March 31, 2020 3 min read 0 Comments

Keen on going on an adventure and getting off the grid for a while? Big Agnes is renown for their outdoor camping equipment, specifically their wide variety of durable tents including their flyweight line of bikepacking gear. As someone who enjoys the outdoors and wants to do more of it in the coming years, I gave their Fly Creek HV UL2 bikepacking tent a try.

Bikepacking is a fun and interesting concept if you have miles and miles of accessible backcountry trails to explore. Simply ride your bike a while and explore the countryside, then set up camp for the night and carry on the next morning. While it isn’t entirely possible for many regular cyclists near their suburban homes, it is an experience that many are very curious about.

Unfortunately, I am one of those cyclists where I’d have to travel a good distance to arrive at a suitable location before even thinking about safely bikepacking. For now, I’ll attend a local enduro race and camp a couple of nights in this lightweight tent. From the brief amount of riding I attempted with the bag mounted, I could hardly complain about the additional luggage. Though it rests against the cables at the front of the bike, there was no interference observed with my bike’s performance. Small, yet durable (a theme I’ve come to notice while using this tent) velcro straps secure the thick-skinned compression stuff sack to the handlebars. 

It was incredible to see how much material Big Agnes can pack into such a small sack and still keep it at a measly 2lb. 10oz. (>1kg). No instructions needed as the assembly is pretty self explanatory. BA also uses color-coded and proprietary assembly cues so the user knows exactly what goes where when they’ve exhausted brain power and energy out on the trails. Plastic clips make it easy to attach the tent body to the poles as well as quick removal. The aluminum poles use a hub design which allows for a taller and higher volume shelter as well for making setup a no-brainer. These poles not only condense into a 12” sack, perfect for conservative storage but are also constructed using planet-friendly methods by recycling water during the anodizing process. 

Both the fly and floor are constructed from silicone treated nylon ripstop and have 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. All seams are taped and sealed via a waterproof, solvent-free polyurethane tape. A short drizzle during the first night wasn’t much of a test, but I remained dry and content nonetheless. Underneath, the tent body itself is made from a breathable and transparent nylon and polyester mesh. The easy to grip zippers operate fairly smooth from inside and out, but can catch on the fly if you’re not careful. 

Once built up, it looks like an inviting cocoon. With 28sq.ft. of total area, the tent was long enough for most users and plenty wide for one individual and their gear along the sides or two persons comfortably. At 6’ 1”, I fit just right inside the 86” long footprint but I did notice my toes wanting to push up against the walls at the far end. As mentioned, width was of great real estate with the ability to store items to the left and right of me with wiggle room to spare as I didn’t share the tent this time around. At 40 inches tall, there was plenty of room to change clothes inside before hitting the trails. One would think that this tent is impractical for storage due to its shape. However, BA demonstrates the storage possibilities such as an oversized shelf above the legs for larger items as well as a media pocket and helmet storage just above the entry door. 

Included with the tent is everything you need except the highly recommended footprint, a must-have if you want to prolong the life of the tent’s floor. Lightweight, aluminum J-stakes were a breeze to use and take up minimum space once packed away. Every corner of the fly uses reflective accents to maximize visibility of the tent’s footprint in poor lighting. 

Whether you bikepack or simply want a compact and lightweight tent, Big Agnes’ Fly Creek line of 1 and 2-person tents must be considered to be near the top of your list. Big Agnes is a longstanding player in the outdoor and camping industry and it shows with this product. Ease of set-up was of course a question of mine going into it, but tear-down proved to be painless and help-free. I honestly can’t wait to use this tent again. Hopefully I can utilize it on a proper bikepacking trip too, someday.

Words and photos by Mike Cartier.