“They cut 5 ounces off a Fly Creek? Sweet! But HOW? Where? What does it sacrifice? Is it worth the extra money? If I sneeze in the middle of the night, will the tent be able to take the force of my sudden exhalation?” Such was the drift of my thoughts upon hearing about the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum, and it seemed likely that many other users would have the same sorts of questions, so we put dear Platinum through a thorough evaluation.
A Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum takes in the view.
First, what, if anything, does the Fly Creek 2 Platinum sacrifice as compared to the Fly Creek 2? Second, is it worth an extra $130? As natural extensions of those points, I wanted to see how the FC2P compared to similar tents on the market and provide an in-depth evaluation of the tent that would paint a clear picture of the tent even to those unfamiliar with the “standard” version.
First things first, yeah, it’s hard to believe there’s a legitimate two-person tent in the package. Tossing the stuffed tent in the air, you realize that this presumptuous little bag theoretically contains a double-wall, two-person tent… that’s lighter than many sleeping bags. That viewpoint put some perspective on things for me. We’re becoming accustomed to lighter tent weights, so I’m not sure that some of us continue to appreciate just how absurdly light a 1 pound 13 ounce tent really is. That’s the weight of my 900 fill, 20 degree down sleeping bag! And when I think of it in those terms… dagnabbit, how wispy and worthless could this tent be in a storm?!
Plenty of room in the FC2P for two standard-sized pads.
It is a little hard to describe the hand-the feel and impression of-the tent fabric. I suppose that it reminds me of titanium, of picking up that first titanium pot with amazement, marveling at the rigidity of the paper-thin pot walls. The fly fabric of the FC2P is very thin, very light, very gossamer, yet imparts a reassuring sense of tenacity and inner strength. The color strikes me as being on the whiter, more silver side of gray… a bit luminescent, not dull or dreary. The seams, of course, are all taped. With a #3 YKK zipper in-hand (destined for a MYOG sleeping bag), it looks as though Big Agnes is using a #3 YKK on the vestibule zipper which makes me wonder, again, why more manufacturers are not using the zipper on sleeping bags. But that’s for another article. The fabric of the micro-ripstop fly feels like it has a bit of give or stretch.
The poles are somewhat larger in diameter than one might expect, with joints that seem plenty stout. It’s a light set of poles, with a simple “Y” shape. The color is a bright sort of anodized fluorescent lemon; I’m not sure if there is any other difference from a standard Fly Creek 2 poleset.
The floor of the inner tent is the same as the fly material, though in a darker gray. The noseeum mesh, though fine, feels plenty resilient in hand. For those of you comparing this to the standard Fly Creek, the canopy of the Platinum is all mesh, whereas the standard version is roughly half nylon/half mesh.
The Platinum (lit by ENO Twilights) as a night owl.
Pitching the tent is fast and painless. Whether I staked all four corners before inserting and clipping to the poles, or whether I started with the poles and then staked, I consistently got a nice, taut pitch without any fuss. I have heard people wonder about the rear corners of the tent, specifically that they aren’t supported by pole structure. In that light, I suppose the FC2P might not truly be a “free-standing” tent, but frankly, that is of no concern. The tent pitches quite solidly. One aspect of the design that caught my attention was the significant amount of clearance between the arch of the ridgepole and the steeply-raked inner roof of the canopy. More specifically, the gap of about 13.5 inches seems a bit incongruous on a tent of minimalist design. It seems like Big Agnes would have modified the poleset and fly to more closely match the slope of the inner tent. Doing so would not only save weight but should improve the tent’s ability to shed weather. In fairness, though, such a re-design would require a whole bunch of work that would yield a tent that didn’t stick to the original Fly Creek geometry. It might be in the best interest of Big Agnes to pursue such a re-design, though, even if it were considered a new tent. Shoot, maybe we could get this thing under 24 ounces!
The first thing I notice after set-up is the amount of room in the FC2P. It is obviously and significantly larger than other tents that claim to have 28 square feet. In fact, I once overlaid another manufacturer’s “29 square feet” tent on top of a 28 square feet Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 (the Fly Creek 2’s slightly stockier twin), and found that the other tent was more than a foot narrower than the Seedhouse. In other words, if you’ve been in a tent with the same reported square footage but found it too small, I would still consider trying the Fly Creek. There is a surprising amount of room available for the weight.
Try finding that amount of space in any number of other 28 sq. ft. tents! Also, note the significant arch of the ridge pole as compared to the rear slope of the inner tent.
