Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Tent
Fly Creek UL series tents have picked up awards and accolades near and far. They were originally built and designed to offer an alternative to the average bivy sack. Available in solo and multi-occupancy options, these tents have lost weight since last year and they remain ideal for lightweight devotees who want a free-standing structure, but aren't willing to commit a ton of space in their pack. They are efficient, fast and adventurous, just like you.
Three season, free standing, ultralight backpacking tent
DAC Featherlite NFL pole system with press fit connectors and lightweight hubs - featuring eco-friendly anodizing
All DAC poles made from TH72M aluminum: the latest technology in lightweight tent poles featuring improved durability
Fly is ultralight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200 mm waterproof polyurethane coating
Floor is ultralight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200 mm waterproof polyurethane coating
Tent body is ultralight breathable nylon rip-stop and polyester mesh
Mesh body offers excellent ventilation
Single hub/pole design makes setup easy
DAC Twist clips attach tent body to the pole frame for quick and easy setup
Single door and vestibule
Mesh pocket included. Located above head at front of tent.
Reflective guyline and reflective webbing on tent corners for nighttime visibility
All seams taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane (No PVC or VOC's) tape
11 Superlight aluminum J stakes - featuring eco-friendly anodizing
Color - Cool Grey/Gold
Trail Weight - 765 g (1 lb 11 oz)
Packed Weight - 936 g (2 lb 1 oz)
Packed Size - 10.2 cm x 47 cm (4 in x 18.5 in)
Floor Area - 2.0 m2 (22 ft2)
Vestibule Area - 0.5 m2 (5.5 ft2)
Head Height - 96.5 cm (38 in)
Foot height - 55.9 cm (22 in)
Retail Price - $320
Without the Fly
This was my first review of a Big Agnes Tent, but not my first tent from Big Agnes. I have been a fan of their gear for many years. They are located up in Steamboat Springs and focus on Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Pads, and Tents. Their products are innovative and push the boundaries of weight savings. Another fun thing about all the Big Agnes products is that they name them after the mountains, lakes, rivers, and other features around Steamboat. I like how this helps tie the company to its roots.
As for the Fly Creek Tent, this is what Big Agnes had to say. Fly Creek’s water drains off of Battle Mountain in southern Wyoming and flows into the Little Snake River near its headwaters in Routt County. The water then dances along the border between Colorado and Wyoming, hopping from one state to the other, across counties and through canyons before dropping south into the mighty Yampa River to run through Dinosaur National Monument and beyond.
I find it a bit more difficult to test a single person tent. Not because of anything about the tent, but most of my trips are with others so we share a tent to save weight. I was however able to get a couple trips up into the Indian Peaks Wilderness to test it. The weather cooperated on those trips for the most part, it did not really rain, but was fairly windy. Temperatures ranged from 20 to 60 degrees.
Room for One
I have been looking for a good lightweight one person tent for some time now. There have been many options out there, but I wanted one that was both lightweight and not too small. I guess I wanted it all. Fortunately, along came the Fly Creek UL1 tent from Big Agnes. From a numbers perspective it looked like it ticked all my boxes. It is a free-standing one person tent that comes in at two pounds packed weight. You can get it lighter by not using the stakes or going for the fast fly option, but I tested it as a full tent. It is obviously light enough, so I then looked more at the size. The Fly Creek has a floor space of 22 square feet and a peak height of 38 inches. While this is not huge, it is definitely a decent amount for one person. Not to mention having a 5 ½ square foot vestibule.
The tent has one clamshell shaped door and paired with the fly, creates the one vestibule for gear storage. It also uses on pole that has a hub feature above the door to fork out to the two corners around the door. While not necessarily needed, I think that the tent sets up best with at least 6 stakes and preferably with 8-10 for optimum performance. It comes with 11 stakes and I tended to use them all to make sure my set up was bomber. The one tent pole is a lightweight DAC aluminum for both strength and lightweight. The tent itself has an ultralight silicone treated floor with a 1200mm waterproof rating. The upper part of the tent body is made of ultralight breathable nylon on the bottom and polyester mesh on the top. You can set up the tent with or without the fly, but since the upper is mesh, you are visible from the outside. The fly is made out of the same material as the floor. To make sure the tent will not leak, all the seams have been taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape. It is nice that they do this for you so I do not have to mess around with seam sealer.
