Big Agnes UL2 – Review

Big Agnes, tents, Thousand Island Lake, JMT, John Muir Trail, backpacking

October 6, 2014 • John Muir Trail, Latest • Views: 2798

So for my birthday this year my parents got me a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent. It’s a long name so let’s just call it the Big Agnes. It’s a two person tent, which means it fits one person rather nicely. If you add a second person, the second person will always and forever complain that there’s no way this is a two person tent. Your response should always be, “That’s why snuggling was invented.”

Anyway, thankfully my parents gave me the present a bit early. About three months early to be exact. The idea of course was that I could scrap my ten year old Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight (why tents all have four names I’ll never understand) and backpack the John Muir Trail with something lightweight and a bit easier to set up.

Was it all these things?

Big Agnes, tents, camping, JMT, backpacking

Big Agnes UL1 and UL2 curling up beside each other at Muir Trail Ranch (just after another thunderstorm).

You betcha!

The tent feels dainty. The fabric is lightweight, the poles are lightweight, the stakes are lightweight. In fact the whole thing was so lightweight I was suddenly concerned it wouldn’t hold up to any significant weather I might run into while hiking the trail.

First of all, the tent is and was incredibly easy and fast to set up. On the final night of the John Muir Trail I was hiking with some buddies I had met. On our way to base-camp the rain came down again (it had been raining nonstop for three days). After picking our camp sites (at the lake above Guitar Lake there are numerous rock walls to came beside) I had my tent up and ready just before the next down pour arrived. My friends, using various alternative tents, climbed into their tents soaked five minutes later.

But did it hold up?

Surprisingly. One ranger told me that this past July was the rainiest on record. According to my journal it rained 21 out of 29 days, many of which were full on thunder storms that raged much of the day. A week into my trip I accepted that my tent wasn’t going to fly off into the mountains or collapse under an onslaught of hail or leave me soaked when the rain began to come at me sideways, and I slept in peace.

Big Agnes, camping, tents, backpacking, JMT

Big Agnes also serves as a quality clothes’ line.

And so I deem this tent durable, despite its weight and delicate looking features. It held up over a month under consistent weather duress–rain, snow, hail, wind, and close lightning strikes (though I doubt it could withstand an actual hit). It also had to put up with my poor camp site choices and my general disregard for proper care of equipment. (See: me using the tent to dry my clothes.) Anything or anyone who can withstand all that gets an A in my book.

The tent retails at $389.00, making it a tad on the pricey side for the average hiker, but quite affordable for anyone who is an avid outdoorsman. For a couple of nights I was camping beside a girl hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. She was using a Big Agnes UL1 (the one person tent). I didn’t notice a significant difference in size or weight. Though if you decide to go with mine and you have a hiking partner, make sure you’re both okay with cuddling.


© 2014 Christopher Dart

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