- Weight of fly and inner (in stuffsack): 1196g
- Flysheet: Kerlon 1200 silicone-coated nylon, HH: 2000mm
- Inner: 30D, 42g/m high tenacity ripstop nylon
- Groundsheet: 70D, 90g/m high tenacity ripstop nylon, HH: 5000mm
- Pole: DAC Featherlite NSL
- Poleset (including stuffsack): 216g
- 10 Vargo Titanium Pegs (in poleset stuffsack): 50g
- Total: 1462g
- Floor space of inner: 220cm x 90cm/60cm, 1.70sqm
- Floor space of porch: 220cm x 75cm, 0.83sqm
Fabric information can be found here. I didn't like the Vaude Power Lizard so, the Akto being the forerunner of this now much-plagiarised blueprint, it might seem odd that I would consider it. My reasons are simple - I wanted a tested, formidable, winter shelter. That is, without doubt, the Hilleberg Akto. Consequently, I thought I would give the single-hoop format another chance if, as I suspected, the other shortcomings of the Power Lizard were absent in the Akto. Manufacturing is clearly superb - there is not a stitch out of place and everything about the Akto screams quality and design intelligence. On initial scrutiny, it deserved its awesome reputation. It's only after using it in anger that the shortcomings become all too apparent.
Pitching is elementary and I achieved a relatively taut pitch in about 5-10 minutes of experimenting. The unique guyline systems are what really provide this shelter with both an uncomplicated and strong frame. Concluding adjustments and fine-tuning are also relatively painless. I may well replace the guylines, with a thinner, stronger, 1.5mm dyneema (1.3g/m) or 2mm dyneema (3g/m) which would extend the weight-loss from first mod I have made (and make to all my tents - Vargo titanium pegs with stronger V-pegs for pivotal guys if necessary - which will probably be the case in winter conditions) as well as making the guys stronger than the guys provided. The dyneema will also not soak up water as the current guys will. I might have a chat to Hilleberg about this first to see what they think but it seems feasible and effective.
The guylines, 8 at either end joined together to be grounded via only 4 pegs (another clever design), are all separately adjustable through line-loks which I prefer to traditional tent guylines. This makes the Akto taut and, I would imagine both from looking at it, and from reviews, very robust in strong wind. The bottom corners of the fly also peg out, increasing the tautness of the overall pitch and security. They are not necessary, according to Hilleberg, but I would almost certainly use them.
There is a vent hood above the porch with a malleable wire strip (think hood peak on a jacket) to adjust the angle of the cover. If the weather is poor, the fly can therefore be vented without water ingress. Another great idea - we'll see how well it works in strong wind and spindrift. The clasps to hold the fly back, and the inner for that matter, are small pieces of elastic shock-cord which loop over a small hook. They are far easier to use than the loop-and-toggle system I've seen on the Fly Creek UL1, the Seedhouse SL1 and the Power Lizard UL but probably less likely to withstand inclement weather - this is not so much of a concern for me as I won't have the porch/inner open in inclement weather. Again, points to Hilleberg.
The size of the porch is also a genuinely positive feature of the Akto. I could cook in the porch in complete safety, such is the angle at which the fly heads upwards, as well as the space, which would be crucial to me. It means I do not need a windshield for my Primus Express Spider. More weight saved and less fuel used. The fly does seem slightly loose along the bottom and I have seen this moves in high wind - I can always put a boot there when cooking.
Rather like the Power Lizard, the Akto's inner is attached to the fly but, unlike the Power Lizard (one of the reasons I did not get on with it) a taut pitch on the fly achieves a taut pitch on the inner. The inner follows, on the side away from the porch, the line of the fly giving a small, alcove area within the inner within which to stash extra kit - not that there is any worry about space - I am 6' tall and there is no chance of my head or feet ever touching the ends of this 220cm long inner and width is no issue. The primary reason to choose the Power Lizard was the palatial space it offered for such a low pack weight - the Akto really does not feel that much smaller until you are in a storm when the movement of the fly and the inner mean the sides end up shifting noticeably. This has a knock-on effect in terms of the inner above my head coming constrictively close to my face during the night - a significant problem for me in the TN Laser Competition and also in the Akto. On that note, much has been said about the head-height in the Akto being marginally on the dwarfish side - the Laser Competition is without doubt blessed with slightly more head-room (5cm to be precise) but at 6' tall, I did not find the Akto to be too low. I can sit, in fine weather, with my head brushing the inner, and do porch chores without irritation. However, atop a mat, with a storm raging outside, things are different.
The inner and fly ends are held high and taut by small rods - I could replace these with carbon-fibre but the weight saved would not be justified in terms of potential strength reduction. The bathtub groundsheet - 90g/msq, 70 Denier, 5000mm Hydrostatic Head ripstop nylon does not need a footprint in my view. Compared to the Fly Creek (I don't use a footprint for that either) - it's concrete. Sympathetic pitching is all that is required.
Condensation is, depending on which review one reads, either a wicked problem or not much of an irritation at all. To minimise condensation, the Akto has various vents and the inner fabric is 'breathable'. One vent, on the fly above the porch, I have alluded to, but it also corresponds to an area of mesh on the inner which can also be covered if desirable. The other vents are at the foot and head end of the fly and are unzipped when outside. They cannot be accessed from inside without in-porch contortionist behaviour. I know of a mod done by Geoff at v-g where he replaced the nylon with mesh at the corresponding ends of the inner to assist ventilation. It's a nice idea but I'll see how the Akto handles winter first. There is a small pocket in the inner by the door as well. Probably big enough to take my specs, my Vector (which I take off so I can check ambient temperature) and my iPhone - maybe even my e+Lite too. There are small loops at the top of the inner to which a gear loft could be fastened - that's seriously optimistic, Hilleberg.
The Akto was intended to be my winter shelter - it needed to be able to cope with high wind, serious rainfall, snow and other violently inclement weather. I needed to be able to cook in the porch and store more kit than I would in 3-season shelters. It needed to shut out the cold as much as possible. It needed to pitch in a way which was quick, kept the inner dry and meant I was out of bad weather as soon as possible. It also needed to be durable. For all of those successes, the Akto was, on the face of it, perfect and I am willing to put up with its weight - that said, a few mods and it's not quite the porker it seems...
Looks can be deceiving. Reviews are not always what they seem. Reputation is not necessarily deserved. The Akto simply does not do what I had hoped it would do and legend does not always mean best.
It is heavy - 1.5kg for a solo shelter is serious weight. The proprietary fabrics Hilleberg have used are superb in terms of waterproofness and durability - about that there can be no doubt - and it is a solid shelter in a storm. However, even when venting, the condensation build up on the interior of the fly, and the exterior of the inner, is incredible. In fact, so much so, that it dripped constantly onto the exterior of my WM Summerlite. The inner itself is so cramped for a 6ft person that, particularly in wind, the inner is prone to rub against a bag and that itself, given the condensation, causes serious problems for a down bag.
I found the height to be a problem when using a winter mat which is, inevitably, thicker than summer mats. I had to stoop even in the middle of the shelter where the apex is located.
I sold the Akto after three nights in it. Condensation is a major issue. Inner space is not enough, in my view. It's too heavy. In short - there are better options in winter. I'll let you know when I've tested them all...