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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Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
I'm a fan of apples on 10/19/2012 16:35:46 MDT Print View

"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."

Tough to compare apples to apples since one uses trek poles & the other Al poles, but I get your overall point.

Ryan

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
re: on 10/19/2012 19:36:23 MDT Print View

Hi Warren,

"That's why I have the FCUL3. This is what a two-person tent should be like."

And that is what 2P tents used to be like before people like me and you wanted lighter weights...

I have long used a 2P tent as a solo and have no problem with that. But I am big enough to need the extra room and don't like being cramped anyway. I would use the FC 2 Platinum as a solo and be happy with it.

Tents are sold these days with the minimum stakes needed to set them up. (Although I am pretty sure BA does send extras.) In a perfect setting that will be fine. In a perfect setting you won't see the fly touch the inner. When things aren't perfect you need more stakes. Use them. I (like Ryan J) carry a stake kit with 12 stakes, in my case 8 MSR Carbon Cores and 4 Ti hook stakes. When conditions warrant it I pull out the extras.

As far as the complaints about the extra space between the inner and the fly, think about what the change would do to the structure (in the case of changing the pole configuration) or the shape of the inner (just yanking it up to the spine pole would actually lose you interior space). Ask Roger, tent design is complicated.

Edited by rayestrella on 10/19/2012 21:46:27 MDT.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Where are the BPL weights? on 10/19/2012 19:46:21 MDT Print View

By the way, where are the "BPL weights"?

I thought we always listed actual weights. What is the actual total weight as packed?

As the tent may be set up with only a footprint and fly it is nice to know the weights of the individual pieces too. Knowing pole weights allows readers to know what they would save if they opt for aftermarket CF poles. Those are things that can't be found at the manufacturer's website, and are of value to us.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Where are the BPL weights? on 10/20/2012 05:50:22 MDT Print View

Agreed. The same goes if seemingly stronger and heavier poles are to be used. I'd want to know how much weight I'm adding. A lighter footprint may be made as well.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
PRICE!!! on 10/20/2012 20:15:18 MDT Print View

Brad,
When you stated that the new version was a $130 upcharge from the base price, why didn't you mention that the base price was...

Fly Creek UL2 = $369.95
WWWOOOWWWW!!!

That seems like a big oversight in the review. The actual price of this Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platnum tent is $499.95. Holy smokes!!! How do you justify that???

Can someone explain that to me?

Edited by TomClark on 10/20/2012 20:16:09 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: PRICE!!! on 10/20/2012 21:54:38 MDT Print View

Daryl, it is a,steal compared to this:

http://www.sierradesigns.com/p-559-mojo-ufo.aspx

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
poles on 10/22/2012 10:29:51 MDT Print View

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

You could weigh them and tell. The standard Fly Creek’s 9 mm DAC poles weigh 10.2 oz (289 g)

John Ancelet
(jancelet)
Re: Even still Lighter...... on 10/31/2012 20:21:57 MDT Print View

What was the cost to have carbon fiber tent poles made for this tent and how long did that take?

Edited by jancelet on 10/31/2012 20:39:11 MDT.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
looks different than the first UL2... on 11/05/2012 14:22:33 MST Print View

Looking at the photo of the tent without the fly, it appears that this tent is a bit shorter than the original UL2 version in the orangy tan color. Mine doesn't have such a crazy high arc like that, it seems to be shorter and so the arc is higher. I have more room inside my tent top to bottom between the thermarest and the edge of the tent. It does look like maybe there is a wider floor in this newer version too. I wonder if they ever so slightly tweaked the angles or the seam locations to stretch the inner space and make the tent sit differently without changing much... has anyone set them up next to eachother yet and really looked at it? I wish this review had actually done that.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Very nice tent on 11/29/2012 11:27:55 MST Print View

I just bought this tent and it is quite an amazing little thing. Very impressive how BA was able to bring down the weight by tweaking the design. I have the Fly Creek UL3 for when I hike with a partner and bought this for solo hiking but it will easily fit me and my wife or me and one of my younger kids no problem. Two adult men would be a problem unless you're quite 'friendly' with each other. I also bought it for $375 online since I couldn't justify the normal $500 price tag. I couldn't really justify the sale price either but then again I wouldn't have half of my gear if I had to rationalize my purchases!