Hilleberg Soulo Review
Hilleberg is a Swedish based family owned company. They are specialised in making very high quality and high end tents.
Why buy a Hilleberg tent?
You buy a Hilleberg tent for the following reasons:
- Looking for a very well made tent with great attention to details
- You want a very durable tent that will last for hundreds of nights outdoors
- You need ultimate strength to take the harshest weather conditions
- You want the best customer service
- You want to feel safe in your tent
- You want a tent which is very quick and easy to set up even in the worst of weather
Build Quality (5/5)
The built quality is second to none. Hilleberg uses some of the strongest fabrics and poles on the market. Each tent is make by hand by a single person from start to finish and goes through a thorough quality control and inspection process. The name of the person who made the tent is actually sawn on the tent itself.
More technical details can be found on their website:
Right, this is where the tent will out perform any other tents on the market. The Soulo has 12x3mm guy lines which can either be pegged as a pair requiring only 6 pegs or separately to maximize strength and stability (you will have to add an extra 6 pegs if you decide to do so). The relative small size of the Soulo combined with the 3x9mm DAC poles structure as well at the 12 guy lines makes it incredible stable in high winds.
The freestanding cross poles structure is also designed to take heavy snow loads. I have seen images of the Soulo buried in the up to the roof and still standing! As opposed to tunnel tents the Soulo will handle winds coming from every directions making it perfect for mountain camps where winds can be very strong and changeable.
The video below shows how well the Soulo hand handle high winds and as well as high snow drift.
Due to it's small footprint and it's completely freestanding structure the soulo can be pitched pretty much anywhere you want.
This camp was set up on top of Peter's Stone in the Peak District (UK). It was very exposed and there was no flat surface to pitch up the Soulo. It was possible to pitch it up on grass still and peg it all down on a slight slope. It was not the most comfortable night ever but at least the tent never moved when the rain and wind picked up later in the night. It never felt like the tent was going to blow away neither.
The Soulo only gets a 4 on versatility as there are other solo tent out there with much smaller foot print and guy lines which do not require as much ground space to the pegged.
A brief video showing the versatility of the Soulo:
Set Up (4/5)
The Soulo has been designed to be set up in terrible wind conditions. Hence, both inner and outer sheets are linked and go up together. This protect the inner from rain or snow during set up. Like no other tent on the market, you start putting the skeleton up by inserting the poles one by one in their colour coded half pole sleeves. The sleeves are fairly unusual for a tent, they have a dead end going to the ground and go up a foot, this allows to insert the two ends of the pole first and then clip the fly sheet onto the pole using the heavy duty clips, the tent is then slowly building up but already grounded to avoid flying away. This concept is pretty unique and certainly revolutionary. The only reason why this section does not get a 5 is for the speed for set up, due to it's 3 poles structure and the clips it is much longer to set up than a standard slide through pole sleeve system and it requires you to walk around it a few times.
Here is a demonstration video of how easy it is to set the Soulo is extreme winds without it fly off.
Like with every winter tents, there is a trade off between, protection, weight and venting. With the Soulo you only get one roof ventilation. The vent itself is great but overall fairly small for the size of the tent. It is actually very well located just above the vestibule which gives you the option for cooking inside even in the worst conditions, however I have found that in sub zero conditions the Soulo suffers with condensation issues (to be fair to it, which winter tent does not?). There are only 2 main situations where condensation might become a problem. I thought I would explain so you can try to avoid or plan for them:
Sub zero temperatures with no wind at all. Then with the vent opened there is no wind to flush the moisture away making it very difficult to avoid accumulation of condensation in the Soulo.
Snow Storm. I found that snow falling with very high wind or snow drift makes it very difficult open the roof vent without being buried alive inside the Soulo with snow. The rain cover sitting on top of the Soulo is not large enough to avoid snow drifting in tent.
There is a great attention to details on the Soulo. All seems are sawn in a way that water cannot penetrate through and this without the need to use internal seam tape. This sounds like nothing but I have another tent which uses tape, and after 5 years it now starts to peal off. you won't have the issue with the Soulo.
