It’s time to break down just what makes these Swedish tents so special.
Over 45 years of making the highest quality tents
Founded in 1971 by Bo Hilleberg and still independently run by the Hilleberg family, Hilleberg the tent maker is amongst one of the most renowned gear makers in the outdoor industry today. When a customer comes into the store looking for the perfect tent to travel around the world, camping in every environment from hot desert to deep arctic snow, it is Hilleberg we turn to. Their tents are used by the world’s best explorers and are highly favoured for their adaptability, durability, and reliability (that’s a lot of abilities).
However there is an elephant in the room with Hilleberg, they are expensive. It is sometimes difficult to justify the cost of a product when others that look similar are half the price, however with a little research into Hilleberg, their materials, their innovative features, and their high-quality manufacturing, this is not the case and we do believe that making the extra investment in a Hilleberg tent will not disappoint. We will be taking this time to fill you in on just what makes these beautifully designed and built tents that much more spectacular.
The 6 Hilleberg principles that define a great design process
Hilleberg build tents and backcountry shelters. That is all they do, and from their first tent in 1973, they have been driven by a single, simple point of reference: define the capabilities of the tent or shelter they envision, then build it with the most advantageous balance of 6 essential principles for its desired performance. This formula is what sets the benchmark for all Hilleberg tents and is kept in mind during every step of the design process. These 6 Principles are:
Reliability: Simply put, you must be able to depend on your Hilleberg tent, be it their hardy black label tents or minimal yellow label tents. Hilleberg deliberately chooses all materials, design elements, and construction techniques to exceed the performance parameters in each label category.
Adaptability: The tent must be able to perform well across the entire spectrum of its label category, for example, the 4 season red and black label tents must be fully functional in the most and least demanding environments. Yellow Label tents, designed for warmer environments and snow-free trips must still be able to adapt to hot, cold, dry, rainy, windy or still conditions.
Ease of use: It doesn’t matter how reliable a backcountry shelter is, it is difficult to pitch, and it plainly falls short. Every Hilleberg tent features linked inner and outer tents, which provide simultaneous pitching of both as well as the inherent simplicity that allows for a simple, straightforward set-up, even in bad weather. For all Hilleberg tents, with the correct steps used, it should be easy to pitch in high winds, in the dark, alone and while wearing heavy gloves.
Durability: Given a tent’s performance range of use, it must be able to withstand not only the daily rigors of your trips but must also last as long as possible. Black Label tents are designed to offer the greatest durability. Red and Yellow label tents are made to give the best durability possible given their lighter weight materials.
Comfort: To Hilleberg, comfort in the backcountry is not mere “luxury”; it’s basic “livability.” All Hilleberg tents are built with bright, spacious interiors and venting solutions that keep air flowing in all weathers. It is also why all their tents have the small details that turn a mere house into a home: well-placed interior gear pockets, clothes lines or loops for them, and appropriately placed ring and toggle or clip and loop fasteners for open doors or vents.
Low weight: Making a reliable, adaptable, and easy-to-pitch tent that is heavy does not meet Hilleberg’s standards. Neither however does create a tent that is super light at the expense of any of their other criteria. Their Red and Yellow label ranges show a step towards more lightweight tents with lighter fabric which is still very durable, strength is still of the utmost importance. Hilleberg’s ultimate goal is not to make the lightest tents, but, within their performance range, the lightest, strongest, most reliable, dependable, comfortable, and durable ones.
It is these principles that drive Hilleberg in every tent they make and help them produce the very best tents in the industry that cover all 6 of these categories.
What’s all this label business?
The Hilleberg Label system consists of four different ranges and divides their tents into four different categories of intended use and performance range.
Their BLACK label range comprises of their strongest, most adaptable, and most comfortable all-season tents. Ideal for any trip, anywhere, in any weather condition, and in any season. Of their trekking range, black label tents are also the heaviest.
Their RED label range is also built for all-season use but prioritizes light weight over absolute strength and adaptability. Ideal for all-season trips where weight is a priority and where the conditions may be all but the most challenging.
Their YELLOW label range comprises of their lightest weight tents, engineered for warmer climates and snow-free months of the year. Perfect for lightweight trekking in hot weather.
Finally, their BLUE label range is made up of their specialized tents, each designed and built for a specific purpose such as a communal group tent for all-season use.
Materials and Components
Hilleberg chooses the very best materials for their tents. Strength, reliability, low weight, and durability. These are Hilleberg demands from every material they use, ad they have rigorous standards that every material must meet. Such materials are almost always more expensive, but they also yield a final product that substantially outperforms one made with even slightly lower-quality materials. It is that kind of exceptional performance that is the hallmark of all Hilleberg tents. They are also constantly testing that performance from the strength and durability of their fabrics and poles to the reliability of their zippers, guy lines, line runners, and fittings.
