A good, no make that GREAT tent should be an essential part of every backpack hunters gear. In the hunting circles I am in most backpack hunters are looking for a tent that can accommodate 2 people and their gear, is light enough to be hauled up mountains, small enough to be packed without being too cumbersome and doesn’t get laden with condensation when it’s pitched for multiple days in our BC mountain weather.
I found all of the above with my Hilleberg Allak and then I lost the damn thing on a riverboat trip up the Muskwa in the fall of 2013. I had the tent in a bright yellow stuff sack on the outside of my mystery ranch pack. It was strapped on the bottom of the pack on the outside of the sleeping bag compartment (there are two big straps). My mistake was not weaving my pack straps through the stuff sack the tent was in… The result was it slowly worked it’s way free in the buck brush and “poof” my favorite tent… Gone.
The hike-in was around 10 miles or so broken up into two full day hikes. The first day we had fairly decent trails to work with and the tent was fine. The second day of hiking the start of our hike was a nasty buck brushy climb of a couple hundred meters but seemed to stretch for at least a couple of miles.
It was about 1/2 way through the hike up this nasty little creek and we’d made it to the top of this large mud slide that rose about 50 or 60 feet out of the creek when I asked my partner if my tent was still there (a habit). Fully expecting him to say “yep” and we’d carry on as normal I was pretty surprised when he said “Nope, it’s not!” Here I was on the beginning of a week long backpack sheep hunt into the mountains of BC and I just lost my freakin’ tent. Not good.
I spent a good hour back tracking and looking over our tracks we’d GPS’ed in but to no avail. It was beginning to get late and we needed to setup shelter so we continued on to our camp and my partners helped me craft a makeshift shelter out of a tarp. I was not very happy about the loss.
Regardless of losing my favorite tent I definitely used the tent enough and on enough trips to leave a very detailed and thought out review on what I think about the Hillerberg Allak as a backpacking tent up for BC’s adverse weather conditions. It’s tough to find a tent that can withstand rain, sleet, snow, hail and fierce mountain winds (in the same day!) let alone excel in all of them and the Hilleberg performed beautifully.
I began my search for a perfect tent after having to spend too many raining/fogged in days in my old Integral Designs MK III. With it’s tunnel entry and vestibule design it was a sure fire way to get all your gear soaking wet during a rainstorm as you and your partner crawl in and out the same door over and over with wet gear on. Another downfall for the MK III (for BC summer/early fall weather) was it’s single wall design. It did not breath very well and condensation was often an issue. Often the only fix in our BC weather was to have the door and vestibule wide open all night long.
While the old MK III was a bomb proof tent the inconvenience of a single door and condensation all over my gear and sleeping bags wore on for too many trips and it was time for a change. If you think that is a petty reason to change backpacking tents it probably wouldn’t take too many rained out Northern BC mountain days to help you come to the same conclusion.
I’d read about the Hilleberg Allak on a hunting forum and was intrigued by the silicon impregnated material (Kerlon 1200) they used in it’s construction. It was marketed as being much stronger than other tent materials. I’ve never had a backpacking tent get ripped in the mountains yet, (just ripped off my pack, lol!) but I’ve had my tents setup in some pretty gnarly places either in shale rock or buck brush and the potential for a tear is very high. We’ve also had our tents in winds severe enough that our tent could not withstand the force of the wind and we spent the entire night with our hands up holding the tent off our faces.
What I liked the most about the Hilleberg Allak for two guys hunting in the mountains was the double doors and vestibules.
This was the first backpacking mountain tent I had used that could comfortable fit all of my shit in my own vestibule. Without the tent and my sleeping bag and sleeping pad my Mystery Ranch pack is then small enough to easily fit within the vestibule with my boots, water and stove. It’s nice to be able to sit upright and put your boots on in the morning without having to crawl over your partner or crawl over yours and their gear on all fours to get out the front tunnel door.
With the dual vestibules it’s as simple as reaching up and unzipping your vestibule from the inside and rotating your ass so your feet are pointing into your covered area. You can then get yourself ready, boil water on your JetBoil (very carefully on rainy days) and have a little more leg room than what most cramped tent vestibules offer.
Anyways, the first trip we used the tent on was an October Stone’s Sheep hunt up into the mountains in region 7. We were hiking into an area that had been known to produce good rams in the past during the later part of the season. It wasn’t that bad of a hike at all being winter the brush was mostly frozen which was really nice underfoot. The firm frozen ground made for a staircase like climbing experience all the way up to our camping spot. It was clear this was an area nobody hunted very frequently but not for lack of sheep, it’s straight up timber hunting not really the sweeping vistas you’d expect to be hunting for Stone’s.
Rams can come into these timbered ridges during the later seasons from a few very popular drainages and there is very little visibility save a few cliffy areas where the wind blows away the snow and they can but they are not that easy to get to.
