Big Agnes has since come out with a new version of the Fly Creek, so be aware this review is for the older model, which I have and is still going strong! Granted, my dog did run through the tent door last year and that required some patching from Rainy Pass, but this tent has been performed flawlessly for me since 2015. I have no doubt the newer version is even better!
I overhauled my backpacking gear way back in 2015 and spent a lot of time reviewing and researching ultralight tents and accepting a lot of advice on different options. Many suggested a tarp or bivy sack setup to save weight. While that works for some people, I personally feel much better having a full tent around me. Sure, I guess you could argue a thin piece of fabric doesn’t offer that much more protection, but I sure do feel much more comfortable and safe inside a tent!
I finally decided on the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 and even now, 4 years later, I love it!
The UL 2 is a 3-season, 2-person, free-standing double-wall ultralight tent that has won multiple awards including some from Backpacker Magazine and Outdoor Gear Lab. The tent packs up tiny, weighs next to nothing, yet still provides ample living space. Its packed weight comes in at 2lb 5oz and its trail weight at 1lb 15oz.
What’s the difference you ask?
Packed weight is the weight of the entire setup—tent body, fly, poles, stakes, and all the extra accessories the tent comes with. Trail weight is the total weight of the tent body, fly, and poles. Fully packed it’s a compact 4″ x 18.5″.
The Fly Creek UL 2 uses an Aluminum DAC Featherlite hub pole system and the stakes are ultralight DAC aluminum. The tent floor, walls, and fly are made from ultralight silicone treated nylon rip-stop and all seams are taped to ensure waterproofness. Simply said, though this tiny tent looks thin and fragile it’s surprisingly tough.
The guidelines and external webbing points are all reflective. Inside the tent on either side of the door are 2 small mesh gear pockets with a larger pocket at the roof of the tent. You can buy an optional gear loft to provide more storage.
The little UL 2 has a floor area of 28 sq ft and a small 7 sq ft vestibule. I’m 5’6″ and for me it’s plenty roomy with ample space to sit. Two people can fit comfortably without overlapping sleeping pads though it’s a cozy fit for much more than sleeping. If you’re over 6′ tall you might want to check the fit in person. If you’re using it as a 2 person tent make sure your backpacking buddy is one you don’t mind spooning with!
I’ve used the tent at least a half dozen times now and each time it’s quick and easy to set up. Over the 4th of July I backpacked in the eastern Sierras and my little Fly Creek got its first real weather test. I hunkered down inside for nearly 2 hours while afternoon thunderstorms pounded us with rain and wind. I admit the first few big wind gusts were scary as the tent poles are super lightweight and flexed quite a bit. The tent held up surprisingly well despite my neglecting to put out the guidelines. Just last weekend I backpacked in drizzly and foggy weather in the North Cascades and during both outings I stayed completely dry without any condensation issues.
About the only negative I can find about the tent is that the fly doesn’t protect the door opening when the vestibule is open. Since the tent design forces your head to the door you do have to be a little careful about entry/exit during inclement weather so as not to drip water onto your gear or onto your tentmate’s head. The vestibule is also not especially roomy, but I can fit a large backpack and shoes under it easily. With two people you might have to get a bit creative.
I initially planned to buy the 1-person version (UL 1) but the UL 2 cost only $30 more, offered another 6 sq. ft. of floor area, and was only 4-5 oz heavier. I decided a little extra room would be well worth the few ounces and I would recommend buying the UL 2 unless you’re really partial to the weight savings.
As with any gear, weight is inversely proportional to cost and the Fly Creek UL 2 retails at $349.95. Not exorbitant but definitely a bit spendy compared to other 2-person backpacking tents. But again, this is one of the lightest two-person double-wall tents on the market. Big Agnes has since come out with their platinum line of tents which are even lighter but will set you back at least $500 or more. I think the Fly Creek UL 2 is a spectacular tent for the price and a must buy for any backpacker looking to go ultralight and still have reasonable shelter. Just be warned that if you get one your friends will never stop asking to pick it up to see how light it is!
Want to buy one?
Appreciate the review? Though Big Agnes doesn’t make this version of the Fly Creek anymore, you can use this link to purchase Big Agnes’ newer models through my REI affiliate program. You get a killer ultralight tent and hey, I’ll get a few bucks to help support this site and maybe enough to buy a refreshing post-hike beer! Thanks!
Disclaimer: I believe in doing good in the world and purchase my gear from companies who feel the same. I’m not paid to support any of the companies or products I review. Unless otherwise stated, all the gear I review has been purchased, tested, scuffed up, and loved by me!