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Shelters The Shelters forum is for the discussion of backpacking shelters (tents, tarps, poncho-tarps, bivy sacks,...).


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  #1  
Old 05-17-2013, 03:10 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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ContainsImages Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum

It's no secret that there have been significant reductions in the weight of backpacking gear items over the past several years. The ideal target in manufacturing lightweight (ultralight) gear is to make the gear as light as possible without defeating its usefulness. That's easier said than done. From a manufacturing standpoint, there's a lot to juggle when approaching the "lightweight" objective.

There are durability (read warranty/return) concerns, increased material and labor costs, consumer (market) popularity/acceptance, and other important factors to consider. And lighter doesn't mean cheaper, as both manufacturer and end-user can attest.

Many wilderness backpackers are not online-forum/blog/review-reading lightweight gearheads. They simply visit their local outfitter to see what's available. In the past, this was often met with advice that led to heavy loads of whatever the particular outfitter needed to move from stock. There was also a growing movement of savvy hikers, doing their own research, that were busy gathering lightweight gear alternatives through creative thinking and tinkering and from a zealous cottage industry.

This undoubtedly helped to inspire several "mainstream" manufacturers to diligently work to meet the lightweight needs of outdoor enthusiasts. Big Agnes is one of the impressive leaders, providing high-quality, lightweight outdoor gear. They manage to produce significantly light gear, while maintaining their focus on innovative design and dependable craftsmanship.

An example of how Big Agnes can make it light and get it right is the Fly Creek 2 Platinum.


Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum

It's a 3-season, free-standing, double-walled, two-person tent that weighs about two pounds. I've spent some quality time with this tent and would like to share some of my initial observations.

Manufacturer Specifications

Trail Weight 1lb 13oz
Packed Weight 2lb 3oz
Packed Size 5x19 [Note: I measured only 18" for stored pole]
Floor Area 28sq ft
Vestibule Area 7sq ft
Head Height 38"
Foot Height 24"

Trail weight includes only the inner body, fly, and pole system. Packed weights includes everything the tent comes with (body, fly, pole, stakes, guy line, and stuff sacks,...).

Personal Weight Verification

I personally weighed the components of this tent on a calibrated scale as follows:

Inner Body 11.05oz
Fly (including all attached guy lines) 9.95oz
Pole System 10.0oz
Stakes (11) 4.35oz
Tent Stuff Sack 0.55oz
Pole Sack 0.25oz
Stake Sack 0.15oz

[Note: Those that just can't resist the urge to reduce the weight a tad more can save at least a tenth of an ounce per stake by switching to an ultralight titanium option, and by swapping the guy lines for lighter line or removing some of them entirely (when appropriate).]

Observations

When I first handled this tent, completely packed in its stuff sack, it felt incredibly light. It seemed like there must be something missing. It stows quite compactly and feels like I'm holding a one-liter bottle of water (being it weighs about the same).

I began to think about and compare other shelter options (such as a hybrid tarp-tent or a tarp with separate net tent) with this double-walled tent. I wondered whom this tent would best serve.

Personally, I'd rather have a tent or a tarp (with net tent) than a tarp-tent (single wall; hybrid) for most backpacking trips. A tarp-tent lacks the versatility of the other options. It's nice to leave the fly or tarp off when there's no bothersome wind or precipitation. This is not possible with the typical tarp-tent. After all, most of us go out into the wilderness to actually experience (see) it, rather than completely entomb ourselves in nylon. It's great to be able to see a starry sky, enjoy the night air, or perhaps readily see what's snooping around camp. [A tarp-tent may be most useful for thuhikers when a fast, fewer component setup is desired - especially when it's just used for dark to dawn sleeping.]

The Fly Creek 2 Platinum features one door at the wider, head end of the tent. It's a trapezoidal shaped floor, 52" wide at the head and 42" wide at the foot end. For some, one door may be challenging for two people - especially when the interior space is just big enough to fit two regular sized (20"W x 72"L) sleeping mats - leaving little or no room for anything else. This (two-person) tent may be best suited as a spacious solo shelter or for two people who are content with sleeping very close together. This is true of many two-person tents. It may be a good idea to get the next size up from what's absolutely required (i.e. a three person tent for two people).

Those that prefer dual doors and vestibules for two-person use should consider the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. If you don't mind a single door and prefer the aforementioned hybrid one-wall design, check out the Big Agnes Scout UL2 - it's actually a little lighter than the Fly Creek 2 Platinum. [Note: The Scout does not come with poles, instead trekking poles are required.]


Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Components

Setup

There's not much to share about pitching this tent other than it's extremely simple. I lay out the body, stake a corner, attached the one-pole system, put in the remaining stakes, and toss on the fly.

