Mar 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm #1270027
Steven ParisBPL Member
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Not sure how long these have been out, but the REI in Portland has one set up on the floor now. My initial impression (crawling with a 5-year old) is that like many "3-person tents", it really is a 2-person + gear tent, but the space is almost all useable b/c of the steep walls and the additional of a "spreader" (my word) pole across the top. Two adults + kid or a dog would be a good fit.
Definitely worth checking out for someone wanting a traditional tent.
One downside though: $450.00!Mar 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm #1704254
I scooped one up on eBay for $360. The eBay seller has one more posted. They're listed at $450 or make an offer. Alternatively, REI's annual 20% off spring sale should happen in 2-3 weeks.
EDIT: Whoa…there seems to be one for sale here for $236:
Now that I have a UL solo shelter, I figured it makes sense to have a bit more space with my wife since we rarely hike that hard. 3.2 lbs (tent, fly, poles) is pretty darn good for a tent of this size (39 sq ft). The weight difference between this palace and the lightest sardine can of a 2-person tent is no more than a pound. Are any other 3 person tents even close to this? I rarely see them under 6 lbs.
– Huge floor area (39 sq ft)
– Lots of headroom (42")
– Super light for a 3 person double wall (3lbs, 3oz min)
– Fully freestanding
– Solid fabric half way up the walls of the inner
– 1200mm rated floor
– Door lets rain drip in
– One door, one vestibule
– No ventsMar 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm #1704263
Jeffs ElevenBPL Member
man… too bad that thing doesn't have a cuben fly…Mar 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm #1704275
Yeah….one can only dream I guess :)Mar 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm #1704636
get one of the cottage builders to make you one. How many ounces you reckon' that'd save?Mar 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm #1704642
I wonder how something like the BPL nano tarp, draped over this with trekking poles holding up the front to act as a sort of awning, would work as a 'fly'?Mar 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm #1709417
My Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 arrived today so I've got some initial weight & measurement specs.
Excluding a few rubber bands and disposable plastic bags, the complete package tips the scales at 3.67 lbs. This breaks down as follows:
Fly: 477.1g or 16.85oz
Body: 549.8g or 19.42oz
Poles: 440.7g or 15.57oz
Pole Bag: 11.3g or 0.40oz
Stakes: 13 @ 11.1g = 144.3g or 5.1oz
Pole Repair Tube: 11.3g or 0.40oz
Stake Bag: 5.5g or 0.19oz
Tent Bag: 23.4g or 0.83oz
To properly stake down the tent is appears that you need 8 stakes including 4 for the corners, 2 for the vestibule and 2 more for the sides of the fly otherwise they'll be wacking the inner tent. So a reasonable 'trail weight' with 8 stakes and no pole bag or repair tube is 3.50 lbs. The minimum weight (fly, body & poles) is 3.24 lbs…actually it's 3.20 lbs if you don't count the pre-attached guyline on the fly like the mathematicians at Big Agnes. These numbers are very close to Big Agnes claims which is very good.
For me, I will be using this tent with lighter 8g stakes, Zpacks cuben stake bag and lighter guyline. The fly comes with 17.8g (0.63oz) worth of guylines pre-attached. Replacing this with spectra cord should cut this at least in half. I also snipped a couple tags off. My estimate is that I will be able to hit the trail at 3.37-3.40 lbs.
Big Agnes claims a 90" floor length with a width of 66" (door) tapering to 60" (foot end) and a height of 42". I found the floor dimensions to be significantly smaller than this, but it's hard to really give accurate numbers without the tent corners staked out, as that would pull the floor a bit larger. I measured a floor length to be a largely usable 84", as the door and foot end walls are quite steep. I measured the width at 62" (door) tapering to ~55" (middle and foot end). I think with the corners staked out you might gain an inch or two of width at the middle of the sides. In any case, it's tiny for 3 people but quite spacious for two.
Here is the tent shown with two regular size pads. The pads are pushed to the outer sides of the tent so you can see how much extra width remains between the pads. One pad is slid to the back of the tent, while the other is up against the door:
On the positive side, I found the height of the tent to meet or slightly exceed the 42" claim. I measured just under 43". The headroom is excellent in this tent, with the roof being quite high over a very large portion of the tent.
The fabric used for the fly of the tent is really nice stuff. It's super light nylon…possibly 10D but I'm just speculating. It's definitely lighter than 30D.
Aside from clipping tags, using lighter stuff sacks and stakes, and replacing the guylines, the only way you could save a significant amount of weight would be to replace the pole set with carbon poles. It would be hard to do because of the hubs, but a theoretical carbon poleset could probably weigh in at 250-300g compared to 440g. The tent body and tent fly are made of such light nylon that even cuben would only save a couple ounces.