We arrived in our spot after a day of hiking and upon our arrival to the small little uneven break in the buck brush it started to cloud over and immediately started snowing. I’d set the Allak up at home a few times so was very familiar with how to get it setup and we had our shelter ready-to-go in about 5 minutes. This tent sets up fully from the outside so there is no option to crawl in and complete the setup (my MK III offered this) our gear was kept dry under a spruce tree. The Allak, however is not difficult to setup once you make sense of all the straps and cords you’ll be facing when you unpack the tent. Who am I kidding though… Any backpack hunter that buys this tent would be so excited about new gear they would likely set it up at home the day it was delivered (I set up mine in the living room!).
The hook and pole system that the Allak uses is very stout and the tent itself goes together quite quickly if your hands aren’t frozen. Attaching the fly is the last step and can be accomplished by one person rather quickly. The Allak tent fly allows for a LOT of breathability by it’s design and implementation on the very top of the tent which is critical on BC mountain hunts.
The next trip the tent was used on was another backpacking trip for Stone’s Sheep the following year for a late August hunt. We’d taken off on foot up another drainage quite a ways off the beaten path that we thought might hold good prospects for sheep. It turned out the area was far better suited for Grizzlies and Goats as that was pretty much all that we’d find in there. We encountered two Grizzly bears over the few days we were in there and one was at about 10 yards in the dense buck brush while making our way down into a little creek.
My hunting partner was walking in front of me and had just begun descending the bank into the creek when I looked up and saw the bear sitting on his butt on the other side of the creek. He was just curiously watching my partner walk down the hill. I shouted for him to stop and shouted “Bear” while digging out my camera from my chest pocket. That motion of getting my camera was enough to spook the bear and he took off on a sprint through the brush.
There was very little rain on this trip during the first part anyway, and after a few disappointing days in this specific area we moved on to another area we’d found rams in the past. It was here we’d spend a few days rained out in the fog and the qualities that made me love the Hilleberg Allak really came to the forefront.
Large Dual Doors and Dual Vestibules
The doors and vestibules have an excellent design and are easy to get in and out of. When this feature really shines is at the end of the day or in the early morning when both yourself and your partner are trying to get your shit together to either go to bed or get ready for a day of hunting. With two doors you can efficiently go about your tasks without climbing over each others gear on your hands and knees all the time. On rainy days you get less water in your tent from your soaked back and legs because they won’t be scraping along your dry sleeping bag as you crawl in and out of your tent. With the Allak’s double doors you can comfortably sit on your sleeping pad with your feet/legs in the vestibule (covered) and easily put on or remove your boots, rain gear and your clothing layers. If you are looking for a two man backpacking tent that will be comfortable for your backpacking trips then double doors is a must.
Hilleberg Allak Backpacking Tent Pros
There are many reasons to love this tent but these are practical features and benefits that impressed me.
- Small enough footprint that finding a spot to pitch is not difficult
- Very strong (and exclusive) Kerlon 1200 material. (water literally beads off it!)
- Excellent ventilation control (condensation not an issue*)
- Two doors /w large vestibules
- Quick to setup
- Very sturdy in snow and wind
* Condensation – I was really impressed with the lack of condensation build up in this tent. In BC condensation is near impossible to eliminate in your tent without really good ventilation control or sub-freezing weather. The Allak has ample ventilation available with it’s unique fly system and the dual doors and vestibules. The right combination of the doors and top fly being open brought a constant and steady flow of fresh air through the tent which helped to keep the condensation at bay. A very impressive quality in a backpacking tent and my Integral Designs MKIII did this very poorly with only a single door and two small tunnel vents. It was often overwhelmed with condensation and in the same situations the Allak was fine.
What Didn’t I Like About My Hilleberg Allak?
While it’s an excellent tent there were still a few items I wasn’t too fond of.
- This tent is on the heavy side at 7+ pounds. (split with your partner)
- It’s smaller inside than other 2 man backpacking tents (only slightly)
- Many ropes and straps to get tangled which can delay setup if you are not careful
What Is My Overall Thought On The Hilleberg Allak for BC Backpack Hunting?
You can’t go wrong with this tent. If you demand top quality gear and can afford the price tag the Allak commands then this is the tent or at least the tent maker you should be choosing. Hilleberg has tent design down to a science and a lot of thought and high quality workmanship has gone into the construction of these tents. A little on the heavy side, it’s probably not the best choice in tent for a solo trip (I packed it solo for myself) but if you have a partner to split the poles/fly/pegs with then it is an excellent choice for a 2 man backpacking tent.
For two guys on a backpack hunting trip in the mountains of BC or anywhere for that matter the Hilleberg Allak offers ample room with the dual vestibules and you’ll never find yourself tripping over your partner to get to your gear or put your boots on. If this is the tent you decide to use for mountain hunting it’s going to be a rock-solid purchase that you’ll be very happy with.
Just promise me one thing… You’ll tie the damn thing down to your pack better than I did…!