Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon Review (Tent)

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon Review (Tent)

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    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    Companion forum thread to: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon Review (Tent)

    This Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon review dives into one of the lightest double walled shelter systems onto the market.

    Henry Shires / Tarptent
    BPL Member


    Locale: Upper Sierra Foothills - Gold Rush Country

    With regard to the Notch Li comparison, the 8-oz “optional dedicated pole-set” is just that if you are already carrying trekking poles.

    Henry (Tarptent)

    Troy Ammons
    BPL Member


    Personally, I would like to see BA add 2-3 ounces and make this tent freestanding.

    Tom K
    BPL Member


    Would it make sense to put a mesh panel in the inner tent at the end, where the foot of a sleeping bag is likely to come in contact with the inner tent, instead of making it all from the less breathable nylon fabric?  Sort of a having you cake and eating it, too, approach.

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Some comments about the Fly Creek vs Notch comparison.

    First , as already mentioned, the weight of the Notch is about 20oz for trekking pole users. The extra 8oz are for those that don’t . (an obvious advantage/disadvantage depending on your set up)

    But you do get two very usable vestibules with the Notch.

    The Fly Creek remains at 21oz for pole and non pole users.

    Next :

    Given its dome structure and narrow profile, I think the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon would outperform the Tarptent Notch Li in a side-by-side snow loading comparison test – though I didn’t get the chance to put this theory to the test.

    Obviously depends on your poles and skill in setting up the Notch but I have had mine under a foot of wet snow , it remained exactly the same way it was set up about 12 hours before  :

    note that the snow slid off the top *, on DCF some would stick to it but given that silnylon is supposed to sag (odd that it doesn’t for me…) but DCF does not it should be very similar. I would trust my trekking poles to collapse well after tent poles do , given that they can take my weight. BTW, note my end stakes.

    *I tried to get out without disturbing the snow load just to see how it looked.

    About the Notch set up :

    Can set up fly first, then tent body. Can set up as fly only configuration with no additional groundsheet needed

    Sets up fly and inner together. If you want you can set up either fly or inner by itself or indeed the fly first and then attach the inner but there is no need to do that.

    BTW, the Notch is sold as a 3-4 season tent because it can take some snow and lots of wind but it isn’t  designed to be a mountaineering all season shelter. But unlike most “expedition” type tents, it works very well in hot and or humid weather .

    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    Yeah Tom, I think that would be a sweet compromise. Might make the interior FEEL a little more spacious as well.

    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    Hey Henry (and Franco). I tried to be clear in my writing that I was aware the additional eight ounces of weight in my comparison come from the optional pole set. My use of the word dedicated is to differentiate between trekking poles used as tent poles, and tent poles used as tent poles, if that makes sense. That’s why I used the phrasing “optional dedicated pole set.”

    Upon further review of my article, it looks like I had some sentences removed during the editing process. In those removed sentences, I explain that I’m comparing the two shelters (imperfectly) in a hypothetical situation where a backpacker is choosing between the HV1 carbon and the solid interior, dedicated pole set configuration of the TarpTent – because this is the configuration where the two shelters are most alike. (I reference this hypothetical backpacker later in the article as well  – he doesn’t like to use trekking poles).  Hopefully that makes sense!

    Henry Shires / Tarptent
    BPL Member


    Locale: Upper Sierra Foothills - Gold Rush Country

    Hi Andrew,  no worries. I was really just addressing the specs chart which at first glance makes it appear like the other model is significantly lighter than the Notch Li. My guess is that for most readers of this article trekking poles are standard and for them the shelter weights are really close.


    Todd T
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I’m not able to read the whole article, but…a cramped shelter with an end entry and less than one usable vestibule should be compared against bivies, not tents.  :-P

    Richard Russell
    BPL Member


    I own this tent, and I think this is a great review. I couldn’t disagree with anything. It is definitely a specialized offering, but if you are in the target audience, it is an amazing tent. I use it mostly as an emergency shelter. It is lighter than the bivy I used to use, and not much heavier than a tarp with pegs and groundsheet. It is also great as a freestanding bug net. If it does actually rain, and you have to be inside it for a long time, well then it is admittedly a bit small and hard to get in and out. If I am only expecting it to rain occasionally on my hike, it’s a good trade-off. The materials are definitely lightweight, but it doesn’t feel like its going to fall apart. I haven’t put any holes in it yet. I like that it is basically free-standing and doesn’t need hiking poles. If there’s room for a bivy, there’s room to put up this tent. A great Sierra tent.

