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Which Hilleberg for bicycle touring?

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Which Hilleberg for bicycle touring?

Old 06-27-10, 11:27 AM
  #51  
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Thanks again for the tips. Here's my current thinking:

I continue to like the freestanding concept, and I like the additional benefits of the 1800 series tents (heavier duty material, stronger poles, beefier zips). Also, the 1800 tents seem to have other little things that differentiate them from the 1200 versions - e.g. noseeum mesh on the vents of the tunnels. But apart from that, I think there's an aspect of the 1800 tents that isn't emphasised very much in their catalog: It will simply last longer on the road, particularly when exposed to the regular dirt, sand and dust of an average bicycle tour. While the catalog talks mostly about strength in storms, I think the general robustness of the 1800 tents would also be beneficial for this application. Actually Petra seemed to agree with this in one of our earlier email exchanges when I was talking about the choice between Staika and Allak, for the long bicycle tours I described, she recommended the Staika, for its heavier build.

The tunnel vs freestanding debate fascinates me, so I think with these two tents I will go for one freestanding and one tunnel, both two person (rather than one two person and one solo tent, as another example of how it might be framed). So which ones?

The Staika seems like an obvious choice for the freestanding half, given my preference for 1800. Easy choice there!

On the tunnel side, the choice is more interesting. I see lots of people liking the Nallo GT, but it's one of the 1200 tents, which means they have shaved off some nice features to save weight. The Nammatj is the 1800 version of the Nallo, and I think I prefer it because it has better vents, both of which are fully accessible from inside the tent; and the GT has a mesh-backed door. These things alone make the Nammatj quite attractive for situations where you're going to be mobbed by mosquitoes - you can retreat into the GT vestibule to do cooking and eat. On our tour across Minnesota back in 2003, mosquitoes were quite a major issue (land of a thousand lakes and all that), so being able to get away from them without being crammed into the inner tent would be quite nice.

I have gone around in circles between the Kaitum, Nammatj and Keron, since I'm not so sure about the sloping foot of the Nammatj - I really like the vertical end walls of the Kaitum and Keron. I think they probably would work better for me, in terms of usable internal length, plus you can open up the two end doors to get better ventilation. However, there seems to be no perfect combination here. If I want the GT vestibule (which I think I really do) then the Kaitum and Keron GT models end up being just way too long - over 5 meters, that's enormous. Also, heavier. So then if you go for the non-GT version of the Keron, that's a possibility, because I hear you can unhook the inner tent a bit to make a larger vestibule when you need that. But even then you still would not have the same mesh-backed door that you get on the Nammatj. Between the Keron and Kaitum, I like the Keron for the 1800 construction and mesh-backed vents, but it looks like you can't open up the ends completely, as you can with the Kaitum. I don't know if this is actually true, but they have pics of the Kaitum all opened up, and they talk about it in the catalog, but it's not mentioned with the Keron at all. So if you only have the end side doors available on the Keron, that would seem to restrict the possibilities for thru-draft anyway. And the Kaitum is the lighter weight version, without mesh on the vents, and the GT version is way long... so all this puts me back toward the Nammatj as having a good compromise: 1800 material, check. Mesh over the vents, check. Vents adjustable from inside the tent, check. GT vestibule, check. It's looking pretty good... except for the sloping foot, which I believe may mean that my bag will rub the inside of the tent occasionally (my bag is 80 inches long, the inside of the Nammatj is 87 inches, so with the slope, and assuming I'm not jammed up against the door, it's easy to imagine the bag touching the foot). But those other positives are very tangible, whereas this foot touching thing is theoretical - and so many people seem to really like the Nallo GT models, which are pretty much the same inside. So I'm thinking right now that the Nammatj 3 GT would allow me to try out the relevant features of the tunnel - and it's about the same weight as the Staika, within a few ounces. If it ends up being a pain having my bag touch the foot, then at least I'll know for sure to go for one of the vertical walled tunnels - but this will let me try out the concept, including the nice GT vestibule.

