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Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review

Big Agnes raises the bar for two-person double-wall tents by creating their lightest offering ever. In fact, it is the lightest tent in this category from any manufacturer. Will it Fly high, or leave us up a Creek?


Overall Rating: Recommended

This rating has been awarded for the smart design, minuscule weight, light yet very strong materials, and supreme packabilty of the Fly Creek UL2. While it can fit two people, it is not a tent that two adults would want to have to spend any long duration of time in. The single front door, small vestibule and low average head height hurt it in the two-person category. It does make a very nice solo shelter.

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by Ray Estrella |

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review


The new Fly Creek UL2 is the lightest two-person tent that Big Agnes has ever made. In fact, it is the lightest two-person double-wall tent made by any manufacturer at the time of this writing. By tweaking the design of their popular Seedhouse SL2 and using some new components and materials, Big Agnes was able to drop 12 ounces from the total weight for a tent that ends up with a trail weight of only 2.39 pounds (Note: Big Agnes' trail weight is stated at a lower weight of 2.12 lb (0.96 kg). As their trail weight does not include stakes, and I found that at least four are required for set up, the BPL trail weight is higher.). This puts it in the realm of single-wall tents for weight. But while low weight is one thing, a tent needs to be livable too. How did the Fly Creek do in extended field tests, and how did it compare to lightweight stand-outs from Big Sky International, MSR and Terra Nova?


Year/Manufacturer/Model 2009 Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 2 Person Tent
Style Three-season, two-person, double-wall tent.
Fabrics Body: ultralight breathable nylon rip-stop and polyester mesh
Floor and Fly: ultralight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating
Poles and Stakes Poles: DAC Featherlite NSL pole system with press fit connectors and lightweight hubs, total weight 10.2 oz (289 g)
Stakes: 10x 6.25 in (15.9 cm) DAC aluminum J stakes, total weight 4 oz (113 g)
Dimensions Length Listed: 86 in (218 cm)
Width Listed: Head 52 in/Foot 42 in (132/107 cm)
Inside Height Listed: 38 in (97 cm)
BPL Verified Accurate
Packed Size 6.5 x 19 in (16 x 48 cm)
Total Weight Listed Weight: 2.62 lb (1.19 kg)
BPL Measured Weight: 2.58 lb (1.17 kg)
Trail Weight 2.39 lb (1.08 kg)
Protected Area Floor Area Listed: 28 ft2 (2.6 m2)
Vestibule Area: 7 ft2 (0.65 m2)
BPL Verified Accurate
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio 14.64 ft2/lb (3.01 m2/kg)
MSRP US $349.95
Options Fast Fly Footprint, 5 oz (142 g)

Design and Features

The new Fly Creek UL2 is the two-person version of last year's Fly Creek UL1. Both tents are basically reengineered and lighter versions of the Seedhouse SL tents. I have been using every generation of the Seedhouse SL2 as my go-to solo shelter since its introduction in 2004. I found it very interesting that the Fly Creek bests the Seedhouse SL2 by 12 oz (113 g), yet the Fly Creek has more floor space, as it is two inches longer. It is only 4 oz (340 g) heavier than the Seedhouse SL1, yet boasts 27% more floor space.

The Fly Creek 2's most noticeable difference is in its 9 mm DAC pole system. By eliminating the back hub and two angled rear poles, Big Agnes was able to drop 3 oz from the pole weight. With the Fly Creek, three sections of poles meet in a front hub to form a Y, the short ends (arms of the Y) of which go to either side of the door. The long part curves over the tent to anchor in a grommet centered in the back. While it can be called a free-standing tent, the back corners need to be staked to take full advantage of all the available space.

The tent body attaches to the poles with DAC Swift Clips. These newer clips are much faster to deploy and remove than the old style clips. The center clip is a two piece DAC H-Clip. The female end H-Clip is permanently attached to the poles and when attached to the corresponding male end on the top of the tent keeps the tent from sliding along the poles. DAC even provides the J-stakes (aluminum, with a V cross-section); they weigh only 0.4 oz each.