As known, the door of the tent is susceptible to rain falling in when the fly is open, but the door is closer to vertical than expected, so this is a smaller issue than thought:
Big Agnes claims 4 mesh pockets, but there are actually six. There are two on either side of the door at the bottom, and then one more on each side at the top:
– Use of very lightweight/low denier nylon
– Tons of headroom
– Overall a ton of space for the weight
– Fully freestanding
– Double wall
– Use of fabric (instead of netting) on the lower walls
– 1200mm floor rating
– Door susceptible to falling rain
– Inner needs to be set up first
– No vents
1) Up the waterproof rating of the floor by applying more/better PU coating to the same lightweight nylon. 5-10K mm rating would be nice.
2) Use a waterproof/uretek zipper on the door. This would save the weight of the fabric flap and the velcro and it would be simpler to use.
3) The floor size is great for two, but if Big Agnes actually wants to sell it as a 3 person tent, the floor width shouldn't dip below 60".
4) Make an Easton airlock carbon fiber poleset available to chop off 6-8oz.
5) Make the door vertical, so falling rain usually won't enter.Mar 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm #1709517
@kevperroLocale: Washington State
But one of my concerns is always finding a spot to put a tent that large. The bigger the tent…. the fewer the spots to put it.
I use a SD Vapor Light 2 which is big enough for me and the wife to snuggle yet close enough in size to my solo footprint that I can get it in most of the places I'd pick for a smaller shelter. Bigger tent = bigger exposed surface area too so the tradeoff to me is bigger than just the weight.
That is a hell of a lot of space for the weight though if you camp in places with plenty of space.Mar 16, 2011 at 10:14 am #1709701
Yes it's got a bit bigger footprint than your Vapor Light 2, but the footprint of this tent doesn't really seem that large compared to most 2 person 2 vestibule tents which typically need a spot about 90 x 90 (ie. a 50×90" tent + vestibules). The Fly Creek UL3 is pretty long with the vestibule on the end, but it's also a fairly narrow tent since you don't have vestibules on the sides so you can squeak it into a narrower spot than most 2 person tents. You roughly need a spot about 60×115.
So compared to your Vapor Light 2 which is a very similar design, you need a spot about the same length but 10" wider. These tents are very similar except the FC UL3 is a smidge lighter, has significantly more headroom and an extra 10" of width, while the Vapor Light 2 has a more waterproof/durable floor and a lower price tag.Mar 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm #1709962
Well, glad to hear it is mostly to spec; the slightly higher ceiling is a plus. It is worthy to note though that that's at least two tents that are smaller than stated we've heard about lately. This three-man tent will sleep two comfortably no doubt. It seems like most of the supposed two-man shelters are too snug for two adults. The FC UL3 as a three-man shelter is definitly a stretch and I'd not want to go there.
Dan, awesome review. Good analysis and photos. It helps immensely to see the photos from different angles and from inside the tent too. It's pretty roomy in there. -After looking at so many tents, this really is the one. And the one to beat. Don't like the number of stakes it may require, but really, you could use it just fine without any as long as you don't need the vestibule. Of course, I live in a more temperate climate where its not as necessary to have a staked-and-taut tent. Based on the size, weight, and useability of this shelter, it looks like I'll be getting one of these myself. It should fit all my needs. Dan, thanks for taking the time to put this informative review together. Now, get out there with your wife and let us know how it works in the field. Have fun!Mar 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm #1709973
I like my BA CS UL2 a lot but one thing I like about this more is the screen on the door and foot go down to the bathtub floor(to get a draft). During hot summer nights with little wind, my CS gets really hot with no air passing over your body(miserable).
I'd like to find somebody that can mod my tent to have the screen go to the bottom of the doors like this.Jun 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm #1751120
Well, I bought this tent several months ago, but had never gotten around to setting it up and checking out the specs. Got back from a day hike yesterday and the time had come.
Dan has written up a fine review above and I’ll only add my observations and a few photos so that you can have some alternate angles showing what this tent has to offer.
First of all, before I get the technicalities, I’ve been looking for a two-man tent for a while. I really wanted a truly light freestanding tent that would sleep two. But if you look closely at the specs of the lighter alternatives out there, they are pretty small and though they indicate they’ll sleep two, it would be in sardine-style for sure. They are really a palace for one. Then BA came out with this tent. Yes, it’s not in the two-pound range, but it’s still pretty light and is really a two-man tent that can actually sleep two men. So, without further delay, here’s the specs on the tent I have and the way I’ll carry it:
Grams — OZ.
