Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 Person Tent for Bikepacking and Fastpacking

Can you ever have enough tents? I think the answer, most definitely for me, is no! Recently, I was looking for a lighter, smaller packing 1-person tent. The Nordisk Lofoten answered all my requirements particularly on weight and pack size BUT a compromise was going to be made on comfort, living space and storage space.

A recent purchase of a Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 ‘Bikepack’ tent for 2-people has been a revelation – packs real small, has low weight and is just perfect when out on adventure providing incredible space and storage for one person, or a comfortable relaxed space for 2 with excellent vestibules for storage and individual entry for 2.

2 person Tiger Wall UL2 Bikepack Tent

I was so impressed, the Tiger Wall urged me to look at the Big Agnes brand and low and behold I found the new for 2021, Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1. Check out options on Big Agnes. A one person tent with lower weight and pack size but excellent living space has been on my wish list for a long time.

To clarify, I am not going bikepacking, BUT, bikepack tents use smaller poles, typically 12-inches, and trust me, once you have had the option to pack and fastpack with 12″ poles you will be completely sold on them. Ultimately, they were designed to fit across the handlebars of a bike, but equally, they will fit inside pretty much any run pack – a winner!

So, I was sold on smaller poles, but my other two criteria were ‘low weight’ and ‘good living space’ and by living space, I mean the option to sit up inside the tent.

The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 arrived and first and foremost, the storage bag for the tent and poles are designed for going on a bike, therefore they are robust, a little heavy but well designed.

If like me you are fastpacking or going hiking/camping, you just don’t need these storage bags and you will immediately make a considerable weight saving by not using them.

The tent weighs just over 900g with all the bags but stripped down to a minimum, poles, light pegs, fly and inner, I got the weight to just over 800g which for me, is perfect. It is possible to go lighter with some other brands, the Nordisk an example, but you don’t get the features, storage, living space and proper 2-layer tent that the Fly Creek offers. It’s a winner!

The 12″ poles are impressive and there is just one that attaches to the tent inner at three key points, two at the front, one at the rear which is colour coded. The inner attaches to the poles with simple clip buckles and you have a *free-standing inner tent for hot conditions. When I say *free-standing, to maximise space at the foot end, you ideally need to peg out the two corners that increase space. Also, to ensure the tent does not blow away, it makes sense to also add pegs at the three pole attachment points. It is also possible to use the flysheet as a tarp covering with no inner providing ultimately flexibility and the option to travel extremely light based on your needs and weather conditions.

IN USE

Pitching the tent takes minutes. Lay out the inner and peg the bottom two corners, this helps stop the inner blowing away (just in case) and allows for easier pitching. Attach the pole at three points and peg out tight, start at the rear. Peg out the two rear corners after pegging out the front corners. Throw the fly over the inner, remember to attach the inner Velcro fastenings to the poles and then ‘clip’ the outer to the inner, one at the rear, two at the front. The two rear corners are designed to utilise the two pegs that peg out the inner – handy on saving weight. Peg out the two cords at the front of the tent. In the middle of the sides there is a cord on either side, with these pegged out, you increase the internal volume of the tent. Make sure you look under the fly as there are two internal attachment points that link the fly to the inner that help increase internal space. On the fly itself, there are four additional ‘cord’ points, two at the front, two on the middle (one on either side) that offer more stability and security in bad weather.

The inner has one zippered access point at the front that has plenty of space to sit without being obstructed. Of course, if you are over 6-foot tall, some compromises will be made! With the outer fly zipped up, you have enough vestibule space for pack storage, shoes, and other items.

Inside the tent, it tapers quickly and there is an excellent storage space for clothes, I managed to fit a jacket, base layers, waterproof, hat, and gloves with no problem. On either side near the door entrance, there is a pocket for small items – phone, keys, glasses, headlamp, batteries etc….

There are several features specifically for cycling, for example, a helmet attachment point and on the outer, loops are attached so you can add items without losing them. This is perfect for attaching socks, t-shirt, shorts etc after a day on the trail and allowing them to air and dry out.

