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Reviews > Shelters > Tents > Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent > Owner Review by Marina Batzke

BIG AGNES FLY CREEK UL1 TENT
BY MARINA BATZKE
OWNER REVIEW
February 24, 2014

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) hotmail (dot) com
AGE: 54
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in Spring 2013. I borrowed various supplies for my first backpacking trip and am currently hiking with some newly acquired lightweight gear and some heavier gear from my car camping trips. I always hike with a group and I like the gear talk when in camp. I am a tent camper looking for ways to lighten my pack. My backpacking trips are currently weekend excursions in Southern California, USA. If my business travel allows me to get away, I try to backpack one or two weekends a month.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Big Agnes, Inc.
Year of Purchase: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bigagnes.com/
MSRP: US $329.95
Listed Trail Weight includes poles, fly and tent body: 1 lb 14 oz (850 g)
Measured Trail weight: 1 lb 14 oz (850 g)
Listed Packaged Weight includes poles, fly, tent body, stakes, guy lines, stuff sacks, instructions and packaging: 2 lb 3 oz (992 g)
Measured Packaged Weight: 2 lb 4 oz (1021 g)
Listed Fast Fly Weight includes the poles, tent fly and accessory Fast Fly footprint: 1 lb 6 oz (624 g)
Measured Fast Fly Weight: 1 lb 10 oz (737 g) with the Fairview footprint (see my footprint comment under REVIEW)
Listed Tent Bundle Dimensions: 5.5 in x 16 in (14 cm x 40.6 cm)
Measured Tent Bundle Dimensions: 5.5 in diameter x 17 in (14 cm x 43 cm)
Measured Floor Dimensions: 86 in (218 cm) length x 42 in (107 cm) entrance area width receding down to 30 in (76 cm) foot area
Floor Area: 22 sq ft (2 sq m)
Vestibule Area: 5 sq ft (0.46 sq m)
Peak Height: 38 in (97 cm)

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 is an ultralight, 3-season backpacking tent for one person.
The tent bathtub-style floor and the rainfly are both made of coated ripstop nylon. The canopy fabric is a combination of nylon and mesh. The tent has one front entrance door, entirely made of mesh. The tent color is called golden with grey mesh.
IMAGE 1
Tent components

The tent packing unit contains:
outer nylon bag with the Big Agnes logo that holds all components = 0.7 oz (20 g)
tent body = 10.9 oz (309 g)
rain fly = 10 oz (283 g)
1 orange hubpole assembly = 9.1 oz (258 g)
hubpole nylon bag = 0.3 oz (9 g)
12 light-weight anodized aluminum stakes = 4.9 oz (139 g)
stakes nylon bag = 0.2 oz (6 g)
1 emergency field repair splint = 0.4 oz (11 g)
-------------------------------------------
Separately purchased:
Fairview 1 footprint = 5.8 oz (164 g)
footprint sack = 0.4 oz (11 g)

Set-up instructions and helpful hints and tent care advice are sewn into the outer nylon bag.
IMAGE 13
Set-up instructions are sewn into sack
IMAGE 14
Helpful hints sewn into sack

FIELD USE

Trip #1:
Location: Henninger Flats, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
Elevation: 2600 ft (800 m)
Trip duration: 2 days/ 1 night
Conditions: forest campsite with leaves, pine needles, twigs
Temperatures: 64-90 F (18-32 C)

Trip #2:
Location: Little Jimmy Campground, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
Elevation: 7500 ft (2300 m)
Trip duration: 2 days/ 1 night
Conditions: unusually cold October weekend with snow on the ground and cold wind blowing
Temperatures: 35-58 F (2-14 C)

Trip #3:
Location: Henninger Flats, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
Elevation: 2600 ft (800 m)
Trip duration: 2 days/ 1 night
Conditions: forest campsite with leaves, pine needles, twigs
Temperatures: 64-90 F (18-32 C)

Trip #4:
Location: Mount Lowe Trail Camp, Angeles National Forest, California, USA
Elevation: 4500 ft (1400 m)
Trip duration: 2 days/ 1 night
Conditions: forest campground with leaves, pine needles, twigs
Temperatures: 50-67 F (10-19 C)

REVIEW

I chose the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 after extensively researching ultralight 1-person tents and their pricing on the market. There were more lightweight 1-person tents available, yet the tent walls had too much mesh for my liking. A comfortably warm, non-breezy tent interior is important to me during cold nights, so I preferred the Fly Creek UL1 with mesh at least half-way up the side walls. Once I had test-set up the tent in my living room, I was a bit surprised to see that it had a rather large mesh section in the foot area.
IMAGE 3
Inside view of the foot-area mesh opening

Neither the manufacturer's online product photos nor their video showed that large foot-area mesh portion. During an unusually cold October weekend with snow on the ground and a cold wind blowing, I felt a breeze and tried to cover some mesh with my backpack and clothing to reduce draft. On the other hand, neither in warm nor in cold conditions have I noticed any condensation.
IMAGE 7
The entire entrance door is mesh