Fly – 460.7 – 16.25
Body – 554.1 – 19.54
Tent Bag – 23.7 – 0.84
Poles – 442.4 – 15.60
Stakes – 100.4 – 3.54
Total – 1581.3 – 55.78 – 3.49 lbs.
I’ll also carry the footprint as well. That adds 7 ounces (ouch) to the package, but this shelter set-up is still under four pounds, if just barely. I got a really good deal on the foot print too, so I felt I couldn’t pass it up. Speaking of good deals, Dan was the one that turned me on to the eBay listing and I appreciate that. –The footprint stuff sack doubles as the stake bag too.
Now, here are the physical measurements I took on my side yard yesterday:
Width: Head 65"
Width: Middle 56"
Width: foot 59"
Length: @ corner 89"
Length: middle 88"
Height at door 35.5"
Highest clearance 40"
I note that Dan reported a significantly higher clearance in his tent. I think this is because I set up on grass and he was inside his house and therefore he did not loose some of the height to the springy grass I was on. But I did have the benefit of being staked out so I got measurements that were slightly wider, longer, etc. Basically, it appears that the specs that BA has reported for this tent are pretty close and that is much appreciated. As you can see from the photos below, this tent has plenty of room for two full-size hikers and gear inside or in the vestibule. The one thing I wasn’t so happy about is the number of stakes needed to get a taut pitch in rainy conditions. Really, you need four for the corners, two for the vestibule, and three for the sides and rear to pull the fly away from the body of the tent. Probably I won’t go to the trouble of staking it out unless there’s weather.
For the trail weight I show above, I took off three guy lines that I thought were really not necessary, the three corresponding stakes, and several stuff sacks. The DAC stakes that came with it aren’t the lightest, but at 10.8-11.2 grams each, are still pretty light. You could probably lighten up a bit further but not staking the four corners, but staking the rear, middle, and vestibule to drop some more grams. Overall, I’m quite stoked. And I can’t wait to hit the trail. I’m hoping my hiking buddy can get the 4th of July extended weekend away so we can go shake this tent down.
In dry conditions, if you are going to sleep with the fly on, it would probably help to use one stake at the rear to allow for a straight-thru ventilation path.
Front/rear shots with no fly
Side view showing staked out config: note middle stake pulls out fly from body of tent.
Note plenty of room to spare and the shot also shows how staking out the rear of the fly helps with ventilation. No stake and the fly hangs against the tent body.
It would be nice if in future iterations of this tent that the poles were engineered to hold the fly out away from the body of the tent. You need either less or no stakes with this configuration. I prefer not to stake if it’s not windy.Jun 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm #1751122
"It would be nice if in future iterations of this tent that the poles were engineered to hold the fly out away from the body of the tent. You need either less or no stakes with this configuration."
I agree with you, this is definitely the biggest recommendation for this tent.
I've got about 15 nights of use on my BA FC UL3 now, so I'll make a few more comments about tent.
Overall, the tent is performing well. It's solid and it's got lots of space inside for two which is really nice. The space for the weight is really outstanding with this tent and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a spacious but light 2 person double wall tent.
The largest downside to this tent that I've come across is that it likes a lot of stakes in order to pitch it in a way that the fly won't contact the inner tent. I've found that you really need 9 to get a nice setup. The fly likes to hang against the inner tent on the back wall, which is easily cured by staking this out, and the sides of the fly also like to sag against the inner wall….especially when they are exposed to rain for a few days and the material starts to sag/stretch.
What I do to get a nice pitch is:
1) Stake out the four corners with the intention of pulling the tent into the longest (not widest) shape possible. This pulls the side walls more taut and is KEY to a good setup. (4 stakes)
2) Pull fly quite taut using the tensioners at each corner.
3) Stake out vestibule (2 stakes)
4) Stake out rear of fly (1 stake)
5) Stake out each side of the fly (2)
6) Do NOT use the little straps that connect the fly to the inner along the side to pull the inner out.
Those little straps referenced in step 6 are useful in giving you a little more room inside, but the FC UL3 is already quite spacious and doing so reduced the gap between the fly and inner and makes it more likely that the fly will contact the inner. This is problematic if condensation forms inside the fly because then it will stick to the inner and then the inner will start to soak in the moisture from the fly and become wet.
If you follow the above directions and practice a little then you should be able to set it up in a way that the fly never sticks to the inner….even in wet, windy conditions.
