultralight Fly Creek line of tents, boasting increased interior volume by using a steeper door and side walls. How significant is the change and what other improvements have been made to this backpacker favorite?
Gear Weight vs Comfort Tradeoffs
The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 is a two person backpacking tent that weighs 1 pound 15 ounces (minus stakes), making it an excellent choice for backpackers who want to reduce the weight of their gear but still prefer a double-walled tent. Just 4 ounces heavier than the one person Fly Creek HV UL 1, the two person Fly Creek HV 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. Unless you’re completely obsessed with gear weight, my advice would be to size up to the HV UL 2 because it’s much more spacious.
Here’s a detailed weight breakdown of the minimal components needed to pitch the Fly Creek HV UL 2 on a backpacking trip, totaling 34 ounces. This doesn’t include any stuff sacks, since people frequently discard manufacturer tent sacks and replace them with ones that are lighter weight or differently shaped to make them easier to pack. The weight of this configuration dropped about 1.5 ounces in the new Fly Creek HV UL 2 from the earlier version of the tent.
- Inner Tent, including guy lines (12.1 ounces)
- Hubbed DAC pole (7.8 ounces)
- Rain Fly, including guy lines (11.4 ounces)
- Minimum of 8 stakes required (2.7 ounces)
Like all ultralight tents, Big Agnes had to make a few compromises on interior space when designing the Fly Creek HV 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.
The Fly Creek HV 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 HV 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, which only has 18″ of clearance. The bottom half of the door and the sides of the inner tent are covered with a solid fabric, which prevents wind from blowing through the tent and helps keep it warmer in cooler weather. There’s also solid fabric on the rear wall of the inner tent (facing your feet), but mesh on the sides to vent foot perspiration and increase ventilation.
The Fly Creek UL 2 rain fly drapes over the hubbed pole, locking into color-coded Jakes feet connectors at the front of the tent above the pole grommets. The rear corners of the inner tent and the fly must be pegged, but can share the same tent stake.The rain fly also connects to the sides of the inner tent using four small plastic glove hooks, two on 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.
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 highest point of the tent is 35″, but quickly slopes down the sides and to the rear.
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 vestibule, which is formed with two side wings, requires two stakes to secure open. The door is solid, with a two-way zipper but provides additional airflow if unzipped part way. One of the more noticeable improvements in the HV UL 2 is better rain protection over the front door, with a deeper door awning overhead.
The fly and inner tent floor of the Fly Creek HV UL 2 are made with 15 denier silicon treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating that is very thin and crinkles like wrapping paper when scrunched up. It requires careful handling, particularly when packing the tent up after use. For example, be careful not to poke holes in the fly or inner tent when stuffing the poles and tent stakes into the same stuff sack.
While I don’t normally advocate the use of footprints because most tent floors are durable and waterproof enough as is, I’d seriously consider using one to protect against floor abrasion if you frequently camp on sandy surfaces or gravel covered tent pads. Ultralight tent manufacturers, such as Tarptent, use floor and fly fabrics that are twice as thick and waterproof (30d, 3000 mm) as used in the Fly Creek HV UL 2, as a point of reference.
If you’re looking for a lightweight tent that’s easy to pitch, the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 is an solid choice, particularly if you’re looking for a three season tent than can be used by one or two people. Weighing just 1 pound 15 ounces, the Fly Creek HV 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 Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 provides ample room for a single occupant to spread out in comfort while still enjoying the benefits and condensation mitigation protection that a double-walled shelter provides.
- Very fast to set up
- Gear loft and mesh side pockets for personal items
- More vertical clearance at foot end of the tent than previous version
- Front zipper must be treated with care to prevent snagging
- Small for two people; more like a 1+ for interior space
- Thin fabric is delicate and must be handled carefully
Disclosure: The author purchased this tent with his own funds.
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