Deluxe Alaknak II™ Tent - Outfitter Tent Comfort in Camp
By: Mark Nelsen
I've slept in about every kind of tent known to man. Some shelters couldn't even be called tents. I recall one elk hunt in particular. The night before packing in about six miles to our spike camp locations, my cheap, discount store, two-man backpacking tent leaked beyond belief during a late-night thunderstorm. I didn't even bother to pack it in. I spent six nights sleeping under a $10 poly tarp with the horse tack and kitchen supplies. It was Spartan, and the nightly thunderstorms that are ever present during September in the Rocky Mountains didn't help matters much.
As much as I like camping, sleeping in a cheap tent or under a tarp is not my idea of reasonable accommodations. And while I still use two- and four-man backpacking tents when necessary, I prefer the roominess and comfort of outfitter-type tents. I've used the Cabela's Alaknak series tents for several years. So when the camping experts decided to re-design the Alaknaks, and make them more affordable, I was skeptical.
We used the new prototype Deluxe Alaknak II tents on an Oregon elk hunt in the fall of 2000 and again during a spring turkey in May of 2001. The weather turned sour on both hunts, so the new tents got a thorough field-testing.
What I liked about the old Alaknaks was that they gave you the room and comfort of a larger, heavier wall tent, without the cumbersome frame set and incredible weight of a full-size wall tent. Granted, the Alaknak didn't have the tall sidewalls of a regular wall tent, but it still offered plenty of room. I hoped the new design wouldn't sacrifice room. I was pleasantly surprised when we rolled out the tents for the first time.
First and foremost, when time, space and weight are a consideration, the Deluxe Alaknak II has an edge with it's easy set up and pole design. The single center-pole design is uncomplicated, and in minutes set up is complete. After laying out the tent, you simply stake out the four corners, then raise the center pole. In the old design, there were four corner poles to give the tent its shape. The new design improves upon the corner poles, with corner poles and side poles to give the tent a more rigid, sturdy design that holds up great in wind and foul weather.
Another area of improvement is the tent fabric itself. The new Deluxe Alaknak II is made with XTC - X-Treme Tent Cloth. Lighter than canvas but more durable than lesser fabrics, XTC is a 210-denier polyester oxford cloth that has a very high tear and puncture strength. XTC fabric is designed for rough field use, making these tents ideal for year-round adventures. The tent is 100% waterproof with taped seams throughout so you'll sleep comfortably knowing you don't have to worry about rain, sleet or snow - something I wish I'd have had on that Colorado elk hunt so many years ago.
The new Deluxe Alaknak II also has an improved door design. The integrated awning door has its own frame that comes down from the door's peak. This design directs runoff water away from the tent and creates a small vestibule-type area that helps keep the tent entrance clean and dry.
During the fall elk hunt and the spring turkey hunt, temperatures climbed fairly high during the day. However, we were able to open the screen front door and one of the multi-panel windows to keep a cool breeze flowing through, something you'll appreciate during midday naps and warm nights.
Another area of improvement for the Deluxe Alaknak II was the added ventilation to prevent any condensation problems. Each of the three sidewalls as well as the door incorporate additional ventilation panels that allow for air to circulate, but they are also shielded from the elements to allow use during inclement weather. The air enters through the sidewalls and above the door, and then leaves through the new ventilation panel at the peak for excellent circulation.
Something else the tent designers did with the new Deluxe Alaknak II was to add unique fold-down shelves along the side and back walls of the tent. These shelves have a built in cup holder and plenty of room for an alarm clock, flashlight, eyeglasses, and all the little things you don't want to have to search for when the alarm goes off.
The floor has a zippered cutout that you open for use with a wood-buring stove. We used stoves on both of our hunts with the new tents, but for warm-weather camping, you can leave the floor cutout zipped and the roof's stove jack can be closed as well. If you plan to use a stove in either of the Deluxe Alaknak II models, you'll want to add the optional Roof Panel Protector, which consists of mylar panels, a flame resistant fabric, to prevent stove pipe embers from damaging the tent's roof. If you use the Roof Panel Protector, make sure to attach it during set up before you raise the center pole of the tent. It's much easier to attach it before the tent is fully erected.
We also used the optional Floor Liner, which makes cleaning the tent much easier, as virtually all of the dirt, mud and debris is captured on the floor liner. By unhooking the floor liner we could drag the liner, which held all the dirt, outside to shake it out. Again, if you use the Floor Liner, attach it after you stake out the four corners and before you raise the center pole.
Depending on your needs, there are two Deluxe Alaknak II models to choose from - a 9 ½-foot by 9 ½-foot model with three-foot sidewalls, or the larger 12-foot by 12-foot model with four-foot sidewalls. Both tents come with all the stakes, poles and ropes you need, and everything fits into a very manageable duffle-style bag.
If you like sleeping on the ground on a pad and bag, you can put a lot of people in these tents. My hunting partners and I prefer sleeping on military-style cots, equipped with Cabela's Cot Trees and Cot-Side Nightstands, so we've found that two or three people with all their gear is about the right fit, even with the stove setup.
The new Deluxe Alaknak II tents aren't featherweight (54 lbs. and 67 lbs. respectively, including all hardware), so you're probably not going to pack them in too far. But the duffles will fit easily on pack animals or an ATV. And, there is a D-ring at the peak of each tent, which allows you to hang the tent from an overhanging branch instead of using the center pole, which makes the Deluxe Alaknak II suitable for backcountry use.
If you like room, comfort and the latest in weatherproof materials, you won't be disappointed with the new Deluxe Alaknak II.