Setting up the tent is really easy and can be done in just minutes. I lay out the footprint, then place the tent body over it. The single hubpole system is made of DAC Featherlite Aluminum and the individual pole segments are connected by elastic band. This allows me to quickly connect the segments into each other. The connected hubpole system looks almost like the letter T.
IMAGE 4
The front portion of the hubpole system

I insert the top two pole tips into the left and right tent front grommets on the ground and the long one pole tip into the tent back grommet. I then insert the tent body's ceiling H-clip into the hubpole system S-stopper.
IMAGE 5
The H-clip inserted into the S-stoppper

This gives the tent interior its peak height of 38 in (97 cm). Afterwards I attach the 5 twist clips to the hubpole system. While Big Agnes calls the Fly Creek UL1 free standing, I call it a semi-free standing tent. I say "semi" as in dry conditions, I "could" get away without staking out the left and right foot-ends of the tent and it would not matter if the tent fabric sinks low onto my sleeping bag; just reduce my space inside. Yet in wet conditions, this tent definitely requires staking out the two foot-ends to elevate the fabric away from my sleeping bag to avoid any moisture transfer.
IMAGE 2
Foot-area staked out left + right (Big mesh opening above)

Typically I stake out the two cord loops in the tent front and the three cord loops in the foot area.
Now I pull the rainfly over the tent structure, making sure the rainfly door is in the front, lining up with the tent body front. To increase tent interior width, I need to attach two clips that dangle from the rainfly inside to two cord loops on the left and right tent body wall outsides.
IMAGE 6
Side view with one black clip that attaches to rainfly

Next I insert the rainfly buckles into the buckles on the tent body near the grommets.
I attach the rainfly to those two foot-end side stakes. Now would be the time to stake out the vestibule at the entry door. Sometimes I wait til bed time to do this because of the long, narrow entry way once the vestibule is staked out.
IMAGE 15
Vestibule not set up to allow quick + frequent access

That long, narrow vestibule entry does not facilitate quick or frequent access to the tent, so I often wait til the end of day to get the rainfly vestibule portion ready for the night. I would prefer a tent with a side door, as I feel it is much easier to get in and out or to just lean into the tent to get something out of the backpack. I make sure the webbing is evenly tensioned to keep the rainfly taut and also for smooth pulling of the zipper. In comparison to my previous tent, the zipper-surrounding fabric is not under tight pressure and both the tent body and rain fly zippers open and close relatively smoothly despite taut pull.
On a majority of my trips, I have not used all stakes for tent body and rainfly. I have not yet encountered such strong wind conditions that I was forced to use all guylines and all stakes. The guylines have reflective threads incorporated which make my tent exterior dimensions well visible at night, when I approach my tent with my headlamp on.

The Fly Creek UL1 did not come with a footprint, yet after some research I noticed that the footprint for the discontinued Big Agnes Fairview 1 tent has virtually the same dimensions as for the Fly Creek UL1. So I got a well fitting footprint at a great discount, versus the cost of the original UL1 foot print.

While Big Agnes lists the fast fly weight (footprint, rainfly, hubpole) for lowest trail weight, I always take the tent body along for protection against bugs, rodents and adverse weather.

To be ultralightweight, the tent skimps on interior storage conveniences and only has one small loft storage, right above the entrance door plus two tiny nearby fabric loops and one tiny fabric loop at the ceiling peak. These three loops are designed to connect to a triangular-shaped mesh Gear Loft, available for an additional $22 MSRP. I use those loops to hang up my glasses at night and to attach a small flashlight.
IMAGE 8
Small ceiling storage and 2 fabric loops
IMAGE 9
Hubpole assembly and loft underneath

The interior floor space is sufficient for me at 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m). Once I have removed the bigger items, like mattress pad, sleeping bag and stove from my backpack, I usually place the near-empty backpack under the head area of my mattress pad, acting like a pillow elevation. And I have enough available floor space inside my tent to also take my hiking boots inside overnight (placing them on a plastic bag) to avoid any animals from crawling into my boots.
IMAGE 11
Pack under mattress as head elevation
IMAGE 10
Enough space for my backpack and boots

The ceiling height of 38 in (97 cm) is only accomplished in one peak spot. All other ceiling elevations are lower. Yet for my seated height, the peak height is sufficient to change clothes. I have not been forced to spend extended daytime hours inside my tent due to adverse weather, so I cannot say how I would feel after having been forced to spend several days in this compact little tent.
IMAGE 12
See highest point of tent interior

I have not used this tent in rain. Big Agnes lists this tent as waterproof, with the seams taped and the bathtub floor and rainfly coated, and indicates it is not necessary to seam-seal a new tent.

The 2014 Big Agnes website mentions that the manufacturer updated the Fly Creek UL1 this year but has none in stock; available only in April. I have seen my 2013 edition tent on sale on a few websites for much less than the MSRP.

THINGS I LIKE

- Light weight
- Very easy to set up
- Nice color combination: cool grey/ gold
- Just the right size for me

THINGS I DO NOT LIKE

- Images on website did not give me a good look at the foot area before purchase
- A bit more mesh than I had expected
- Side entrance would be more convenient
- Just one small loft storage
- Footprint not included

SIGNATURE

Marina Batzke

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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