The tent body is made of solid, lightweight, breathable nylon on the lower sections of the body, only using the trademark mesh on the top third or so.

The only entrance to the Fly Creek is by way of a large D-shaped mesh door in the front. A loop and toggle allow it to be gathered to the side. To either side of the door inside the tent are mesh gear pockets. A third small mesh pocket sits centered above the door. On the top of the tent are the loops to attach an optional Triangle Gear Loft.

The rain fly and floor are made of ultralight, high tenacity micro-denier ripstop nylon. Due to its proprietary nature, that is as much information about it as they will share. It is very light and pretty tough from what I have seen so far. All seams have been taped to ensure waterproofness. Big Agnes includes pre-attached guy lines and lightweight sliding tensioners at the guy points and ventilation pull-out points on the rain fly. At these spots inside the fly are straps with hooks that attach to a reinforced loop on the inner tent to allow it to be pulled out to give added space.

The fly pulls away in front of the door to provide a small vestibule. It is not really big enough to store more than boots and possibly a small pack inside and still be able to get in and out of the tent.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review - 1
Top left: The single hub Y-shaped poles go to just three points at the ground. Top right: Just one DAC H-clip and five Swift clips are needed to attach the body to the poles. The solid material on the lower two-thirds of the side walls help keep out blowing dirt. Bottom left: The large single door takes up the entire front face of the Fly Creek. Two pads (one regular sized and one Long shown) fit with no problem. The sloping side walls do make it cramped for two people to do much more than sleep. Bottom right: the fly provides full coverage and good weather protection.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review - 2
Left: Stuff sacks galore! The Fly Creek comes with the tent, fly poles, eleven DAC J-stakes and stuff sacks for all of them. A pole repair section was sent too, but it is not in the picture. Right: The Fly Creek makes a pretty compact package. By carrying the poles separately (as I do), it gets even smaller.


As I have owned so many of Big Agnes' tents over the years, set-up was pretty quick. I almost always use the optional footprint to stop abrasion of the floor from all the rock I find myself making camp on when in the mountains of California. In humid, rainy Minnesota, I use it just to keep the bottom clean.

I often set the guy lines on all my tents, and I have found that they are even more beneficial for the Fly Creek UL2. All of the Big Agnes tents with this design suffer from wind stability when it comes from the side. It can't be helped with the flat face presented. Always try to make sure the back is to the wind, as this is the strongest, most aerodynamically stable position. The first time I set it up was right before a thunderstorm hit. The winds were at 18 mph with gusts to 31 mph. I attached the fly-to-body points and deployed the guy lines, and set it with the back to the wind, but the sides still blew inward quite a bit. I watched the wind hitting it straight on, finally putting enough pressure on one side to cause the single pole to flex to one side, finally jumping inside when the rain hit.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review - 3
Present this side into the wind for best performance.

The Fly Creek spent an evening, night, and most of the next day in a very big thunderstorm in Moorhead, Minnesota. I escaped back to my house in the morning but left the tent up until the rain was completely through. It weathered it quite well. (Note: I bring tents to Minnesota, where I spend at least a week each month with my twin children, for the opportunity to use them in weather that I may not see for months at a time in California.) The back has no provision to pull the fly out further like the sides do to provide more space for ventilation. Thinking about it later, I realized that when the rain was being driven into the back of the tent by the wind, it is better this way. When there is little or no wind, the fly sits out as far as the stake placement allows. The stronger the wind against it, the more it seals itself.

On a backpacking trip in the northern Sierra Nevada, I encountered temperatures to 29 F (-2 C), but pretty low humidity as it was at 50% to 54% the entire time. It rained and snowed one night, but the Fly Creek shrugged it off without a bit of condensation. (The humidity was so low that, with the wind, everything was dry by morning.)

The same was true of two nights in Domeland Wilderness further south in the Sierra Nevada that saw temperatures of 27 F (-3 C) at night. This area is almost high desert in places and has a lot more bare ground and dirt than the northern Sierra. The wind was blowing almost the entire trip.