More than just square footage, there is also a respectable amount of overall volume available in the Platinum. I have found that many tents on the market have a canopy that significantly encroaches upon the total floor area. I don’t want to start on a diatribe, but on top of reporting highly inflated dimensions, many manufacturers give a false idea of available volume within the tent. In other words, if you look at a diagram of the tent floor, you have the impression that the floor space depicted is also available or practical for use. In reality, as many of us have found, tent walls can slope so significantly upon the floor that the usable area of a tent is much smaller. So when I talk about overall tent “volume,” I’m talking about not only the amount of total floor space, but the amount of total space inside the tent – room you have to lay down, sit up, stash gear, change, stretch, play cards… whatever. And for a modified A-frame design like the Fly Creek 2 Platinum, I think there is an excellent amount of available room. This is a realistic 2-person tent, at least for average-sized people.
There is a stash pocket on each side by the door, and one pocket over the door. They’re simple and effective. The side of the inner tent has a pull-out loop that is clipped to the outer rainfly; when you stake out the side of the tent, then, it creates more available volume inside the tent. Again, simple but effective.
When I see the Fly Creek 2 Platinum pitched I am struck by its grace. Perhaps it reminds me a bit of full sails arcing through a weather-beaten sea. The FC2P fly is taut and athletic, gracefully curved, maybe even supple (does this sound like a wine review yet?). It pitches and sets “just right.” Despite the lingerie-weight fly material, the tent invokes a sense of durability. It lends an air of solid confidence. What this means, outside the somewhat bizarrely poetic description, is that I do have faith in the tent’s ability to weather a storm, as it has also proven to me during prolonged wet and windy hours.
Ready for the weather. Or the sunshine!
Consider the automotive industry and its extensive use of “platforms.” I remember, for example, people joking about how a given GM car was just a re-badged Chevy/Pontiac/Olds/ etc. Heck, consider the publishing industry… how many revisions of “The Complete Walker” have there been? My point is that platforms can provide legitimate launching points and legitimate differences. Big Agnes has been able to develop a useful and wide range of products on its Seedhouse platform. The most significant architectural difference, in my mind, is the elimination of the rear “wishbone” pole on the Fly Creek models. Aside from incorporating that skeletal change, much of the geometry of the tent seems to have been “tweakable” or left unchanged. Given the Seedhouse platform, I can’t think of anything I’d really want to change with the Fly Creek 2 Platinum.
A classic profile and set-up. Excellent lower perimeter ventilation with full storm protection, a relatively roomy vestibule, and if you don’t unzip the fly all the way, decent wet weather entry.
If I were to change anything about the tent, as mentioned earlier, it would be to aggressively alter the ridgeline. I envision a pole junction with a permanent bend at the tents peak, the pole sticking much more to the ridgeline of the inner tent, perhaps with another “elbow” joint at the feet. It seems as though they could cut pole and material weight while making the tent a little more slippery in the wind. I might consider, if I were undertaking such a revision, adding a 9 to 12-inch stub past the front wishbone, creating a dry entry. That, of course, could take some monkeying around to keep the weight at a net loss.
The only glitch that I really notice is that the ridgepole can have a tendency to get a little snaky. When you stake out the tent it helps to pay attention to what you’re doing, applying equal tension all ‘round the tent, or you can induce some mild “S” curves along the ridge. I didn’t notice this affecting performance, but in theory it would be less stable in a good blow. I envision it being more of a problem if sideways to the wind. Realistically though, for most three-season backpacking conditions I see no issue with the structural rigidity of the tent.
Note the “S” curve of the ridge pole both at the top and through the center of the back wall.
I was mildly disappointed to find that my sample Fly Creek 2 Platinum weighs a little over spec. It’s not really a big deal, I guess, but it is 1pound 14.4oz instead of 1 pound 13oz with guylines removed. Given that Big Agnes has been so good about reporting the dimensions of the tent, I wish the weight had been just as accurate.
That brings me to the big question: is the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum worth $130 over and beyond a “base model” Fly Creek 2? Well, that depends. If price is your most significant consideration in a tent purchase, or if you have developed a price:weight spreadsheet for all the gear you own or are considering, you could probably save 5 ounces in your overall pack weight for less than the $130 difference in the Fly Creek 2 and Fly Creek 2 Platinum. If, however, you’ve already stripped the rest of your weights down, or if what you’re most concerned about is tent weight, then yeah, the Platinum wins. As I’ve said in other reviews, that person you see driving down the street in a Ferrari would probably do just fine with a Civic. But sometimes the performance or the specs provide an element of fun or interest that appeal to a user. I have found no disadvantage of the Platinum as compared to the standard Fly Creek. For me, and in my recommendation to UL friends, the Fly Creek 2 Platinum is one of my highest recommendations for an ultralight 2-person tent.
Translucent as the fly might be, I found it plenty adequate for the tasks it anticipates.
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge and is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to the manufacturer to review this product under the terms of this agreement.