    BPL Member


    From the thread linked in the review; according to Andrew Surka, last summer Big Anges told him the fly is 0.34 DCF and the floor is 0.51 DCF

    Seems sketchy to me that they aren’t saying which DCF they are using anymore; do they think we aren’t capable of understanding their design choice or do they think they made a mistake? At any price point, but especially at high prices, I think people want to know what exactly is is they are buying. That is why every manufacturer includes a materials section in their product info…

    Moreover, Dan Durston mentioned here that Big Agnes is potentially using better construction techniques than other DCF tent makers.

    Now that these tents are available I’m surprised we haven’t learned more about BA’s ‘welded construction’ and the choice to use lighter DCF than others.

    Andrew Marshall
    BPL Member


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    Yeah Jacob, I’m surprised as well. I specifically reached out to Big Agnes after being unable to find any materials info other than the Skurka blog. They told me it was “proprietary.” I can tell you this – it certainly looks and feels thinner (for better or worse) than the DCF that folks like Tarptent and ZPacks are using.

    BPL Member


    Big Agnes won’t even say what denier fabric their other tents use. I think they had to go with the lighter DCF to make the weight low enough – need to differentiate them from their Platinum line of tents.

    Jeff McWilliams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    Based on the failure that Andrew Skurka reported in his long term review of the Tiger Wall Carbon, I would personally avoid ALL of BA’s Platinum Line.  As Skurka says, these fall into the “stupid light” category.

    Now, granted.  I’ve used the regular Copper Spur HV UL2, and fitting the horizontal crossing pole on that model into its pockets can be VERY tight.  The horizontal crossing pole appears to be where Skurka experienced a major tear in the fabric.  Maybe the Fly Creek won’t suffer the same fate because it doesn’t utilize the same crossing pole under high compression, putting high amounts of tension on the fabric around the pole pockets.

    Still, BA’s .34 DCF seems dangerously thin to me, especially considering these are some of the most expensive tents on the market.


    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    I used a Fly Creek UL1 for years. I like it. Yes, it’s cramped. But I found that it shed wind very well (Look at its shape) and was bomb proof in heavy rain storms. It has a not too large footprint so could fit into more sheltered spaces as well. It handled light snow loads fine. And as a double wall tent it was much warmer than my single wall Zpacks Hexamid solo; and handled condensation really well.

    so I understand BA staying with this design for the carbon tent. Others disagree, obviously.

    BUT: tension on the front door caused multiple zipper failures. BA needs to equip this tent with a larger, more robust zipper, period.

    Hiking in the Sierra in three seasons I rarely spent much time in my tent other than sleeping or reading in the afternoon to get away from mosquitoes. So I didn’t mind the smallish interior. It’s part of what makes the tent wind and storm worthy (see comments above).

    having said all that…I’d buy a different tent today, likely one of the ones made by forum members here.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    “Stupid light” = trying to engineer a tent that depends on high-stress distribution with materials that aren’t strong enough to support it. The Tiger Wall may fall into this category – I can’t comment definitively on that, as I haven’t seen the TW Carbon in person. Failure may also fall into the realm of user error, I just don’t know. You absolutely have to observe these things first hand and do a pretty careful analysis to make these kinds of negative judgments on product performance.

    But that doesn’t negate the utility of using 0.34 osy DCF for a design not subject to these stresses – i.e., the Fly Creek design.

    You have to be smart about this, and treat these two designs (and their material selections) differently.

    In addition, consider what the Fly Creek actually is – a tent designed to be as light as feasible.

    Big Agnes does not promise the moon here. From their own marketing materials:

    These products are intended for only the most advanced user. Although extremely strong for their weight, these tents are not indestructible and require careful use to decrease the possibility of damage. Special care during setup and extended trips is important as rough handling, long-term abrasion, exposure to sharp objects or rocky campsite selection may result in fabric punctures and tears.

    Most advanced user = someone who understands the limitations of materials and technology at the limits of ultralight.

    But – therein lies the problem.

    This tent is sold via Big Agnes’ normal retail channels (e.g., REI) and thus, immediately thrusted into the mainstream where it then becomes subject to criticism that probably borders on the unfair.

