C&K Editor-at-Large Conor Mihell sets up and weighs in on the Hillberg Nallo 3.
A multi-week canoe trip, especially one in the subarctic wilderness of northern Quebec, has a way of weeding out inferior gear. Over the past two summers, I have spent more than 10 weeks paddling the sprawling lakes and powerful rivers of Nunavik, living out of our canoe. Precipitation is a near-daily occurrence; tiptoeing along the treeline, our expeditions have faced serious exposure to high winds. For this type of use, a seriously bombproof tent is essential gear.
Consider the attributes of the Hilleberg Nallo 3 tent before cringing at its $765 price tag. Constructed out of Hilleberg's innovative Kerlon 1200 fabric, a wispy yet bulletproof ripstop fabric, the Nallo 3 weighs barely five pounds and compresses into a 10-liter drybag. Besides being incredibly lightweight, Kerlon 1200 has four times the strength of typical tent fabric. (Hilleberg's pricier Kerlon 1800, used in its "Black Label" mountaineering tents, is even tougher.)
Hilleberg's Scandinavian roots show through in the Nallo's modified tunnel design—a classic European tent shape. You'll realize the attributes of a tunnel tent the first time you set up in the rain: The Nallo frame supports the tent from the outside, meaning fly and body go up in one step. With only two poles, that happens really fast. Hilleberg also makes the Nallo GT, which features an extra pole for an extended vestibule. Having tried both, I prefer the more modest footprint of the lighter weight two-pole model.
Hilleberg's tunnel tents are designed for alpine and polar use. While the Nallo shakes in strong winds, the shape of the tent spills howling winds. Much like a suspension bridge, the Nallo receives its strength from strong anchor points: perimeter pegs and guy-lines. About those anchor points — the adjustable pole-tip tensioning system assures a taught pitch. Construction is impeccable throughout, from precise, reinforced stitching to clever features such as a vent in the foot of the tent that promotes good ventilation in the worst of weather.
At 36 square feet, the Nallo 3 is a stretch for three adult occupants but perfect for two. Take a close look at the design, materials and construction and consider your intended use of a paddling tent. If you still balk at Hilleberg's price, perhaps you're primarily embarking on shorter-term trips in more moderate environments—in which case, the Nallo isn't for you. But if you're planning an extended journey in harsh conditions—think canoe-tripping in the Canadian tundra or sea kayaking in the rainforest of the Alaskan coast—you won't find a better shelter.
More three-person tents, reviewed by paddlers:
Light up the night with the Big Agnes Tumble 3
Three-person ultralight: MSR Mutha Hubba NX
The expedition-ready Sierra Designs Convert 3