This isn't a definitive conclusion, I'm just trying to make a reasoned choice between a bunch of really great looking tents... hope it makes sense, but I could just as easily have gone for Staika + Allak (the latter could be used very well as a solo tent), or Kaitum (I like it a lot), or Akto (ditto), or Soulo (etc). Heck, they are all drool worthy, that's what makes this so difficult. I think Staika + Nammatj 3 GT will give me the opportunity to compare tunnel and freestanding directly, hopefully to see what I prefer on tour. Only way to really know is to try it, right?

Now I just need to find the time to go on a tour.... running one man shop isn't all that conducive to that. Blah.

Thanks again,

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 06-27-10 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 06-28-10, 10:44 AM
  #52  
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I went for a long walk and did a thought experiment: If I had all these wonderful tents lying around in my house, and was about to go for a bicycle tour, which one could I imagine myself actually taking? Well, remembering every tour I've been on, the night before the trip has been a bit of a panic as I realize how heavy all the stuff I'm taking is. There's always a process of elimination and weight reduction. So given that, I could imagine myself just grabbing the lighter tent option, even if it sacrifices some features and space. Weight starts to trump all, as I recall.

I've been focusing mostly on features; perhaps I need to go back to the basics and remember what it's like hauling all that gear on tour. Would I want to be carrying an 8 lb tent, especially solo? Probably not in reality. Maybe as a couple, not not by myself.

So, while I continue to really like the Staika and Nammatj 3 GT, and the 1800 tents in general, my thinking is now evolving toward the Allak and Nallo. The Allak is a fine freestanding tent, just a bit smaller than the Staika. I'm sure it would be good for any trip. And it has the benefit of being lighter at 6 lbs 10 oz it's not exactly lightweight as a solo tent, but at least I could imagine taking it in a pinch. Not so much the Staika. An eight pound tent, solo? Not gonna happen, I'd just end up taking something else, I can see it now. Even with Chiho that weight would be significant.

The Nallo is an interesting one. I've been focusing on that foot vent (which can't be adjusted from inside the tent). But maybe I need to just suck it up and accept that every tent will have some compromises. And I should also perhaps pay attention to all the people who seem to really love the Nallo - that must mean something!

But which Nallo? I believe the Nallo 2 would be too small for two person use. The vestibule would just be too small to take eight panniers. Even with one person it looks like 4 panniers would kind of block your access to the door. But the Nallo 2 GT would probably be big enough for two - and it could be used for a solo trip too, at just under 6 lbs. Not exactly ultralight for solo, but it is certainly more flexible than the Nammatj, being usable either as a small 2 person or large one person tent.

The Nallo 3 GT is only 7 oz heavier, at 6 lbs 6 oz, but if you're thinking about keeping everything as light as possible then a half pound starts to look significant. I think the Nallo 2 GT would be sufficient for two people, wouldn't it? And the Nallo 3 GT starts to look way too big for solo use. The Nallo 2 GT seems the more flexible choice, if you're ok with a little less space for couple. Chiho's not very large, so hopefully it would be ok.

So: Allak and Nallo 2 GT... the lightweight versions of the Staika/Nammatj choice. Ok, so I'm foregoing the nice venting and mesh door of the Nammatj, but I can see for myself what all the fuss is about with the Nallo. If I really decide it's not what I want, then I can upgrade to something else; but perhaps it would be good to start with the lightest options, and see how/why they don't work, rather than just jump straight to the heavyweights. In all likelihood the Nallo and Allak will be more than sufficient for my needs... if I ended up using them to the point of wearing them out, that would be a good day - it would mean I was out there touring, so win-win.

Also, the Nallo has the mesh inner for warm weather, which would take the weight down more and improve ventilation too. I might try that.

Yet another possibility is the Kaitum 2 - it is 5 oz heavier than the Nallo 2 GT, but it is also a bit wider, two doors, and vertical end walls. Better to have one big vestibule or two smaller ones? Hmm.

I thought about the Akto for the lightweight/solo second option, but I think the Nallo 2 GT is more flexible, being usable for either 1 or 2 person. That said, I might yet try out the Akto at some point down the line.

