Typically, when Rachel and I go hiking, we ditch the tent for a lighter weight tarp setup. But, this past fall we wanted to try something new. So, lusting for a new sleeping setup, we wandered into the land of ultralight tents. Ultimately, we chose the 2 person Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum and also got the separate footprint for added durability.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 Platinum Details
Category: Freestanding Double Wall Ultralight Tent
Seasons: 3 season tent
Capacity: 2 Person
Trail Weight: 1 lb 10 oz
Floor Size: 28 sq ft, plus 7 sq ft vestibule
Head Height: 40″
Retail Price: $549.95
Our Tent Review Testing Grounds
I believe that it’s especially important to thoroughly test any gear before we post a review on this website. Fortunately, for this ultralight tent review, we had a nice long backpacking journey planned for the end of September in Washington’s North Cascades.
You can read more about our North Cascades Loop Hike, but in summary: we tested this tent on a 13 day hiking trip in the North Cascades in the Fall of 2020. The trip was approximately 155 miles, with various elevation changes from day to day. So, it was important for us to have something that was light, and took up minimal room in our backpacks. We only had one food resupply, so we wanted to allocate most of our pack weight to food.
We also wanted a tent that would hold up to rain and wind. The forecast for our trip looked good, but anything can happen in the North Cascades over 13 days at the end of September. We definitely didn’t want to get caught cold, shivering wet in our ultralight tent, hundreds of miles from home.
There are three separate tent weights that you need to understand.
Trail Weight: 1 lb 10 oz
Packed Weight: 2 lbs
Fast Fly Weight: 1 lb
As you’ll notice, the packed weight is the highest weight listed. This can be a little confusing. But, the packed weight is the weight of the tent when you include everything that comes with it when you purchase it (stuff sacks, packaging, instructions, etc.) The weight of your tent should never surpass this weight, so it’s a good place to start your assessment.
When you go hiking, you probably won’t pack everything that the tent came with, so it’s more accurate to go off of the trail weight, which is the cumulative weight of all of the tent components necessary for setup.
Lastly, the lightest weight option is the Fast Fly Weight. This is the weight you’ll end up if you strip your tent back to just a few bear bones items (rain fly, poles, stakes) and add an additional footprint. The Fast Fly setup is pretty similar to a tent tarp setup, where you eliminate the mesh part of the Fly Creek Tent for this setup. Essentially, don’t count on your tent weight going this low, unless you’re comfortable leaving the main element of your tent behind.
What Makes a Tent Ultralight?
To be considered an ultralight tent, a 1 person tent usually needs to weight around 2 lbs or less, and a 2 person tent needs to weigh less than 3 lbs or less. So, given that rule of thumb, the 2 person Fly Creek Platinum stands firmly within the low end of that range.
You could get a lighter tent setup if you switch to a non-freestanding tent option, or use a tarp setup like we’ve done in the past. A comparable example is The Big Agnes Scout 2 Tent, which requires the use of trekking poles to setup, but has a 11 oz trail weight.
But if you’re looking for a two person freestanding tent, they don’t get much lighter than the Fly Creek Platinum, unless you’re willing to spend some extra money to get the Fly Creek Carbon, which will cost you about $200 more and shave your trail weight by 8 oz.
The main thing taking up weight in our bags was food. So, to account for the extra 8 oz, we just poured out some extra dried bean flakes.
Setting Up the Fly Creek Platinum Tent
The Fly Creek Platinum was a breeze to setup. I’ll confess, I don’t have a lot of experience with free standing tents, since I’ve been using a tarp and trekking pole setup for the last several years. But, setting up the Fly Creek tent couldn’t have been easier, in my opinion.
I usually wasn’t in a rush to setup the tent, so would usually take my time to set it up in about 7-10 minutes. But there were a few occasions where the rain was starting and I had to quickly toss it up, with the rain fly and it was no problem.
I would usually start by setting up the footprint and staking down the corners. I would then lay the tent out on top of the footprint. From there, I’d assemble the pole frame, lay it out on top of the tent, and click it into place. A that point, you just have to add the rain fly and stake off the edges.
Overall we were very pleased with the ease of setting up this tent.
Size & Comfort
I’ve read several reviews on this tent that say it’s pretty tight fitting. However, Rachel and I didn’t have any issues with the amount of room in the tent. The 28 sq ft was plenty of room for us inside the tent, sleeping on full length sleeping pads.
