Last year, Hilleberg introduced the Hilleberg Enan — a lighter-weight version of their legendary Akto tent. When I asked to review the Enan there were no samples available, so I got to review the Hilleberg Akto instead. And boy am I glad that I did!
The Hilleberg Akto and Hilleberg Enan share the same design — the Akto is just built of stouter materials, with a weight of 3 lbs., 12 oz. compared to the Enan’s 2 lbs., 7 oz. I usually backpack with a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL, so I felt a little grumpy about the extra pound — until I ended up camping on an exposed ridge in interior Alaska, battered by heavy rain and winds so strong you could hear them booming as they crested the ridge. Half the tents in the group either collapsed to some degree or let water in, but I was snug and cozy in the Hilleberg Akto, even with it pitched broadside to the wind (tents like this should usually be pitched skinny side pointing into the wind).
Alaska weather is unpredictable at best, and I’m a wimp who loves being warm and dry; so suddenly that extra pound sounded like a darn good deal, especially since the tent really does fit into the side pocket of my pack. Also, the vestibule (pictured below) is so big that another person could have slept in it — no joke. Barring unexpected occupants, all that space is great for stockpiling wet gear, and you could trim some weight by using skinny titanium stakes and swapping the guy lines out for thinner cord. (That sounds like such a hassle that I haven’t bothered.)
What I Love About the Hilleberg Akto
It’s the complete package of refined design, hardcore testing and bomber materials that make the Akto — and no doubt the Enan, too — so great. Here are a few of the specifics I love:
- It’s one of only three brands I’m aware of that you can pitch from outside the tent — so the inner tent truly stays bone dry, even in a heavy downpour. (The other brands that allow this are Tarptent and Sierra Designs.)
- It has one top-end vent, and two zip-open panels on either end (accessible from inside the tent!) that give you the option of having great ventilation or battening down the hatches.
- The “sliding V” guy lines make it relatively easy to get a taut pitch.
- Because the inner tent hangs inside the fly (instead of the fly resting on top of it), the inner tent stays remarkably still — no matter how hard the wind is blowing.
The potential downsides of the Hilleberg Akto are mostly the same issues you’d see with any non-freestanding tent: You have to be able to stake it out, all those guy lines and stakes (4–10) make for a big footprint, and getting a taut pitch can take a little fiddling, although those V-shaped guy lines really do make the whole process a lot easier. Also, I’m short (5’3″) and can barely sit up inside the Akto. That low profile is part of what makes it so strong and quiet though, even in the nastiest of weather.
This is a tent whose weight I am more than happy to carry anywhere. They’re pricy (MSRP $520), but that’s actually in line with other high-end backpacking tents. Given that one of these will last for decades, it’s actually a pretty darn good deal.
You can see a video of how it did on Kesugi Ridge (albeit before the winds kicked up) below: