As readers might surmise by our pick up in posting frequency, we've returned from our hunting trip in Kodiak. I'll do up a post on that trip review afterwards but for now I am going to do a few shorter posts on the gear we used and how it worked out for us. First up: our tent!
Our primary base camp tent was the Cabela's Outback Lodge. We have the 10x10 "six man" version. We wanted a Kifaru Sawtooth but the Cabela's tent is about 1/5 to 1/10 the price depending on which accessories you add, which was a compelling argument for the Outback Lodge.
On the plus side, we enjoyed the space afforded inside the ginormous 10x10 tent. For two people it really was a luxurious amount of space. We were able to move sleeping pads around inside to find the flattest spots, we had plenty of room to keep clothes and other extra gear out of the rain, and there was generally just lots of space. I also appreciated having a tent which was tall enough to stand up. That made sponge baths, changing, and packing much easier. The ability to have hooks off the central pole was handy and we rigged up an LED lantern and clothes drying bags.
The tent handled well in the weather. I don't have the weather reports from our trip but would estimate that we had a few days and nights with 20+ knot gusts. Obviously not a gale but we felt fairly confident leaving the tent unattended for a few days while we headed off to a spike camp.
Ventilation was good. There are vents on the top of the tent as well as below the windows. The biggest downside is that the vents are not very adjustable. The windows are very generous.
There were a few downsides. First and foremost, with a larger tent like this without a rain fly it does not warm up. It just does not hold heat. Our REI Arete (a 3+ season tent) will actually get pretty toasty and on a cool morning when the outside temperature is in the 20s the Arete will be well above freezing. The Outback Lodge warmed up in the middle of sunny days but body heat overnight was not really enough to make much of a difference on cold mornings. I was also sleeping cold and needed an extra pad or two as well as a woobie over my sleeping bag to stay warm, whereas in the Arete I felt like I was sleeping warmer.
Next, the tent is not freestanding. The ground on Kodiak was frozen. Stakes were marginally useful at best -- we could only get them in about 2", even with an entrenching tool and heavy duty steel stakes. Luckily there were plenty of rocks, trees, and roots to secure the tent too. If you are camping in an environment where you can't secure the lines out then you're not going to have good luck with the Outback Lodge.
The interior of the tent is dated and spartan. I've gotten very used to modern REI tent designs which feature well-placed and generous mesh pockets, hooks for gear lofts/clothes, and other such nicely thoughout out amenities. The Cabela's lodge has three small mesh pockets for glasses/lights, and you can get hooks which attach to the center pole. That's about it.
Obviously the tent is heavy and bulky. At around 20 lbs with ground cloth and extra stakes/lines, this is not a tent you want to backpack. For our fly-in hunt, though, it was fine.
Finally, I missed having a vestibule. Most modern tents have a covered space to stash raingear and boots at the least, if not do some cooking in extreme weather. The outback lodge has no vestibule, and in fact, the main door will easily let in rain if you leave it open for even a few seconds. A small vestibule extension above the front door (or at least some hooks to attach a tarp there) would have been a nice thought.
Overall I am pleased with the Outback Lodge. It offers lots of space, good performance in rain and wind, and good ventilation for a competitive price. Still, I would like to see some relatively minor improvements. Addition of some gear loft hooks and mesh along with a rethought entry would go a long ways towards modernizing the design. I'd suggest this tent to a friend, especially if you can wait for Cabela's to offer one of their inevitable sales.
FCC NOTE: I am not affiliated with Cabelas and get nothing for this review.
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