Home / Gear-Manufacturers / Big Agnes / Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Person Tent Review

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 Person Tent Review

manufactured by:
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
349.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On February 27, 2017
Last modified:March 13, 2017

Summary:

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 that a double-walled shelter provides.

The Fly Creek HV UL 2 has steeper walls providing more interior volume and comfort.
The Fly Creek HV UL 2 has steeper walls providing more interior volume and comfort.

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.

The slanting walls of the interior of the Fly Creek HV UL 2 limits the amount of interior volume available to two occupants. While the tent makes a spacious 1+person tent, I'd recommend switching to the dome-like Copper Spur HV UL 2 if you want space for two people regularly.
The slanting walls of the interior of the Fly Creek HV UL 2 limits the amount of interior volume available to two occupants. While the tent makes a spacious 1+person tent, I’d recommend switching to the dome-like Copper Spur HV UL 2 with steeper side walls if you regularly need space for two people.

Tent Components

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)

Living Space

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 Fly Creek HV UL 2 inner tent is has more solid panels around the head and torso to protect against cold wind, but more mesh around the feet to vent perspiration and water vapor
The Fly Creek HV UL 2 inner tent is has solid panels around the head and torso to protect against cold wind, but more mesh around the feet to vent perspiration and water vapor.

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 rear tent pole is more vertical than on the previous version of the Fly Creek, but the ceiling height at the feet only provides 18 inches of clearance above your feet
The rear tent pole is more vertical than on the previous version of the Fly Creek, but the ceiling height of the inner tent only provides 18 inches of clearance above your feet.

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 rain fly clips to the the inner tent at its midpoint using mitten hooks, whch help pull out the tent sides to create more interior volume. This is why a minimum of 8 stakes are required to pitch the tent and more in windy conditions.
The rain fly clips to the the inner tent at its midpoint using mitten hooks, whch help pull out the tent sides to create more interior volume. This is why a minimum of 8 stakes are required to pitch the tent and more in windy conditions.

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.

Durability

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.

The interior volume improvements in the Fly Creek are very modest and barely noticeable compared to the earlier version of the tent
The interior volume improvements in the Fly Creek are very modest and barely noticeable compared to the earlier version of the tent.

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.

Recommendation

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.

Likes:

  • 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

Dislikes:

  • 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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25 comments

  1. Rachel and I used the previous version for well over 100 nights in 2015 – no durability issues to speak of even using a polycryo/window insulation footprint.

    She is 4’11” and I’m 5’8″ and it was definitely a squeeze. That and those high sidewalls definitely made the tent warmer though!

    • They’ve changed the fabrics on this tent from your model, so they’re even lighter weight. The pole is heavier though.

      $9 Polycryo (window wrap) is what I would use for a footprint. The footprints sold by tent manufacturers (as you now) are rip offs and heavy ones at that.

      • Ah that would explain how the weight didn’t go up with the added area.

        Agreed on the footprints, only benefit is to set up the fly only.

  2. Too bad they’re so pricey……..

  3. ” …people frequently discard manufacturer tent sacks and replace them with ones that are lighter weight…”

    I don’t see how that is possible. My Copper Spur 2 stuff sack weighs 25 g. How much lighter can you get?

  4. When it’s raining, is it possible to pitch the rain fly first and then the inner tent?

    • You really need to buy the footprint. I played around with trying to pitch the fly first on the older model without the footprint and it was challenging, let’s say. Doable, but not great. Best to bring a towel and clean up afterwards if it’s really an issue.

  5. Sherry and I have snuggled into our little beauty since 2012. Light, durable, easy enough to set-up, not a lot of extra room, but many miles and many smiles!

  6. Hi Philip,
    I’m going to attempt thru-hiking the AT this year. I looked at Tarptent and SMD trekking pole tents, but the light ones are single wall, which means there will be a lot of condensation. Some experienced people say that is the way to go to be really light and you can handle the condensation with a pack towel. I’m not sure you can use these in Pacific Northwest type of places, whihc make up some my day to day hiking locations. I also haven’t used any tarptent yet; they look harder to set up compared to the conventional tents. I seriously looked at Hilleberg Enan (1.2 kg packed weight). It is really sturdy and can be used everywhere and easy to set up, but it is too small compared to Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 and Nemo Hornet 2P and of course it is $635. After reading your review and comparing it to the UL2, I had decided on NEMO Hornet 2P. They looked very similar, but side doors of Nemo had won me.
    What do you think? Would you prefer Hornet 2p or is Big Agnes, especially for the AT? Or should I go with Enan and swallow the cost and tight living space? Sorry for the long comment, but I’m having a decision paralysis and trust your recommendations a lot.
    Thanks,
    Ender