Worth pointing out that for 2021, Big Agnes have redesigned many tents, the Fly Creek being one of them and they are using solution-dyed fabric which ecologically reduces water and energy consumption.

THE GOOD

The 12″poles are brilliant as I can pack them pretty much anywhere. They are DAC Green Poles, poles so very durable and strong.

The steep architecture of the tent allows for excellent space at the front which really does allow one to sit up.

Internal and external storage is superb with some really great features.

Pitching is fast, easy, and secure and importantly you have three options: 1. Full tent with inner and outer. 2. Inner only. 3. Outer only. The use of TipLok Tent Buckles makes things very easy especially with the secure pole tip catcher and pre-cut guy lines.

Weight will always be crucial for me and a sub 800g tent with so much space ticks all the boxes, especially with no compromise on durability and features.

The vestibule offers great storage, easy access and has a two-way zipper.

Lots of reflective additions to the tent which makes pitching in the dark easier.

THE BAD

The interior space in the tent does taper off quickly but it is a minor niggle as you obviously need all the space where your head will go, however, for some it may feel claustrophobic.

I am used to side-entrance doorways/ vestibules and having used the Fly Creek with a front door, my preference would be a side-door. I think you get more usable space and potentially a better, more protected area for cooking with a side option. BUT this normally would increase the footprint of the tent and then that would mean additional weight, SO, I am more than happy with the front-door here.

The buckles make attaching the fly to the inner super easy. But if one breaks… attaching the fly, particularly at the front would be a real problem. I have no reason to think that they would break, but the possibility always exists.

MEASUREMENTS

Internal height 38″ at the front.

Length 86″ with 24″ vestibule.

Width 38″ at the front entrance and 28″ at the rear. With the door closed, the front door width is 26″

Packed weight 980g

Stripped down weight 800g

Fly only weight 620g

CONCLUSION

Here on a Summer family camp, the Big Agnes is lighter than hammock, bug net and tarp.

As solo tents go, Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 is not the lightest out there but is still amazingly light! The features, internal space, resilience to weather conditions and small pack size make this a serious contender for any trip. The Nemo Hornet does come close as a comparison with a little more space, less features, additional weight (approx 200g) and I personally feel less protection in harsher weather. At the lighter end, the Nordisk Lofoten is lighter, smaller pack size, considerably less features and compromised living space and storage. Ultimately, when choosing, you need to decide what works for you. Having lived with the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 it will now be my ‘go-to’ tent for solo adventure. It just ticks all the boxes with little or no negatives. It really is a superb offering at a good price, 350 dollars / 350 pounds.

Ultimately, the tent has received a significant update over the previous one, it has new environmentally friendly fabrics, larger internal space, wider opening access and a range of tweaks and upgrades that make it ideal for 3-season use when travelling fast and light.

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FASTPACKING – A Guide.

Runner’s and particularly ultra-runners have this wonderful ability to cover distance under their own power with very little needs or requirements. Some water, some food, a warm jacket and waterproofs and adventure awaits.

However, you can only go so far without the eventual need to return home.

Fastpacking manages to encompass the world of backpacking and running to create a different adventure, fast and light! Backpackers tend to carry a plethora of equipment and move at a slower pace, happy to adventure for days and weeks at a leisurely pace.

Fastpackers, arguably are runners or hikers looking for the need to travel for multiple day’s but still cover good distances and not be excessively slowed down by weight and excess equipment. The crux though is often the balance of weight and one’s ability to still run/ fast hike.

“Fastpacking isn’t for every outing though. Sometimes you want to take it easy, set up camp, and enjoy a particular area. That’s when backpacking shines. Sometimes you just want to crush through a workout. That’s when you want to go for a really fast run.” Says Simoni, adding that he opts for Fastpacking, “when I want to tag multiple mountain summits in an area at one time, without needing to take multiple trips. If you’re squeezed for time, Fastpacking can really help maximize an adventure. I find it very rewarding to cover so much distance with minimal gear.” – Justin Simioni via La Sportiva

One could arguably say that races like Marathon des Sables, which is 35-years old in 2020, have paved the way for Fastpacking bringing a ‘fast and light’ scenario to a race format allowing participants to cover 250km’s in a self-sufficient manner.

