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Review of the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT

The Hilleberg Nallo 3 GTWe have used several tents for cycletouring over the last 12 years, our first tent was a Terra Nova Quasar which we had previously used for backpacking and mountaineering in tough terrain where we needed a bombproof type tent. The Quasar was OK for cycletouring but we found its lack of porch space for storage a bit of a drawback particularly on extended tours during periods of bad weather. For that reason back in 2001 we invested in a Hilleberg Stalon GT which had a huge vestibule porch and gave us acres more space for the same weight as the Quasar. The Stalon GT is a great tent and has served us well and is still going strong, however it has a couple of drawbacks. Firstly it is heavy at 4.5Kg and secondly its large internal air volume can be a bit chilly to sleep in in colder conditions. In 2009 we decided to look for another tent with the following criteria:

  • light weight.
  • a large vestibule porch with enough room for gear storage.
  • the ability to be able to sit up inside the inner tent comfortably.
  • strong and stable construction.
  • easy access in and out.
  • smaller internal air volume than the Stalon.

We narrowed it down to 3 contenders which all weighed in around the 3 - 2.5Kg mark, the Terra Nova Voyager XL, the Lightwave g2 ultra xt and the Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT. The Voyager was discounted when we had a demo pitching at our local Cotswold camping, as the entrance door wasn't easy to get in and out of. This then left the g2 ultra xt and the Nallo 3 GT. We decided in end to go for the Lightwave as we have always preferred the stability of geodesic style tents.

Well what a disaster the Lightwave g2 ultra xt was, although very stable in the high winds its construction let it down. Unfortunately the outer fabric seams stretched too much and having no tape on the seams it leaked like the proverbial sieve. We also found it was a right faff to erect with all its bits of Velcro to attach to the outer tent and the stitching quality was atrocious. You can read more about the problems we had in our Iceland 2009 travelogue.

We sent it back to Lightwave and this is a quote from the designer:

Iceland is a real baptism of fire for a tent – there are very few places on earth with such consistently wet and windy conditions. (Being a New Zealander, I have encountered weeks of non-stop rain where maintaining even a manageable level of dampness was considered comfortable, and this was no fault of the tent – when it is really wet, and endlessly so, one must bear in mind that tents are ultimately only temporary shelters).

I will give Lightwave their due, they did give us our money back which we then used to buy the Nallo 3GT!

Nallo 3GT Review

Construction

Well having had a Hilleberg before we very much knew what to expect. Like all Hilleberg tents the quality of construction is second to none and the quality of the stitching is excellent throughout the tent. The Kerlon 1200 fabric of the outer tent is lightweight but incredibly strong and although the seams are not taped the double stitching construction used by Hilleberg means they do not leak! The 9mm DAC aluminium poles are very strong and robust and are shock corded together. The bath tub floor of the inner tent is quite deep with taping on all the seams. The fabric used although light weight is fairly strong and abrasion proof although we would recommend getting the additional footprint which gives you extra protection from tears and punctures on stony ground.

The inner tent is made from a breathable nylon which being yellow gives a nice bright feeling to the tent. The doors and vents of the inner tent have 'No-See-Um' nets to prevent the ingress of insects and are even small enough mesh to prevent attack from the minute Scottish midge!

The pegging and guying points are very strongly constructed and from our experience of previous Hilleberg tents very robust.

Pitching

Pitching the Nallo 3GT is extremely quick and easy and can be done by one person although with 2 people it makes it much quicker and easier. The shock corded poles are quick to assemble with the longer mid pole being colour coded red so there is no chance of mixing them up. The continuous pole sleeves make it simple to slide the poles in from one side and into the elasticated keeps before tensioning them with the easy to adjust straps. Only 4 pegs are needed to initially peg out and erect the tent before going around and pegging out the 8 guy lines. With the inner tent and footprint attached we can have our Nallo 3 GT up and pegged out under 4 minutes (see the video below).

Packing

Striking the tent is also again fairly easy, all the pegs and guy lines can be removed bar the four key pegging points at the ends whilst the guy lines are tied up. The pole tensioners can then be released and the poles released from their keeps and the 4 remaining pegs removed to collapse the tent. The poles are removed easily although it helps to push them through from the other side rather than pulling them which can cause the poles to come apart. The outer tent, inner and footprint can easily be rolled up together which then makes it much easier to re-pitch later. We can pack the tent in under 4mins (see the video below).

Both the footprint or the inner tent can be disconnected from the outer easily should you wish to pack them away away separately.