I had no troubles with poles falling over like I have with other designs. It's made to cooperate. I really appreciate that.


Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum

Body

The tent body (inner wall) is made of breathable, ripstop nylon and polyester mesh.

The materials feel strong but savvy campers will take care to avoid snagging or puncturing the fabric. The floor is silicone-treated ripstop nylon with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. I recommend using a footprint (groundsheet). The regular Fly Creek UL 2 footprint fits or you may construct your own. [Note: An added benefit of the Fly Creek UL 2 footprint is that it allows this tent to be pitched in "fast fly" mode - using only the fly, pole, and footprint.]

There's enough interior space for a couple regular sleeping mats, but the sloping sidewalls do cut into the available area. When two people are in the tent, it's possible that they (and/or their sleeping bags) will touch the side walls unless they spoon in the middle. [Tip: Use it alone, or with someone you really like.]

I feel good when sleeping in this tent. Perhaps the brilliant design drifts over into my psyche and makes me feel better.

There are some interior pockets that help to keep some personal items in reach. Big Agnes also makes an accessory gear loft that can be used to increase available gear space.


Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum w/Mat

Pole

There is a DAC Featherlite NSL one-pole system made from (TH72M) lightweight aluminum. The single pole system is basically a long length of sections that meets a hub that angles off with sections in opposing directions forming a "Y". It's very easy to manage. You won't feel like you're playing a game of Twister when setting it up.

Fly

The fly is silicone-treated ripstop nylon with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. It's shaped to fit with minimal effort. It can be tossed on when needed for protection from the elements or for privacy, or left off for an enjoyable, more inclusive wilderness experience.

The muted color is pleasant and doesn't stand out like a bright beacon. I'm of the opinion that most backpackers want to blend into their surroundings rather than stand out (unless hiking/camping in hunting season or intentionally seeking attention from potential rescuers,...).

[Tip: Some may wish to use ITW Nexus linelocs over the existing guy line tensioners, for increased ease of use.]


Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum Vestibule

The vestibule provides adequate space for shoes and a couple lightweight backpacks (with minimal remaining gear - since much is deployed in camp).

Stakes

Eleven anodized aluminum J stakes are included. I used the original stakes and they worked perfectly. However, I'm all for swapping things out when I can get similar performance with a lighter option. I'll be using some titanium stakes, in good weather and in appropriate ground, which will cut the stake weight nearly in half.


Conclusion

There are limited ways to decrease the weight of a tent. Tapering the design and reducing the materials (in weight and/or amount) are the prevailing methods to make a lightweight tent. In fairness, this tent should be compared to other two-walled tents in its class. However, each backpacker will have to evaluate all the pertinent variables that go in to deciding which type and model of shelter is best for her/him.

If you're looking for a good lightweight tent that holds true to a useful design, the Fly Creek 2 Platinum is a worthy choice.

Its specs stand up quite well when compared to all other types of lightweight tents. It's only two pounds! And the versatility of its double-wall design enhances the wilderness experience.

I look forward to sharing more photos and experiences with the Fly Creek 2 Platinum in the future.

Reality
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  #2  
Old 05-17-2013, 05:44 PM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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Very nice review and nice looking tent. I have been considering this tent as a solo tent (as you have also suggested), because it is about the same weight as my BA Fly Creek UL1 and the extra space (without weight penalty) seems like a good idea.

Thanks for posting this review.
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  #3  
Old 05-17-2013, 11:47 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Thanks Wildfiled. I'm glad the review is of use to you.

If you get the Platinum, please share your experience with it.

Reality
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  #4  
Old 05-18-2013, 05:22 AM
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Perkolady Perkolady is offline
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Great review, Reality! Impressive tent!

I like the packed size of the tent. I think it would offer more packing options due to the compact size.

I have a few questions...

Approximately how far does the floor come up on the sides?

Does the foot-end of the fly guy out?

Is there any reflective material anywhere on the tent?

Thanks a bunch for your time and effort involved in posting all of your reviews! I find them very helpful!

Perkolady
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  #5  
Old 05-18-2013, 10:56 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perkolady
Great review, Reality!
Thanks Perkolady.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perkolady
I like the packed size of the tent. I think it would offer more packing options due to the compact size.
I agree. This tent could fit in an outside pocket of many backpack models. Some may wish to carry the pole separately and compact the remaining down to a small ball, to stuff elsewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perkolady
Approximately how far does the floor come up on the sides?
If I recall correctly, it's somewhere just under 5 inches.

The "tub" floor certainly offers a little more protection from ground water and blowing sand than using a tarp and groundsheet, of course.