A last trip to the south Sierra Wilderness with the Fly Creek saw two nights down to 32 F (0 C) with humidity levels at 67%. On this trip I purposely left the vestibule completely shut one night, and just the top of the door unzipped the next. Buttoned up all the first night, there was light condensation build-up on the inside of the rain fly. It was not enough to drip or run, but I could wipe moisture from the walls. The night with the top of the vestibule door opened at the top just a few inches created enough of a draw to wake up to completely dry walls in the morning.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review - 4
The Fly Creek 2 in the Domeland Wilderness. The solid walls helped keep blowing dirt out of the tent here.


Nothing in the literature I received from Big Agnes made any mention of the Fly Creek UL2 being the lightest two-person double-wall tent. Nothing I have been able to find perusing the "stacks" at BPL or the internet has given me any indication that this is not the case. So here it is, in its first long-term in-depth review. Big Agnes, you have a winner. Is it perfect? No. Is it viable? In a big way!

Because of the areas I frequent (mountains) and the four-season nature of my hiking, I have always preferred a double-wall tent. I have had many tarptents and use them on occasion, but I like a double-wall tent because the pros outweigh the cons for me. Yes, they are heavier. They take up more room in my pack. These are the main reasons that I carried the TT Rainbow and Squall 2. However, the advantages of condensation control and the ability to do without the protection from rain fly to just use the inner by itself makes me choose the weight hit on most of my trips. Big Agnes has hit into a weight versus convenience/features range that really blurs the lines between the two for me.

I really like the use of the solid nylon part way up the walls. The Fly Creek kept much cleaner inside than other mesh-walled tents, as it did not let as much dirt or dust blow in.

One drawback of all tents of this shape/configuration (my tarptents included) is the necessity to sleep with your head at the high end (door) of the tent. This limits choices when finding a good camp site. The areas I frequent rarely see a flat spot so I want my head to be at the uphill end of a sloped site. However, if the wind is blowing that way, I have to either choose to have the wind blowing in the door or sleep with my head downhill.

Another negative is the fact that the rain fly does not protect the door opening when the vestibule is open. Rain or snow can fall straight down into the tent. As this is where the users' heads are, care must be taken to move sleeping bags or quilts away from the front before somebody enters or exits in inclement weather.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review - 5
As may be seen above, the rain fly does not cover the front of the tent when the vestibule door is open. This results in water inside the tent when entering or exiting in rainy conditions.

It would benefit from a high vent, as my experiment in the south Sierra Wilderness proved. The Fly Creek can be ventilated at the vestibule door, but if it is raining, this results in water on the inner tent. A small hooded vent would allow air to be drawn from below and the warm moist air inside could flow through it. Will it add weight? Yep, maybe an ounce or so. That may even knock it out of "lightest ever" range, but such a feature would make a tent that I would want to buy even more. Big Agnes does put a high vent on the Copper Spur series (I had the Copper Spur UL3 and now have the Copper Spur UL2), and it adds a lot to the ventilation capability. Changing the design of the rain fly to move the vestibule further away from the front of the tent would do the trick too. This would allow the top of the vestibule door to be open while still keeping rain off the front of the inner.

I used to do a lot of mountaineering, and I should be kicking it back up again soon. Unless I am on a mountain or with my wife, I do not like to share a tent. Because of my height (6'3" / 190.5 cm), I tend to use two-person tents as solo shelters. The Fly Creek has worked wonderfully in this role. I have plenty of room to bring my backpack inside, which is nice when I am packing up in the morning.

For two people, it is another story. While the Fly Creek UL2 has a head height of 38 in (97 cm), it is at one area directly centered in the tent towards the front. Only one person can sit and enjoy the maximum clearance. Two adults of my height would find it pretty hard to share the tent. I will use it with one of my kids, but not another adult, unless we were really REALLY friendly. My twins Emma and Ray used it together and thought it was the best, but they are 4'9" (145 cm) tall.

If insect protection is not needed, or you just want the lowest possible weight, the rain fly can be pitched with just the poles and optional footprint to cut 9.2 oz (261 g) off the total.

