Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review

At 5 ounces less than its predecessor, is the new Fly Creek worth the extra price?

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Fly Creek 2 Platinum is one of the lightest, most spacious 2-person double-wall tents on the market. The space to weight ratio is excellent, more so than in many other tents reported to be of the same size, and it is, truly, under 2 pounds for the tent. It has proven to be a dry tent in a storm. There seems to be some incongruity between the design and design potential, & the tent was 1.4 ounces over specification, which prevented it from nabbing a “Highly Recommended” rating. If bottom-line price isn’t your primary concern, the tent is indeed an upgrade from the Fly Creek.

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by Brad Groves |

Introduction

“They cut 5 ounces off a Fly Creek? Sweet! But HOW? Where? What does it sacrifice? Is it worth the extra money? If I sneeze in the middle of the night, will the tent be able to take the force of my sudden exhalation?” Such was the drift of my thoughts upon hearing about the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum, and it seemed likely that many other users would have the same sorts of questions, so we put dear Platinum through a thorough evaluation.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 1
A Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum takes in the view.

First, what, if anything, does the Fly Creek 2 Platinum sacrifice as compared to the Fly Creek 2? Second, is it worth an extra $130? As natural extensions of those points, I wanted to see how the FC2P compared to similar tents on the market and provide an in-depth evaluation of the tent that would paint a clear picture of the tent even to those unfamiliar with the “standard” version.

Tour

First things first, yeah, it’s hard to believe there’s a legitimate two-person tent in the package. Tossing the stuffed tent in the air, you realize that this presumptuous little bag theoretically contains a double-wall, two-person tent… that’s lighter than many sleeping bags. That viewpoint put some perspective on things for me. We’re becoming accustomed to lighter tent weights, so I’m not sure that some of us continue to appreciate just how absurdly light a 1 pound 13 ounce tent really is. That’s the weight of my 900 fill, 20 degree down sleeping bag! And when I think of it in those terms… dagnabbit, how wispy and worthless could this tent be in a storm?!

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 2
Plenty of room in the FC2P for two standard-sized pads.

It is a little hard to describe the hand-the feel and impression of-the tent fabric. I suppose that it reminds me of titanium, of picking up that first titanium pot with amazement, marveling at the rigidity of the paper-thin pot walls. The fly fabric of the FC2P is very thin, very light, very gossamer, yet imparts a reassuring sense of tenacity and inner strength. The color strikes me as being on the whiter, more silver side of gray… a bit luminescent, not dull or dreary. The seams, of course, are all taped. With a #3 YKK zipper in-hand (destined for a MYOG sleeping bag), it looks as though Big Agnes is using a #3 YKK on the vestibule zipper which makes me wonder, again, why more manufacturers are not using the zipper on sleeping bags. But that’s for another article. The fabric of the micro-ripstop fly feels like it has a bit of give or stretch.

The poles are somewhat larger in diameter than one might expect, with joints that seem plenty stout. It’s a light set of poles, with a simple “Y” shape. The color is a bright sort of anodized fluorescent lemon; I’m not sure if there is any other difference from a standard Fly Creek 2 poleset.

The floor of the inner tent is the same as the fly material, though in a darker gray. The noseeum mesh, though fine, feels plenty resilient in hand. For those of you comparing this to the standard Fly Creek, the canopy of the Platinum is all mesh, whereas the standard version is roughly half nylon/half mesh.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 3
The Platinum (lit by ENO Twilights) as a night owl.

Pitching the tent is fast and painless. Whether I staked all four corners before inserting and clipping to the poles, or whether I started with the poles and then staked, I consistently got a nice, taut pitch without any fuss. I have heard people wonder about the rear corners of the tent, specifically that they aren’t supported by pole structure. In that light, I suppose the FC2P might not truly be a “free-standing” tent, but frankly, that is of no concern. The tent pitches quite solidly. One aspect of the design that caught my attention was the significant amount of clearance between the arch of the ridgepole and the steeply-raked inner roof of the canopy. More specifically, the gap of about 13.5 inches seems a bit incongruous on a tent of minimalist design. It seems like Big Agnes would have modified the poleset and fly to more closely match the slope of the inner tent. Doing so would not only save weight but should improve the tent’s ability to shed weather. In fairness, though, such a re-design would require a whole bunch of work that would yield a tent that didn’t stick to the original Fly Creek geometry. It might be in the best interest of Big Agnes to pursue such a re-design, though, even if it were considered a new tent. Shoot, maybe we could get this thing under 24 ounces!

