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Choosing the right tent with the Hilleberg Label system

There really is no “best” tent, but there is a “right” tent for you. Choosing that “right tent” is less about what you do on your adventures – climbing, hiking, hunting, sea kayaking, bicycle or motorcycle touring and so on – than it is about determining what your tent needs to be able to do on those adventures. We advocate that you establish when, where, and how you will most often use your tent as well as any specific features or performance attributes that are important to you, and that you assess your general level of experience and confidence in your backcountry skills. With this information, you can then determine the tent (or tents) with the most suitable qualities for your needs.

In the end, only you can decide which tent is the right tent for you, but since it will literally be your home in the backcountry, we urge you to choose wisely!

Find which Label best meets your needs

A Black Label Keron in a burnt forest near Fond du Lac River in northern Saskatchewan. Photo: Alma Bågefalk

First, make a realistic assessment of how you most often will use your tent. This is less about whether you backpack, climb, ski tour, and so on, and more about when, where and how you do it, as well as how often and how hard. In general, the more demanding your usage, the more you need overall strength, ease of use and reliability. Similarly, the more diverse your usage – being out in all seasons and conditions versus only traveling in the warmer months – the more adaptability you need. And while a lighter tent weight is nearly always an important criteria, if your usage will be quite demanding and/or quite diverse, choosing the lightest weight option can be a poor decision (see “The lightest weight trap”).

In each of our Label categories, we have tried to find the best balance of strength and light weight for their intended performance range. Black Label tents have the greatest strength, ease of use, reliability and adaptability. These models will perform well in any condition, anywhere, any time of the year. If you don’t need that level of performance, but still will encounter challenging conditions in all seasons, consider the Red Label models. If you know that your usage level will be light, and in warmer, less extreme conditions, choose a Yellow Label tent. Our Blue label models are the specialists, for when a specific task is the main priority.

Consider your own inclinations, as well: if strength, ease of use, and comfort are more important to you, go Black Label. If those things are slightly less important to you than lighter weight, think Red Label. And if you simply want the lightest weight possible, regardless of the sacrifice in strength and comfort, look at Yellow Label models. Keep in mind, however, that any tent whose outer tent (also called a fly) does not go all the way to the ground could be susceptible to letting in wind-driven rain and splashing water. If you spend a good deal of time, even in so-called 3 season conditions, in driving rain, or high winds and rain, then one of our Black or Red Label all-season tents – all of whose outer tents go completely to the ground – would be a better choice. If you have any doubts, we strongly urge you to go “up” a Label.

Choose size, construction, and specific features

An Akto and a Soulo each have their advantages. Photo: Bryan Martin (asianmountainoutfitters.com)

Some people prefer a room of their own; some want to share their tent with one or more partners. And while all our tents are built to accommodate their stated number of occupants plus gear, going up a size offers significantly more comfort with very little extra weight. Your physique is a factor, as well: bigger and/or taller users may find some models more suitable than others.

If you do more “mobile journeys,” where you take down and pitch the tent every day, our tunnel tent models offer the best space to weight ratios, and so are ideal for those who carry everything all the time. If you tend to establish a base camp and do shorter trips from there, then a dome tent’s static strength and ability to handle snow loading when left unattended may be the best choice. Within our dome models, we distinguish between “self supporting” tents, where the vestibules need to be pegged out, and “free standing models,” which have integrated vestibules and require no pegging for pitching. The latter are often better choices where there are limited pitching possibilities, such as rock slabs and gravelly soil. Again, factor in your own personal likes. Some people simply prefer tunnel tents over dome tents, or vice versa.

Access is another consideration: single entrance models are generally lighter, while dual door/dual vestibule tents offer greater convenience, more storage, and, in some cases, more venting options. Taller people also often find them more comfortable, since a two door inner tent has more usable space. Extended vestibule models are another option. These can be ideal for gear-intensive use, for trips with dogs or families, or for more backcountry lounging opportunities. The downside: a larger pitching footprint, and some extra weight.

The “lightest weight” trap

A Nammatj is a light weight option for summiting Mt. Pomerape in Chile, where strength is of equal importance. Photo: Guillaume Ceyrac.

Selecting a tent or shelter simply because it has the lightest weight is rarely a good idea. One of our Tarps or our Blue Label Rajd shelter are super light solutions, and many people use them quite successfully, but there is a decided sacrifice in strength, durability, and comfort. Riding out truly bad weather with such minimalist protection can be miserable, if not downright dangerous.

You have to determine the lowest level of strength you are willing to accept. A good approach is to think about what “light weight” is for what you will be doing: that metric is different for someone who spends a majority of the time in big mountains, above tree line, in all seasons and all weather conditions, than it is for someone who stays in forested, rolling terrain in the summer. In general, the lighter the tent, the less features it will have and so, consequently, the less comfort it will offer – and possibly the less security it will give you in adverse conditions. Extra strength and security “costs” weight, and if you need it, then you need it.


