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Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1

in Shelters - Double Wall Tents

Average Rating
4.25 / 5 (4 reviews)


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Charles G.
( Rincon - M )

Locale:
Desert Southwest
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 on 02/12/2010 19:32:00 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Design: Semi-free-standing
Sleeps: 1
Ease of Setup: Moderately easy
Weight: 2 lb, 3 oz
Price Paid: $240

I bought the Big Agnes Fly Creek to replace a Tarptent Contrail that I had been using. The primary reasons for the swap were: the Fly Creek has a smaller footprint than does the Contrail and I prefer the double wall configuration over the condensation-prone single wall tents.

The weight difference between the two is small: 35.0 oz for the Fly Creek, 30.3 for the Contrail; both with all seam sealing, stakes, lines and a small ground cloth I use to protect the floor (1.7 oz) The Fly Creek is sold as a three-season tent.

I really like the Fly Creek and plan to keep it; it works very well for me. But, I definitely would not recommend it to everyone. For large, tall hikers, the tent would be a bit short and the head space may be limited when you sit up. It certainly seems wide enough although the overall room is noticeably less than that in the Contrail. For me at 5' 10" and 170 lb, the Fly Creek is a good fit.

I am an older, seventy-something, hiker who goes solo mostly. My favorite backpacking and climbing areas are the Arizona Sky Island mountains, The Grand Canyon, the Sierra and the North Cascades. I am a three season hiker now but do my early and late season hiking in the warmer Arizona mountains; July, August and September are reserved for the Sierra and North Cascades.

I have used the Fly Creek on eight trips now totaling 31 days. Of the 31 days, I had rain to contend with on six. All but one day of the rain came in heavy thunderstorms with strong winds, very heavy rain and hail. The accompanying winds were estimated as well in excess of 30 mph. One of the days was a 24 hour steady moderate rainfall.

Setting up the tent is easy. Lay out the tent body, stake out the four corners, assemble the aluminum bows and install them. The tent is ready for occupancy as long as you are not expecting rain. This part takes maybe two minutes, maximum.

The tent is not completely free-standing in that the foot-end corners need to be staked out for the tent to take shape.

Putting up the rain fly is a separate issue and takes more time and fussing. Perhaps four minutes decreasing with practice. You drape the fly over the tent bows and then fasten the plastic snaps; one at the foot of the tent and one on each side of the entrance.

One then has to guy out the corners at the foot end of the tent, stake out the middle guy lines and stake out the vestibule ends (best done with the vestibule door closed). The tent body can be clipped to the fly at the top of the bathtub at "mid tent" to allow both to be guyed out with the same line. There are other guy lines on the fly that permit pulling the fly away from the tent body in the middle to allow for good ventilation.

There are also tie outs that stabilize the bows at the front; I have not used those. I have, so far, needed a minimum of six stakes for the fly. I used titanium skewer stakes for this job.

Please don't buy this tent thinking you can leave the stakes at home. I carry a total of eleven stakes (one spare) for this tent; four, 6" Easton and seven, 6" titanium skewer stakes. Rocks can be used for the guy outs but I like to have the stakes with me, available if necessary.

I can easily fit in the tent with all of my gear. I use a short sleeping pad so my pack goes under my knees. It is well ventilated and roomy, for me. Getting in is more difficult than with side entry tents; I crawl in head first and then turn around.

There is a slope to the entry door so if it rains this must be closed or water will get into the tent. In the rain storms I experienced with the tent, I stayed dry; there was no problem even with the high winds. I don't think I would want to sit out a four day storm in this tent but then there are no solo tents in which I would want to sit out such a storm.

I have not used this tent in cold rainy weather. The rainstorms I experienced were in 45°F weather or warmer. It seems as though it would be dry and comfortable in colder weather but until I try it out in those conditions this will remain an unknown factor.

Pros: Light, dry, roomy for average or smaller person, double wall, no observed condensation problems.

Cons: Not really free-standing, rain fly is a bit fussy to put up, sloping door lets rain in unless buttoned up, moderately difficult to enter.

Shop Big Agnes, Easton products at GearBuyer
Andrew Mazibrada
( cohenfain )

Locale:
UK and Western Europe
Ultralight 1 person dual skin tent with few problems on 06/25/2010 08:28:03 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, porch openBig Agnes Fly Creek UL1 and Seedhouse SL1

Specifications (as weighed by me)

Fly Creek UL1

Weight of fly and inner (in stuffsack): 628g
Poleset (including stuffsack): 282g
11 Vargo Titanium Pegs (and bag): 55g
Total 965g
Floor space of inner: 106cm x 218cm, 2.04sqm

Seedhouse SL1

Weight of fly and inner (in stuffsack): 856g
Poleset (including stuffsack): 283g
13 standard Pegs (and bag): 166g
Total 1305g
Floor space of inner: 109cm x 228cm, 2.48sqm

The Fly Creek UL1 is part of a series of  ultralight shelters from Steamboat Springs, Colorado-based Big Agnes. A dual skin, solo tent made from identical fabrics to the award-winning Copper Spur UL, the Fly Creek’s larger brother (the Fly Creek UL2) has already scooped a major award in the US. Adopting the same blueprint as the Seedhouse SL1 (SL = SuperLight, rather than UltraLight), the Fly Creek is in excess of 250g lighter, but consequently somewhat smaller inside. The Seedhouse SL blueprint, of which I am fond, having owned a Seedhouse for some years, is a functional and comfortable layout with negligible flaws - for example, the high-point, although 96.5cm, is not ideally placed for sitting & doing porch chores being perhaps 10cm too far back and the porch is so steep that there is no genuine possibility of safely cooking in it. These do not, in fact, detract greatly from what remains an extremely good shelter. Having recently taken a gamble on the new Vaude Power Lizard UL, which I found to be an exceptional tent but just not quite to my tastes, I stumbled (quite literally, in virtual & digital terms) upon the Fly Creek UL1. Given my reverence for the Seedhouse layout, the prospect of the Fly Creek burdening my rucksack with only 1kg was interesting. After some preliminary research, I bought one. 