However, Fastpacking has been around for many, many years. Long before MDS, and long before the term Fastpacking. But in recent years, the sport has developed into something else, no doubt boosted by the growth and popularities of FKT’s and lighter, more functional equipment.

It’s important to clarify, that Fastpacking is what you make it. Personally, I enjoy a lighter pack, moving fast (but not running) and being self-sufficient. This allows me to carry a little more weight, travel for longer, enjoy the process and still cover over a marathon per day. You though may prefer to be more minimalist, look at micro/ mini adventures of 2-4 days and aim to run for much of the way. There are no rules to the speed or distance you go.

It’s also important to consider many other factors that come into place:

  • Location and environment – There is a big difference to Fastpacking in Nepal to say the Alps.
  • Time of year – Winter conditions require more equipment and more specific equipment.
  • Weather conditions – Check weather and be prepared.
  • Access to water – Streams, rivers and lakes
  • Access to external help – If you are going remote, be responsible and plan accordingly.

It’s easy to see from the above, there is no one definitive kit list, but there are crossovers that apply to both.

Route Plan

Plan the route in advance, understand the terrain and understand what possibilities exist to obtain water. Importantly, carry a system that will ensure that you can drink water that is available from any source.  Work out how long a planned route will take and then plan for contingency should something go wrong. Note that vertical ascent, descent and technical terrain will require moving slower. It’s not unusual to sometimes only cover 2km’s in 1-hour. Make sure you inform family or a friend of your planned trip, start day and end day. That way you have a backup and someone checking out for you. It may sound alarmist, but should something happen, you may well not be able to call for help. Contact and research with local authorities and ascertain current conditions on the trails and be aware of any restrictions.

Do you need a 12-week and/ or 24-week Multi-Day Training Plan perfect for a multi-day adventure or a race like Marathon des Sables? They are designed to provide you with a structured weekly plan culminating in a target event.

View a sample week HERE from the 12-week planPurchase HERE. (£14.50 pw)

View a sample week HERE from the 24-week planPurchase HERE. (£12 pw)

The Pack

Typically, a Fastpacker will look for something between 20 and 40 liters. For summer and short adventures, it is possible to go lighter and smaller. In winter, one will need more equipment that is often heavier and bulkier. Quite simply, the heavier the pack, the harder it is to run. So, if the plan is to run as much as possible, you need to go as minimal as possible whilst keeping safe. Make sure when testing and trying a pack that you add weight and understand how it feels when moving. Many brands are now producing packs specifically for Fastpacking. Personally, I like my pack to have a waist belt as this helps distribute the load and make the pack more secure. I would say that a minimum pack weight will be 6.5kg (14.3lbs) with water. Where possible, you would not want a pack to exceed 10kg (22lbs).

Packs with considering:

  • Montane Trailblazer 30ltr HERE
  • Ultimate Direction Fastpack 25 HERE
  • OMM Phantom 25 HERE
  • Six Moon Designs Flight 30 HERE
  • UltrAspire Epic XT HERE (this is a smaller pack)

Tent / Tarp/ Hammock

On a personal level, I would always go with a tent as I personally feel that it will offer more flexibility, especially if one shops in a clever way. My go to tent is an MSR Hubba Hubba NX (1/ 2 and 3 person versions available).

Things to look for in a tent:

  • Weight
  • Flexibility
  • How many season use?
  • Space

For example, the above MSR is a free-standing tent, so, it can be pitched inner only. If you know you are Fastpacking in ‘guaranteed’ good warm weather, you could travel without the fly sheet and basically sleep in a lightweight and bug proof shelter. Equally, if you know that you are fast packing in a bug free (mosquito) environment, you could leave the inner at home and just travel with the flysheet. This then provides a secure waterproof shelter, and, in this scenario, it acts just like a tarp but with more protection.

