I’ve been using a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent as my primary bikepacking shelter for two seasons now so I thought it was time to share some thoughts. My previous tent was a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2. The motivation to get a new tent was reducing packed weight and bulk. The Seedhouse SL2 is a light compact tent for 2 people and a luxurious shelter for 1. However, the Fly Creek is 1/3rd lighter and much more compact. For trips where you are at your limited saving a pound of weight from your gear is very nice.
There is no free ride. The ultra lightweight comes at the expense of durability and interior space. As compromises go they aren’t too bad. I should add it’s fairly expensive compare to other UL shelters so wait for a sale at REI to grab one.
I’ve spent rainy nights in this tent and stayed nice and dry. The small aerodynamic shape means it hands high winds during storms well and it’s free-standing so you can skip the pegs on nice nights and just use it as a bug shelter. The tent uses a single shock-corded pole that setups up very quickly. If you are facing a storm you can get a shelter up and your gear inside quickly.
At nearly 6′ tall the Fly Creek is big enough for me to stretch out in when sleeping with personal gear on either side of me. I can sit up cross legged at the front of the tent to get dressed or read a book. Having said that I wouldn’t want to spend 2-3 days waiting out rainy weather inside this shelter.
The fabric colours are warm and pleasant while staying subdued for stealthiness. It’s fairly thin so you have to treat the tent gently if you don’t want to be repairing it. I’ve skipped the footprint and put the tent on the ground without any damage.
There are lots of guy point on the sil-nylon fly to get the tent ready for high winds during a storm. Although once wet the fabric stretches a bit so you usually end up adjusting it at least once. The pegs that are provided with the Fly Creek are high quality and easy to penetrate into hard ground – so far!
The tent is a front entrance design which saves weight, but isn’t as easy to use as a side entry shelter. There is a small vestibule area for your pack and shoes, but if you plan to enter and leave multiple times it can be a pain. Especially when it’s wet as water from the fly can get knocked off and drip inside.
All in all these short comings are worth it to me to get a light compact tent for demanding mountain bike tours. I’ve kept an eye out for a better option, but so far I haven’t found one.