Again, rather like my earlier review of the Power Lizard, these are precursory remarks opined with a view to supplementary study later through the auspices of a Field Test in June.

My initial concern was whether the groundsheet (ultralight ripstop nylon with 1200mm waterproofing) would be sufficiently robust to obviate the need for a footprint. A discussion with Big Agnes proved positive. Curiously, on inspection, it is ostensibly more gossamer than the groundsheet of the Power Lizard which seems singularly recalcitrant for such a lightweight tent. Whether the Fly Creek is too delicate to be used without a footprint remains unexplored, but I know of at least two bloggers who have used other Big Agnes UL tents, manufactured in the same fabrics, without footprints & without difficulties. I would think a footprint in grassy terrain, suitably inspected, would be just about otiose. So far as the Seedhouse is concerned, I have used a footprint for it but really it was wasted weight at 155g. The upper part of the inner is constructed from part mesh & part ultra-thin nylon (which feels identical to the diaphonous cocoon of the Power Lizard). This means there is likely to be sufficient ventilation. Indeed, as can be seen from the photographs I’ve taken, there is mesh at the feet end as well to provide ventilation. The inner is designed to clip completely to the Y-shaped single DAC featherlite pole (whereupon Big Agnes push their green credentials with environmentally sensitive anodising), unlike the Seedhouse which required some threading along dorsal loops & clipped only at the porch area. This is an improvement as it will make the Fly Creek easier to erect in wind & rain. It’s an inner first tent, but with some care, the fly can easily be placed over the inner to lessen the rain ingress during pitching. There are double zips in the inner and outer permitting ventilation and both zips close one-handed with no catching.

Inside with inner door open demonstrating fly venting option


Another deviation, readily observed, is the removal of a sliver of the inner along the dorsal ridge towards the rear. This means one less clip & less mesh. It's an intuitive design progression, as this space is utterly superfluous in the Seedhouse. The Fly Creek feels undeniably more compact inside, but not negatively so. The crucial affairs - enabling sufficient free movement within the inner, tolerable seated head room & the copious space at the porch end allowing access to gear whilst lying down - all remain more than tolerable. 


I remain comforted by the ease of pitching Big Agnes tents with this blueprint. Achieving a taut pitch is effortless if all the fly straps which clip onto the inner at the pole grommets (of which there are three) are loose & everything pegged tight first before adjusting them. The inner automatically sits taut with adroit peg placement at the back. The only issue I've ever experienced with the Seedhouse SL1 is getting the porch taut as it is often perfect across the front but not the sides or vice versa - this seems to have disappeared in the Fly Creek UL1. I always use the guys at the side of the fly (enabling rain egress & reducing condensation risk) & at the front if I expect wind. The Seedhouse was a pretty unyielding shelter if pitched into the wind & the shape of the Fly Creek is identical. If the materials are equally sturdy, I anticipate few concerns. I have replaced the DAC V-stakes, each weighing 11g, with Vargo titanium pegs (each weighing 5g). 11 pegs shaves 66g off the total tent weight dropping it below 1kg (964g for mine, in fact). I've been impressed by Vargo titanium pegs & every tent I own has had them. You could easily do the same for the Seedhouse.

I'm excited by the Fly Creek. It's akin to the welcome return of an old friend following a crash diet. I think tents are moderately about ambience - like all kit, the most functional tent in the world is worthless if you can't sleep in it & there's much to behove a shelter that simply has that unquantifiable peculiarity which makes it satisfyingly cosy. It is an idiosyncratic quality which I found in the Seedhouse & I look forward to getting re-aquainted in June. There’s little doubt that this is a 3-Season tent, just, but I would not want to find myself in a winter wild camp in it - it’s pretty sturdy and well-pitched into the wind, I think it would be fine in almost all 3-season situations but I’d want something more robust for winter - the iconic Hilleberg Akto or, the recent pretender to that throne, the Tarptents Scarp 1.

Edited to add photos.

Edited by cohenfain on 06/25/2010 08:43:58 MDT.

Paul Maguire
( ppatmag )
Not so sure about this tent on 09/07/2012 11:56:05 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I used this for my JMT hike this summer. I bought it based on its weight, and that it was a double walled, freestanding tent.

Initially, its a nice tent.

What I liked:

Easy to pitch (unless its rocky soil)
Lightweight
very small
roomy enough for me on the inside ( I am 6')
small footprint

What I did not like:

Vestibule was much too small. Could barely get my pack under it, and even then, it had to lean up agains the mesh door.

Not a true freestander. You have to guy out the back of the tent. They should offer an add on kit that makes this a freestander.

Lastly, and most importantly, my zipper on the fly failed. Mid way thru my 19 day trip, the first threat of real rain, I broke the zipper on the fly. Seems to me its much too flimsy. Compared to my buddies MSR Hubba, this zipper is junk. I had to sew the bottom of the fly closed, which then made getting in/out of the tent a bit lame.

Overall, a good tent, but I brought it back to REI and will be looking at a new shelter for next season

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
MSR Hubba priced at: $223.95 - $329.95
MSR Footprint priced at: $31.96 - $39.95
Shop Rei products at GearBuyer
Doug Wolfe
( Wolfie2nd )
sweet rig on 01/17/2013 08:15:06 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Sweet rig worth every penny! Packs small its super light and set up with ease on 3'of snow held fine to moderate winds and light snow as well.
The few times I've had it out its been great to me!!!!

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