Do people generally use the footprint for these tents? I usually would, since it saves wear and tear on the tent, but is it really necessary? Has anybody actually worn out a tent floor prematurely because they didn't use a footprint?

I feel like I'm narrowing in on the solution here...

Neil

Last edited by NeilGunton; 06-28-10 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 06-28-10, 11:17 AM
  #53  
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I got the footprint for my Soulo... without it the vestibule area would have been horrible in wet weather, and as you say it'll save a lot of wear on the tent floor.

I use the footprint as a tarp to sleep on "under the stars" instead of carrying an extra tarp (which I used to do). The footprint is much lighter and packs much smaller than the 2m x 3m tarp I used to carry

I'm fairly sure the floor would wear out before the rest of the tent without a footprint, so for me it makes a lot of sense to get as long a life out of this expensive tent as possible...
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Old 06-28-10, 11:59 AM
  #54  
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Damn... I thought I was all set now with the Allak/Nallo 2 GT combo, but then I remembered the Kaitum 2. Some people talk about touching the foot of the tent with the sleeping bag in the Nallo, due to the slope, whereas the Kaitum has vertical end walls. There's only a few ounces difference between the Kaitum 2 and the Nallo 2 GT. So is it better to have the Kaitum's dual doors (i.e. better ventilation), two vestibules, and less chance of getting the bag wet from touching the wall, or the single big GT vestibule, and save 5 oz? Agh.

Just called Hilleberg, the guy was quite helpful in comparing the Nallo 2 GT and Kaitum 2. He seemed to come down on the side of the Kaitum 2 as being more flexible for different climates, and also having more room inside, though he also said that at 6' tall, I was unlikely to touch the bottom of the Nallo very much. He liked the Kaitum 2 for bicycle touring mainly because of the extra space, and the two door flexibility, which obviously makes it a nicer tent in warmer weather (he said the Nallo would get very warm in hot weather). He thought the Kaitum 2 wouldn't be overkill for solo use, at least in the bicycle touring context. Apparently they get a lot of bicycle tourists using both the Kaitum and Nallo. Either one would work.

I think you would certainly get better thru-draft in warm weather in the Kaitum, by leaving both outer doors open and using the mesh doors on both ends. If a storm blows up in the night, you don't have to exit the tent, but rather just close the two outer doors.

I asked about whether people have problems pitching these long tents. He said that a lot of people worry about that, but don't find it an issue in practice.

One more tidbit that I wasn't aware of: Apparently the Kaitum does have a mesh cover that can be used to close the outer vents - so that would be useful for keeping bugs out if you were cooking in the vestibule to escape from the mozzies. Not sure if the Nallo also has that (forgot to ask).

With respect to footprints, he said it's not usually necessary with these tents, which is encouraging, though they can be useful for lessening condensation in certain conditions.

He thought I was looking at the right tents for bicycle touring, so I'm on the right track at least.

So maybe Allak/Kaitum 2?
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Old 06-28-10, 03:39 PM
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1) Go with freestanding. At the end of a long day, it's really annoying to search out soil that works well with tie-downs, especially in the West where the soils are sandier with less organic material.

2) Any Hilleberg is completely overkill for bike touring. I think you'd be much better off with something like a Big Agnes Copper Spur SL2 for many reasons. Unless you're insanely hard on your gear, that will last you plenty long enough. Then again, I realize the allure of a Hilleberg and especially getting one for a discount. But trully, in this case, it's probably not the best choice unless you're doing some serious off the beaten path Himalyan steppe sort of tour.

3)If you're absolutely stuck in HB, get the Allak. It has a much more versatile design than the Nallo IMO, and will be exponentially better in warm weather. Also, the difference in durability is not going to be that much different than the Staiko. If you were setting for extended base camps at very high and windy places, maybe the Staiko would be worth it, but definitely not for bike touring.


FWIW- I have a Soulo and only use it for backpacking in rough climates; saving the lbs and going with something less durable while touring is worthwhile to me. Plus I like being able to only take the inner tent on shorter tours.

