User Review: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1
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 four trips now totaling 12 days. Of the twelve days, I had rain to contend with on three. All 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.
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 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 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 a storm.
I have not used this tent in cold rainy weather. The rainstorms I experienced were in 50°F weather. 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.