But other models like the Copper Spur may offer a little more sidewall protection from blowing sand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perkolady
Does the foot-end of the fly guy out?
Yes. I'll try to remember to include a shot of it when I post more photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perkolady
Is there any reflective material anywhere on the tent?
The guy lines are reflective and there is reflective material on the short sections of webbing at the four corners.

The reflective guy line can be replaced and the reflective webbing can be easily covered, by those whom would rather avoid the flash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perkolady
Thanks a bunch for your time and effort involved in posting all of your reviews! I find them very helpful!

You're very welcome. I'm glad the information is helpful. And thank you for the good questions - they go a long way toward helping others make informed decisions.

Reality
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  #6  
Old 05-20-2013, 09:44 AM
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EagleRiverDee EagleRiverDee is offline
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Backpack: Granite Gear Vapor Trail
Sleeping Gear: BA Q-Core SL, WM Versalite
Shelter: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Eagle River, Alaska
Posts: 82
I own the standard Fly Creek UL2. I'd love to own the Platinum version, but it's priced a bit dear.

I can confirm that I am able to carry my FCUL2 in the side pocket of my GG Vapor Trail. It slips in with room to spare. I was camping over the weekend and that was how I packed it for the way out.

I do prefer a side entry, personally, but there's a serious weight penalty for the Copper Spur. I'm hoping that BA starts working on dropping the weight on that tent. For now, the Fly Creek is my tent of choice. Yesterday I gave away an old REI Camp Hut 2 that had been sitting unused in my garage for the past 10 years - the poles for that tent weighed more than my Fly Creek. Loving the newer technology.
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  #7  
Old 05-30-2013, 07:47 AM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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I ended up selling my Fly Creek UL1 and ordering the Fly Creek 2 Platinum. It arrived yesterday.

I was amazed by the weight. It is actually .36 ounces lighter than my UL1. I used my digital kitchen scale to measure both, so should be relatively in the ballpark.

It is packed with the tent pole assembly, stakes, tent and fly all in one long, narrow stuff sack. I took out the tent pole assembly, which also has its own stuff sack and refolded the tent. I am amazed at how well it compresses - approximately 9.5" long by 5.5" diameter sans pole assembly.

Can't wait to try it out...possible next weekend under the redwoods.
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  #8  
Old 05-30-2013, 03:28 PM
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EagleRiverDee EagleRiverDee is offline
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Backpack: Granite Gear Vapor Trail
Sleeping Gear: BA Q-Core SL, WM Versalite
Shelter: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Eagle River, Alaska
Posts: 82
I'm looking forward to some usage reports. If the Platinum holds up to normal use, I think it's a winner.
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2013, 07:59 AM
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Wildfield Wildfield is offline
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Just returned from an overnight in a my local state park (Big Basin Redwoods State Park). The purpose of the trip was to test out much of the new gear I've gathered since re-kindling my interest in back packing.

One of the items "tested" was the tent which is the subject of this thread; the Big Bertha Fly Creek 2 Platinum.

Here are some very brief take-aways:

1. Sets up very quickly (5 minutes)
2. Breaks down very quickly (10 minutes)
3. I used 9 stakes to stake out the tent; comes with 11 stakes
4. Really like the interior mesh pockets to place eye glasses, watch, etc.
5. I can't see using this tent with more than 1 person; even with one of my kids, it would be a tight squeeze. Felt comfortable as a solo tent
6. A little difficult to fold and roll up; silicone treated nylon is slippery and as I get to the point where I want to tightly roll it to get it in the stuff sack, it sort of slip/slides a part.
7. Luckily, the foot print is coated with a tackier material; if I placed the foot print as the outer layer of the assembly, the roll held together much better.

Daytime temperatures in Big Basin was 90F and night time probably got down into the low 60F. Humidity must have been around 40%.

If I stayed a second night, I would have left the fly off; in fact I left the fly open all night and slept on top of my bag.

Vestibule area has plenty of space for shoes and backpack.

Overall, a very nice, light weight tent. You could save a lot of weight by just taking the fly, poles and stakes and using as a tarp. However, there were a fair amount of mosquitos this weekend,so I was happy to be fully enclosed by mesh.



As a solo tent, there is plenty of space for 1 person. As a 2-person tent, it would get pretty cozy. Btw, I'm only 5' 4"; not sure how roomy it would feel to someone 5' 9" or taller.

(NOTE: Yes, that sleeping bag was overkill to say the least! Wishing I had a 40F down quilt for both weight and comfort!)
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2013, 10:38 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Thanks for sharing your experience with this tent, Wildfield. We share similar findings.

It's certainly nice to have a double wall tent (or tarp and netting) when there are mosquitoes but no precipitation or problematic wind. Taking the fly off offers a better view, increased airflow, and a less-confined environment.

Reality
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