In Use

The first thing I notice after set-up is the amount of room in the FC2P. It is obviously and significantly larger than other tents that claim to have 28 square feet. In fact, I once overlaid another manufacturer’s “29 square feet” tent on top of a 28 square feet Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 (the Fly Creek 2’s slightly stockier twin), and found that the other tent was more than a foot narrower than the Seedhouse. In other words, if you’ve been in a tent with the same reported square footage but found it too small, I would still consider trying the Fly Creek. There is a surprising amount of room available for the weight.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 4
Try finding that amount of space in any number of other 28 sq. ft. tents! Also, note the significant arch of the ridge pole as compared to the rear slope of the inner tent.

More than just square footage, there is also a respectable amount of overall volume available in the Platinum. I have found that many tents on the market have a canopy that significantly encroaches upon the total floor area. I don’t want to start on a diatribe, but on top of reporting highly inflated dimensions, many manufacturers give a false idea of available volume within the tent. In other words, if you look at a diagram of the tent floor, you have the impression that the floor space depicted is also available or practical for use. In reality, as many of us have found, tent walls can slope so significantly upon the floor that the usable area of a tent is much smaller. So when I talk about overall tent “volume,” I’m talking about not only the amount of total floor space, but the amount of total space inside the tent - room you have to lay down, sit up, stash gear, change, stretch, play cards… whatever. And for a modified A-frame design like the Fly Creek 2 Platinum, I think there is an excellent amount of available room. This is a realistic 2-person tent, at least for average-sized people.

There is a stash pocket on each side by the door, and one pocket over the door. They’re simple and effective. The side of the inner tent has a pull-out loop that is clipped to the outer rainfly; when you stake out the side of the tent, then, it creates more available volume inside the tent. Again, simple but effective.

When I see the Fly Creek 2 Platinum pitched I am struck by its grace. Perhaps it reminds me a bit of full sails arcing through a weather-beaten sea. The FC2P fly is taut and athletic, gracefully curved, maybe even supple (does this sound like a wine review yet?). It pitches and sets “just right.” Despite the lingerie-weight fly material, the tent invokes a sense of durability. It lends an air of solid confidence. What this means, outside the somewhat bizarrely poetic description, is that I do have faith in the tent’s ability to weather a storm, as it has also proven to me during prolonged wet and windy hours.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 5
Ready for the weather. Or the sunshine!

Improvements?

Consider the automotive industry and its extensive use of “platforms.” I remember, for example, people joking about how a given GM car was just a re-badged Chevy/Pontiac/Olds/ etc. Heck, consider the publishing industry… how many revisions of “The Complete Walker” have there been? My point is that platforms can provide legitimate launching points and legitimate differences. Big Agnes has been able to develop a useful and wide range of products on its Seedhouse platform. The most significant architectural difference, in my mind, is the elimination of the rear “wishbone” pole on the Fly Creek models. Aside from incorporating that skeletal change, much of the geometry of the tent seems to have been “tweakable” or left unchanged. Given the Seedhouse platform, I can’t think of anything I’d really want to change with the Fly Creek 2 Platinum.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 6
A classic profile and set-up. Excellent lower perimeter ventilation with full storm protection, a relatively roomy vestibule, and if you don’t unzip the fly all the way, decent wet weather entry.

If I were to change anything about the tent, as mentioned earlier, it would be to aggressively alter the ridgeline. I envision a pole junction with a permanent bend at the tents peak, the pole sticking much more to the ridgeline of the inner tent, perhaps with another “elbow” joint at the feet. It seems as though they could cut pole and material weight while making the tent a little more slippery in the wind. I might consider, if I were undertaking such a revision, adding a 9 to 12-inch stub past the front wishbone, creating a dry entry. That, of course, could take some monkeying around to keep the weight at a net loss.

The only glitch that I really notice is that the ridgepole can have a tendency to get a little snaky. When you stake out the tent it helps to pay attention to what you’re doing, applying equal tension all ‘round the tent, or you can induce some mild “S” curves along the ridge. I didn’t notice this affecting performance, but in theory it would be less stable in a good blow. I envision it being more of a problem if sideways to the wind. Realistically though, for most three-season backpacking conditions I see no issue with the structural rigidity of the tent.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 7
Note the “S” curve of the ridge pole both at the top and through the center of the back wall.