I am pretty impressed by the Fly Creek UL2. While it is a bit cramped for two adults, it still offers two people a weather-tight tent at a minuscule weight with the ability to forgo the rain fly on nice nights. Or, as in my case, it offers a very nice solo tent for a tall hiker. From what I have seen during the past few months, I believe that the durability is going to be better than my Seedhouses of old, even though the new materials are lighter.

Dare to Compare

In terms of comparisons, I believe that the Fly Creek's closest competitors are the Terra Nova Laser and the MSR Carbon Reflex, both of which are lightweight, two-person, double-wall tents.

The MSR Carbon Reflex 2 is probably the closest comparison. With its 2-inch (5 cm) taller peak height and 1 sq ft (0.9 sq m) more floor space, it is slightly roomier than the Fly Creek, though it also weighs 9.4 oz (266 g) more.

The Terra Nova Laser is a two-person double-wall tent that is actually an over-sized single person tent as two standard-width sleeping pads can't fit inside unless they are stacked. With a mere 5.3 oz (150 g) heavier trail weight, it has much less head room and 22% less floor space. To its credit, the Laser sets up blazingly fast and has better ventilation than the Fly Creek.

It should also be noted that neither of those tents are freestanding and both cost at least 40% more than the Fly Creek UL2.

Manufacturer and Model Big Agnes Fly Creek SL2 MSR Carbon Reflex 2 Terra Nova Laser
Manufacturer Trail Weight* 2.12 lb (0.96 kg) 2.81 lb (1.28 kg) 2.47 lb (1.12 kg)
Backpacking Light Trail Weight** 2.39 lb (1.08 kg) 2.98 lb (1.36 kg) 2.72 lb (1.23 kg)
Fabrics Floor/fly: 1200mm PU/silicone coated ripstop nylon
Body: nylon & polyester mesh
Floor: 40D nylon 66, 10,000mm PU
Fly: 20D 1000mm PU/silicone coated nylon
Body: 20D nylon 66 & 20D polyester mesh
Floor: 7000mm PU coated nylon
Fly: 4000mm silicone coated nylon
Body: nylon mesh
Poles DAC Featherlite NSL pole system with one hub 2 Easton FX carbon fiber poles 1 DAC aluminum pole, 2 carbon fiber struts
Dimensions*** L x W x H 86 x 52/42 x 38 in
(218 x 132/107 x 97 cm)
84 x 46.5 x 40 in
(213 x 118 x 102 cm)
87 x 34 x 33 in
(221 x 86 x 84 cm)
Floor Area 28.0 sq ft (2.6 sq m) 27.1 sq ft (2.52 sq m) 21.8 sq ft (2.02 sq m)
Number of Vestibules & Area 1 7 sq ft (0.65 sq m) 2 14 sq ft (1.3 sq m) 1 7 sq ft (0.65 sq m)
Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio**** 11.71 sq ft / lb
(2.41 sq m / kg)
9.64 sq ft / lb
(1.97 sq m / kg)
8 sq ft / lb
(1.64 sq m / kg)
Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio***** 14.64 sq ft / lb
(3.01 sq m / kg)
13.8 sq ft / lb
(2.81 sq m / kg)
10.57 sq ft / lb
(2.17 sq m / kg)
Cost US$ 350 500 538


*Manufacturer Trail Weight: Minimum weight as listed by the manufacturer. Different companies may include different components in this weight.

**Backpacking Light Trail Weight: This is the weight of tent, rain fly, poles, and stakes needed for basic set-up. It does not include stuffsacks, extra guylines, extra stakes, or repair kit.

***Dimensions: maximum Length x maximum Width x maximum Height (L x W x H). In the case of an odd shaped floor, a double measurement is given for head and foot (H/F). The numbers are as verified by BPL and may differ from the manufacturers' stated dimensions.

****Floor Area/Trail Weight Ratio: This is the floor area divided by the trail weight.

*****Protected Area/Trail Weight Ratio: This is the floor area plus vestibule area divided by the trail weight.

What's Good

  • Lightest two-person double-wall tent at this time.
  • Very small packed size.
  • Solid fabric blocks blowing dirt and snow.
  • Proven storm worthiness.
  • Light yet strong and durable materials.
  • Decent ventilation.