Other than that, this tent is performing well. The door design could be a little better for wet/rainy conditions as rain can fall in the tent. Also, the vestibule isn't easily used for cooking in because the height is very low so your stove is nervously close the fly. It can be done with care though. The vestibule has a decent amount of area, but it's not very tall.Jun 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm #1751130
Noting to stake out this shelter with length in mind is a great tip. I'll be sure to remember that. The one thing I wish that this tent had was d-style side doors so that it's easier for occupants to enter or exit. This does mean a larger camp site, but that's not usually a problem for me. -Dan, thanks for adding your user obeservations.Jun 20, 2011 at 3:17 am #1751203
diego deanBPL Member
Thanks you guys for your detailed reviews.Oct 9, 2012 at 2:11 am #1919438Oct 9, 2012 at 5:08 am #1919447
@rdalyLocale: outdoors amap
How do you like it Mike?
I just picked up one on Craigslist for a good price. My wife and I are going to try it out this weekend.Oct 9, 2012 at 6:23 am #1919455
Steve MeierBPL Member
I took my three boys (ages 8-19)hiking in Colorado and had the Trailstar and the Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 3 with us. It got pretty chilly and windy once the sun set and when it came time to play cards we chose to pile into the Fly Creek because of the higher ceiling and comparable usable space. We also stayed warmer. A great tent!Oct 9, 2012 at 9:17 am #1919508
Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Good thread. I have the BA FC UL2 that I use as a 1-man tent + dog and the UL3 would be on my short list for an actual 2-man tent. I know tents aren't the most popular thing around here but for now I prefer them due to the full bug protection and I do like a free standing tent.Oct 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm #1919574
It literally just arrived at my door so have not had the chance to take it out yet; only a quick set up due to excitement!Oct 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm #1919651
Michael KBPL Member
I am seriously looking at this tent to as a roomier and lighter replacement to my 8 year old leaky floored REI Half Dome 2. However, does anyone have any experience with how it does in the wind and/or storms. Is it very loud, shaky, and unstable in winds? Thinking mainly about 3 season Rocky mountain high altitude use and the occasional car camping. I see conflicting reports about this tent in windier conditions…..some say here at REI:
that it is very loud and shaky in the wind. My experience this July was pretty much every evening/afternoon there were 20-30 mph rain storms. My REI Half Dome 2 did just fine in this stuff with very little noise, while watching 2 tarps get torn apart one night by hail and winds (gusts to 40mph). I know it's not a bombproof 4 season tent, but hoping that it'll at least be comfortable in the regular 20-30mph rain storms.Oct 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm #1919655
Steve MeierBPL Member
My experience with the BA UL Fly Creek 3 has been excellent. A lot of the time you see the tent in pictures with the guy lines still tied up, just like it came right of the box. This is a tent, like virtually all tents and tarps for that matter, that you need to stake it out fully to ride out a storm with minimal shaking and flapping. If you do you won't have any problems, as long as you realize this is a UL tent made with smaller diameter poles that will flex if stressed. Other than that, enjoy!Oct 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm #1919661
Here's my final take on the FC UL3, having used it quite a bit last season, and then selling it this past winter (geez where does the time go?).
The FC UL3 provides a ton of space for the weight. It's awesome in this regard. When the bugs are bad and you want space for two people to stretch out, there's no better double wall tent.
Unfortunately, it's not a great tent in the rain. It's not one specific thing, but rather the combination of smaller annoyances that make it sub-par on extended wet hikes. The main rain issues are (1) it's very difficult to not have the condensation lined sides of the fly stick to the inner, even when fully guyed out, (2), the doorway allows rain to fall directly into the tent and (3), the inner first setup means towel drying the floor if you have to set up it up during hard rain.
Regarding #1, you can stake it out well and use guylines and thus eliminate the flapping on the sides initially, but if you're camping in the rain for multiple days then the low denier fabric will eventually stretch so much that you can't get it tight, and then as soon as any condensation forms in the fly it'll be stuck to the inner.
Regarding the wind, I found in pretty good in the non-extreme winds I encountered. I would feel pretty comfortable using this tent in decent winds.
Overall, the space for the weight is awesome. For a lot of people it's a great tent. I found for me in the PNW it was too much of a pain on extended wet trips, but if you mostly hike in drier locales it's going to be great.
I'm using a TT StratoSpire2 now, which is far more pleasant to live out of in the rain. It is more finicky to setup though, so it depends on priorities.Oct 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm #1920021
Michael KBPL Member
Thanks Dan….this post was very helpful. It does not sound ideal for a week long wet backcountry base camp as I had imagined using it (July in Colorado). The door issue and the condensation issue sounds annoying. Also, I just noticed that there seems to be no vent in the fly, which may contribute to the condensation issue.
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