Hub Pole to Save Weight
For setting up the tent, the poles use press-fit connectors and lightweight hubs. This makes tent both sturdy and keeps the weight down. Other features on the tent include reflective guylines and reflective webbing for low light visibility. There is also a mesh pocket located above the head at the front of the tent. This is an optimum place to store a headlamp or phone for easy access in the dark. The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent comes in a cool grey and gold color scheme. It is more grey than gold which I like. This makes the tent visible but not so bright that it detracts from the surroundings. This may be just me but I like a tent that blends in some so it is not obtrusive. As with all Big Agnes tents I have used, the Fly Creek UL1 tent tip toes the line between lightweight materials and durability. It seems to be made well and while the materials are definitely light, they still seem pretty solid.
When it comes to sustainability, most lightweight nylons are not going to qualify as so. Big Agnes has however done what they can. The poles all use an eco-friendly anodizing and no PVC or VOC’s in the waterproofing tape. They also support several nonprofits including Leave No Trace and The Conservation Alliance. Both of which support the idea of sustainability. For those reasons I gave the Fly Creek a 2 out of 5.
What really matters when we talk about a tent is performance. A tent has to keep you sheltered on poor nights so you can get a good nights sleep and be ready for the next adventure. It also needs to be easy to use and not be too much of a burden. I have heard of plenty of adventures gone awry with tent adventures. For me, the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 did not cause any of those issues. First off it is nice that just mere carrying of the tent is not a burden. The tent is very light and packs down small. Second, setting up the tent was relatively easy, even in high winds at 11,000 feet. The only important thing there was to keep something heavy on the tent so it did not fly away. With one pole this made set up pretty easy and fast which I like. It only took a couple of minutes to get the main tent up and the fly on it. From there staking it out takes a little bit longer but I am kind of type A in that I need my tent to be ready to take on anything. This was a good thing on a couple nights when the wind was howling. Last thing I want to be kept awake by is a tent flapping in the wind. This is where the extra stakes come in handy. By using all the stakes, you can get all the space out of the tent. The corners need to be guyed out and the guylines as well to make the tent feel more spacious. Without that the walls collapse in a bit and it will feel a bit more cramped.
Pitched with Fly
So far I have not had any issues with the tent’s durability. Of course I do not have so many day in it yet to really put it through the ringer. If I have any issues I will check back on here. The Fly Creek UL1 is considered a 3-season tent, which means it is ready for most conditions. It is not really built for super high winds and heavy snows like you may see from a winter storm in the mountains but should be game for everything else. On my trip we had gusts to 30 mph in my estimation and it was no problem for the tent. I did find a bit of a sheltered spot so I think that helped a bit as it never took the full force of the wind. One thing the wind does help with is venting the tent. All the air comes from below which has the potential to be an issue if the air is not moving. You can zip down the door slightly to aid in this but that is not really possible in bad conditions. I personally did not have any issues with condensation building up but then again it is really dry and often windy here in Colorado.
One thing that having a fly that goes nearly to the ground is good for is weather protection. I can imagine that even in the rain, your gear should have no issues staying dry. I really like that there is a vestibule that is large enough for boots and your pack if needed. I am not a fan of leaving my pack out unless I ultimately have to. There is even enough room to bring it in the tent with you if it is dry, I would not if it was a bit wet. The interior space in the tent was pretty solid. I was able to bring in pretty much everything and still had plenty of room to sleep. I was not spread out like I can in some 2-person tents but I was pleasantly comfortable.
Solid Interface when Staked Out
Overall, I will continue to recommend Big Agnes Tents. They do a good job of balancing between light weight and having all the features you need. The Fly Creek UL1 is an excellent option for a single person. It is very lightweight and packable while not sacrificing the most important aspects of having room inside and protection from the elements. I found the tent easy to setup but to be honest, I really have not had too much of an issue getting any tent setup. The only thing I would worry about is potential condensation build up in no wind wet environments. I have had several of those in the Pacific Northwest and without a vent high at the foot or above the door, I think there is the potential for some condensation build up. That being said, nearly all tents will suffer that consequence in those conditions. That by all means would not keep me from recommending this tent. If you want a lightweight one person tent, put this in the mix. You will not be sorry. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
Easy to Setup
Good amount of usable space
Good weather protection, comes seam taped
A bit expensive
May have issues with condensation as there are no real vents