I was mildly disappointed to find that my sample Fly Creek 2 Platinum weighs a little over spec. It’s not really a big deal, I guess, but it is 1pound 14.4oz instead of 1 pound 13oz with guylines removed. Given that Big Agnes has been so good about reporting the dimensions of the tent, I wish the weight had been just as accurate.

That brings me to the big question: is the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum worth $130 over and beyond a “base model” Fly Creek 2? Well, that depends. If price is your most significant consideration in a tent purchase, or if you have developed a price:weight spreadsheet for all the gear you own or are considering, you could probably save 5 ounces in your overall pack weight for less than the $130 difference in the Fly Creek 2 and Fly Creek 2 Platinum. If, however, you’ve already stripped the rest of your weights down, or if what you’re most concerned about is tent weight, then yeah, the Platinum wins. As I’ve said in other reviews, that person you see driving down the street in a Ferrari would probably do just fine with a Civic. But sometimes the performance or the specs provide an element of fun or interest that appeal to a user. I have found no disadvantage of the Platinum as compared to the standard Fly Creek. For me, and in my recommendation to UL friends, the Fly Creek 2 Platinum is one of my highest recommendations for an ultralight 2-person tent.

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent - 8
Translucent as the fly might be, I found it plenty adequate for the tasks it anticipates.

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge and is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to the manufacturer to review this product under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review," by Brad Groves. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/big_agnes_fc2p_review.html, 2012-10-16 00:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review


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Maia
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review on 10/16/2012 19:05:02 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review

Jim Arzigian
(Renais) - M
Front guy lines on 10/17/2012 00:54:48 MDT Print View

I am curious about the two guy lines on either side of the vestibule, and pretty high up on the tent. I've used a regular Fly Creek 2 for quite a while, and not ever used these two lines. I see they are not used in any pictures of the set up tent. Any idea of when they might be of use, or are these useless lines?

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
guy lines on 10/17/2012 08:27:44 MDT Print View

They are for use in high winds. The shape of these tents presents a wind-catching face and the guy-lines come in handy then.

Nice review. Did you see any weather Brad?

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
Even still Lighter...... on 10/17/2012 11:11:26 MDT Print View

Great review! You can reduce the weight by approximately 5 ounces or so by having a set of carbon fiber tent poles made by Josh at Ruta Locura. I had Josh make me a set for my Fly Creek 2. They are sweet! He mails you back the original poles and it's amazing to feel the difference. I have no afilliation with Josh and his company....I'm simply passing on info.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Usable Size on 10/17/2012 12:12:59 MDT Print View

Nicely written review, although it did seem a bit overly charitable without mention of what I believe are two pretty big short comings:

1) Vertical rain/snow falls straight in the door.

2) Not enough headroom for two adults to sit up at the same time without hitting the mesh. A lot of reviews don't agree there is an "excellent amount of available room" and that it's a "realistic 2-person tent".

Other smaller cons would be:
- lack of a top vent
- difficulty of two people managing with one door/vestibule.
- high stake requirements (6 minimum, but 8 required to keep fly off the inner)
- needing to sleep with your head at the door end limits camp site options

Edited by dandydan on 10/17/2012 12:15:22 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Usable Size on 10/17/2012 12:19:00 MDT Print View

"1) Vertical rain/snow falls straight in the door."

You know, this has never been an issue with me and these designs. The rain rarely falls at the very tip of the footprint. Instead, it falls on my back or person.

"lack of a top vent"

Completely overrated unless there is wind and if there is wind, the bottom ventilation will take away the condensation.

"- high stake requirements (6 minimum, but 8 required to keep fly off the inner)"

More than a two person tarp?

"- needing to sleep with your head at the door end limits camp site options"

This has never been an issue with any shelter / tarp I have used.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Great writeup. on 10/17/2012 12:29:42 MDT Print View

Great writeup. The Fly Creek UL2 is my primary tent. I don't have the platinum version, but I love the tent.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F - M

Locale: British Columbia
Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review on 10/17/2012 15:57:00 MDT Print View

"1) Vertical rain/snow falls straight in the door."

I agree that this is a non-issue. I've been using this tent design for years (Seedhouse and Fly Creek). A simple solution is to zip up the top of the door so that it creates the required overhang. I can still get in and out with the door partially zipped (and I'm 6 ft 200 lbs.)

