The backpacking tent marketplace has exploded in recent years with tons of great options at constantly falling prices. As the technology for materials has continued to improve and design techniques have evolved, gear companies have diversified their offerings. Now there are excellent tent options in a range of price points. In this article, we will specifically look at a few Big Agnes tents.
Big Agnes is a company that started in 2000 with comfort in mind who revolutionized sleep systems. The original Big Agnes sleep system helped 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, we’ll specifically look at the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 backpacking tent.
We’ve compared this tent to a few Big Agnes tents and we’ll break down some of their key features. We’ll also consider price, assembly time, design quality assembly time, and some overall pros and cons.
Top Picks: 5 Best Big Agnes Tents
Big Agnes Tents Fly Creek HV UL 2 backpacking tent
The Big Agnes Fly Creek 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. This is a process that compares to traditional anodizing but cuts down on water usage making for a greener process overall. This tent is super light and big enough for two medium or small sized adults. It could also be 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. It’s an ideal choice for someone who needs high-level weather protection but also plans to head deep into the backcountry.
Compared with other freestanding tents on the market, and other Big Agnes tents, this one is truly ultralight. This tent 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 internal space. The headroom of this tent is about 40″ / 102cm, which will give enough space to sit up, move around, change clothes, and get comfortable in adverse conditions.
As noted, this tent uses a three-piece hub tent pole design for quick setup. It only has one door but has ample vestibule space 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 single door and vestibule on this tent might feel a tad cramped for those with extra large packs. It comes equipped with 11 J stakes for added security in high wind and the rain fly is a 1200mm PU coated nylon.
One nice addition on this and other Big Agnes tents is the mtnGLO system. This is a series of small LEDs that are stitched into the body of the tent providing a mellow, ambient glow when illuminated. This is 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 onto the overall weight 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 surrounding the tent and extend the side guy lines out from the fly. Attach these guy lines and pull tension to secure the fly 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 UL 2 takes full advantage of its double-wall design to increase airflow throughout the tent. Compared with previous Big Agnes tents, the Fly Creek gets improved airflow by creating 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 simple addition of a double zipper on the vestibule. With the double zipper, the top you can crack the vestibule open allowing for warm air to escape while still providing rain protection if it’s a mild drizzle. This can be super effective if the tent is positioned properly into a breeze for maximum airflow.
Build and Design Quality
Like most Big Anges tents, the Fly Creek 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 used on this shelter outperform their weight and providing 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 storms and even some early snow.
The materials are integral to the design quality of this tent. Part of what sets this tent apart is the weight and packability. At 2.5 pounds and a tiny packed size, this 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 inside specs, however, it could also be a great choice for someone new to the sport who wants to keep things simple and has a few extra dollars to spend.
There is a wide range of different sub-models and features on these Big Agnes tents, so their price can fluctuate. These are premium quality backpacking tents at the higher range of the market and they range in price from around $300 to around $600.
Top 3 Big Agnes Tent Reviews
We picked two similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
1. Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2
Ease of Use
The three-pole hub system makes this super easy to use.
Snapping the poles into the grommets and clipping in the fly is a breeze.
Between the increased airflow and mtnGLO system, this design is a winner.
- Easy setup
- Improved ventilation
- mtnGLO lighting system
- Single door
- Could feel cramped for bigger users
2. Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL
The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 is a predecessor to the Fly Creek HV UL 2. In the latter model, the HV stands for “high volume” and adds slightly more internal space. That 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 are also shaped with a single door and adjoining vestibule. The UL 2 is actually an ounce lighter than the HV, clocking in at only 2 pounds and four ounces.
There is less ventilation in this tent as the walls feature slightly more nylon and less no-see-um mesh netting. Being a later model, however, you will probably find this tent in some clearance deals and marked down to make room for new models.
Ease of Use
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 UL 2.
They improved some design features for the new model, but this is still an excellent design.
- Easy setup
- Excellent materials
- Comfortable shape and interior
- Out of date model
- Less ventilation
- Lacks updated features
3. Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL
The Tiger Wall series is another three-season ultralight offering from Big Agnes tents. The key difference between the Tiger Wall UL 2 and the Fly Creek series is that the Tiger Wall is geared for greater comfort for two or more users. This Tiger Wall UL 2 has doors on both sides and vestibules over both doors. This will be comfortable and efficient for two users as each will have easy access to their gear and the outside world. It has a similar hub pole design with the addition of one cross pole on the top of the tent to give some added stability and separation from the fly. It’s slightly heavier at just over three pounds, but still well within the range of comfort for those seeking an ultralight backpacking tent.
Ease of Use
Dedicated doors for two users makes this a dream for climbing in and out.
Despite the added pole this tent is still dead simple to set up and use.
This tent truly shines for size and comfort while still being lightweight.
- Big yet light
- True two-person tent
- Extra vestibule space for each person
- Excellent value for price
- Slightly heavier than Fly Creek series
Big Agnes makes gear that is tough and well designed with comfort at the forefront. These Big Agnes tents are no exception. The Fly Creek model tents, especially the Fly Creek HV UL 2, are amongst the lightest tents in the ultralight category and give 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 UL 2 is a spacious, well ventilated tent that could easily house two adult men. And for all that space your pack only adds around two and half pounds. It’s an excellent choice for a solo backpacker who wants the flexibility to bring a friend or man’s best friend on the trail. The single door design might make this a more convenient tent for one, but it’s more than suitable for two.
Our Top Pick: Despite the impressive features and light weight of the Fly Creek line, the Tiger Wall UL2 was our top choice amongst these Big Agnes tents. It’s a true two-person with a door and vestibule for each person. It adds around a pound of weight, but we feel the comfort and versatility of this three-season shelter is more than worth it. With two doors it’s far more comfortable to embark on longer journeys. 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.