Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 Platinum
My very first ultralight backpacking tent that is great for solo use and the occasional guest.
Best Use: Backpacking
Size: 2 person
Weight: 1 lbs, 10 oz
Poles: 1, DAC Featherlite Aluminum
Tent material: Polyester Mesh & Ripstop Nylon
What I Like:
Weight: This thing is so light! In fact, as of the posting date, it is the lightest 2 person semi-freestanding tent on the market. Of course, the footprint is not included in this weight, and adds 4 more oz, but that still makes the tent sub-2 lbs, which is pretty amazing for a tent. Needless to say, it basically feels weightless compared to other things in my pack.
Set-up: With only 1 pole and 3 sections, this tent is super easy to set-up. Some may struggle: this is not a freestanding tent, and the back sides need to be properly staked out, but it is still super fast & easy.
Weatherproof: Big Agnes waterproof seam-taped all of the seams on this tent, which is essential for weathering any storms. And having used this tent in the rain, it really does the job. With staking out the fly as much as possible (both guy lines on each side of the tent, plus the 2 guy lines on the front sides of the tent), the tent stayed bone-dry inside and inside the front vestibule. During a freezing night on the trail, there was absolutely no condensation on the inside of the fly, most likely due to how breathable the tent is: the majority of the body is mesh, and the side vestibules are lifted off the ground a decent amount, so air can flow well. However, when sleeping with 2 people in the tent, both of our sleeping bags were slightly damp at the bottom, I believe due to pushing against the mesh walls during the night (the rest of the bags were dry). I have not used this in high winds yet, so cannot speak to its capabilities here.
Organization: The inner mesh pockets are super helpful and are placed right next to your head on either side of the tent, perfect for keeping anything you may need in the middle of the night easily accessible. There's also 2 loops at the top of the tent, which are perfect for hanging a backpacking lantern.
What I Don't Like:
Space: OK, yes, something had to give if you want the lightest semi-freestanding tent. The vertical space is good, as long as you're the only person in the tent and sitting right in the middle. The horizontal space is good also as long as you are the only person in the tent and laying in the middle. Sleeping with 2 people is definitely doable (I survived 3 nights doing this), but it is tight, so you'll want to be comfortable sleeping very close to your tent partner. Even using this solo, it feels small, but much more spacious than with 2 people. However, I had plenty of space at my feet for my pack, so its a give/ take kind of thing. Basically, if you're buying this, you're probably a UL wannabe and are willing to sacrifice some space and comfort in the name of ounce-savings. If you're looking for something spacious, you need to look at another tent. Maybe the Copper Spur HV 2 Platinum if you want to stay lightweight. Disclaimer: I'm a 5'4" woman.
The Vestibule Door: I'm a 2-door, 2-vestibule gal who switched to a 1-door. So, I'm a little spoiled. But this door is just kind of annoying. After staking the door out (with both guy lines), and even reinforcing the lines and stakes with rocks, I have found it impossible to enter the tent without the stake pulling out of the loop closest to the door zipper. It's annoying having the door flop on you while you're getting into the tent, and then having to re-stake that part of the door once you're in the tent. I guess you can avoid this if you only stake out one of the door's loops, but you'd want to stake both out if it's going to rain. You also basically have to crawl out of the tent since the zipper for the door doesn't go all the way to the top. Or you could not crawl out, and again, pull out both of the door stakes. This isn't really a huge issue if you only enter & exit the tent once, but if you need to get up in the middle of the night, I imagine it would be irritating to have to re-stake in the middle of the night.
The Mesh: It's not that the mesh is bad, there's just a lot of it. The whole tent body besides the floor is made of mesh. So, you're not going to get any privacy unless you put the fly on. This isn't too big of a deal since the mesh decreases weight significantly, and I almost always use the fly anyways.
Cost: It's expensive. It will cost you over $600 if you're also buying the $70 footprint. I got an awesome deal on this tent due to a campsaver.com sale, but its still expensive if you're budget-minded. However, this is what you will pay for anything that is "ultralight" and also durable. UL materials are more expensive, so you have to pay for less weight.
Overall, I think this is a great tent for the weight. If you are considering lightening your load, a tent is a really good place to start since many "lightweight" backpacking tents are 3-5 lbs. This is truly an ultralight double walled tent. That being said, it is important to understand the limitations of going UL. You need to treat this tent well to prevent wear, and realize that you'll sacrifice a little comfort for weight.