Last edited by fantom1; 06-28-10 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 06-28-10, 03:54 PM
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neil your thinking way to much on this, no matter what you decide at this point you will reckon you could have done better when in fact any one of the hilleberg tent will be only brilliant ,go for the nallo gt2 you know you really want it.
cheers
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Old 06-28-10, 04:16 PM
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I would never consider a single wall for touring.... I want something that can vent like a mofo.

For mountaineering they are one of the best for weight and ability to withstand some crazy winds.
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Old 06-28-10, 04:44 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by antokelly
neil your thinking way to much on this
Hah! Yes, I'm well aware that I open myself up to that. I just thought going through the decision process in public might be useful to other people who are dealing with the same types of choices.

go for the nallo gt2 you know you really want it.
Yeah, it's one of the top contenders at the moment - it looks like it's going to be the Allak, and then either the Nallo 2 GT or the Kaitum 2. The pros and cons between those two seem to be:

Nallo 2 GT:
+ Nice big GT vestibule for holding all the panniers
+ Simple design, well tested and liked by a lot of bicycle tourists
+ Option for mesh inner - takes down weight a bit, and more thru-ventilation (presumably)
+ Flexible: 5 lbs 15oz, usable as either small 2 person or large 1 person
- Only one door
- Vent at foot of tent is not adjustable from inside
- Slope at the foot of the tent may be easier to touch with the sleeping bag, especially for taller people
- Thru-ventilation is not so great - tent will be hotter in warm climate (with standard inner tent)
- You either need to carry both inner tents (more weight), or choose one to bring (less flexible)

Kaitum 2:
+ Two doors (better thru-ventilation, better access)
+ Vertical end walls (less chance of getting the foot of the sleeping bag wet, and more usable space)
+ Both end vents adjustable from inside the tent
+ Moderately flexible: At 6 lbs 4 oz, a good 2 person, or a somewhat large and heavy 1 person
- Two smaller vestibules (as opposed to the one big GT vestibule)
- 5 oz heavier than the Nallo 2 GT
- A little longer total length (the longer the tent, the harder it may be to find space to pitch)

They are pretty similar... I guess it comes down to whether I want one big vestibule at the possible expense of comfort in warm weather, or more space and better ventilation at the expense of some vestibule space.

I believe you could gain a larger vestibule on the Kaitum 2 by simply unclipping part of the inner tent and pulling it back inside. This seems like it would be pretty easy to do, since there seem to be seven toggles on elastic straps that attach the inner tent to each pole. So you could get the extra space just for cooking and eating, but not for storage (since you'd need to clip the inner back when you go to sleep).

On the other hand, the Nallo 2 GT might edge ahead because the available mesh inner tent would ameliorate a lot of the potential ventilation issues for summer camping.

Yes, a lot of thinking... but I think tents at this level of price and performance are well worth putting some thought into.

Thanks,

Neil
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Old 06-28-10, 05:00 PM
  #59  
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Yes, a lot of thinking... but I think tents at this level of price and performance are well worth putting some thought into.
It's not about the tent.
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Old 06-28-10, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Caretaker
It's not about the tent.
No, but this thread certainly is!

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Old 06-28-10, 05:35 PM
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With respect to choosing between "one door, one big vestibule" and "two doors, two vestibules", here's an interesting perspective on the Kaitum:

https://tasmania.bushwalk.com/forum/v...p=22254#p22254

The idea of storing all your stuff in one end, while opening the other end up completely to look at the view (or just for ventilation) seems to make sense. With the Nallo 2 GT layout, you can't do that - you have to store everything out front under the GT vestibule. Just a thought...

Neil
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Old 06-28-10, 05:38 PM
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Neil,

I'm trying to figure out if you're trying to sell us or yourself.......
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Old 06-28-10, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by kayakdiver
Cliff note version?
I'm trying to figure out if you're trying to sell us or yourself.......
Thanks for all your useful input! Much appreciated.

Tell you what - you go off and compose more snarky replies, and I'll continue to try working out which of these tents would be best for my bicycle touring needs.

Neil
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Old 06-28-10, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton
Thanks for all your useful input! Much appreciated.

