One of the stars of the Outdoor Retailer show a couple weeks back was a futuristic-looking tent Big Agnes erected front and center in its booth. A tent so light and ephemeral it was like a mere suggestion of a tent, with a transparent rainfly and whisper-thin body. Was it really there? I reached out to touch the fly, the unmistakable crinkle of Dyneema fabric confirming, yes, this was a real tent.
In the coming winter months, Big Agnes will release a series of three-season tents and shelters making use of the ultralight, ultratough, and ultraexpensive Dyneema. Smaller, boutique gearmakers have used Dyneema (which used to be called “Cuben Fiber”) in shelters for a while, but a large, mass-marketed brand like Big Agnes is taking a fairly large leap by offering tents made with the specialty material to a much bigger audience.
In all, Big Agnes is releasing five new shelters: three tents, a tarp, and a bivy. The specs are out of this world.
The single-door Fly Creek Carbon 2 weighs in at one pound, six ounces, fully packed. The slightly larger, two-door Tiger Wall 2 Carbon barely tips the scales at one pound, 13 ounces. And the Scout 2, a single-wall tent is only 15 ounces.
The fly and tent floors are made from waterproof Dyneema, while the body is a lightweight nylon ripstop.
It’s not just the Dyneema that sets these apart, either. That “Carbon” in the name? These tents use carbon fiber poles instead of ultralight aluminum. As a surfer who’s experimented with carbon fiber-strengthened surfboards, broken them, and seen the razor sharp edges that busted carbon can produce, this is a bold step when aluminum poles already come super light as it is.
The only Dyneema I’ve used regularly is in Hyperlite’s brilliant rain shell, and after nearly a year of use it’s held up to a serious amount of abuse but it also feels far more robust than the fly of these Big Agnes tents. Dyneema is strong, but still susceptible to rips and tears and punctures, something to fear with tents at this price point.
That reminds me, Dyneema does not come cheap. The Fly Creek 1P tent will run $800, with the 2P costing $1,000. The Tiger Wall 3P rings up at $1,200. (Pick. Jaw. Off. Floor.) Compare that with one of our favorite three-season, lightweight tents, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, which runs about $450.
But holy smokes are these Dyneema tents light. And packable.
It will be interesting to see how these tents do in the mainstream hiker community. That a relatively large company like Big Agnes is including these tents in their lines is maybe an indication that the price could be coming down for the pricey fabric, or it could be a momentary blip. Or it could just be loss-leading technology and marketing statement.
Either way, these tents are truly something to behold, and they boast some impressive specs. Looking forward to putting one of these Ferraris of the tent world through some practice laps in the future.