Performance

As far as we are concerned this a great tent, you get a great deal of space for the weight. After the Stalon it does seem small but in comparison to the Lightwave g2 ultra XT it is much bigger and certainly easier to put up and take down. We decided on the Nallo 3GT as opposed to the Nallo 2GT simply because the Nallo 3GT is a bit wider for very little extra weight and it gives us just that little bit of extra room and makes it much easier to move around in especially in bad weather. We personally think that the Nallo 3GT would be very cosy for three people and we would struggle to see how you could fit 3 sleeping mats across the width of the inner tent especially as it narrows towards the foot.

Like all tunnel type tents it will flap a bit in the wind unless you spend a bit of time tensioning the fabric using the tensioners on the pole selves, the tensioners on the two main pegging points at each end and the guy lines. If you pitch the Nallo 3GT with either of its ends into the wind it spills the wind nicely and it is a very strong 4 season tent, with a side on wind there is more movement and noise. Like all synthetic fabric tents you will get condensation on the inside of the fly sheet unless you make sure that the two air vents are open at each end and that you pitch the tent with its rear end into the wind to get good air circulation over the inner tent. We leave our end vents permanently open and only close them in really bad or cold weather when there is a risk of rain being blown in.

The Nallo 3GT has two entrances the main and largest one is on the right and is accessed by a zip along side the centre pole, this gives good access to the inner tent and vestibule but does leave the corner of the inner tent vulnerable to getting wet if it is raining hard. The other entrance is on the left side at the front of the tent, this isn't so easy to get into as it is much lower than the main door, it does mean however that in bad weather you can enter the vestibule with wet gear on remove it in the vestibule and keep the inner tent dry. Should you wish the whole of the front of the tent can be un-pegged and rolled back to make a larger entrance. We have used this several times to create a nice sheltered area to sit in and cook with the stove just outside.

There are two small valuables pockets either side of the inner tent and a washing line running along the top of the inner tent which is useful for hanging small things to dry such as knickers, but not for anything large such as towels. We added a couple of cords across the top of the vestibule which work better for hanging large things to dry.

Conclusion

Having spent 5 weeks in Iceland in the Nallo 3GT in mixed weather conditions we can confirm that it is a strong durable tent that will keep you comfortable and dry all of the time. It is an ideal tent for cycletouring due to its space to weight ratio, ease of pitching and large vestibule for gear storage. It may not be the cheapest tent of its kind but you do get what you pay for and you will be rewarded with a quality product that you can rely on and if looked after it will last you years!

Making the Nallo 3GT just a little bit lighter

If you are a bit of a weight weeny it is easy to shave off a few grams in order to save a bit of weight. Here are a few things we did to reduce the weight of the tent.

  1. We always leave the tent bag behind and pack it straight into one of our panniers.
  2. We have replaced the tent pegs supplied with a set of wire titanium pegs. The Hilleberg alloy pegs weigh in at 12g each and the wire titanium pegs are only 6g each. If we know we may be camping on a mix of terrain where the ground could be sandy or soft we may substitute 4 of the wire pegs for titanium V pegs which weigh 12g each.
  3. We replaced the Hilleberg guy lines with some 1.5mm Dyneema super tough and super light cord and replaced the line locks with Mini Line-Lok line tensioners weighing only 0.5g each.
  4. We split the Nallo 3GT footprint into two parts (see the photos below) and sometimes leave the vestibule part at home to save weight.

We obtained the titanium pegs, Dyneema super cord and mini Line-locks from Backpackinglight.

We did consider not taking the pole bag but the poles need something around them to make them easier to pack as they spring apart and if the poles are slightly wet it stops the things that they are packed with from getting damp. Also the bag has a very handy pocket for the spare pole and emergency repair sleeve. The pegs do need to be in their bag to keep them together and prevent them damaging other bits of kit when packed in the pannier.

We have listed the weights below to give you an idea of the savings.

Weights

Tent Part Standard Weight Our Weight carried
Inner tent 880g 880g
Outer tent 1404g 1264g
Poles 502g 502g
Pegs 216g 108g
Spare Pole & emergency repair sleeve 32g 32g
Tent bag 36g -
Pole bag 20g 20g
Peg Bag 12g 12g
Total Weight 3060g 2818g
Footprint 612g 442g
Total Weight 3678g 3260g

418g might not seem like a lot but if you apply the same principles to the rest of your gear it is amazing as to just how much weight you can save and not have to lug around.

For another review of the Hilleberg Nallo3 GT have a look at Friedel and Andrew's review on their website The TravellingTwo.

Photos

Below are some pictures of the Nallo 3 GT if you click on the thumbnail image it will open a page with a larger version with a caption explaining further details. Please note the red and blue zip extenders were added by us they do not come as standard.

Click on the thumbnail images to see   a larger version in a pop up window
Photos Slideshow
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