Gear Review: Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 (original model)

home sweet home

[Disclosure: Big Agnes has come out with a newer model of my tent called the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2. I have not yet reviewed this model. If Big Agnes wants to hook me up, however, with this newer tent, or a Copper Spur 2 Platinum…]

When I started backpacking, I was surprised at the role mental and emotional factors played in a successful and fun adventure. There’s always the primitive, instinctual need for shelter, of course; but I found there’s also a craving for a sense of “home” when you are out for more than just a few nights.

Enter the Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 tent. Most nights, after 20+ exhausting mountainous miles, I would get to camp, do my “chores” (which included tent setup), and eat a hot meal. Once ready for bed, I would unzip my tent door, crawl inside, read for a while or map out my next day, and fall fast asleep. It was my home. 

Once I got back from my Appalachian Trail thruhike, it took a while to adjust to not sleeping in a tent. A bed mattress was too soft; the covers were too loose; not having everything I needed immediately within reach was unnerving. One night about a week after I returned to Nashville, I pitched my tent in the back yard and crawled in for an hour or two, just to get my bearings in a crazy time.

A good tent will be one of the more expensive purchases you make for backpacking. It’s one of the “Big Three” you want to save weight on – tent, sleeping bag, pack – and there are so many options. I did a lot of research before selecting my tent, and I have been very happy with my choice. I’ve had it for almost three years, and it’s got well over 2,300 miles and has been through most weather conditions – baking sun, total downpours, blizzards, dangerously high winds, and more.

I bought the Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 in 2015 and paid $350. At the time, I did not purchase the footprint and just used some Tyvek because it was cheaper. I bought the footprint about a year later when I was on trail because it gave me the ability to set up a dry tent in a pouring rain and (to me) was worth the $48. [FYI: the new model footprint for this tent costs $70.]

PROS:

  • Big Agnes customer service – trust me
  • The UL 2 is a “two-person” tent, so I was able to keep Rosie in there with me and my boots and all my gear, sans items hanging in my bear bag.
  • I never had a problem with leaks until two-thirds into my trek (so, 1,500+ miles in), and it was a small drip right above my head. A bit of seam sealer was all that was needed, and I was good to go. It’s normal for a tent to need seam sealing and more waterproofing as it’s used (and abused).
  • Ultralight: 2 lbs. 5 oz. (packaged). When I combine tent, fly, footprint, stuff sacks, stakes, and poles, I’m still well under 2.5 lbs.
  • Special footprint that connects to the rain fly lets me set up the tent in pouring rain. I set down the footprint, assemble the poles, and attach the fly. I take a handkerchief/buff/towel and wipe up any water that managed to get in during setup. Then I grab my nice, dry tent and set it up in between the fly and the footprint.
  • Very quick and easy to set up, which is nice when it’s dark, or windy, or raining, or hailing, or snowing… or all of that at once.
  • Surprisingly strong ripstop nylon material – after 2,300+ miles, I have had to patch two small holes. I am surprised it’s still in the shape it’s in considering all the abuse I put it through, like being too tired to really clear a spot of sticks and rocks and other sharp things, “washing” it in streams and throwing it over limbs and snagging, tangled bushes to dry, etc.
tent swamp new jersey
Washing and drying tent and clothes in a New Jersey swamp
beach tent
Washing and drying tent on river shore somewhere near Erwin, Tenn.

 

CONS:

  • It’s a really bright yellow. The newer model offers an olive color, so it blends better into nature. This original model definitely sticks out.
  • There’s only one door, and it’s at the head of the tent, so getting in and out means crawling/scooting over everything. I would prefer a side door to make it easier and disrupt my setup less. (Big Agnes does offer other tents with side doors.)
  • Mesh starts well up the tent wall and door, so there’s not as much ventilation as other tents. This doesn’t really matter in the winter, but is apparent on those hot summer nights.

6 thoughts on “Gear Review: Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 (original model)”

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