    Better for them if they spent more time educating users to bring them up to an “advanced level” and offer this tent privately to a small email list than advertising it so publicly 😂

    That said, I observed Andrew Marshall (the author of this Fly Creek UL 1 Carbon review) using the tent for six days in the Montana Beartooths this fall on a trip we did together, and was impressed by (a) his care in handling and pitching the tent, and (b) the tent’s performance (stability) in some awfully strong wind gusts > 35 mph. But that in and of itself was a testament to Andrew’s care in pitching the tent, using all available guylines, and paying careful attention to the distribution of even fly tension while pitching.

    BPL Member


    I don’t mean to be purely negative, in fact I was really excited to see BA differentiating their products in the market place. Proprietary construction straight from Dyneema and lighter weight fabrics; Sounds awesome! Tell me more …. crickets…

    It seems more likely to me that some marketing ball got dropped for whatever reason and we aren’t getting the full story behind these tents. 0.34 DCF and the more commonly chosen 0.51 DCF and 0.74 DCF all use the same mylar film, so its easy for me to believe that Dyneema could sell BA bonding tech that would allow a shaped tarp of 0.34 DCF to withstand forces that the same tarp simply taped or sewn together wouldn’t withstand (Dyneema engineers sails right?). For all we know BA’s ‘welded’ 0.34 DCF is technically stronger or capable of withstanding lower temperatures than the other guys taped 0.51 DCF, but we are left with no explanation so who knows.

    The sil-nylon version with poly inner and DAC featherlite NFL poles (platinum version)  is 7oz heavier than the DCF version with nylon inner and Easton carbon fiber poles (carbon version). How much of the difference is the poles and how much is the fabric? I’m most interested in the Scout 2 Carbon which is 6oz lighter than its platinum version but has no poles, suggesting most of the weight savings is in the difference between BA’s sil-nylon and 0.34 DCF? Also the video of the Scout 2 Carbon shows a graphic of DCF that includes a woven face fabric, I’m guessing BA’s DCF tent fabric doesn’t actually have any face fabric layer?


    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    Honestly, that’s one of the most embarrassing “read the marketing copy on the printout held over the camera” videos I’ve ever seen from a manufacturer.

    They just read the copy that’s included with the tents – the stuff that’s marketed to people who want to try the tent but need the insurance warranty and have no clue about what they’re getting into.

    It would be nice if a designer got behind the camera and gave us a straight shot off the cuff that actually spoke to their “advanced users.”

    My advice at this point: do your homework and know what you’re getting into.

    If not, don’t buy this tent, it’s not going to serve you very well.

    If you know with certainty that this tent is for you, then you’ll know exactly what that is, and can buy it in confidence.

    It’s a double-wall bivy tent that’s warm, weighs only 21 oz, and not meant for hardcore weather or someone who’s clumsy. It’s not that complicated.

    BPL Member


    “Woven layer”!  BA should be fined heavily for that steaming pile of marketing.

    Ross Bleakney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cascades

    Worth noting that the 4 ounce poles are the stronger poles. Tarptent also sells 2 ounce poles. I’ve used those (a lot) and never had any problem with them. My guess is that those 2 ounce poles — in that configuration — are stronger than poles that are arced. The geodesic dome structure is great — but the poles necessary to pull it off are either heavy, or the weak point of your system. Of course trekking poles are much stronger. I literally put my entire body weight on my Gossamer gear (very lightweight) poles just about every time I hike. I would never sit on a domed tent.

    The point being that the comparison is a bit misleading. If you don’t carry trekking poles, than the Tarptent setup is about 4 ounces heavier for about the same amount of strength. Using heavier poles would probably make the Tarpent stronger. For those who use Trekking poles, using those would be much, much stronger and the weight of the two tents would be practically identical. Free standing tents are great — they offer many advantages — but they tend to be heavier for the same amount of space and this one is no exception.

    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Indiana

    Bit of a drift here, but I hope BA offers the Scout 1 Platinum that’s coming out next year in a Carbon (DCF) version. The Scout 1 Platinum (7d nylon) weighs 13 oz, so a Carbon version would come in at around 9 oz,, even lighter than the Big Sky Wisp DCF. says that with vertical walls the Scout 1 Platinum is really quite roomy for a 1P tent.

    Scroll down page to see video..

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