I've also never worried about bumping into the mesh when sitting up... not sure why this is perceived as a problem? Even if the fly is covered in condensation, I have never gotten wet from bumping into the mesh... it's a lot better than bumping into a single wall with no mesh inner IMO.

Edited by skopeo on 10/17/2012 15:58:31 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review on 10/17/2012 17:16:27 MDT Print View

Hi all-

I'd say you've already answered the questions. Vertical precip in the door could be easily reduced by not unzipping all the way, but I find that I take in more rain on my clothing than what little makes it in between my body and the vestibule opening. I don't think of a sub-2-pound UL backpacking tent as a party tent... if this is one of the tents you're considering, weight is clearly a significant consideration, and you're probably not expecting a ballroom. I'm not sure why two people would need to sit upright and side-by-side, but if they are, that's a different segment of the market. Compared to some other tents with this square footage, there's a lot more internal volume here. The tent I referenced in the article as being about a foot narrower, though it's spec'd as being bigger, is a MSR Hubba Hubba. Two people could, indeed, sit upright in the tent, if that is highly important to you, but the tent also weighs nearly double the FC2P and has significantly less floor area.

Sure, I saw some good weather with the tent. Some days of extended rain, strong winds. The tent did well, kept me dry, stayed upright and in good shape. As I noted in the review, there can be a tendency for some snaking of the ridgepole, but good site selection and staking proved to be more than adequate for me. I mentioned a storm in the Foray review in which a mature maple tree was topped... the FC2P also sat pretty through the storm with nary a scratch. The tent would prefer not to be full-on sideways to the wind, but then, most tents are that way.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
FC UL2 on 10/17/2012 17:52:34 MDT Print View

"[the door letting rain in] has never been an issue with me and these designs. The rain rarely falls at the very tip of the footprint. Instead, it falls on my back or person. "

Rain falling into the tent is more of a downside when your sharing the tent with someone else. Sure the individual using the door is likely either already wet or about to get wet, but if there's another sleeper then extra consideration is required to avoid water falling on them. Big deal? No, but it's an easy fix (ie. Brooks-Range Foray) so when you're half asleep and running out for a pee, you don't have to remember not to undo that last foot of zipper.


"More [stakes required] than a two person tarp?"
No. High stake requirements are also a downside of most tarps.

In this case, the design doesn't keep the fly off the inner when pitched with 6 stakes, so 8 pretty much mandatory unless you can count on no condensation or don't mind the fly stuck to the inner in large areas of the sides. Again, this is minor but all these small easy areas for improvement add up. I'd just like to see a v2.

Edited by dandydan on 10/17/2012 17:58:12 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review on 10/17/2012 19:41:46 MDT Print View

So, what is the rain fly made out of? What about the bug net? I assume most of the weight savings came from a lighter zipper, lighter bug net and lighter rain fly. If the bug net and rain fly are proprietary (or Big Agnes is keeping them a secret) then so be it. Otherwise, folks would like to know (especially since many people on this site build their own and would love to hear about materials out in the field). If Big Agnes likes it, chances are it has been tested thoroughly.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: FC UL2 on 10/17/2012 21:13:56 MDT Print View

The problem with the Foray is that it is too low at the foot end as per the review. This is a bigger issue to me.

"In this case, the design doesn't keep the fly off the inner when pitched with 6 stakes, so 8 pretty much mandatory unless you can count on no condensation or don't mind the fly stuck to the inner in large areas of the sides. Again, this is minor but all these small easy areas for improvement add up. I'd just like to see a v2."

Stuck to the sides? I reread the article and Brad mentions almost too much space between the fly and the inner. One has to peg the fly out anyway. For me, absolutely not an issue. I am stunned by the weight to space ratio of this tent given it doesn't use trekking poles.

May I ask what 2 person tent you use?

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
tents in storm on 10/18/2012 06:49:21 MDT Print View

"I mentioned a storm in the Foray review in which a mature maple tree was topped... the FC2P also sat pretty through the storm with nary a scratch."

Ha, I have never thought of testing tents two (or more for that matter) at a time. Need a bigger backpack I guess... ;-)

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
How tall an occupant fits w/o riding the ends? on 10/18/2012 09:09:28 MDT Print View

I found the review interesting but, not being an Oompa Loompa, I wonder how the tent works for persons of normal height, say 6'5" and up. So many of the lighter tents save weight by becoming shorter, too. My Copper Spur UL2 is just barely long enough for normal people...