Kerlon 1800 outer tent

Kerlon 1200 outer tent

Kerlon 1000 outer tent

Kerlon 600 outer tent

Kerlon 2000 outer tent

Tunnel design

Dome design

self supporting*

free standing*

Other design

Number of occupants

Entrances

Vestibules

Extended vestibule

Modular components

Pole diameter (mm) & number

Strongest All Season
Keron 3 & 4Keron 3 & 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3, 4

2

2

 

 

10, 3

Keron GT 3 & 4Keron GT 3 & 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3, 4

2

2

 

10, 4

Nammatj 2 & 3Nammatj 2 & 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2, 3

1

1

 

 

10, 2

Nammatj GT 2 & 3Nammatj GT 2 & 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2, 3

1

1

 

10, 3

SaitarisSaitaris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

2

2

 

10, 4

SaivoSaivo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

2

2

 

 

10, 4

TarraTarra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

2

2

 

 

10, 4

Staikastaika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

2

2

 

 

10, 4

Lightest All Season
Kaitum 2 & 3Kaitum 2 & 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2, 3

2

2

 

 

9, 3

Kaitum GT 2 & 3Kaitum GT 2 & 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2, 3

2

2

 

9, 4

Nallo 2, 3 & 4Nallo 2, 3 & 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2,3,4

1

1

 

 

9, 2

Nallo GT 2, 3 & 4Nallo GT 2, 3 & 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2,3,4

1

1

 

9, 3

AllakAllak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

2

2

 

 

9, 3

JannuJannu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

1

1

 

 

9, 3

AktoAkto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

 

 

9, 1

SouloSoulo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

 

 

9, 3

UnnaUnna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

0

 

 

9, 2

Three Season
Anjan 2 & 3Anjan 2 & 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2, 3

1

1

 

 

9, 2

Anjan GT 2 & 3Anjan GT 2 & 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2, 3

1

1

 

9, 3

RogenRogen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

2

2

 

 

9, 3

EnanEnan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

 

 

9, 1

Specialized
RajdRajd

 

R

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R

2

2

0R

 

 

13,2R

AtlasAtlas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

2

0T

 

T

17,5

AltaiAltai

 

L

 

 

L

 

 

 

 

L

6

1

0

 

L

L

  All season construction: outer tent walls extend to the ground and mesh areas are backed with adjustable fabric panels.

  3 season design: ventilation is built into the construction, and the inner tent mesh areas have no backing fabric panels.

* Vestibules on self-supporting tents need to be pegged out. Vestibules on free standing models do not require pegging.

R The Rajd is a single wall shelter. Both the walls and floor are Kerlon 1200. While protective enough for all season use, it is a minimalist shelter, and is not designed for extreme conditions. The Rajd is a ridge design, and is meant to be pitched with two trekking poles, sticks, or the like, but a dedicated pole package of two 13 mm poles is also available. Rather than true vestibules, it has adjustable eaves over the doors that protect the mesh panels at the top of the doors. More information

T The Atlas inner tents (3 versions are available) are optional accessories and are not supplied with the base models. External vestibules for the Atlas are also optional, and require an extra pole. The optional connector can be used to link multiple atlas tents. More information

L The Altai inner tent and floor are optional accessories and are not supplied with the base models. The Altai UL has a Kerlon 1200 outer tent; the Altai XP has a Kerlon 2000 outer tent. The Altai is a yurt-inspired design, and is meant to be pitched with a ski or similar central “pole” and eight trekking poles, but a dedicated pole package of one 19.5 mm pole for the center and eight 13 mm poles is also available. More information


Key
Fabric

Indicates which fabric the outer tent is made from.

- Kerlon 1800

- Kerlon 1200

- Kerlon 1000

- Kerlon 600

- Kerlon 2000

Construction

All Season - outer tent walls may not extend to the ground and mesh areas have no backing fabric panels.

Three Season - outer tent walls extend to the ground and mesh areas are backed with adjustable fabric panels.

Design

Tunnel design

Dome design

Self supporting
vestibules need to be pegged out

Free standing
vestibules do not need to be pegged out

Occupants

Indicates the number of occupants. A semi-transparent figure () indicates multiple sizes (eg 3 and 4 person models available).

Vestibules

Indicates number and type of vestibules.

- Standard vestibule

- Extended vestibule

Poles

- Pole diameter (mm)

- Number of poles

Specialized

The Rajd is a single wall shelter. Both the walls and floor are Kerlon 1200. While protective enough for all season use, it is a minimalist shelter, and is not designed for extreme conditions. The Rajd is a ridge design, and is meant to be pitched with two trekking poles, sticks, or the like, but a dedicated pole package of two 13 mm poles is also available. Rather than true vestibules, it has adjustable eaves over the doors that protect the mesh panels at the top of the doors. More information

The Atlas inner tents (3 versions are available) are optional accessories and are not supplied with the base models. External vestibules for the Atlas are also optional, and require an extra pole. The optional connector can be used to link multiple atlas tents. More information

The Altai inner tent and floor are optional accessories and are not supplied with the base models. The Altai UL has a Kerlon 1200 outer tent; the Altai XP has a Kerlon 2000 outer tent. The Altai is a yurt-inspired design, and is meant to be pitched with a ski or similar central “pole” and eight trekking poles, but a dedicated pole package of one 19.5 mm pole for the center and eight 13 mm poles is also available. More information