All Hilleberg tents can be double polled. This means adding stability and strength for those who plan to camp in the worst condition, I should probably say tornado conditions. I have camped in some extremely high winds and have never required double poling with the Soulo. A good compromise might be to only double pole the centre pole to increase strength and limit weight gain.
All doors come with a little toggle which slide into the large zipper. This prevents the door opening in high wind.
At last one of my favourite feature is the thin black rain gutter which runs across the edge of the rain cover on the door side. Again a tinny detail but it avoids you to get soaked when you come in and out of the tent. Clever detail Hilleberg!
Now this is a big deal. being 6ft4 (191cm) myself, I was not sure whether or not I would actually fit in the tent prior to buy it. I then emailed Hilleberg to ask for advise, and they replied straight away saying that I would fit in it has the inner tent is 220cm long but I would probably be more comfortable in an Unna, another Hilleberg solo tent. After a long time thinking about it, I decided to buy the Soulo as I wanted the strength of the 3 poles structure.
The conclusion is Yes, I fit in the tent. I can sit up fully without even my head touching the ceiling by an inch or so, so head room is great! There is sufficient space to store your pack in the vestibule near the footing and keep the other half of the vestibule to get in and out of the tent as well as cooking. That works really well. Also the advantage of having the vestibule running along side the inner tent as opposed to the end door like most tents have means that you can be lied down comfortably in your sleeping bag with the inner door wide opened and cooked in the vestibule with the vent opened.
The vestibule door is split in 2 halves. The zip looks like a inverted T shape meaning that you can either open one half or the other or both at the same time increasing hugely the sense of space in the tent. both doors roll up nicely and can be wrapped away without being on your way.
2.4 kg for a solo tent is not light, especially nowadays when some competitors like Terra Nova offer free standing 2 man tent under 1kg, ok they charge £1,400 for it, I'll give you that!
Hilleberg claims the Soulo as remarkably light weight. I know a lot of people disagree with that. My views are however a little more balanced. 2.4kg is not light weight especially with the extra footprint bringing it to 2.7kg, but I always try to put this into context, if you are camping in some really rough conditions this tent will keep you alive! For me that alone justifies the extra kilo. I have seen tents being ripped to piece next to my Soulo and believe me it felt so good to have bought one! In fact the Soulo did not only survive the snow storm, I actually had a very good sleep that night!
The weight is all relative, if you compare with most free standing winter solo tents, the Soulo given its strength and comfort is not actually that much heavier than the competitions.
Ask yourself the following questions, how much can I carry? where will I pitch? Do I like summit views? will it snow a lot? how exposed will it be...
After having spent a couple of very rough nights in the Soulo you will not even think about it's weight, it will be a given and you will compromise on other things but not your shelter.
Is this tent for you?
If you need a solo shelter for high wind, high altitude camping, camping above tree lines, camping in heavy snow fall or just simply want an awesome looking tent, then yes this is your tent. However, although I have used the Soulo in pleasant conditions, I would say that there are certainly a lot of other tents out there that would be much better suited for summer camping, providing more space with better ventilation and which would be much lighter to carry.
Currently priced at £675 on Hilleberg's website there is no doubt that the Soulo is an expensive solo tent! Again if you have answered the question above then it is well worth saving for and to be fair is not that much more expensive than other competitors such as Terra Nova. As a lot of Hilleberg owners told me before I bought it: "you will not regret it, you'll be proud to own one!"
Colour choice (4/5)
3 colours are on offer, a bright cherry red which glows as soon as the sun shines through, that is beautiful. A dark green which appears almost grey in day light but when inside definitely looks green and a sand colour which blends nicely in most environments. The colour choice is great, however I do whish they did a blue one too. I know that Hilleberg have made limited edition of other models in blue in the past and it looked amazing!
So in Summary:
Build Quality 5/5
Set Up 4/5
Colour choice 4/5
Thank you for reading...
Solo base camp at the Base of Tryfan, Snowdonia, North Wales National Park, February 2017