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
BA FC UL2 on 10/18/2012 11:54:58 MDT Print View

FC UL2a

"Stuck to the sides? I reread the article and Brad mentions almost too much space between the fly and the inner."

The unnecessarily large inner/fly gap Brad mentions is along the ridgeline in the back half of the tent (shown above). Big Agnes should redesign the poleset/fly as Brad describes, which would cut weight and improve this tents resilience in side winds. Alternatively, they could modify the inner with a few extra clips and additional no-see-um netting to take advantage of this space and add volume in the back half of the tent for virtually no weight.

Where the fly gets stuck to the inner is along the sides of the tent at the bottom (shown below). You need to stake it out here, or the sides of the fly contact the inner and end up sticking to it once condensation has formed. Not doing so is problematic, because the wet fly is stuck to the inner right along the bottom where your sleeping bag is likely to be touching the sides. So 8 stakes is really the minimum and if you were expecting harsh weather and wanted to guy this tent out, you'd be at 12.

I'm not sure if this is also present in the Fly Creek UL2, but the design of UL3 is very similar in that you also need to stake out the sides of the fly to keep it off the inner. After several days of use in wet conditions, the UL3 fly material sags/stretches so much that even staking it out isn't enough, and it will still stick the inner part way up the tent over a fairly significant expanse (about where the UL2 guyouts are). This ends up being unavoidable in multi-day wet trips, and is one of the reasons why the UL3 (and perhaps UL2) isn't that fun to live out of for 2 wet weeks on Vancouver Island, despite its awesome volume:weight ratio. At least the UL2 has guyouts here, so if it is an issue after a few days of rain then presumably you could go to 10 stakes.

FC UL2b


May I ask what 2 person tent you use?"
Currently my wife and I are using a TarpTent StratoSpire2. It's 40.3 oz all in (tent, guylines, stakes, sack), whereas this UL2 Platinum is 30.4oz presumably plus 8+ stakes, guylines, sack etc, so likely 34-35oz apples to apples.

The SS2 is a bit fiddly to set up on undulating ground, which is the biggest con. Once pitched, the SS2 is far nicer in the rain with the non-exposed inner setup, dual protected overhang doors, large vestibules and fly that doesn't stick to the inner. Living space is also much more generous, particularly the headroom. 6 stakes or 8 if you want it sturdy (which I usually do).

Edited by dandydan on 10/18/2012 12:00:58 MDT.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Tent Review on 10/18/2012 14:58:16 MDT Print View

spam...marking this thread in case it becomes another invisible thread

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: BA FC UL2 on 10/18/2012 19:31:26 MDT Print View

Dan, you are going to stake out the sides of the fly anyway. Don't see the issue. You would do this with the SS2 as well.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Shouldn't have to on 10/19/2012 00:04:06 MDT Print View

stake out the fly. Freestanding tents should be designed so the fly is supported by the poles and not need to be staked just to keep the fly off the inner. I've seen and used many times a design that does not have this problem and it was purchased just over thirty years ago. Don't really need any stakes for this tent but a couple are good if it gets windy. -The FCUL2 Plat. being labeled a two man tent is also a bit of a stretch (typical of the industry). That's why I have the FCUL3. This is what a two-person tent should be like. But again I'm not thrilled with the need for so many stakes on a freestanding tent though.

edited for clarity

Edited by WarrenGreer on 10/19/2012 00:05:15 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Shouldn't have to on 10/19/2012 07:43:25 MDT Print View

Why shouldn't you have to stake out the fly? You want the tent to blow away.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Staking UL2 on 10/19/2012 09:02:06 MDT Print View

"Dan, you are going to stake out the sides of the fly anyway."
In normal conditions, the only reason to stake out the sides of the fly is to keep it off the inner. You aren't going to be doing this anyways. Normally you would stake out the 6 corners of the tent (4 body, 2 vestibule), and then add guylines if you're expecting high winds. These stake outs along the sides may help a little in high winds, but not nearly as much as guylines and they're certainly not fulfilling any purpose beyond keeping the baggy fly off the inner in normal conditions.

"You would do this with the SS2 as well."
No. The SS2 only requires perimeter stakes at the 6 corners (4 body corners + 2 vestibule corners) and then there's optional guylines higher up on the canopy if you want additional wind-worthy-ness. Additional perimeter stakes between the corners to control a flapping fly are unnecessary.