The Big Agnes UL3 is part of the Big Agnes Ultra-light range, and our tent certainly lives up to the name at a hair over 1.5 kg (3lb 8oz). This is the lightest tent we have ever had the fortune of coming across in our years of camping.
In our experience the UL3 has performed well. It is a snap to put up, it takes less than a minute, it has kept us dry in nearly all conditions, it has just the right amount of space for the two of us and a bit of gear inside, and it has some very nice features and details. However, the tent has had some wear and tear.
Pros: Quality material workmanship, Light as a feather
Cons: Small vestibule, Delicate fabric
The tent is of ultralight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a hydrostatic head of 1200 mm so all but the most torrential rain will be kept at bay. We have found that this material is not as hard wearing as we had hoped with a small hole forming in the floor of the tent, and the tent and peg bags, made of the same material, have been completely shredded.
Update May 2015: We have had our Flycreek replaced with a newer model. The rip-stop fabric is thicker, more durable, but still not super strong. (Keep in mind it is an ultra light tent, so the material suits the purpose)
The tent poles are so light as they are made from TH72M aluminium, an ultra-light tubing. The DAC featherlight tubes are 15% lighter than standard aluminum poles. They are fairly flexible and have thin walled tubing – which comes at a price. If these poles are over stressed they can easily bend. This happened to us on the second day of our West Coast ride. A crack also formed on one of the poles during our world tour ride. Luckily we were carrying a pole splint with us. (Big Agnes now provides a splint as part of the UL3 tent for emergency field repairs)
After our tour we contacted Big Agnes to arrange a repair. Unfortunately we were disappointed with the customer service from them (they put the pole back on the wrong way around so we had to take it off and finish the job ourselves), and repairs/returns from outside the US were very costly and frustrating.
Update May 2015: At the end of 2014 half way into our world tour, our Fly Creek had a broken pole and leaking fly. Big Agnes sent us a new tent to replace our old one. We were blown away, and were really happy to have a better experience with their customer service the second time around.
Update May 2015: With our replacement UL3 came lighter, stronger DAC featherlight NFL poles made from TH72M aluminum. A new colour, and a new standard. The upgraded poles are far sturdier than the old, but the design and arrangement of the tent and poles have not changed at all. Great stuff!
The tent has a few well-placed pockets on the interior, and can be used without the fly for hot weather. With the fly on, a small vestibule is formed at the front of the tent which was just enough space to fit four large panniers stacked on each other with the tent closed. This is where we could have done with a little more space. A larger vestibule where you could sit/cook/store gear overnight would have been perfect for us.
The UL3 comes in a single colour, which is a yellowy/green colour (Big Agnes calls it cool grey), this is pretty good for blending into the environment – a useful property when you want to go unnoticed whilst wild camping.
Big Agnes have since released an even lighter version of the UL series, the UL2 Platinum.
The Big Agnes UL3 is a great tent, just right for two and light enough for touring or even hiking. As long as you take good care of it and maintain your gear, this tent should be up for the job for years to come. And this will be a no brainer for any seasoned camper – get a footprint! Or make your own!
UPDATE: Since we set off on our adventure from London, our Flycreek UL3 is starting to show its age. The elastic cords in the poles snapped in one place, and the waterproof tape on the interior of the tent has come off.
Since then Big Agnes replaced our tent as part of their warranty which we’ve been really happy about. We can add Big Agnes to a short list of companies which stand by their products.
The new UL3 is lighter than the old and has a few minor changes which improved on an already great design. The Fly and tent now have colour coded fittings! No more putting the fly on the wrong way around during setup. The chords have been upgraded to lightweight thin guyline with reflective details, the reflective details is also on the webbing on the corners of the tent.
With the upgrade also came a slight change to the design of the entrance. It is no longer mesh only, a panel of rip-stop nylon on the bottom and mesh on the top. Which is a great change when it’s cold out, drafts aren’t going to chill you to the bone. However, in 40 degree Celsius heat, you miss the mesh!
Entrances : 1
Weight : 1.59kg
Floor Area : 3.6m²
Vestibule Area : 1.2m²
Poles : DAC Featherlite NFL
Waterproofing Fly : 1200mm
Waterproofing Floor : 1200mm
Checkout more at BigAgnes.com
For more options of tents for your adventure, see our Lightweight 3 man tent roundup!