Tents to consider (2 person):

  • Big Agnes Fly Creek HV2 here
  • MSR Carbon Reflex 2 here
  • Nemo Hornet here
  • Nordisk Lofoten 2 ULW here
  • Terra Nova Solar Photon here
  • Marmot superalloy 2P here

Tarps offer a light solution that can be used with trekking poles and if one is going very minimal and fast, they provide a very simple answer for overnight protection. It all comes down to comfort and what one is prepared to accept as ‘comfort’ whilst Fastpacking. Big Agnes make the Onyx which comes in at under 200g. A Tarp is a compromise if you will have bugs such as mosquitos whilst on your adventure.

Hammocks are also an option providing one has trees to secure against. But if you add a bug net and tarp, in my opinion, a tent is a much better option. But a hammock can be a great addition to any Fastpacking kit, I use an Amazonas (here)

Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag is essential for any adventure but firstly you need to ask some very specific questions before purchasing. I would say that ideally, one potentially could need several sleeping bags based on time of year and weather conditions. Remember, that any sleeping bag can be made warmer with layers. Add a hat, gloves and down jacket, suddenly the sleeping bag is considerably warmer.

Read an in-depth article HERE.

Down is by far the lightest and smallest packing size, however, down cannot get wet! So, if you think you will encounter damp and wet conditions, you should consider a bag with a synthetic filling. Weight and pack size are important and with sleeping bags, the more you pay, usually, the lighter and smaller it will be.

Be careful on the ‘comfort’ rating of the sleeping bag.

  • Upper limit – the highest temperature the average male can expect to have a comfortable night’s sleep at without too much sweating.
  • *Comfort – the temperature at which the average adult woman can expect to have a comfortable sleep. *This is the ideal for most people choosing
  • Lower limit – the temperature at which the average adult male can expect to have a good night’s sleep in a curled position.
  • Extreme – the lowest temperature at which the average adult woman can survive. This rating comes with caution and additional consideration should be given if you plan to sleep in temperatures this low.

Recommendations:

  • PHD – Make sleeping bags and jackets to order, I am a long time fan here
  • Yeti – Passion One and Passion Three are a good start point here
  • Rab – The new Mythic Ultra is a personal favourite, available in 180 and 360 here
  • OMM -The Mountain Raid 160 is a great bag if you need synthetic filling here
  • Sea to Summit – The ‘Spark’ range have been getting rave reviews here
  • Western Mountaineering – here

Sleeping Matt

The minimalist Fastpacker will go with no matt or a very simple and small pad that provides just enough coverage for one’s hip if sleeping on one’s side. Personally, a good night’s sleep is essential, and a good/ light matt is an essential element to a fast and light kit.

Also, one should consider that in winter/ snow conditions, a matt will be essential for insulation.

Another consideration is potential problems from a puncture. Many inflatable matts become super light by using extremely light material. Be careful when using and make sure any potential sharp objects are removed before sitting or sleeping!

Matts very considerably but a personal favourite is the Klymit V Ultralite slim which offers full length body comfort all for 316g. It also packs very small. There are lighter matts and I list them below:

  • Thermarest NeoAir Uberlite 158g
  • Klymit Inertia X 258g
  • Nemo Insulated Short 278g
  • Sea to Summit Ultralight 294g
  • Exped AirMat HL 304g

Ultimately, the matt you choose may come down to a tradeoff between price/ packing size and weight. Be careful, some matts can be noisy when you move. Ok of going solo but really irritating if you are in close proximity of someone else.

Cooking System

For me, the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe (here) or 2 (here) kit is perfect. It has all one needs in a very small pack size and weight. I use the PocketRocket 2 kit that allows me to place a gas canister inside the 278g kit + a 4oz canister.

Another consideration would be JETBOIL Micromo Cooking System (here) which is the lightest system they do and if you just need to boil water, this is perfect!