Tell you what - you go off and compose more snarky replies, and I'll continue to try working out which of these tents would be best for my bicycle touring needs.

Neil
I gave a reply.... single wall tents are less than ideal for touring.... but whatever.

Mr. Snarky
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Old 06-28-10, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by kayakdiver
I gave a reply.... single wall tents are less than ideal for touring....
All the Hilleberg tents (except for the Altai, which is a large group shelter) are two wall.
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Old 06-28-10, 09:02 PM
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Neil -I vote Allak

Neil - I wish we could get this thorough a hashing/review on other pieces of gear I've burned good money on.

Let me offer this just in case it helps - I own a super nice Exped tunnel tent, single door. This tent has a vent at the foot and still, the tent is stifling hot and hard to get a breeze to move through. Atwo door tunnel tent would surely be a different story. The Exped I own also has a tiny dripping leak, the result of a seam in the fly. The tent is so oversized for a single person, I don't care about the drip, I just move the homestead to a different side of the colliseum. The Exped is a two buffalo sized man tent and it's normally not the tent I carry on a bike trip.

I also have a Soulo. It's a single door as well and it's also hot and miserable in the summer. The tent doesn't leak anywhere, even in wind driven rain. The thing gives one the feeling of being in an impenetrable shelter when in a storm. However, it gets quite cramped when you're forced to hunker down for a couple days. AAgh!

My bet for you is the Allak. Lots of room, two doors for air movement, free standing, can be lashed down in the worst of times, + you get the HB quality not seen in many other tents - or any other tent that I've seen.

There's my nickle's worth, take it if you want it.

ps. I'm considering adding the Staika to my repertoire......hahhaa! A man cannot be with too many tents, bikes or bike parts.
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Old 06-28-10, 10:44 PM
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Hi mrpincher, thanks for that. I will be able to get two of these tents, given the "pro deal" that Petra has offered me, and the REI dividend I have coming sometime in July. I'm thinking that the Allak will definitely be one of these tents (it was going to be Staika, but I think I've kind of seen the light with respect to paying more attention to weight):

https://www.google.com/search?q=hilleberg+allak

At this point, I am thinking that the other tent will probably be the Kaitum 2. I was all set to go with the Nallo 2 GT (and, before I got my "save weight" epiphany, the Nammatj 3 GT), and while I still think that these would be awesome tents, here's why I think the Kaitum 2 has the slight advantage:

1. Two doors - better ventilation, straight through the tent, full mesh door on each end
2. Two vestibules - more flexible, e.g. you can store your gear one end and open up the other end to see the view (not possible with the Nallo GT - you can open up the GT as a porch, but then there's nowhere to put your dirty gear except either inside the inner tent, or totally exposed)
3. You can still undo the inner tent of the Kaitum to make a larger internal cooking area if you need that, by unhooking part of the inner
4. It's wider than the Nallo (140cm as opposed to 130cm)
5. The vertical end walls make the internal space more usable (no touching the sloping wall with your sleeping bag, and you can sit up the whole length)
6. Two vestibules make it easier for two people on a longer trip to organize their own space the way they want.
7. All vents can be adjusted from inside, without having to leave the tent
8. No need to buy a separate mesh inner, since you already have awesome ventilation capabilities with the total see-through tunnel with two mesh doors.
9. All this for only 5 oz more than the Nallo 2 GT

https://www.google.com/search?q=hilleberg+kaitum

The Nallo 2 GT would be better for being 5 oz lighter, and having a larger usable vestibule storage space. It's a pretty close call, to be honest, but right now I'm preferring the flexibility of the Kaitum.

So I think these two tents (Allak/Kaitum2) will allow me to compare the whole "freestanding vs tunnel" thing once and for all, with good representatives from each camp. Should be fun! Both these tents look very nice, it'll actually be interesting to see which one I end up usually picking up when I go out the door. The added benefit of going with the lighter weight 1200 options is that I could use either as a solo tent (ok, not super lightweight, but doable). I can also see myself eventually getting the Akto, since I am intrigued by that little thing and so many people seem to really like it. Might be good for when I want to go super-light solo. But that'll have to wait!

