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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Alaknak II outfitter tent from Cabela's
Gear Review


Reviewer’s Background
I have been camping and backpacking for as long as I can remember. I’ve never been what I would call ‘hardcore’, but camping, backpacking and canoeing have always been activities I’ve enjoyed a great deal. Often I’ve camped just for the pleasure of it, but I’ve also done it a great deal in conjunction with fishing, hunting and climbing trips. My natural inclination is a minimalist one, but the group I started hunting with was anything but minimalists. As such I had to make concessions on gear and style of camping. At first I found this transition difficult, but as I began to get more serious about prepping I also began to appreciate the style more. The minimalist approach has some advantages but a more gear-laden approach allows for a wider range of events, longer-term needs and supports multiple people (i.e., my wife and kids) better. It was under the influence of this newer perspective that I researched a base camp tent for hunting and purchased the Deluxe Alaknak II tent.

Product Information
(from the manufacturer website with minor formatting changes)
  • Wall/roof Fabric: XTC Poly oxford 250-denier Fly and tent: 1,500mm-rated
  • Tent Type: A-frame square
  • Size: 12' x 12'
  • Style: Centerpole
  • Zippers: #8/10 "YKK" polyester
  • Use: Medium-Extreme conditions, Outfitter camp
  • Floor Material: Poly oxford 150--denier , 1,500mm-rated
  • Poles: Steel
    [*]48" x ¾" diameter side poles (10)
    [*]116" x 1½" diameter center pole (1)
    [*]176" x ¾" diameter front awning pole (1)​
  • Windows: 3
  • Vents: 3 on walls, 2 at peak
  • Price: $599.99 USD

Product Description
The Deluxe Alaknak II tent was designed as an alternative to standard canvas wall tents that would be lighter and easier to setup. The tent comes in three sizes: 9.5’ x 9.5’, 12’ x 12’, and 12’ x 20’ (this review pertains specifically to the 12x12 but it is likely the information transfers well to the other two sizes).

Deluxe Alaknak II with optional vestibule
tent_with_vestibule.jpg

The tent walls and roof are constructed from ‘XTC’ poly material. XTC stands for X-treme Tent Cloth (which I presume is just a marketing term for Cabela’s) and is a 250-denier polyester oxford cloth with a waterproof rating of 1,500mm. The bathtub floor is a 150-denier poly oxford with a waterproof rating of 1,500mm.

The material is far lighter than the 10oz cotton canvas wall tents are typically made from.

The poles are steel and very sturdy, but heavy. They account for a large portion of the overall weight. Multi-piece poles are held together with shock cord making assembly of the poles obvious and easy. Metal cable is integrated with the shock-cording where it runs over the edge of pole pieces, thus making it highly resistant to abrasion. The included 12” anchors are steel with an attached hook for securely attaching the guy ropes. The guy ropes are a good, easy to manage rope with a simple and effective triangular tensioner for tightening the rope.

Shock corded poles with integrated cable and 12" tent peg
shockcord_cable.jpg tentpeg.jpg

The overall shape of the tent is called is an A-frame square and is of a centre pole design. There are 3 windows (2 side, one rear) with sewn in mesh. Each window has a zippered internal cover and a transparent external cover. It is possible to have one or both of them open/closed. Below each window is a large rectangular vent that has an internal cover that fastens with Velcro tabs. Externally, the vents have an sloping cover that allow them to be open and still be protected from the elements entering (these vents are the one difference I am aware between the original Alaknak and the Alaknak II – in the original Alaknak they were much smaller).

Interior view of window and vent, external view of vent sloped cover
window.jpg vent_below_window.jpg vent_sloped_external_cover.jpg

The door is of an inverted T design, and also has a screen section that zips separately. The integrated awning over the door channels rain or snow away from the door itself. There are 2 always open vents at the peak of the roof to maximize ventilation and minimize condensation.

The various points of attachment on the tent (webbing for tent pegs, snap clips for awning pole, grommets for side poles, loops for optional floor and loops for optional roof panel) are all made of heavy duty material and sewing is double stitched.

Webbing attachments
webbing_bottom_pegs.jpg webbing_top_sidewall_poles.jpg

The tent comes standard with a stove jack and a section of the floor zips open to accommodate a wood stove. All zippers are YKK #8 or 10 for durability and performance even in cold climates.

Stove jack and zip out floor section
stovejack.jpg stove_floor.jpg

On the inside, each corner comes equipped with a fold down shelf with an integrated cup holder as well as hanging mesh pockets.