What's Not So Good

  • Too cramped to be useful for two adults of my height.
  • Strong winds hitting the flat sides can cause problems.
  • Rain will fall into tent when vestibule door is open.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Place a small high vent on the rain fly.
  • Redesign fly to protect tent while exiting in rain.
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


"Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review," by Ray Estrella. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-12-15 00:05:00-07.


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Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review
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Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review on 12/16/2009 11:51:54 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/28/2015 12:07:54 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review on 12/16/2009 12:01:40 MST Print View

Hey Mike - we were comparing the 1200mm rating of the Fly Creek floor to silnylon with the same rating. We were trying to determine whether 1200mm is sufficient for wet weather and because many of us do have experience with silnylon that is rated to 1200mm, we felt that was a good comparison. Obviously 800mm will not be as waterproof and no one would question that.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review on 12/16/2009 12:22:52 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/28/2015 12:06:30 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review on 12/16/2009 12:31:25 MST Print View

Mike - yes, please let us know how you make out with the Fly Creek floor as I am familiar with your neck of the woods and the uh, moisture (did the WCT in May of this year and had rain, rain, and then a little more rain!).

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Leaky groundsheets? on 12/16/2009 12:37:21 MST Print View

The question of leaking silnylon floors gets raised all the time. I regularly camp on very sodden ground here in Scotland, and haven't had a problem with silnylon floors leaking. Because of the relatively low HH, i am careful to avoid kneeling on the bare floor as much as possible, and i try to always stay on the mat. I usually use a polycro g/sheet as well. I use the polycro to help fight condensation, and use it with higher rated floors too.

I use, or have used, shelters from Stephensons, MLD and Tarptent with silnylon floors. Maybe these manufacturers use better quality silnylon, and reported leaks are from shelters using 2nds?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: "Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review" on 12/16/2009 12:44:26 MST Print View

I wish they would listen to reviewers and fix the fly over the door and add the vents. Until they do, I guess I'll pass.

YMMV here, but I for one wouldn't want the door fixed and the vent (or lack thereof) to me is fairly minor. Most tents with overhanging 'awning' above the tent door incorporates a pole section. This adds weight, which folks would have to carry all day, every day. And even without a pole section, an entrance with some sort of overhang will require more fabric. OTOH, scampering in and out of the tent quickly in the rain, followed by a few wipes, is more than a fair exchange. I see this as a design choice and not as a 'flaw' per se.

As for a top vent, I guess it wouldn't hurt if one can be added with no perceptible weight increase. But having used the SL2 for years in both rain and shine -- the lack of a vent just hasn't be an issue at all for me -- not even a little bit. But as prefaced, YMMV.

Oh, very nice review, Ray.

Edited by ben2world on 12/16/2009 12:47:18 MST.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re on 12/16/2009 15:30:01 MST Print View

Thank you all, I will try to reply to as many of your questions and comments as I can.

Hey Dan,

This review is in support of, and part of, the SOTMR we are doing on double-wall, two-person tents. There are hybrids out there that blur the lines as you correctly point out.

I have not seen the 2P Haven. I have been checking the blog but have not seen anything yet. Do you have a link? It would be great to get it included.

David, I always use the footprint “if” the manufacturer sends it. Yes, the footprint was under it. But the rain was so hard that it was flowing between the footprint and the tent on the right side of the tent (while looking at the picture). At the height of the down-pour that section was at least 2 in (5 cm) deep.

Frank, I am a gear whor.. hound. I still have clothes from 10 years ago, but I love pushing the limits of hiking gear, so I have new shelters about three (or more) times a year. That is why I was asked to start testing gear and eventually made it here. (What did the Jefferson’s say? “Movin’ on up, to the top. To a deluxe shelter set up high…) How many do I own? Right now that I own and use with the kids (in Minnesota) and in California solo or with Dave or Jenn:

Bibler Fitzroy 4-season tent
Big Agnes String Ridge 4-season tent
Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 w/CF poles
MSR Prophet 4-season tent
REI Base Dome 6P 4-season tent
Sierra Designs Hercules Assault V.2
Tarptent Rainbow
Tarptent Hogback

Those are all tents that I bought, except for the SD which I tested for BGT.

