Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW

A four-season solo tent that weights just 3 pounds, offers excellent usable space, is very durable, and provides full storm protection...does the Hilleberg Akto have a down side?

Print

by Matt Colon and Ryan Jordan | 2006-02-21 03:00:00-07

Overview

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 1

At just over 3 pounds, the Hilleberg Akto is lightweight for a four-season solo tent. The Akto provides comfortable living space and a generous vestibule for weather-protected gear storage and cooking. The inner tent pitches with the outer tent, keeping things dry during set up. Good ventilation is provided through a door vent and zippered vents at each end of the sleeping space, although the end vents are hard to access while inside the tent.

Stability in high winds and rain protection are excellent, but performance during heavy snow loads is poor. While you can bang the snow off the tent while you are inside (as you should with any tent), on numerous occasions (in blizzards that brought over 12 inches of snow) snow buildup on the large unsupported sides caused the tent to collapse. Keeping the Akto structurally sound in these conditions is possible but requires more effort than other designs. Snow load strength notwithstanding, the Hilleberg Akto provides an excellent balance of livability, storm protection, and light weight in a four-season tent. In fact, it is the best spring/fall and low-snow winter solo tent we've ever used.

In Brief

  • Outstanding stability and stormproofness when wind and rain protection are needed
  • Vestibule is roomy and can be opened while sheltering the inner tent from rain for cooking, ventilation, or reduction of the claustrophobic psychosis that commonly occurs in solo shelters
  • Inner tent is pitched with the fly to keep the interior dry while pitching in the rain
  • Moderately complicated to pitch properly, but a little practice yields big rewards. Requires multiple stakeout points and a large footprint due to its guyline network
  • Single pole design limits headroom at ends of tent but provides good headroom when sitting up
  • Chimney vent and dual end vents allow good resistance to condensation and ventilation, although end vents are difficult to access from inside the tent
  • Single pole design collapses under moderate snow loading

Specifications

  Year/Model

2005 Hilleberg Akto

  Style

One-person double wall, single pole hoop tent with detachable inner tent

  Fabrics

Outer tent is constructed of double silicone-coated waterproof ripstop nylon (Kerlon 1200) with a reported tear strength of 12 kg (26 lb), fabric weight of 50 g/m2 (1.47 oz/yd2). Inner tent is constructed of a lighter version of the same ripstop nylon material, but finished with a water repellent coating intended to facilitate breathability while providing protection from condensation dripping from the inside surface of the outer tent. Reported fabric weight of inner tent is 35 g/m2 (1.03 oz/yd2).

  Pole Material

DAC Featherlite (seamless extruded aluminum)

  Weight Full Package
As supplied by manufacturer with all included items

3 lb 6.3 oz (1.54 kg) measured weight; manufacturer's specification 3 lb 8 oz (1.56 kg)

  Weight of Components

OuncesGrams
Pole6.2177
Pole Bag0.15
Tent Stuff Sack0.927
Flysheet1 lb 6.4 oz636
Inner Tent1 lb 0.7 oz473
Stakes (12)4.2119
Stake Stuff Sack0.412
Pole repair sleeve1.131
620" Guylines (6 total)2.367
Total3 lb 6.3 oz1.54 kg

  Weight Manufacturer Minimum
Includes minimum number of items needed to erect tent

3 lb 2.4 oz (1.43 kg) measured weight

  Weight Backpacking Light Minimum
Same as Manufacturer Minimum but with 0.25 oz (7 g) titanium stakes and 0.004 oz/ft (0.37 g/m) Spectra guylines

2 lb 15.4 oz (1.34 kg) measured weight

  Area

Floor area: 18.3 ft2 (1.7 m2)
Vestibule area: 8.6 ft2 (0.8 m2)

  Floor Area/Backpacking Light Minimum Weight Ratio

0.39 ft2/oz

  Dimensions

Length: 87 in (220 cm)
Width: 36 in (90 cm)
Height: 36 in (90 cm)
Vestibule Width: 30 in (75 cm)

  MSRP

$355 USD

Usable Features / Ease of Use

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 2
The Akto's extensive guyline system requires a fair amount of space to pitch properly.

You can pitch the inner and outer tents of the Hilleberg Akto simultaneously, or during wet multi-day trips you can pitch the outer tent first. This approach allows you to crawl inside to get out of the rain while organizing gear, changing clothes, or cooking. Then you can attach the dry inner tent, crawl inside the inner, and you're dry and happy. This design also allows you to keep an outer tent that is wet from condensation or rain separate from the inner tent. The Akto is one of the few outer-pitch-first designs that works flawlessly in the real world.

It is moderately difficult to pitch the tent due to eight stakes being required to secure the tent and the need to create well-positioned guyline angles to prevent ends from sagging. A good pitch comes with practice, but even with experience may require some readjustment. However, sliding adjusters make this easy work. Hilleberg claims that the tent can be pitched with a minimum of four stakes, which it can, but significant sacrifices are made in terms of wind stability.

Weight / Usable Space

At slightly more than 3 pounds, the Akto is lightweight for a solo four-season tent. The single pole design provides good headroom while sitting up, but poor headroom at the ends and for performing tasks when lying down. Tent fly footprint is not particularly large, but the Akto takes up a lot of space due to its long guylines.

Due to the nearly vertical sidewalls, usable space for a solo tent is excellent. The ability to detach part or the entire inner tent to create extra workspace without wetting the interior is valuable for using the tent in the rain.

The vestibule is roomy and provides plenty of space for both cooking and gear. The main vestibule door offers a well-tensioned zipper that keeps the fly "drum-tight," but offers ease in controlling ventilation. End vents in the rain fly provide controllable ventilation, but are difficult to access from inside the tent.

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 3
Bugs and weather permitting, the Hilleberg Akto can be opened wide to enjoy the scenery.

Wind Stability

Wind stability of the Hilleberg Akto is excellent. Ironically, the tent seems to perform best when pitched broadside to the wind. In this type of pitch, the pole (properly guyed) provides structural stability. Pitched with the end of the tent into the wind improves ventilation but significantly sacrifices stability in very high winds (greater than 40 mph), placing undue stress on the windward stakes and sometimes causing them to dislodge (this should be a consideration when using ultralight skewer style stakes and/or pitching the tent in softer soils). Broadside, the Akto is stable even in winds to 50 mph (we did not test the tent in winds higher than this).

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 4
The Akto's hoop design provides good rain protection and does a superb job of shedding broadside winds.

Storm Protection

The Akto provides excellent rain protection, simply by nature of its design. The hybrid cylindrical shape of the outer tent sheds rain well. If pitched properly, the shape prevents rain from pooling on the fly, with one caveat: the Kerlon 1200 fly material stretches considerably in response to temperature change and requires an adjustment of guylines (and possibly an adjustment of stakes) in order to maintain a very tight fly pitch as temperature of the fly fabric drops. The vestibule can be opened two-thirds of the way in a hard rain with no fear of getting the inner tent wet, with the benefits of better ventilation.

Snow loading is another story; the single pole design and relatively flat roof pitch does not support snow loads well. In storms that brought less than 6 inches of snow, the roof collapsed to the point of limiting usable space in the tent and the ends collapsed inward (guylines did not provide enough structural stability to resist snow loading). On two occasions the tent structure completely collapsed under the snow load (an all-day storm that brought 12 inches of snow and another all-night storm that brought more than 24 inches of snow). Snow loading can be partially mitigated by the judicious (and increasingly complex) use of guylines attached to the single pole at various angles that provide tension both parallel and perpendicular to the pole, but this does not address the collapse of the tent ends when snow accumulates on the roof. This tent requires more attention by the occupant to minimize snow loading and the accumulation of snow on and near the ends of the tent. We spent more time outside shoveling snow from around the tent, and banging snow off its roof, than in other solo tents pitched side by side in similar conditions, including the LightWave Crux zr0 cylq, Integral Designs MK1Lite, and a Sierra Designs Ultra Light Year.

Light snowstorms were not a problem. All was well as long as we banged snow off the fly from inside the tent, so that airspace was preserved between the inner and outer tents. However, during the nighttime blizzard, we had to exit the tent to shovel a few times during the night. The most serious problem of having a tent that completely collapses flat in a snowstorm is the risk of not finding it again. After day skiing away from camp during the first storm, we did indeed return to a campsite with one tent (the Akto) apparently missing. A few pokes of an avalanche probe found the tent, but a more serious issue occurred: moisture from the collapsed outer fly wall of the tent completely soaked the inner tent - and a down sleeping bag. The whole scenario proved to be a reasonably frightening experience, not because the occupant was at risk of hypothermia, but because he had to share a sleeping bag with a fellow that snores quite loudly.

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 5
The Akto's generous vestibule scores big on foul-weather livability.

Ventilation / Condensation Resistance

Notwithstanding the Akto's abundant venting options, the tent is of course still subject to significant condensation buildup in the right combination of conditions. However, the tent's design allows for reasonable moisture management that is on par with other tents in its class.

The Akto's lightweight nylon inner tent is a refreshing departure from the full-mesh inner tents that are now becoming the industry standard on ultralight three-season tents. Because the nylon inner tent constitutes a legitimate second "wall" it provides far more protection from condensation droplets, and is significantly warmer than tents with mesh inner tents. Consequently, the Akto is an excellent choice for a cold weather double wall tent. The downside of this design feature is that air doesn't move as freely throughout the shelter and therefore, the Akto runs the risk of overheating in warm conditions. While camping in July in Yellowstone National Park, with overnight temperatures in the 50's and mosquitoes buzzing all about while a light rain fell, closing the vestibule just a small bit turned the inner tent into a rather uncomfortable sauna, and we were wishing for a little more mesh for ventilation! But since the Akto is billed as a four-season tent, it's probably unfair to ding it badly on its suitability for warmer summer conditions. The heat retention and condensation protection of the inner tent's full fabric construction make it particularly well suited for fall, winter, and spring camping (assuming you don't get buried in heavy snowfall).

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 6
Large end vents offer excellent ventilation, but are difficult to adjust from inside the tent (you have to adjust them from inside the vestibule).

Ventilation is easily controlled in the Akto by a very large vestibule and zipper that can be opened at least two-thirds of the way while still protecting the inner tent from hard rain. Two vents in the end aid in airflow, and help keep condensation on the fly to a minimum when a light breeze is present. They work well – when cooking in the vestibule (with the vestibule closed) we could feel cool air being drawn from the end vents and chimney vented out the vestibule's upper eyebrow vent.

Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW - 7
Eyebrow vent maintains its shape with the aid of a wire stay.

Durability

The Hilleberg Akto has proven to be a very durable tent. After several months of use in very stormy fall, winter and spring conditions, we experienced no durability issues whatsoever. Once, just for kicks, three of us decided to glissade down a 400-foot snow slope on the Akto's flysheet. It was exciting - double-silicone coated nylon is a very fast material! And the flysheet suffered no damage, which was remarkable considering the terrible abrasion potential of spring corn snow. (A similar exercise with the PU nylon-coated fly sheet of a Sierra Designs Flashlight tent pretty much ruined that tent forever with holes and rips.)

Value

At $355, the Akto is a comfortable and well-constructed solo tent that shines in all conditions except huge snow loading. It is the best spring/fall and low-snow winter solo tent we've ever used. That alone makes it worth the money.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Simplified pitching that reduces the number of stakeout points on the ends.
  • Adding two small hoop poles at the ends and a single guyline on each end at the apex of these poles would significantly improve snow loading and ease of pitching.

Tips

Practice pitching the Akto at home before you have to do it in a storm - this tent requires some familiarity to maximize performance and minimize pitch time. Once you become familiar with its quirks however, it really does provide a fairly effortless pitch, and would be among our top choices for weathering sustained rain and wind.

It's not the best choice as a solo shelter where heavy snows are likely, but can be managed well enough with a bit of effort.

Finally, the extensive and moderately convoluted guyline system can make unpacking and sorting things out a bit of a hassle. If you take the few necessary seconds to wrap the guylines in rubber bands, or rigging them in a knotted coil, before packing the tent in its stuff sack, this ceases to be an issue and makes set up quick and painless even in tough conditions.


Citation

"Hilleberg Akto Tent REVIEW," by Matt Colon and Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hilleberg_akto_tent_review.html, 2006-02-21 03:00:00-07.

Print