And no, I'm not trying to sell anybody anything. That's absolutely not part of the deal Petra offered me - I don't do paid shilling gigs, this is just me being obsessive me, trying to hash things out in some depth before taking the plunge. I hope it's useful to somebody.

Thanks again,

Neil
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Old 06-29-10, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by imi
I got the footprint for my Soulo... without it the vestibule area would have been horrible in wet weather, and as you say it'll save a lot of wear on the tent floor.

I use the footprint as a tarp to sleep on "under the stars" instead of carrying an extra tarp (which I used to do). The footprint is much lighter and packs much smaller than the 2m x 3m tarp I used to carry

I'm fairly sure the floor would wear out before the rest of the tent without a footprint, so for me it makes a lot of sense to get as long a life out of this expensive tent as possible...
Ditto *all* of the above for my Nallo. The footprint is a great, versatile bit of kit to have with you on a tour.
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Old 06-29-10, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by fantom1
1) Go with freestanding. At the end of a long day, it's really annoying to search out soil that works well with tie-downs, especially in the West where the soils are sandier with less organic material.

2)Any Hilleberg is completely overkill for bike touring /snip/ unless you're doing some serious off the beaten path Himalyan steppe sort of tour.
Hilleberg in sandy soil in the Himalayas!
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Old 06-29-10, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Al Downie
wow what a fantastic photo.
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Old 06-29-10, 06:41 AM
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Ok.

I bought a new tent a couple of weeks ago for my upcoming trip to France and future trips. Similar to the Akto, two person, double skin, alloy poles, 2kg, and a respected brand. It cost €90 at my LCS. This wasn't a special offer and I don't qualify for a trade discount.

I could have bought an Akto but the difference in price would represent a weeks wage for me.

Sorry, I don't do smiley faces or sticking out tongues.
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Old 06-29-10, 06:59 AM
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Whilst we are talking about Hilleberg, does anyone cook inside the vestibule?
Im about to set off with an Akto and a Triangia 27. Can you use one inside the other with safety?
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Old 06-29-10, 07:05 AM
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With the door open, the footprint rolled back, and nothing flammable on the ground nearby, no problem. Wouldn't think of doing it with the door closed though.
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Old 06-29-10, 07:58 PM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by Al Downie
Haha, well there you go! That's beautiful (and makes me want to head towards the Himalyas!). I'll still always prefer a freestanding tent though
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Old 07-13-10, 02:13 PM
  #75  
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In case anybody's interested, here's a link to the latest in the "which Hilleberg" saga:

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum...ested=0#177656

In a nutshell, when I finally pulled the trigger I was still pretty much in the air as to which ones to get, so I was going to just go for my "safe choice" of Staika and Allak (as I pretty much know I like the freestanding design). But after a phone chat with Petra Hilleberg, she convinced me to change the Allak to the Nammatj 3 GT. She thought this would be better for two people on long tours, and she seems to think the Kerlon 1800 tents will be better for the rigors of life on the road. I was quite happy to go with her recommendation, given that she's obviously dealt with a lot of users and feedback.

While I had some initial doubts (due to weight and bulk), I have to say that the more I look at them, the more these tents are growing on me. They are both relatively heavy and bulky when compared to the lightweight 3 season tents I've been used to, but I'll see how that goes on tour. Maybe having a really strong tent will make me more likely to camp out even when the weather looks threatening.

It will also be very interesting to compare the freestanding Staika to the tunnel Nammatj 3 GT. I think these are really good representatives from both camps. The only way to find out which one I prefer will be to go on tours with each. Unfortunately being a one-man shop and running crazyguyonabike, getting away is non-trivial at the moment. That said, hopefully I'll be able to at least do a short tour from home down the Lost Coast Highway and perhaps visit the Avenue of the Giants. I figure I could take the Staika if I go by myself, and the Nammatj 3 GT seems like an awesome tent for two people. I am loving the GT vestibule, in particular the mesh backed door and vents (making it mostly mozzie-proof). See the linked thread above for more impressions and some pics.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Neil
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