The backpacking tent market has exploded in recent years with tons of great products at constantly falling prices. As the technology and materials have greatly improved and design techniques have evolved, outdoor gear companies have diversified their offerings. Now, you can find excellent tent models in a surprisingly wide range of price points. In this article, we will specifically look at four of the most popular Big Agnes tents.
Big Agnes aka 'The Mother of Comfort' is a small company that started in 2000 with comfort in mind at a time when the camping market was 'too saturated, according to its critics, but who managed to revolutionize outdoor sleep systems. The original Big Agnes sleep system enabled campers stay warm and cozy without sliding off their sleeping pad. Since then, they expanded into many types of gear. In our review of Big Agnes tents here, we’ll specifically focus on the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 backpacking tent.
We’ve compared this tent to a few similar Big Agnes tents so that we could break down some of their key features. We've also considered each model's price, assembly time, design quality, and some of the most blatant pros and cons.
Big Agnes Tents Fly Creek HV UL2 Backpacking Tent
The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL is an ultralight, premium quality, three-season backpacking tent. This is a freestanding tent, so it will be simple and quick to set up. It features top-notch DAC tent poles. For all of their newest edition tents, Big Agnes chose Green Anodized DAC poles. Green anodizing is very similar to the traditional anodizing process but it cuts down on water usage making for a greener process overall.
The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL is super light and big enough for two medium or small sized adults. It can also make for a great choice for an adult with kids or a dog. This tent features one simple hubbed pole. The minimal construction drastically reduces the weight of this shelter making it insanely light (at around 2 pounds). It’s an ideal choice for someone who needs high-level weather protection gear but also plans to head deep into the backcountry.
Product Specs – The Nitty Gritty
Compared with other freestanding tents and other Big Agnes tents, this one is truly ultralight. The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 boasts an impressively light packed weight of 2lb 5oz / 1.05kg and a small packed size of 4″ X 19″ / 10 X 48cm. You can add a footprint for a mere 4oz. It’s not monstrous on the inside, but for the paltry carry weight, it’s more than big enough at 28sq ft / 2.6m² of interior space. The headroom of this tent is about 40″ / 102cm, which will offer enough space to sit up, move around, change clothes, and get comfortable in adverse conditions.
As already noted, this backpacking tent uses a three-piece hub tent pole design for quick setup. It only has one door but has an ample vestibule and three internal pockets. We say 'ample' here because we assume that someone carrying this tent will also carry fairly light packs that won’t need much storage space. The door and vestibule might feel a tad cramped for those with extra large packs. The tent also comes equipped with 11 J stakes for added security in high wind and a rain fly made of 1200mm PU coated nylon.
One nice addition to this model and other Big Agnes tents is the mtnGLO system, which is a series of small LEDs that are stitched into the body of the tent providing a mellow, ambient glow when illuminated. This feature represents a vast improvement of the traditional headlamp or beam hung from a cargo net. What’s even better about this system is that it adds a mere one ounce to the overall weight of the tent compared with other Big Agnes tents.
This tent couldn’t be easier to set up. You’ll first need to stake out the four corners of the tent body using the included DAC J stakes. Once the tent is staked out, take out the three-piece pole and attach the upper arms of the Y shape into the front grommets. Then add the rear portion of the Y into the rear grommet. Once the hubbed poles have been inserted, raise the tent mesh up and attach the clips onto the pole.
At this stage, you can add the rain fly. Drape the rain fly over the tent and attach the fly’s guy lines to the stakes. Next, add a few extra J stakes around the tent and extend the side guy lines out from the fly. Attach these guy lines too and pull tension to secure the fly is located snuggly away from the tent walls. You’re now ready to hop in and have a great night’s sleep in the backcountry.
The Fly Creek HV UL2 takes full advantage of a double-wall design to increase airflow throughout the tent. Compared with previous Big Agnes tents, the Fly Creek line gets improved airflow by having better separation between the fly and tent walls. The articulated rear guy line pulls the fly out considerably farther than before. This gap is accentuated by the lower rising mesh side walls.
Another big improvement to the ventilation is the addition of a double zipper to the vestibule. With the double zipper, you can crack the vestibule open to the top allowing for warm air to escape while still having rain protection if it’s a mild drizzle. This feature can be super effective if the tent is positioned properly into a breeze for maximum airflow.
Build and Design Quality
Like most Big Agnes tents, the Fly Creek HV UL is premium quality. The materials used on this tent are competitive if not better than any other higher-end backpacking tents on the market. The ultralight nylons in this shelter prove impressive durability without adding weight. The zippers are smooth and bombproof, while the 1200mm PU rain fly feels like it could easily ride out any raging summer storm and even some early snow.
