User Review: Cabela's Alaskan Guide 6-Man
Design: freestanding dome
Ease of Setup: confusing at first
Weight: 25 pounds
Price Paid: $450
This tent is a standard design, free standing, dome with six sides. The tent weighs twenty five pounds and has an interior height of six feet. The footprint is six sided and about ten and a half feet in diameter so a large site must be selected to hold the tent. This is not a backpacking tent where durability is sacrificed for weight. This is a rugged, heavy duty, heavy weight base camp tent.
Ventilation is very good without the fly and adequate with the fly on. There are three large zipper closing roof vents and three large windows, one in the door and two others. So with everything open there are six large screened areas for a breeze to enter. Interestingly the mosquito netting in the two non-door windows zips open. Thus there are three entrances into the tent. It is possible to reach out and close the window flaps from inside the tent if it starts to rain by opening up the mosquito netting.
This tent is hard to set up even when you know what you are doing and is best accomplished with two people. Set up in wind or rain would be even more difficult. Instructions are permanently attached to the inside of the tent bag. The poles are shock corded flexible aluminum and are extremely long. The six main poles are interchangeable. A shorter seventh pole fits in the fly and forms a covered arch over the door. Three poles loop over the top of the tent, and three poles arc around the sides of the tent. One of the side poles arches over the door and each of the other two side poles arches over a window. Ring and pin fittings are used to hold the poles in place at each pole end. All six poles terminate at ground level opposite the point where they started.
There are three eighteen inch long fabric pole sleeves at the very top of the tent. It is the short length of the pole sleeves that complicates the tent set up. It is easy to start clipping fixtures to the wrong pole. The sleeves and fabric holders for the clips are color coded which helps once the initial clips are attached correctly. It is easiest to start with the two poles on each side of the door and to follow the seams up the tent to the pole sleeves. Getting the poles in the correct sleeves and correct ring and pin fittings is the hard part. Once those two poles are in place, putting the third pole over the top is easy. Perhaps Cabela's will lengthen the sleeves in future models. After the three poles that arch over the top through the pole sleeves are in place attach all the clips to these poles. Then place the three poles that arch to the side in place. Where the poles intersect there are velcro straps designed to wrap around both poles and hold them together. Be certain that all clips are attached to the poles
The part of the fly that goes over the door is recognizable by the gold "Cabela" label on the hood that covers the door. There is a pole that threads through a sleeve in the fly and forms a hoop over the door. Insert this pole before attaching the hooks on the fly to the pole ends. One of the roof vents is located under the hood covering the door and this vent is especially effective. Oddly there are two hooks at each of the six ground points of the fly. Both hooks need to be placed in the rings. Note that each hook provides tension on a fly seam that corresponds to a tent pole. These dozen hooks are a problem when erecting and striking the tent. They tend to catch in the poles and fabric preventing a smooth set up.
The tent is free standing. Once erected it can be picked up and moved a short distance. There are stake out loops at each point of the tent. A dozen large steel tent stakes are included. There are many pull out lines attached to the fly and if all were utilized the tent should survive a significant gale, though I have not yet put this to a test.
The interior includes a removable mesh drying loft, a dozen pockets sewn into and up the side of the walls, and can holders in the corners.
Striking the tent is considerably easier and faster than erecting it since no effort is made to position poles correctly. Remove the fly disengaging hooks that snag. Remove all the clips from all the poles and then the poles themselves. Pack up in the generously sized container and you're done.
Old Model Tent
I purchased the same model tent three years ago. The door zippers where tiny coil types totally inadequate for the job and they failed completely this past summer. I took the tent back to Cabela's and they exchanged the tent with a fair adjustment ($90) for the three years use of the old tent. The tent model currently sold has several improvements over the old model. The zippers, while not huge, are more adequately sized for their job. There are three roof vents instead of one. The single vent in the old model was at the apex of the roof. The three vents in the new model are located lower where they will ventilate better. The tent poles are slightly stiffer and more substantial than the old poles, a real improvement. The can holders and redesigned pockets are a nice addition. The new design addresses all of my complaints about the old tent with the exception of the short pole sleeves.
In The Field
Like most six man tents this tent accommodates four adult men, or in my family's case two adults and three children. Six foot headroom in the middle of the tent is a real comfort for those accustomed to stooping in smaller tents.
Two adults can set up the tent, fly, and all guy-outs in fifteen to twenty minutes. Two adults and three children can accomplish the same task in about an hour.
Our last trip we prepared for a night of thirty-three degree rain and staked the fly out to maximize clearance between the sidewalls and the fly. The sound of rain on a tent can be quite enjoyable when you are confident in your equipment and the kids are asleep. No rain intruded that night but the water vapor given off by five people under those conditions produced the inevitable condensation on the fly around the top of the tent. Under those conditions I have had condensation sleeping under a tarp. Previous rain experience showed the door could be zipped half way open and still be covered by the fly that arches over the door.
The zipper cover on the door does a good job at covering the zipper and keeping out rain. It also tends to snag when zipping the door closed. Gripping the zipper pull with the thumb and middle finger and pointing into the tent with the index finger pushes the cover aside for smooth operation.
I initially thought all the pockets and tie points inside the tent were frivolous. They have turned out to be handy. The more people and clutter in the tent the harder it is to find things. Camping with four children I've found glasses, flashlights, paperback books and other small light paraphernalia are easily lost or damaged. The pockets help. Incidentally the cup holders hold flashlights nicely.
Having three entries/exits to the tent is handy when its wall to wall kids. The six points of the side walls are sturdy enough for little ones to lean against when playing cards or reading. I wish I could say that the kids treat the tent with loving respect. In reality the tent is taken for granted, treated badly, but none the less counted on. The tent is large, roomy, and rather dark which imparts the feeling that you are 'inside'. The kids feel secure in this tent.
The Cabela's catalog illustrates the tent in rugged big game hunting country. My tent will never see that. It does keep a bunch of kids warm, dry, and secure on canoe trips in all weather. I can certainly recommend the Cabela's six man Alaskan Guide tent for those circumstances.
Where to Buy
The Cabela's Alaskan Guide 6-Man is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the Cabela's website.
Retailers: Do you sell this product? List your site here.