Petra Hilleberg provided me with a Professional Discount on a freestanding Allak Tent for expedition use.
In the past I have used freestanding three-season tents for all of my sea kayaking journeys, including my trip around Iceland last year. For Iceland our three-season tent was sufficient for most of the weather, but not for several serious storms we encountered. You only need one bad night to wreck your tent and put a trip in jeopardy. On a sea kayaking expedition of a month or more you can expect to endure some fierce storms that threaten to flatten your tent or even tear it to shreds. Having your tent flapping in gale-force winds, and being worried that you will be exposed to the weather at any moment does not make for a good night’s rest! As sea kayakers we are often camped in exposed areas, with little wind protection and pitched on rock or sand (not the best place to weather a storm).
Once in Iceland we had to use one half of my two-piece Superior Carbon paddle to brace our tent internally (in addition to external guidelines) to keep the tent from failing (we did this only after getting tired of holding the tent up with our arms). On the exposed south coast of Iceland, where there is nothing but black volcanic sand for miles, the wind was so strong that we could not attach the fly (the body of the tent was mesh which allowed some of the wind to pass through). We were lucky, had we had rain with those strong winds, we would not have been “happy campers”.
Obviously I needed a different tent for expedition use — a four-season model, not because I plan to camp in snow very often, but because they are built to handle more serious conditions. Unfortunately four-season tents are often heavy and often have poor ventilation. My criteria was a freestanding four-season tent that was lightweight and offered good ventilation. Whenever I asked peers for whom I respected their outdoor knowledge, the name that kept coming up was Hilleberg.
I picked the Hilleberg Allak as it is a lightweight version of the Staika, a tent that was designed for paddle tourers. It is designed to be highly stable, fully freestanding for handling tricky pitching conditions. I will be using the Hilleberg Allak on my circumnavigation of Newfoundland and will report back with my impressions and comments.