As I just got divorced I sold a bunch of other tents in the past six months including a TT Scarp 2 and a BA Seedhouse SL3, and gave the BA Copper Spur 3 to the ex. I give lots of gear away to family too.

Since 2003 my focus has been on backpacking and the gear it takes to do it right. (You guys here are making me re-define right as “light”.) So don’t worry about the gear wearing out Frank. The only thing that is getting worn out is me!

Ten Ton you are correct, I forgot to mention the Fast-fly set up. When I get back to California I will weigh the body and give a Fast-fly weight for you guys.

Mike, the weather was never really hot enough to notice, but I have a lot of use in a Copper Spur 3 (and will be reviewing the 2 in the future) which has the same walls. I never noticed it being hotter than the Seedhouse 3. And I agree the Copper Spur has a lot more room for two to sit up. As far as condensation on the floor I did get some last fall only when it was on grass. It was about 4:00 pm and the humidity was pretty high. What was strange was that the floor felt a bit damp but there was nothing on the inside of the fly. I have never seen this happen in the mountains of California though.

Ben, I just spent maybe the wettest night I ever have in a Terra Nova Laser. It was raining too hard to open the top of the vestibule to create some draw and I had condensation dripping from the fly onto the inner. The same thing occurred to Jenn and I in the Seedhouse SL3 one spring night in Utah. The tents with top vents seem to do better. Dave is testing a Big Sky Revolution and he says he has not had one bit of condensation in it yet. (That is a pretty nice tent to tell the truth.)

F. Thomas Matica
(ftm1776) - F

Locale: Vancouver, WA
Vestibule ala Henry Shires! on 12/16/2009 16:49:56 MST Print View

It would seem that with little weight penalty(I know 1 gram is too much)that there could be some door flap extensions added to that one could set up a covered vestibule with trekking poles as support. A couple two-way zippers on the right entry door might also be propped out as an awning. Henry has done that on my Rainbow and, although it may make entry a little more awkward, it sure provides better rain protection and more open, psychological space if stuck inside for long periods. How do you cook when it's pouring?????
Functionality really suffers sometime just to save and ounce or two.
Like the latest article says, just lose a half pound in your own weight and take the luxury tent model on your next trip.

Edited by ftm1776 on 12/16/2009 16:56:17 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Re on 12/16/2009 17:55:43 MST Print View

"I have not seen the 2P Haven. I have been checking the blog but have not seen anything yet. Do you have a link? It would be great to get it included."

Unfortunately I don't have much info to add. My understanding from following SMD for the past few months is that the Haven is essentially going to be a 2 person version of the 27oz Vamp. I'm guessing it will weigh about what the Fly Creek UL2 does, until the cuben version of the Haven is released which should shave off another 6oz or so.

The 1P Vamp is quite a spacious one person shelter with a 36" wide and 43" high roof, a 107" length and a floor width tapering from 44" to 26". Accordingly, I expect the Haven will be quite livable for two as well. Ron has stated both of these shelters are designed to be suitable for larger hikers. Ron posted part 1 of his new products blog back on Nov. 25th, so part 2 with the Haven info has gotta be coming soon. Perhaps you should contact Ron Moak and mention you are doing the SOTMR and he might leak you the details.

Edited by dandydan on 12/16/2009 17:57:48 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

BA FC UL2 vs. MSR CR2 on 12/16/2009 18:14:29 MST Print View

Regarding the MSR CR2 (which I have owned) versus the Fly Creek UL2, here are the key differences that I can tell:

Fly Creek UL2 Advantages:
- Significantly lighter trail weight (2.39lbs vs. 2.99lbs)
- Sorta freestanding
- More floor area with 52" width tapering to 42", whereas the MSR CR2 is about 42" wide the whole way.
- Door is easier to use with two since it's on the end rather than on one side.

Carbon Reflex 2 Advantages:
- 10,000mm waterproof floor (vs. 1200mm)
- Rain doesn't fall into tent when door is open
- A lot more headroom as the sidewalls slope outward, so at the ceiling the CR2 is 50" wide and 40" tall. The walls of the Fly Creek slope inward until they meet 38" above the floor.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
The way the door hangs on 12/16/2009 20:48:03 MST Print View

I'm impressed by the light weight. I made a single wall sil-nylon Bilgy tent that weighs about the same (including tent stakes, but not including poles because you hold it up with your trekking poles)so my hat's off to BA. A double wall tent that light is truly a great accomplishment.

I've always found it a bother to be continually zipping and unzipping the door of my tent, so I'd like to see a door with a U shaped zipper that would drape over the opening even when unzipped.

Edited by herman666 on 12/16/2009 20:50:47 MST.

Re: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review on 12/16/2009 22:12:50 MST Print View

the fly sits quite low when pulled taught

and with just 2 to possibly 6 inches of netting around the whole base its be fairly bug resistant

(similar to tarptents from what ive seen, although i never handled one)

a REAL rainstorm may prove problematic but we'll soon once the tinkering begins

Raymond- Id like to know how much it weighs fastfly...

my SL2 loses over a pound with out the body

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Double Walled Tents on 12/16/2009 23:13:24 MST Print View

Not to change the subject too much, but I find it interesting that the cottage tent makers (with the exception of Terra Nova) don't make the lightest double walled tents. Like some have said, you could consider a tarp and bug bivy to be a double walled tent, but those generally lack the room of a typical tent (single or double walled). They also don't generally offer breeze protection, which is one of the advantages of double walled tents.

There is no free lunch with tent design. As much as Big Agnes deserves credit for building a very good tent, much of the weight savings is due to its small size. It has quite a bit less room, than, say the TarpTent Squall 2 (which is one of the smaller 2 person offerings by TarpTent). As Ray said, one of the other compromises is to lower one end. Personally, I don't mind paying that price to save a few ounces.

I'm sure a good chunk of the weight of this tent is in the poles. This makes it free standing (which is nice) but it is a pretty big price to pay for ultralight folks who are carrying poles (it is even a substantial price for the folks who don't carry them).

All of this leads me to wonder whether the cottage tent makers might consider making a trekking pole supported double walled tent. Basically, you could take the same design as this tent, but support it with trekking poles. Another way to think of it is to take a Squall 2, replace the bottom mesh with nylon, replace the top nylon with mesh and remove the attached vestibule. Now, you just need a big cover (which would include the vestibule). From an ultralight standpoint, there is one really big advantage to this design: you can have the option of making the rain fly out of Cuben. It would be a stand alone piece, so, presumably offering it as a separate option would be easier (someone else might even offer it, if the tent maker didn't want to bother with Cuben). Since the rest of the tent would be mostly mesh, the difference between silnylon and Cuben on the main body would be minimal. Plus, folks are hesitant to use Cuben on the bottom of the tent (in part because of concerns about abrasion resistance but also because of the cost if it does get worn out).

I also want to add that I would also want the main part of the tent to use nano-see-um, since that could result in substantial weight savings.

Another idea would be to use four poles for support. If you are designing this as a two person tent, then assuming that you have four poles makes sense. As with all trekking supported tents, the makers could, of course, sell regular poles as well (to those who don't carry trekking poles). A four pole design could be symmetrical, offering the flexibility that Ray wanted, but did not get, in this tent.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Double Walled Tents on 12/16/2009 23:52:11 MST Print View

"All of this leads me to wonder whether the cottage tent makers might consider making a trekking pole supported double walled tent..."

I'm pretty sure the upcoming 2 person SMD Haven will be exactly this...and the already announced 1 person SMD Vamp is. The big difference between these and other cottage manufacturer tarp/net tent combos is the use of two trekking poles to give some serious headroom. The Vamp has a 43" high ceiling and it's 36" wide at the widest.

