If you’re planning on doing any serious hunting in Alaska, you’ll be spending quite a few nights in a tent. In most of Alaska you can count on having at least some nasty weather, and the rule of thumb for hunting the Alaska Peninsula is that you’re going to have more nasty days than good ones.
The biggest factor down there and in many places in AK is the wind. At some points, we saw gusts of 60 mph or more, and most days there was a steady wind of 20 to 30 mph. Selecting the right tent and knowing where and how to set it up properly are crucial if you hope to survive, let alone have a successful hunt.
All three of us had different brands of tents–REI, North Face, and MSR–but they all were four-season, hard-weather tents. The tent must have a waterproof bottom and a rain fly that goes to the ground, but setting it up in the right spot is critical. In high-wind areas like this, you always want to set up camp in a spot that is as blocked from the wind as much as possible. In the area we hunted, the wind blows either from the northwest or the southeast, so we found a fairly sheltered area and set our tents so that their ends were pointed into those directions.
After getting set up, we found it very important to stake out every guyline we could. This makes the tent much more rigid and protects it from high gusts. Even the best tent can be torn to pieces if the wind can shake it, so rigidity is key. Those guyline loops are there for a reason, so use them! Additionally, if the wind is blowing up under the rain fly, you can cut pieces of tundra or use driftwood to line the bottom edges and deflect the wind around the outside of the tent.
I know of quite a few hunts that were abruptly ended because tents didn’t hold up to the weather, so start out with a good-quality tent, find the most sheltered place possible accounting for wind direction, and stake that sucker down so tight that a tornado couldn’t rip it out of the ground.
Got a favorite extreme-weather tent? Let us know in the comments.