Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 - Honest Thoughts
I hiked over 2000 miles with the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 in 2017 so I think I can say I know a thing or two about living in this tent. It's a beloved tent by the backpacking community and for good reason, but I think there are some things you'd want to take into account before snapping up this tent for your next adventure.
Everyone has their preferences on what makes a great tent which is why you see so many of them out there on the market. The thing is, not every tent is made for every situation. You have to choose the right tent for the right environment, trip, or desired comfort.
The Fly Creek is focused mainly on reducing weight (hence why it's so popular). While overall weight does play an important role in which tent to take with you, if it fails you in the conditions you're walking into, then that weight savings can go pound sand.
If you're considering purchasing the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1, that's great, just make sure you read this post all the way through to ensure you're making the right choice.
In no particular order...here are my thoughts on the Fly Creek after hiking over 2000 miles with it.
**NOTE TO THE READER:**
Because of how popular this tent is, I'm going to refrain from getting technical.
I think the greatest strength of the Fly Creek is its size, especially in a 1 person size. If you can't find a place to pitch this tent, you're either not looking hard enough or have no idea what you're looking for in the first place. My favorite nights were when I didn't have to use the rain fly because that's when this tent becomes the most functional. It's quick to pitch without a fly on it and you don't have to crawl out over everything because you can toss your belongings to the side of the tent rather than in front of the door.
Even with the rain fly on, the tent is tiny. I thought at first it would be too small for my liking, but it turns out that I preferred the small space. Everything is within arms reach and for one person it has just the right amount of space you need. It's like an oversized bivvy sack.
The Tiny Vestibule
By far my biggest complaint with the Fly Creek is the vestibule. This thing is about as tiny as they come and makes it extremely difficult to use. After everything is zipped up and locked in, there is hardly any space to work with. Since it's built for 1 person on the inside, you have no real option to bring your gear with you into the interior. This means that everything large stays outside under the vestibule and each time you want to enter or exit the tent, you have to do this weird dive/crawl thing over all of your belongings. On more than one occasion, my shoes would somehow find their way to being exposed to rain during the night and I'd wake up with them being wet. There are only so many places you can stow your things in that tiny tiny vestibule and I did my best to ensure nothing would be exposed.
Second biggest complaint is zippers. Probably not much to mention here because we all know what I'm talking about. Whatever lightweight zipper is used on these tents is of less than ideal quality. They catch and get stuck nearly every time you try to open them and really only operate great when there is a perfect amount of tension on the fabric around it. The last thing I want to do in the middle of the night is wrestle as zipper.
Annoying zippers aren't bad if you're only out for a weekend trip, but when you're living in this tent for 5-6 months in a row, it can grow to be a pain in the ass each night. There are just certain things you find out about in a piece of gear after living in and around it so much that you'd never know from a few weekend trips.
My tent lasted all of the 2000 miles with very little damage. The worst thing to happen was a tent pole broke on me which I had to have replaced. Next was a hole I punched through the body of the tent on accident when attacking a spider, and after that it was just general wear and tear. Still, the tent is usable today and I'd gladly loan it out to a friend in need knowing it's in solid condition.
**WARNING!! - EMORY'S SOAP BOX***
One thing to note is that I always used a Tyvek ground cloth to protect the bottom of the tent from being punctured. This is a funny thing to me though... Here you have a tent that was built to be ultra light, but that requires you to use a ground cloth, which adds weight BACK into the tent weight, in order to protect your floor from getting rips and tears. A ground cloth also protects an air mattress from popping from small rocks that pop through the thin floor of the tent. Why not just use a more durable floor and not have to use a separate ground cloth? Oh...that's right... the industry wants you to buy more stuff! - okay... I'm off my soap box....
I mentioned earlier that this tent is built for reducing weight, but that comes at a cost. The hardware used on this tent is not durable and wears down pretty easily, however you'll really only see this after hundreds of miles and dozens of nights. The guy out lines and stake loops wore out on me just due to being in contact with the dirt and rocks night after night after night. There's no way around this so I had to attach new loops to the tent very early on in my hike.
Wind and Rain
In the wind the tent sucks like a damn Hoover. Good freaking luck getting a good nights rest if you get hammered with wind in this tent because it flattens out like a pancake once the first blast comes. It's a fair weather tent and there's no way in hell I'd rely on this thing to protect me in any severe weather. Don't take this to be a dig on the tent, this is just a matter of fact. The Fly Creek wasn't made for strong winds and harsh weather. If you never intend on using it in those conditions, then you'll never know what it's like to see your tent pancake out and you'll never be the wiser.
The Fly Creek HV UL 1 is a lightweight tent that packs up small and is what it is. If you want to save weight then it's a great option, just know that it comes at a cost and that cost is durability in the wind and weather.
Hmmm...how do I say this.... It's not exactly the most weatherproof shelter one can buy. It's fine if you're out for a weekend trip and get some light showers, but if there's any sort of legit storm that moves in you'll be in suck city. The Fly Creek HV UL 1 is just not built for severe rains and winds. There's nothing wrong with that though! It's just something to take into consideration. If I'm going backpacking in the desert where I know I won't see much harsh weather, then this tent is great and I'd consider using it, but if I know it'll be crap outside then there's no way it's making its way into my pack.
Pitching the Fly Creek
Uh...yeah, not a huge fan. Too many lines, too many stakes, and I'm not a fan of wrestling a rain fly...ever. This is an Emory specific thing, but any tent that requires me to attach a rain fly is not a friend of mine. I prefer tents that are one unit with the tent and the fly combined. Why? Because if it's raining when I get to camp, I don't want the inside of my tent to get wet while I'm putting the rain fly on. Additionally, if it's windy, I don't want to deal with that nightmare. That said, I got really good at it and could pitch it in no time, but I put in the work night after night and built myself a system that worked in logical order. I was fast and efficient while others struggled.
Final Thoughts and who this tent is for
If you're backpacking in the summer, don't expect bad weather, and don't mind the vestibule issue I mentioned above, then I think this tent is a solid option for you. The truth is, it worked for me on the PCT and it will work for you too, but I'm just picky about my gear. I had my own frustrations with the tent, but there are others who LOVE this tent and feel the opposite of me.
The major benefit of the Fly Creek is that it's so small and light that it's hard not to want it, but do NOT buy this tent if you expect foul weather on your trip. There are much better tents out there on the market that are built to withstand wind and rain far better than this one is. The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 is an ultralight tent, built for fair weather, and focused on reducing overall pack weight. If you like that kind of thing and it suits your mission, then go for it!
Is it right for you? You'll have to decide that based on the above comments. If you do decide you like it and want to make a purchase, you can use the Amazon Affiliate link below and a portion of the sale will go to support my website and efforts here at By Land.
Let me know what you think and if you have any questions!
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