Food

Dehydrated food is probably the most obvious option here and there are many varieties on the market. They are a one-stop option that requires water to hydrate and if you wish to be extremely minimal, some options exist that do not require hot or boiling water. A personal favourite is Lyo (here) and Real Turmat (here) – It may sound crazy but they both make foods that I would consider eating when not fast packing. They also do Vegan and Vegetarian options.

Check out Chicken Tikka Masala, Nettle Curry, Penne alla Bolognese and if Vegan, Organic Chilli and Barley Risotto. Breakfasts such as Mexican Scrambled Eggs and Organic Millet Porridge.

For any adventure, I work on a breakfast and a dinner and then carry snacks for during the day, this can be energy bars or if on a long Fastpack, I will even consider carrying another main dehydrated meal. Typical weights are 132g with approx 600 cals.

Other options to look at for dehydrated food are:

Coffee

For me, Fastpacking is fun and adventure. I am not looking for FKT’s and therefore I do allow myself one or two luxuries. Coffee for me is an essential part of any trip and I mean good coffee. I could just take some coffee sachets and have a combined weight of grams.

No! For me, I take fresh ground coffee in a sealed tub and I use one of two coffee presses.

Aeropress here or Espro here

The Espro is my favourite as it acts as a flask/ drinking canister too. But it does come at a weight and size cost.

I fully appreciate that if going fast and light, the above is a complete no, no! But for me, that smell of fresh coffee each morning is worth it.

Water

You are going to be self-sufficient for multiple days, so, you need to find water and plan to obtain water from the route you will take. You can use purification tablets, I take the MSR TrailShot pocket sized filter (here) which meets U.S. EPA drinking water standards* and NSF protocol P231 for removal of bacteria (99.9999%), protozoa (99.9%), and particulates.

Clothing

Clothing requirements depend on the time of the year, the weather you will encounter and the duration of the Fastpack. Needless to say, one has to accept that changing clothes, taking a shower and feeling wonderfully fresh daily is not what Fastpacking is about. Layering clothing is essential to allow for fluctuations in temperature. Do your research, check weather forecasts and plan accordingly. The above photo is my equipment for a Fastpack in Nepal. Make sure you have a ‘Drybag’ to make sure all contents of the pack are protected from the weather, Sea to Summit (here) for example.

A good start point is as follows:

  • Short sleeve T
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Shorts
  • Underwear x2?
  • Socks x2?
  • Hat with peak
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Merino base layer, top and bottom – I use Icebreaker here
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket – I use RAB Charge here
  • Lightweight down/ Primaloft jacket – I use RAB Kaon here
  • Buff
  • Bivvy bag

The above, for most, would be a start point and based on where and when Fastpacking, you could maybe add or takeaway certain items.

If going to more extreme and cold environments, the demand on clothing and what one takes will increase. I wrote an article on Fastpacking in Nepal (here) and this is a worthwhile read. Please note in Nepal, one can use tea rooms, so, one saves on tent/ tarp weight immediately if required.

Tracker/ Beacon

I use a Garmin InReach Mini (here) and it is superb. Small, light, has SOS button and allows for 2-way messaging anywhere in the world. I do not go on any adventure without it now. In conjunction with a mobile phone and associated App, functions become easier to use. Subscription services can be changed monthly and therefore one can add or takeaway facilities as required.

Another option to consider is a SPOT device.

Essential Extras:

  • Water purification
  • Toilet paper/ wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First-aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Lighter/ matches
  • Whistle
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Earphones

Optional Extras:

Trekking poles – to be honest, for most of my Fastpacks, poles are an essential and especially if one is using a Tarp or similar.

Battery pack for recharging.

Conclusion

Fastpacking for me, is one of the most pleasurable ways to travel by foot. The ability to cover distance, usually in a point-to-point way under ones own power and being self-sufficient is extremely rewarding. You can move as fast or as slow as you like, take as long as you wish and fully immerse yourself in the surroundings and environment.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

Follow on:

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Twitter – @talkultra

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

Web – www.iancorless.com

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