Here is a picture of the Vamp:


More pics:

The soon to be announced SMD Haven should be essentially a 2 person version of this tent. The Vamp weighs 27oz (16oz tarp, 11oz net tent) plus stakes (~2oz) for a total trail weight of 29oz. I'm guessing the Haven will weigh about 40oz but when the cuben version arrives that will shave about 5-10 oz off.

I imagine the initial Haven will compare similarly to the Fly Creek UL2 in terms of price and weight. The main difference is likely to be that the Haven uses trekking poles and with that weight savings is able to offer more space....I shouldn't say too much though since info on the Haven is few and far between and I'm mostly just guessing. Ron has added the Haven to the SMD main page but you can't access the info yet.

"I'm sure a good chunk of the weight of this tent is in the poles..."
Yup....the poles comprise 10.2oz out of 38oz. I'm amazed at how light this tent is considering it doesn't use cuben or trekking poles which in my mind are the two big opportunities for weight savings. If Big Agnes made a trekking pole supported version (maybe use 3 with the current layout) you'd have a 2 person double wall tent at 28oz....or 1.75 lbs....incredible!

For comparison, the MSR Carbon Reflex 2 has 7.7oz worth of stakes. It's remarkable that the Fly Creek UL2 is 10oz lighter yet uses 2.5oz heavier poles. That means the actual body/fly is about 26oz vs. 39oz.

Edited by dandydan on 12/17/2009 00:07:53 MST.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Double Walled Tents on 12/17/2009 13:11:10 MST Print View

Very good point, Dan. A little while after I posted that comment, I thought "wait a second, doesn't Ron have something like this in the works?". Yes, indeed he does. This is exactly what I meant and I think it will be a fine tent. I personally would have the solid fabric coming up the tent a bit more, but that is just tweaking.

One little point point though, and that is that a lot of the cottage tent makers use two poles for support. The TarpTent Squall 2 has had that option for a while now.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Haven on 12/17/2009 16:43:10 MST Print View

Ron messaged me today to say that he hopes to have the details on the Haven on their site in the next 10 days.

And yeah, the bathtub floor is fairly minimal in the Vamp but it should still do the trick. It's a big improvement over the Refuge tent which didn't have a bathtub at all.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Haven on 12/17/2009 22:44:10 MST Print View

The lower part of the walls on a double walled tent offer more than just "bathtub" performance, they offer a nice wind break, and can allow for a smaller rain fly. To me, a bathtub floor only needs to be an inch of two above the bottom. But a windbreak (ideally) should be bigger. That is what Ron built that for, I just wish it was a wee bit taller (to provide even more wind protection). I think a substantially taller section of solid fabric would actually save weight (since the fly could be smaller). Of course, doing that provides less ventilation. Again, these are tweaks and trade-offs; I could see the design evolving.

I have the Refuge-X, and I think Ron made a good case for why it wasn't needed (I'm not sure if I completely agree, but he makes a good case). I don't miss the bathtub.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Floor walls on 12/18/2009 13:12:54 MST Print View

Interesting point about the floor walls acting as a wind block and the potential savings by raising the fly. You've got me thinking about possibilities for tent designs that blurr the line between single wall and double wall. For example, you could have the lower 3/4 of the walls of the tent be fabric (like the Big Agnes), and then the fly would only clip onto the top of the tent like a hat and cover the upper mesh 1/4.

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is almost like this already, but it has a mesh door and thus uses a full length fly. If Big Agnes made the floor mostly fabric like the walls, then they could cut about 3 feet off the fly and really just make it a lid for the mesh ceiling.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Hey, hey, what do the components weigh? on 12/18/2009 22:08:03 MST Print View

Ray, thank you for the meticulous and pleasant review!

One follow-up Q. for you:
When you have the scale out to weight the fast-fly set-up, would you weigh the other components and post the data, as well? I'm curious how much each of the inner, poles and fly weigh separately. Thanks!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent Review on 12/20/2009 15:37:22 MST Print View

"Interesting point about the floor walls acting as a wind block and the potential savings by raising the fly"
That is pretty much the way the Luxe X Rocket is designed . The "fly" is also poncho tarp.