Three buddies and I went in on buying a Cabela’s Ultimate Alaknak 12’ x 20’ to start using on all our hunting adventures away from home. At over $1000, it was quite the commitment as we needed to make sure it could handle enough trips to pay for itself.
For the Alaknak’s maiden voyage, we took the tent to western South Dakota in mid-November for a public land mule deer hunt. During the three day trip, we experienced wind gusts that reached 20 mph and temps that ranged from 20-50 degrees.
Price | $1200 (Alaknak Vestibule is an additional $290, Alaknak Floor Liner is an additional $150)
Size | 12’ x 20’
Doors | 2
Windows | 3
Sidewall height | 5’
Center height | 9’ 8”
Tent weight | 49 lbs
Frame weight | 41 lbs
Stake weights | 16 lbs
Additional features | fold down shelves, storm flap for stove jack, zip open area in floor for stove, attached awning
What to Like
Our first impression of the Alaknak was that it was really easy to setup for how big it is. Three of us who had never dealt with a tent of this size had it up in about 45 minutes. We were excited about how quickly it came together for our first time out. Most of installation time was spent tying knots and pounding stakes. We made a rookie mistake and only had one hammer for 26 stakes, which brought things to a standstill was we took turns with the mallet.
One concern we had with this tent was that it’s not made of canvas, but instead a polyester-oxford blend cloth. Canvas is more heavy duty, which will handle rough conditions better and last longer. Since we bought this tent as a way to save money on trips, we want it to last a couple decades.
The polyester-oxford cloth turned out to be a better option for us. It weighs way less and is highly breathable, UV-resistant, and tear resistant. Unless you plan on using your tent in the backcountry for months at a time, I think you can get by without canvas – and this material is a great alternative.
This material also allows the tent to break down nicely. We were able to store the whole tent, minus the poles, in a plastic storage trunk that’s designed for swimming pools. The whole thing was then able to fit on a standard sized game rack on the back of my pickup.
The tent did its job in keeping us out of the elements. The trip had typical weather for mid November in South Dakota, with temps that were regularly below freezing and steady winds. We never noticed any parts of the tent that were feeling drafty.
The size of the tent was a pleasant surprise. We comfortably had three guys with large cots and all of our hunting gear inside, and could have definitely fit a few more. In fact, for just three people, this tent might be a little big. However, if you like the idea of spreading out like we did and having designated areas for cooking, cleaning, gear, playing cards, sleeping, etc. then the 12’ x 20’ is for you.
Because we had three people in the tent for stretches of 12+ hours, we worried about condensation. However, we didn’t see a single drip of moisture in the tent. That could be because the ceiling is so high and the wood stove provided a dry heat to keep any condensation from forming.
What to Dislike
One thing that is a head scratcher is the placement of the wood stove vent in this tent. The spot in the floor and ceiling designated for a wood stove is kind of in one corner of the tent. Maybe there’s a good reason for this, but we never figured it out. Ideally it could have been in a more central location where the heat dispersed better. Instead, we noticed that one end of the tent stayed warm while the other stayed cool. This would only be a gripe on trips where temps get below freezing.
Also, you basically need to buy the floor liner. We tried without on this trip, and put a few small nicks in the floor of the tent that could grow if not taken care of. The floor liner is only an extra $150, but it’s one extra thing to pay for, setup, and store.
Overall, this was an awesome investment. The Alaknak is strong, roomy, and user friendly. This is perfect if you have three to six guys who regularly hunt together and want to get away from hotel rooms. I’d recommend this for camping any time of year in the lower 48, with confidence it could handle rain, sleet, snow, and wind.