    • You’re overthinking this. The condensation won’t be that bad on the AT because you’re going to sleep with the doors open all the time anyway. If I were going to thru the AT and I wanted a tent (see http://sectionhiker.com/best-tent-for-the-appalachian-trail/) I’d buy a tarp tent Rainbow. The hornet’s ok too, but having a freestanding tent will make a world of difference when you have to pitch on a wooden platform.

      • I had the single Rainbow for 3 years, wore it out. So this year my new tent after a winter of research, is … new single Rainbow! New one has no misting and I use carbon pole. All tents can have condensation, just don’t touch the wall. Free standing. Tent, polycro, 9 easton stakes, ALL tie outs, in stuff sacks = 21/2 #.

    • Tarptent Stratospire 1 and Moment DW are double-wall, and the Moment is very similar to the Enan. And the Stratospire can be pitched on platforms.

  7. Hmm Phil, would you trust the Fly Creek in stormy (think, Scottish, Scandinavian) weather? I hear it’s pretty aerodynamic so it wont be that much of an issue. It’s between this, the Tarptent Saddle 2 (which hasnt been tested extensively by people i hear, but since it’s basically a Notch, which is great in winds.. why not), or the Trekkertent Drift 2 (though I know you had issues with Trekkertent in the past). Would love a mid, but the cost a bugnet for nothern summers is not something I can fork out at the moment. I would greatly prefer the Trekkertent since it’s cheaper than the Saddle but meh.

    Thanksf or reading this man.

  8. I’ve had my Fly Creek HV UL2 for the past 6 months and have used it on four trips. The only thing I don’t like about it is crawling out at the front. But other people tell me a side entrance isn’t much easier. I only plan to use it as a one-person tent. I don’t see two people in this tent at all! But the weight is amazing. And it is so easy to put up. I agree the vestibule zipper seems to get hung up on fabric and snags quite a bit. We had A LOT of HIGH WIND in Big Bend National Park just this last week and my Fly Creek did great! Have never had to test it in a big rain thus far.

  9. Philip Henderson

    Very similar to the Naturehike Cloud UP 2 I bought last year for a little over £50 + £10 to get two extra guys for both sides…

  10. Your conclusion says “weighing just 1 pound 15 ounces” but 34 oz = “2 pounds, 2 ounces.” It’s a small detail, true, but that’s what ounce counters do. :)

    • When computing the weight of the tent (what most manufacturers call trail weight), they leave out the weight of the tent stakes, which brings the weight down to 31.3 ounces or 1 pound 15.3 ounces to be precise. They leave out the stake weight because most people replace them.

  11. TrailRunningRyan

    My wife and I have used this tent for hundreds of miles, 220 of them on the JMT and we couldn’t Be happier with our choice. We are both 5’6ish FWIW. In your pictures I see you don’t have the guy lines in the middle of the fly pulled out. It’s a small detail but when those are taught it makes a noticeable difference on the interior volume. We would use a trekking pole on either side and pull the lower line taught and stick our pole spike through. We’d then take the mid line and move the cinch about midway along the line and halfway up the unexpanded pole. Then a tent stake was placed through the end loop, far enough out so that the pole would be pulled away from the tent and remain standing. This setup gave us maximum volume and withstood rain a heavy wind storms in the Sierras. 10/10

  12. Mads Immerkær Nielsen

    Hey Mr. Werner!
    I’m really torn between this tent, the copper spur, and the tarptent double rainbow. I live in Scandinavia and I’m therefore a little worried about condensation and continuous rain.. I’m also quite tall at 6’2″, and I’d like to be able to bring my girlfriend hiking sometimes as wellness too. Do you think the fly creek will be too cramped, and if so, should I go with copper spur or DR?

    • If you have continuos rain there’s not much you can do to stop condensation, even with good airflow. Bring a towel and try to keep the doors open. The fly creek is terrible for two people. The copper spur is very luxurious, the rainbow is very nice. Hard to choose between them.

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