The Big Agnes Chimney Creek 4 is a standard extended dome style tent with a built in lighting system. The LED’s are woven into the seams of the tent and provide four levels of brightness settings for internal illumination. The tent itself is smaller than most in this test and will hunker down well in storms but has limited internal space.
Ease of Setup & Breakdown The Chimney Creek 4 is pretty standard and easy to set up and break down. Two long seamless aluminum shock-cord poles criss cross the tent through short crown sleeves to form the main body and two shorter shock-cord poles arch over each doorway. It takes one person about 15 minutes to set up. Dropping and packing the tent is also simple and the compartmentalized bag Big Agnes provides makes it easy to just stuff the tent and fly into their own pockets. The poles have a built in sleeve and stakes stay organized in a small zippered mesh pocket. The whole bag then just folds in half and clips together—no zippers to wrap around a bulging bundle. There are color-coded tabs for attaching the fly to the tent body, but in reality they are totally superfluous as the fly fits equally well on the tent body either way as long as the doors are lined up.
Livability & Functionality At 15 sq. ft. per person, the Chimney Creek is one of the tighter fits for it’s suggested rating of four campers. But despite it’s dome style architecture, the side walls are nearly vertical so wall sleepers won’t forfeit much headroom. When the tent is fully guyed out, it takes a substantial breeze for the sidewalls to bow in. Ideally the tent is orientated with one of the doors facing the wind. With door openings at 57 inches, most will need to duck to get in and out of the tent. The large door/vestibule on one side of the rainfly is an upside down “V” which creates a central opening leaving two stationary walls on either side—essentially a three sided shape. The small door/vestibule is a standard center zip where one flap opens while the other remains stationary. Although there are no windows, there are six small vents in the rain fly, all of which, along with the rainfly door flaps, can be left open during near vertical rainfall to allow for maximum ventilation while it’s raining. Pockes are a plenty with two at each corner plus four along the edges of the ceiling. Though none of the pockets are down at ground level for easy access while lying in bed. There are also four loops on the ceiling to connect a gear loft (sold separately) as well as an apex loop for hanging a centralized lantern.
Materials & Construction The 75 denier fly and floor are polyurethane coated polyester rated to 1500mm in a static column waterproof test (rainproof but not under pressure). The floor fabric will resist moderate puncturing but 1500mm waterproofness means if there’s standing water under your tent (dew on grass shouldn’t be a problem), the pressure of stepping on and/or gear lying on the floor could cause some of the wet to seep through. Double reinforced seams, thick aluminum hook stakes, aluminum poles, reflective strips on the corners and beefy clips for the fly attachment as well as on the tent carry bag show that Big Agnes is serious about the quality of materials used to increase the longevity of the Chimney Creek 4.
Weather Resistance The Chimney Creek 4 can withstand a good amount of weather. The dome architecture, windowless/vented fly that reaches to the ground all around the tent and numerous guy lines and stake out points all help this tent handle big winds and heavy rain or snow no matter what angle it comes from. As mentioned before, it would be best to point the small vestibule side towards the wind if possible. And by staking down the body of the tent before erecting it, this tent will be relatively easy to set up in heavy winds.
Versatility The strong weather resistance features along with doors on either side of the tent make the Chimney Creek 4 a very versatile structure. While it is best suited for cooler and more inclimate conditions, the two doors allow for pretty good ventilation in warmer climates. And, if there’s little to no threat of rain then the fly can be removed to expose the majority mesh upper of the tent body. The mesh won’t provide much shade, but the sidewalls and doors have enough opaque fabric to ensure fair privacy even without the fly. The major limitation of versatility is the size, but Big Agnes also has an 83 sq. ft. Chimney Creek 6.
Cameron Martindell is the Gear Institute's Gear Test Director, responsible for coordinating our gear testing team, recruiting new experts, and maintaining the Gear Institute's editorial standards for product testing.