However, if you’re a taller individual (like 6 ft plus), I could see how the size of the tent could be a little cramped for two people. I personally am about 5’8″ and Rachel is 5’6″, so the 40″ of head space was no big deal. If you wanted to hang out in the tent and play cards… sure it would be a bit cramped. But we pretty much just crawled in, read for a bit, and fell asleep. For that purpose, we had plenty of room.
Other reviewers suggest that this tent is super small for two people, I disagree. Is it cozy? Yes. But, if you’re expecting a roomy ultralight tent, you might not actually be in the market for an ultralight tent. Any extra size you add to your tent is going to add weight.
Given the weight of this tent, I found the cozy nature of it to be expected. You just won’t be having any guests over for dinner.
I will say that the vestibule for storing our shoes and backpacks outside of the tent did feel a little bit small. With a little extra room, there would have been a little extra security from the elements. With that said, we didn’t have any real issues, and any gear we left under the vestibule did stay dry on the nights where it did rain.
In terms of packing, I was able to easily pack this tent into the bottom of my backpack, with plenty of room for an entire bear canister, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and extra clothing all within my bag. For a freestanding tent, it’s very compact and light.
Yeah, this tent is super thin… And light. That means lightweight material. Given that we had never used an ultralight tent like this, we were crossing our fingers when we wondered into the woods for a two-week journey.
When I first set this tent up in my yard without the footprint, the blades of grass looked like knives threatening to puncture the floor of my precious hiking house. But, after several uses, I realized the material was pretty durable.
Still, I wouldn’t use this tent without the separately sold ultralight footprint. If you’re hiking through a lot of dirt and grit, it can certainly wear on the floor of the tent. So, you might as well add an extra layer of protection, and rest a little easier.
The fly and floor of the Fly Creek are made of the same material, a silicone treated nylon rip-stop, with a 1200 mm waterproof polyurethane coating. Overall, the material held up quite nicely. After our first rain, I was able to relax and fall asleep listening to rain drops, with complete confidence in the material.
The tent body is a polyester mesh, which is basically like a bug net. On the warm nights, this was nice because we had a wide open view of the stars. The mesh also protected us from any mosquitos, and allowed for nice airflow.
All of the tent seams are taped with waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape. The nice thing about this is that it doesn’t contain any polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can off gas and cause health risks.
My main durability concern with this tent was the zipper. The zipper feels somewhat fragile and since it’s so light weight, I could see it having issues if the teeth get dirty.
On several occasions I got the rain fly material stuck in the zipper, and had to carefully pull it out without ripping the material or damaging the zipper. Thus far I’ve always been successful.
When using the zipper, just be careful to reduce the amount of tension you place on the tent. Also, be aware of dirt, and try to keep it out of the zipper to help prolong the life.
The tent comes with a featherlight NFL pole system that consists of a three directional pole system that connects at a hub. The poles then clip into ultralight plastic clips attached to the tent body.
This system is super easy to use and convenient. However, the plastic clips could likely become fragile over time as they are exposed to sunlight. Just be careful when handling them though, and they should last a good many trail miles.
In summary, we loved this tent. It was definitely the most expensive tent we have ever bought, but I’m confident that it will last us for many adventures to come.
There are lighter tents on the market, and cheaper tents on the market. But, if you want something lighter, you will likely spend more money. And the less money you spend, the heavier your tent will likely be.
If you truly want something that is both cheaper, and lighter than this tent, you’re best bet is to go with a tarp setup, that uses trekking poles in place of tent poles.
But, if you want an ultralight freestanding tent, the Big Agnes Fly Creek Platinum is about as get as it gets.
Where to Buy the Fly Creek Platinum
Obviously, you can find the Fly Creek Platinum at a variety of outdoor retailers that carry Big Agnes products. However, my primary two sources for online outdoor gear are Backcountry.com and REI.com.
The Fly Creek Platinum HV2 typically retails for $549.95. But, I have seen it go on sale at both REI and Backcountry for as low as $412. We actually bought our tent during a sale at Backcountry last summer. This tent was also on sale at REI at the time that I wrote this article.
I recommend cost comparing between the following three retailers to find the best deal. Keep in mind, the below links are affiliate links, which allow me to collect a small referral fee if you choose to purchase from one of these sites.