Big Agnes Fly Creek Bikepacking Tent – A Motorcycle Camping Review
I recently tested out the Big Agnes Bikepacking Fly Creek Tent on two long-distance motorcycle trips. With over two weeks of starry (and very rainy) nights, I’ve had some great opportunities to put this tent to the test in all sorts of conditions.
Update as of September 2023: This tent has been updated to the Fly Creek UL1 Solution Dye Bikepack Tent. The thoughts and opinions within this blog will still resonate with the updated version.
One of the biggest factors in motorcycle camping is finding gear that’s lightweight, compact, and durable. Do you remember the Ikea commercial where the family has their car packed so high with stuff, they can’t go through the tunnel? Or maybe you’ve seen the classic “biker dude” rolling into a motorcycle rally with his overflowing Santa sack of luggage, hanging off the back of his bike? Yikes. If you enjoy getting out on two wheels and under the stars for a night or three, investing in a great tent for motorcycle camping, like one of the Big Agnes Bikepacking tents, should be high on the priority list.
Like the rest of Big Agnes’s award winning tents, the Bikepacking series is jam packed with features, just in a smaller pack. For the Fly Creek Backpacking tent, Big Agnes has used their 12” Shortstik collapsable tent poles, which shorten the final pack size of the tent. This makes these tents ideal for two-wheeled travel, on or off road, as they’ll easily fit in a dry sack, pannier, saddlebag, or other storage configuration.
A Big Agnes Bikepacking Tent, like the Fly Creek UL1, could be a phenomenal upgrade to your motorcycle camping and packing experience. Here’s a few highlights and reasons why this tent may be a great investment for your two wheeled adventures.
Personal Space in the Big Agnes Bikepacking Fly Creek UL1 Tent
Since I primarily travel alone, I use the 1-person version of this tent, the UL1. This is the smallest pack size in the Big Agnes bikepacking family. At a pack size of 5”x12”, you’d expect to be crawling into a tent made for ants or a small child. Not quite the case. For reference, I’m 5’4” (64 inches), and with an 86 inch by 38 inch (tapered to 28″ near the foot end) tent floor, there’s enough space for my motorcycle helmet at my feet, as well as my camera bag just above my head.
In addition to the spacious tent floor, you also have a 38” ceiling which allows you to sit up when needed. I personally don’t feel too crouched when I sit up. However, someone that’s 6 foot may feel differently.
In order to keep your tent feeling spacious, some storage options are ideal. This tent definitely isn’t lacking in the storage department. There’s a ceiling “shelf,” which extends towards the foot of the tent, allowing you to store extra clothes or items. I tend to throw my compression bags in this area so that all my clothes are in one space.
Three additional media pockets can be found on either side of the tent door, as well as just above the sleeping area to store your phone, charger, GoPro, etc. There’s also additional loops for added storage accessories. For a tent that appears so tiny, it really has been engineered to make the most out of its space. I’m pretty messy, (like, Mary Poppins opens her purse and everything goes flying messy) and even I can keep myself organized in this tent.
One feature I love, is that the footprint (sold separately) also extends past the floor of your tent, creating a vestibule floor. In the wind and rain, this is a great area to light up your Jetboil and cook food without dealing with the elements.
It’s also nice to be able to kick your boots off on a clean surface, without getting dirt on your feet or inside your tent. Consider it a built in welcome mat. The rain fly will zip down and over the footprint, allowing you to store your items on your “patio,” in a dry area. I highly suggest purchasing the footprint to prolong the life of your tent floor. It really does help!
Setting Up the Big Agnes Fly Creek Bikepacking Tent
This tent is very simple to set up on your own. In addition to the y-shaped system pole configuration, the tent and rainfly have color coded marks to help you figure out which pole goes where. If I was in a rush, I think this tent would take me under 2 minutes to set up.
The Fly Creek Bikepacking tent is a freestanding tent. When weather conditions are ideal (no heavy winds or rain), you could get away with only using the tent poles to set this tent up for a night, leaving less packing to do in the morning when you pack up and hit the road again. If you plan to “make camp” in one area for multiple days, I’d suggest using the stakes to stabilize the tent and maximize your interior tent space.
The rainfly of this tent has a ton of extra features that make it great to set up. There’s multiple Velcro tabs that connect the fly to the pole structure, as well as tension lines to really secure the fly to the tent structure. If there’s no rain or high winds in the forecast, these details won’t really matter. Big Agnes also added some daisy-chain webbing loops to the fly’s exterior so that you can easily dry wet clothes and gear without them flying away. Lastly, if you just want a little bit of privacy during the day, it’s great to throw your rain fly on. With a couple of simple “clicks” into the male-to-female buckle system, it quickly attaches to your tent and covers up any personal belongings you may have inside the tent or on that welcome mat.
After many rain storms, some wild west Texas winds, and thousands of miles packed on my motorcycle, this tent still looks and feels brand new, inside and out.
The storage bag is made well, and while it’s intended to be strapped to a bicycle handlebar, you could easily strap this to the front of your motorcycle, throw it in a saddlebag, sissybar, or dry sack. No matter how you pack it, this little bag is ready for a road trip.
The fly and tent floor are made of 1200mm waterproofed, silicone treated nylon, which didn’t show a single trace of water inside my tent in any rain storm. Additionally, the mesh areas of the tent haven’t shown any sign of wear or tear. As long as I remember to zip my tent up after a night of debauchery, no creepy crawlies will be able to make their way in.
Big Agnes Bikepacking Fly Creek UL1 vs UL2 Specs
- Packed Weight: 2lbs 6oz vs 2lb 10oz
- Packed Size: 5” x 12″ vs 5.5″ x 12.5″
- Floor Area: 19sq ft vs 28sq ft
- Number of Seasons: 3 (same)
- Number of Doors: 1 (same)
So, Which Fly Creek Bikepacking Tent Would Work Best For You? The 1 or 2-Person?
While I absolutely love the top selling Fly Creek Bikepacking UL1 tent, if I was going to buy this tent all over again, I would probably go with the two person version, only for the added space to store all of my “junk.” If you travel solo, don’t have camera gear, or have an area to store your items in the event of a rain storm without them getting soaked, the 1-person version of this tent would totally suffice. If you prefer just a little more room, or travel with a partner, you’ll definitely want the 2-person (UL2) tent. Currently, the Fly Creek HV UL1 Bikepacking tent retails for $359 on Amazon. For only a $20 difference in price for the UL2, you may want to factor in how you’ll be utilizing this tent. You can read more specs on the 2-person version, here.