Tested: Hilleberg Nallo 2

The Nallo 2 is a lightweight two-man tent from Hilleberg’s Red Label range. Designed for use all year round, it is a double-hoop, double-ended design with a separate inner and outer tent. I’ve owned mine for a decade now and it’s done sterling service across Britain and abroad, even sleeping three adults and a Labrador on more than one occasion, although space is a bit tight with more than two of you inside.

Hilleberg, a Swedish company, classifies its tents in four distinct categories: those in the Blue Label range are large, modular tents designed for professional use in all seasons and all weather conditions. They aren’t really the sort of man-portable, twin-skinned tents most of us would buy as they are designed to be used linked together to form large-scale accommodation for half-a-dozen people or more at a time.

Its Black Label tents are heavy duty, expedition-quality tents constructed from Kerlon 1800 fabric, which has a 18kg/40lb tear strength. They use 10mm alloy poles and 3mm guylines and feature myriad thoughtful details such as lhigh-level vents that remain open even when the tent has become buried in snow. Or poles that are equal length, to simplify pitching when it’s cold and dark and you’re fatigued.

Black label tents are rated for all-season use in the worst conditions, and are a favourite with polar explorers and others for whom strength and durability is more important than weight.

Yellow Label tents are Hilleberg’s lightest tents, designed for three-season use in snow-free environments. Built with Kerlon 1000 fabric, they have a tear strength of 8kgs/17.6lbs and use 9mm alloy poles and 2mm guylines.

Red Label tents, like my Nallo 2, sit midway between the Black and Yellow range: made from Kerlon 1200 with a tear strength of 12kgs/26.5lb, they use 9mm alloy poles and 3mm guylines. Designed for use across the globe no matter what the weather, they are for me the sweet spot in the Hilleberg range: they’re light enough to carry on extended backpacking trips yet strong enough to stand up to anything short of Arctic storms. Every tent is a compromise between strength and durability, portability and lightness; it’s up to you where you draw those intersecting lines, largely because we all have differing views on risk and our willingness to trade it against weight.

To better illustrate this, Hilleberg sent me the sample sheet comprising four different Kerlon fabrics you see above. Each sample of Kerlon had been cut to simulate damage to the fabric of a tent. I then tried to tear each piece but even the Kerlon 1000, the lightest and thinnest of them all, was all but impossible to damage any further.

By way of comparison, the standard ripstop material used by many other manufacturers was very easy to tear. It was an impressive and convincing demonstration of the durability of the Kerlon fabric that Hilleberg use in even its lightest Yellow Label tents.

The Nallo 2, a Red Label tent, weighs in at a relatively svelte 2.4kgs all-in, which is pretty good for something that can be used day-in day-out and provide enough living space for two people to cook, eat and sleep in without getting in each other’s way. The double-ended design is especially useful in this regard, offering a storage area for two large rucksacks.

The Nallo 2 is pitched as one unit; the inner and outer tents are linked but discrete units, allowing them to remain joined when the tent is pitched and struck. The alloy poles are colour-coded, making it almost impossible to use the wrong ones in the wrong slots, and half-a-dozen tent pegs are enough to keep it stable and sturdy in all but the very worst winds. Should high snow loads be expected, there is room in the sleeves for two sets of poles, which adds considerably to the Nallo 2’s strength. Similarly, extra guylines can be added if necessary.

It has a small pocket near the entrance and a drying line running from the front of the tent to the back, which is ideal for drying clothes and hanging a lightweight portable camping light from.

The floor feels flimsier than you might expect but mine is still free of holes, much less rips and tears, after ten years use. In fact, I think I could pitch mine next to a brand-new model and you’d struggle to tell them apart. I’m not hard on my kit – although I always take the time to wipe it down with a wet cloth and dry it properly after I’ve used it – but it hasn’t been pampered, either; it’s a tool, and I’ve always been able to rely on it, even on a wild night on the top of a cliff in north Wales when the winds reached gale force. I didn’t get much sleep, but that was because of the noise rather than any worries I had about the tent’s ability to withstand the storm.

The Nallo 2 retails at around $1,000/£800.