Options include a clip in floor liner (protects the floor and simplifies cleaning), a clip on roof panel (protects the roof from errant sparks coming out of the stove pip) and a vestibule.

Field Information
The lighter material of the Alaknak makes transporting and setting up the tent easier than the typical canvas wall tent. It can be set up by one person in under 30 minutes easily and much quicker once you've done it a couple of times. However the lighter material does not seem to hold heat as well as heavy canvas and stands no chance against embers that should happen to land on it from the stovepipe (whereas heavy canvas may just end up with a black mark on it). Use of a spark arrester is a must, the optional roof panel is wise, as is using good dry wood and a properly stoked fire to reduce embers. (I have a couple of small ember holes from using local wet wood and not having the optional roof panel – which has now been orderd.)

I have read reviews were people complained about the weight of the steel poles, but personally I find the weight and robustness reassuring. They aren’t subject to damage from rough handling or conditions. The pegs are some of the best I’ve seen come with a tent, but even so are subject to bending if driving into rocky ground.

Bent tent peg
tentpeg_bent.jpg

Condensation has been an issue at times, but I attribute this to some of my tent mates pushing for a propane heater (propane produces a lot of moisture) and refusing to accept that ventilation reduces condensation but insisting that the vents must be closed up as tight as possible. It took an awful lot of persuasion (and a bit of a tantrum…) to finally get the vents to stay open and swap the wood stove into place. But at least the condensation problem was dramatically reduced.

One of the fellows I hunt with had a great idea for hanging wet clothes. He got some of the tracks and brackets for hanging open shelves on a wall and fastened them to the centre pole with gear clamps. The brackets stick out and we hang the clothes to dry. It works great! If doing this, though, it is easier to place the clamps over the pole before putting it place, otherwise it is necessary to completely undo them to attach them around the pole.

Rather than buying the optional floor, we got a 12 x 12 piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting. It is very pleasant on the feet, even when the ground is cold. It was necessary to cut the carpet to accommodate the centre pole and the opening for the wood stove.

Finally, if you’re a light sleeper then the sound of snow sliding off the roof can be a bit loud and you will want to ensure that you don’t leave tails on the guy ropes that can whip around in the wind and slap the side of the tent.

Summary
The Deluxe Alaknak II tent is an excellent and relatively inexpensive outfitter tent that can withstand nasty weather, is lighter than an equivalently sized canvas tent and can be quickly set up by even a single person. The lighter material does not hold heat as well and one needs to be extra cautious about embers from a stove.

I highly recommend this tent for anyone considering such a purchase.

UPDATE (Oct. 6, 2007): After 3 (4?) years the tent did leak during a particular nasty rainstorm. The tent held up fine to the wind (which blew our dining shelter around - ripping the plastic and bending the poles - despite it being pegged, roped to a tree, roped to my truck and weighted down with propane tanks and 18 litre water jugs). I will apply some waterproofing product to the tent.


-Per Ardua
 

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We The People
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Quick question, how were you able to "close" your thread?

Other then that I LOVED the video, that tent looks sick. Sure wish I could get my hands on one :(
 

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Quick question, how were you able to "close" your thread?

Other then that I LOVED the video, that tent looks sick. Sure wish I could get my hands on one :(
If you want to submit a thread like this one, and need it closed, grab a moderator and get them to work with you on it.

Here is a list of mods - http://www.survivalistboards.com/showgroups.php
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If you do, and you want to get a wood stove too, don't get the one that you get a discount on when buying the tent. It's... ok... but not particularly good. I would use the money towards one of the cylinder stoves they sell instead.

I had filled out the online order for one of the cylinder stoves but cancelled it when I realized shipping and handling alone was going to be $140USD. Enh, what I get for living North and across a border I guess.

Cheers,
-Per.
 

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Wild Wild... East
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Very good article, Per.
The tent is to big for my purposes, but the article is...

Bogdan
 

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I have used cotton canvas wall tents for years. Cotton breathes well and has a neat very traditional look to it. Cotton also leaks badly and tears easily. In storage it stains and rots. It is also very heavy compared to synthetics. Synthetics melt easily so great care must be taken with a wood stove, otherwise they are a great fabric, especialy weight and storage wise. A BIG tent is a blessing for anyone that has spent alot of time in the woods. I have a tiny 3 pound tent that requires me to crawl into it, this is not fun to do during a terrible rainstorm as I drag mud and water into the tent! That tent is so small that getting into and out of clothes is a challange! Add an extra person and the process becomes a nightmare!
PS Dittos on the wood stove. A talented welder can make a good stove from a 20 gallon drum!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I've updated the original review with this comment following my last trip:

UPDATE (Oct. 6, 2007): After 3 (4?) years the tent did leak during a particular nasty rainstorm. The tent held up fine to the wind (which blew our dining shelter around - ripping the plastic and bending the poles - despite it being pegged, roped to a tree, roped to my truck and weighted down with propane tanks and 18 litre water jugs). I will apply some waterproofing product to the tent.
Cheers,
-Per.
 