Fabrics: A tent’s fabrics are what protect you from the elements. In a Hilleberg tent, those fabrics must perform to exacting criteria in a number of areas. Hilleberg Kerlon outer tent fabric is silicone-coated nylon, it is lightweight, waterproof, and has a tear strength up to six times that of ordinary tent fabrics, the ripstop weave of Kerlon also ensures that if it does puncture that it will not slowly transform into a trip ending tear. Such high tear strength is like insurance: It is much better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, especially since this “insurance” adds no extra weight, and increases the durability and longevity of your tent, as well. Small punctures in Kerlon, due to a thorn, for example, can also be worked with a finger and thumb to completely heal the fabric simply by rubbing it, this is thanks to the high silicone content in the fabric and has to be seen to truly be believed. Different weights of kerlon are used amongst the different labels of tents offering different strengths and weights.
Other Hilleberg fabrics such as the inner tent material and floor serve to keep the occupant as comfortable as possible. The inner tent fabric is very lightweight and both air-permeable and highly breathable, so it allows moisture to escape while preventing actual water drops from penetrating. The floor fabrics are not only extremely waterproof, but are also highly puncture and abrasion-resistant, and will stay flexible even in the very coldest of temperatures.
Seams: Hilleberg carefully selects the thread used in their stitching for strength and durability and always uses a flat fell-seam. This means that each stitch goes through four layers of fabric ensuring strength and water resistance. Additionally, their sewing machines employ cooling jets around the needles, preventing heat-producing friction that could enlarge the stitch holes. The end result is a very precise, very reliable seam that has remarkable durability and water resistance.
Poles: A high-performance tent must always have a skeleton of the strength of its skin. Hilleberg uses aluminium DAC poles from South Korea (also used in the main structure on Helinox chairs) because they offer the kind of superior performance that their fabrics do, and on most models, they use the DAC Featherlite NSL poles which are significantly lighter and stronger than standard poles. 9mm poles go into their yellow and red label tents which offer plenty of strength at a very low weight and 10mm poles in their black label tents, since these are designed to handle the most extreme conditions.
Other Materials: Hilleberg chooses and evaluates the other materials they use on their tents – zippers, guy lines, pegs, and other fittings – with the same rigor as they apply to their fabric and poles. They use YKK zippers, which they have found are the strongest and most reliable available, the tents come fitted with red toggle fasteners which attach to the zip, preventing any zipper creep in high winds, and are both quick and simple to engage and release. Their guylines are made of a super-strong Vectran and polyester blend, uniquely interwoven so there is no sheath to separate from its core. They are very light and strong, absorb almost no water, and have negligible stretch. All Hilleberg pegs are made up of very strong aluminum, in a different tough or lightweight design depending on the label, each peg has a loop made from the guy line material for easily pulling from the ground.
Design and Manufacturing
Hilleberg’s pre-production and main production are second to none in the tent industry. Every member of Hilleberg’s design team are inveterate all-season backcountry adventurers who understand the needs of trekkers and campers the world over. They and Bo Hilleberg himself who heads the design team approach all design from a function first, problem-solving lens. Bo and his team spend a great deal of time in the tents, in all seasons, so most of their designs are literally born in the wilderness. From there, solutions are sketched, drawn, and digitized in Hilleberg’s CAD (computer-aided design) system, and usable prototypes are created. Many of their tents goes through months, if not years of testing before going into production.
Of course, designing a great tent is one thing, but manufacturing it is another. To ensure that they build what is envisioned and do at the level of quality that they demand, Hilleberg operates their own manufacturing facility in Estonia where all Hilleberg tents are made. The majority of Hilleberg’s assembly workforce have been with them for well over 20 years so you can ensure that the tent is made by an experienced professional. After manufacture, every single tent is set up, inspected, and approved before they are shipped out. This process is proven by every tent having the name of its maker sewn onto the inside of the outer fly while the tent inspector hand signs the tent label.
Hilleberg stand 100% behind every tent they produce and offer a 5 year world wide warranty against manufacturing defects, certainly one of the very best warranties available for any tent.
Over 45 years of some of the world’s best tents is no easy feat, but Hilleberg themselves have gained one of the very best reputations of any outdoor gear company and their products continue each year to be a tent that when used properly will never let you down. This is why we absolutely believe that each and every Hilleberg is well worth the price and if you are a serious camper looking for comfort, reliability, durability, adaptability, ease of use, and low weight wherever you go. Hilleberg is definitely for YOU.