One of the biggest challenges to bikepacking is packing properly. There’s always a balance in making sure you’re bringing only what you need, while still remaining comfortable. Some folks choose to go ultralight, while others prefer to tow along some of the comforts of home. Having a proper shelter and getting plenty of rest can be a massive boost to morale on any backcountry trip. Traditional tents often don’t pack well, and be can be cumbersome to set up. With the current popularity of bikepacking, several bike-specific tents have started popping up.
Big Agnes recently released a full line of bikepacking-specific, ultralight tents. The company took their existing Fly Creek and Copper Spur three-season shelters, and modified them to better suit the specific needs of bikepackers. The Fly Creek has a single door, while the Copper Spur features two doors and is a touch bigger. Both tents come in a one- or two-person version, and a model-specific footprint is available separately.
For this review, I received the Fly Creek HV UL2 Bikepack tent along with the accompanying footprint. This is the two-person version of the single door Fly Creek tent. To make this a true bikepacking-specific tent, Big Agnes started with their “Shortstik” pole set. These tent poles break down into short, 12-inch sections that make it easier to fit between drop bars, or in small spaces in frame triangles. The tent also has an elastic band on top of the main vestibule to hold your helmet under the rain fly, as well as daisy chain webbing to hang clothes to dry. The tent includes a durable waterproof stuff sack. This stuff sack includes daisy chain webbing for easy mounting to your bars or in your frame’s triangle. The footprint also is extended to allow for dirt-free changing and gear storage.
I first used the tent during the Fried Clay 200k gravel event. Many folks raced the route, but as the organizer, I was running around making sure everything went well. My wife rode during the race, and stopped at the mid-route campsite I had set up. We used the Fly Creek along with our small dog Loretta. I have previously used floorless, tarp style tents for ultralight shelters, so I was eager to test out something with a floor. The Fly Creek uses color-coded webbing and buckles, which makes setup take only a few minutes. If you’re feeling like going super lightweight, you can carry just the poles, footprint, and rain fly for a minimal “fast fly” setup as well.
After setting up the shelter, I tested out the helmet and clothing storage features to see how they hold up. If using the rain fly, the helmet storage is a nice way to keep the helmet out of the tent but still dry. In Georgia, it’s humid all the time, so the daisy chain webbing for drying clothes didn’t really help much, but I expected that.
I do appreciate the added length of the footprint. It makes it much easier to keep the inside of the tent clean. I recommend using the footprint to prolong the life of the tent’s floor. The stuff sack proved to be extremely useful and made mounting the tent to a bike very simple. The short poles are by far my favorite feature of the tent. In the past, I’ve had to strap long poles to the top tube, and they’ve always gotten in the way. These poles make it easy to mount the tent to the handlebar or just toss in a frame bag.
Many two-person tents can actually only fit two people if they are really crammed in. I found the Fly Creek was able to fit two sleeping bags with inflated pads very easily. My wife, myself, and our small dog were able to fit in comfortably.
Inside the tent there are a few storage solutions. Above your feet is a small nylon shelf which is nice for storing small items you may keep in your pockets. Above your head is a clear plastic pocket which is designed for holding your phone. It has little labels showing an entry for your headphones on either side. It looks like this is for you and your tent mate to watch movies with headphones while lying in the tent. I laughed at this feature since I don’t really see myself ever using that, but different strokes I guess. This tent has one door located above your head. I found it pretty easy to get in and out without bothering anyone.
Big Agnes’ Fly Creek bikepacking tent has held up extremely well over several camping trips. I had been using my tarp-style tent for the last few years, but I plan to switch over to mainly using the Fly Creek instead. At a 2 lbs. 2 oz. trail weight, it is a well thought out, lightweight tent that fits the needs of most bikepackers. If you decide to go ultralight, and only run the fast fly, it brings the weight down to 1 lb. 11 oz. At $379 (available online at Aventuron), it is fairly comparable to most other high-quality tents, but the bikepacking-specific features separate this from anything else on the market.
Thanks to Big Agnes for providing this tent for review.