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Good job. The new materials now days are nice.

What's funny is when going camping with a large group (like the boyscouts) there is always someone who has bought a new tent (that they have never opened before) & they are usually the ones running late so they get to the campsite after dark. Pretty funny watching them try to figure it out after dark. :confused: :confused: :confused: I always try to help with extra lighting & with the assembly, but every tent is a little different.
 

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thats one hell of a tent and looks reasonably easy to setup. i would kill for a rig like that one day. screw a house..you could just set one of those up and line the outside with straw and possibly call it done. i can think of so many things right now that it could be used for
 

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Need some advice or remarks please

Dont get me wrong im an avid hunter,ive stayed in canvas wall tents for years but im really looking hard at this tent,,,I love it but have some concerns.First of all how strong is the material,,what else could a fly be made out of for this tent to keep the hot ambers from burning and adding some rain and snow protection,,,can the tent be treated for water and fire and if so with what?,,Im not concerned about heating the tent as much as the ambers burning holes,are there spark arrestors that omit zero sparks?,,Im always into improving things I purchase for the field so im open to any suggestions,,,Thanks,,,Eddie
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Dont get me wrong im an avid hunter,ive stayed in canvas wall tents for years but im really looking hard at this tent,,,I love it but have some concerns.First of all how strong is the material,,what else could a fly be made out of for this tent to keep the hot ambers from burning and adding some rain and snow protection,,,can the tent be treated for water and fire and if so with what?,,Im not concerned about heating the tent as much as the ambers burning holes,are there spark arrestors that omit zero sparks?,,Im always into improving things I purchase for the field so im open to any suggestions,,,Thanks,,,Eddie
Hi Eddie,

The material is quite strong. This tent has taken a s**t-kickin' in some heavy wind and held up fine.

Your concern about embers is quite justified - as Kenno mentioned in an earlier post, synthetic materials just do not handle the embers well. In my opinion this makes the roof panel a necessity if you are using a wood stove. I have the panel now - it is heavier materials than the rest of the tent I think so will be a bit more resistant to sparks/embers. I'm not aware of any 'zero' spark arrestors but here are different quality ones. Be sure to get it high up to promote airflow and keep any sparks that do get through further from the tent. Guideline for avoiding burn holes:
- use quality spark arrestor
- use roof panel
- use quality, dry firewood,
- keep fire well-stoked

Of course, any holes can be patched. I didn't get any new ones with the roof panel in place.

An alternative is to use a different heating method (e.g., one of the Zodi external heaters that simple blow the hot air into the tent). No sparks at all then.

I haven't treated my tent this summer yet, so haven't looked too closely at the products for doing so. I do know that waterproofing and fire-resistant products do exist and will try to remember to send you what I find when I look more deeply into it.

As a single wall tent, there is no ready-made fly for them. There are many types of material that could be used to custom make one, each material having its own pros and cons. Personally I would not bother. The steep slope of the roof means snow slides off quickly (although it's noisy). I am happy with my strategy to avoid any more ember holes and with the intent to treat the tent to avoid water penetration.

I hope that helps.

Cheers,
Per.
 

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Yes that helps alot,,thanks Per.It looks like a hell of a base camp to me.Im thinking the 20 footer on a wooden platform,please keep me informed on the product used to waterproof and or fire protect it,,Thanks again,,,,Eddie
 

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Hey per hows it going,I recently purchased a dry bag that is 210 oxford and found out the alaknak is made of the same.Nice material and strong.Then I googled poly oxford and found a multiple of websites where you can purchase the product by the yard and in very large pieces width and length,Im sure i will end up with this tent and at the same time purchase the same material and put together a fly with another stove pipe ring then i will be more comfy about the ambers and the tent lasting a lifetime,also any idea yet on your trip to nakina area it looks like i will be there around the 3rd week in september ,my son and i have a bow tag for bull,then my relatives will be around nakina the opening week og 18a and they have 2 bull tags,we are going to stick around and hunt with them also.Maybe we can hook up in nakina at the restuarant for lunch,,Have a Great weekend,,,Eddie
 

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Your review of this tent has help us make up our mind, thank you for your efforts. Now that we are better informed I can feel better about spend that kind of money.
 
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