I have been a professional gear tester since 2013, writing for such websites as Gear Institute and Trek Tech. Over the years, I earned a reputation for putting gear to the ultimate test by bringing it into expedition conditions and using it in worst case scenarios. A lot of gear didn’t survive the first round and some got used more than once. And then, there are a few exceptions that impressed me so much, I formed a relationship with the manufacturer and earned the privilege of representing their brand.
In January of 2014 I traveled to Winnipeg, Canada where spent two weeks at Polar Expedition Training. This is where I had my first experience with Hilleberg tents. The training was hosted by polar explorers Eric Larsen and his expedition partner Ryan Waters, both world record holders in these environments. It was supposed to be routine, but that winter brought the Polar Vortex which dropped temperatures down to historic extremes. Eric chose Hilleberg tents and spent significant time demonstrating how they are advantageous in one of the harshest environments on earth.
Not long after the training, I was already dreaming of owning a Hilleberg tent that would let me travel to places at the edge of my imagination. After substantial consideration, I selected the Akto one-person, four-season tent and immediately put it to use. Over the years, my Akto continued to surprise me with how comfortable, easy to use, and durable it is. It never malfunctioned and still looks like I just pulled it out of the box it was shipped in.
Why I stand by Hilleberg
When testing gear, the most important feature I look for is safety. It’s no big deal when a tent falls apart during a festival or in back yard, but it’s an entirely different matter if your roof starts to leak 35 miles away from the nearest road and a downpour is predicted to last the next several days. Traveling into the wilderness is inherently dangerous because you travel out of reach of medical assistance, or any assistance for that matter, and the only things keeping you alive are in your backpack. However, to improve and reach new destinations we must push our own boundaries; and where we reach our limits, our gear must always have a reasonable buffer.
The gear I praise above all is the kind that exceeds the demands of an ambitious adventurer. In all the time I spent in my Hilleberg Akto, I was never once concerned that my tent would provide adequate shelter. It breaks down into a handful of basic pieces, packs efficiently, and after over two years of heavy use in tough environments has not developed even one tear or leak. The double wall design and vents keep moisture to a minimum, hold warmth in extreme cold, and the inner and outer layers can be removed and pitched separately in hot or dry climates. And for the most ambitious of us, the tunnel design is paired with strategic line attachment points that glue the tent to the ground and keep it steady in gale force winds.
As a proponent of responsible outdoor recreation, I support gear that ensures a safe and happy return.
It is my genuine opinion that Hilleberg produces the best shelters for any environment, and I am proud to represent their brand on my most ambitious adventures.