The materials are integral to the design quality of this tent. Part of what sets this tent apart is its weight and packability. At a 2.5-pound packed weight and tiny packed size, the Fly Creek UL is that kind of shelter you could comfortably take with you on just about any trip and carry in just about any pack. The quality of the materials could render the optional footprint redundant as long as you are careful about selecting a tent site without too many rocks, sticks, and obstructions.
Overall this is a light, packable, comfortable, and easy-to-use tent. It will definitely appeal to hardcore hikers and backpackers looking for premium gear. With its simple hub pole design and comfortable interior, however, it could also be a great choice for someone new to camping who wants to keep things simple and has a few extra dollars to spend.
Fly Creek UL comes with a wide range of different sub-models and features, so their price can fluctuate. These premium backpacking tents don't come cheap as their price ranges from around $300 to around $600.
How it Compares
We have picked two similar Big Agnes tents to see how they compare.
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- ease of use
- assembly time
- DESIGN QUALITY
This tent retails on amazon.com for around $399.
The three-pole hub system makes this tent super easy to use.
Snapping the poles into the grommets and clipping in the fly is a breeze.
Thanks to the increased airflow and genius mtnGLO lighting system, this design is a winner. We subtracted one star because it may feel a bit tight for two large adults.
100% satisfaction guarantee.
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is a predecessor of the Fly Creek HV UL2. In the latter model, the HV stands for “high volume” as it adds slightly more internal space. That being said, the UL2 has many of the same features of the newer generation HV. Both models share the hub tent pole design for super quick and easy setup. They have a single door and an adjoining vestibule. The UL2 is actually an ounce lighter than the HV, clocking in at only 2 pounds and 4 ounces.
There is less ventilation in this tent as the walls feature slightly more nylon and less no-see-um mesh netting. Being an older model, however, you will probably find this tent in some clearance deals or marked down to make room for newer models.
- ease of use
- assembly time
- DESIGN QUALITY
This is an older model tent, so it’s not always available, but it used to retail on amazon.com for around $400.
Like its high volume cousin this tent is super simple and comfortable.
The hub tent pole on this design is the same as the HV UL2's.
Big Agnes have improved some design features in the new model, but this is still an excellent design.
100% satisfaction guarantee, like in all Big Agnes products
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This tent from the Tiger Wall series is another three-season ultralight offering from Big Agnes tents. The key difference between the Tiger Wall UL and the Fly Creek UL series is that the Tiger Wall is geared toward greater comfort for two or more users. The Tiger Wall UL has doors on both sides and vestibules over both doors.
This tent is roomy for two users as each will have easy access to their gear and the outside world. It comes with a similar hub pole design as the Fly Creeks with the addition of one cross pole onto the top of the tent for extra stability and separation from the fly. It’s slightly heavier at just over three pounds, but it is still well within comfort range for those seeking an ultralight backpacking tent.
- ease of use
- assembly time
- DESIGN QUALITY
This tent retails on amazon.com between $399 and $449.
Dedicated doors for two or more users make this a dream for climbing in and out.
Despite the added pole this tent is still dead simple to set up and use.
The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL truly shines thanks to its size and comfort while still being lightweight.
Big Agnes makes gear that is tough and well designed with comfort at the forefront. The Big Agnes tents we have reviewed are no exception. The Fly Creek model tents, especially the Fly Creek HV UL 2, are among the lightest tents in the ultralight category and offer some of the finest features available. The thing that sets these tents apart from the myriad of other beautifully made backpacking tents is the space-to-weight ratio.
The Fly Creek HV UL2 is a spacious, well ventilated tent that could easily house two adult campers. And for all that space, the packed tent only adds around two and half pounds. It’s an excellent choice for a solo backpacker who wants enough flexibility to bring a friend or man’s best friend onto the trail. The single-door design might make this model a more convenient tent for one, but it’s more than suitable for two.
Our Top Pick: Despite the impressive features and weight of the Fly Creek line, the Tiger Wall UL2 was our top choice among these Big Agnes tents. It’s a true two-person with a door and vestibule for each person. It adds around an extra pound of weight, but we feel the comfort and versatility offered by this three-season shelter is more than worth it. With two doors, it’s far more comfortable to embark in pairs on longer journeys. What's more, the added vestibule space could come in handy when the weather turns nasty. At just over three pounds it’s still light enough to make this a palatial option for short solo expeditions.
Our Big Agnes tents overall rating:
Last update on 2021-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API