The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 is one of my favorite pieces of gear. Not only was it my first solo tent, it was also the tent that helped me along my journey from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail.
This tent has a lot of sentimental value to me and continues to handle well nearing close to over 3,000 miles of use. I’m extremely impressed by its durability and performance over the last year and a half, and reassured to know that it’s still got plenty of life left in it.
In this post I will discuss my experience using the Fly Creek. For those of you counting ounces (don’t worry, we all are) this tent has a packed weight of 2 lb. 1 oz. (33 oz.) and a trail weight of 1 lb. 11 oz. (27 oz.) The dimensions are 86 in. long, 38 in. wide (at the head), and 28 in. wide (at the feet).
One of the best things about the Fly Creek is that its quick and easy to setup. To begin, simply unfold and spread the tent footprint (sold separately by Big Agnes) in the space you’ve decided to pitch your tent. The footprint is NOT required in order to keep the inside of your tent dry and is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I use a single sheet of Polycryo from Gosssamer Gear as my tent footprint. It’s ultralight and cheaper than the Big Agnes brand.
Next, unfold the tent and place it directly overtop of the footprint. Snap into place the Y-shaped poles in the front, and the one in the back, using the respective metal grommets. Unless you are using the Big Agnes brand footprint, the tent poles will NOT fully secure all the way into your footprint, which is really not a big deal but it’s worth noting here.
Once the poles are in place, lift up and clip the tent material onto the body of the Y-shaped tent pole to suspend the interior space. At this point, the tent should be setup in a free-standing position and can now be picked up and moved freely (away from any nettlesome rocks or roots you may encounter).
Although the Fly Creek is a free-standing tent, I recommend staking out the corners in order to maximize the interior space and to, more importantly, ensure that you don’t get swept away by the inevitable rainstorm. I stake out the entire tent using five stakes before applying the rainfly, which secures to the tent frame using three buckles and the remaining four stakes.
What I Liked
Aside from its lightweight design, toughness, and condensed packability, I really liked having the three interior mesh pockets (one on each side near the entrance and one directly overhead) for smaller pieces of gear like my headlamp, water treatment, and Rubik’s Cube. It was nice having everything off of the ground and kept in a place that I could easily access it all without having to forage through the tent at night.
Another cool feature of the Fly Creek (which I have not yet tried) is the fast fly setup. If you’re ever caught in a deluge and/or you’re just really trying to be even more ultralight, this tent is capable of being pitched using just the rainfly and the tent poles (without the inner mesh protection inside) reducing its overall trail weight to 1 lb. 4 oz. (20 oz.) Now that’s what I call an Ultralight Advantage!
I’m stoked because I recently ordered an OR Bug Bivy to use for summer camping and now I’m eager to see how it works with the fast fly. Stay tuned for more details on that!
What I Disliked
The only critique I have with the Big Agnes Fly Creek is its relatively small size. Although I’m NOT a very large human (5’ 8’’), the interior space – even when staked out properly – can seem a tad bit claustrophobic. However, when you take into consideration the weight of the entire system, the additional interior storage, and the tents packability, the tiny space inside the tent seems to open up a little bit.
The Fly Creek gives you 38 in. of space from the ground to the interior’s highest point, making it just high enough to sit up comfortably inside the tent and take your boots off or just chill with your feet outside of the vestibule (even for a taller person). It’s not the most luxuriant amount of space, but its enough to keep you safe, warm, and dry and that’s good enough for me.
Speaking of luxuriance, check out our review on the Tarptent Motrail!
When I thru hiked last year in 2017, there was a running joke that we were hiking in ‘Big Agnes Country’, considering the overpopulation of Big Agnes’ tents at every campsite. It was like walking through a Big Agnes’ commercial. But it just goes to show how far reliability can take you. It took me from Georgia to Maine once, and I’m sure it could handle another run at it. Southbound, ’20?
I’ve used and carried this tent for over a year and a half and it has yet to let me down. The rip-free nylon interior is robust and has consistently lived up to its name with little signs of wear and tear. Moving forward this will be my primary use of shelter, as I’m very intrigued with the fast fly and using the Fly Creek together with my bivy this summer.
Since getting the Fly Creek HV UL 1, Big Agnes has come out with several newer model tents, some lighter in weight and some with increased internal capacity, so I encourage you to peruse all that Big Agnes has to offer and find the right ultralight tent for you!