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Hilleberg Nallo 3GT

by Robby Denning, Rokslide Staff

I’ve always despised the close quarters of backpack tents.  Call me a puss, but after about four days of not being able to stand up in a tent and rolling over in the night only to come face-to-face with my male hunting partner, I’m not fan of the close quarters. However, I’m practical and realize taking way too much tent isn’t wise.  Although I primarily access the backcountry by horseback, I still seek out lightweight gear.  

I’ve always used tents I could afford from Quest to Slumber Jack to my current Eureka. Those tents have functioned well enough until I hit the the worst kind of weather where I encountered leaks, snow crush, and a failed zipper or two.  I’d longed for better but didn’t have the six-plus Benjimans to get what I really wanted: a Hilleberg.

 

 

Like most, I’d read about Hilleberg’s incredible reputation for building backcountry-tough shelters. With 40 years experience, Hilleberg The Tentmaker has proven themselves by climbing to the top of the heap of high-end tents for the backcoutnry hunter.

1-Shot Gear, a Colorado based company dealing in all-things gear from bullets to guns to Kifaru packs to Sitka clothing, came on as a Rokslide sponsor in 2014.  As I was interviewing Alex Bourlakov, the company’s founder, I’d learned that 1-Shot was a Hilleberg dealer.  Without a hint of shame, I expressed my covetousness for a Hilleberg but confessed that purchase would have to wait until after Christmas 2019 when my wife and I were done saving for the shoes our kids so desperately needed.  I must’ve pulled at his heart strings because a week later his store manager, Grant Gladson, called and said to pick out a Hilleberg from their line up to test in the field.  

I tried to remain calm as I envisioned myself weathering the tenth day of a 20-day snowstorm-blizzard-hurricane inside the relative comfort of my Hilleberg bomb shelter as the whine of the search helicopters buzzed above the storm searching for my carcass, which still was reporting a solid 98.6 F.  All this unbeknownst to the 200″ buck bedded in the basin below also waiting out the storm. Yes, I was going to ownif only for a whilea Hilleberg.

“Address?…Address?” I heard Grant say as I shook myself from my daydream.  Oh, yea, here you go…

A few days later the wife called me at work and said a box had arrived from 1-Shot. Quickly coming down with the flu, I left work and drove home immediately.  My kids are as curious as George and I wasn’t about to let them open the package I’d been waiting on since 1991.  

Based on my known fear of small enclosed spaces and the thought of touching my lips yet again to my hunting partner’s cheek in the middle of the night, I had ordered a Nallo 3GT in 3-man size. I always order at least a man-bigger size than I anticipate I’ll need. The “GT” designation means extended vestibule, adding even more room.

I had an upcoming archery mule deer hunt in a few days for a buck I’d hunted the previous two seasons and would be staying on his hallowed ground for nine days.  Days are long and thunderstorms fierce that time of year and it’s not uncommon to spend afternoon hours bound in camp.  I already had my gear packed and stacked in the garage in anticipation of my departure, including my old 2-man Eureka tent.

True to my nature, I let my wife set up the new tent for the first time.  Rather than read tedious directions, I’ve learned in 14 years of marital bliss to let her backpacking spirit roam free whenever I get new camp gear.  No need to waste my precious and few brain cells learning something that can be given to me verbally in simple English from a good lookin’ woman. 

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Jodi had the tent up in 10 minutes, just enough time for me to reappear from the house. The 3GT was huge!  At 13 feet end-to-end, my claustrophobic anxiety dissipated. Opening the vestibule, I could see the spacious area where my backcountry kitchen would reside.  The vestibule, at 71″ x 60″ (29 sq. ft), was much bigger than I’d imagined and could easily store all my gear out of the weather.

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The Nallo is actually a tent inside of a tent, with the sleeping quarters taking up a little more than 50% of the overall tent length. The dead air space between the sleeping quarters and the outside of the tent would drastically reduce condensation and improve heat retention.  Checking out the rest of the tent, I could see everything was built solid, from the tent stake loops and guylines (both adjustable), to the industrial-strength (my word) zippers.

The Nallo (Nallo is a peak in the Swedish mountain range in Kebnekaise) comes from Hilleberg’s Red Label Line that prioritizes light weight over absolute strength, adapatability, and overall comfort.  It is an all season tent built for everything a hunter can throw at it, save the most extreme conditions like high winds on bare ridge tops and very heavy snowloads.  My 3-man size clocked in at 6 lbs, 13 ozs but remember, that could be split between two to three hunters. 

With only a few days to go until I was to be on on the mountain, I unpacked my old Eureka from my gear and put the Nallo in it’s place. This was an increase of several pounds but I’d gained double the space for a low weight penalty.  Once at the trailhead, I loaded my packhorse with enough gear and grub for nine days then headed for the high and lonesome.

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At camp, I had to clear a bigger area to accomodate the 3-man GT’s size but the extra 20 minutes paid off as I could pull all my gear in the structure, including my saddles if I really needed to.  

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I found the dual entrance design allowed for front or side entrance options and lets you open the tent for maximum ventilation in warm weather.

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To mazimize ventilation as it got beyond warm, I rolled the rear of the tent up to expose the window.  This improved air flow but more was still needed.

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As it rolls in hunting for one specific big deer, I spent the entire nine days plus one on the mountain, only having one decent chance at the buck which I promptly blew.  You can see that stalk here or follow the entire hunt filmed live starting here and reading back up the blog through Day 10.  

I was able to test the Hilleberg in temps from 30 to 90 degrees, in several thunderstorms with high winds, and with enough bugs to send a man in a floorless tent to the truck. Of course the tent performed wellshe’s a Hilleberg.  The heavy duty zippers with their rubber-like shroud certainly prevented leaks.  I loved the reflector tags attached to the guylines as my camp was hidden deep in the brush. Several evenings when I returned late, the reflectors helped me find my camp quickly in the shine of my headlamp.  My only complaint was that ventilation was limited unless I lifted the back of the outer tent over the rear window.  

Within just a few days of returning home, I was back on the road for a Colorado muzzleloader buck hunt.  While I stayed in a road camp, I did spike out one night in true backpacker fashion with the Nallo 3GT.  While surely overkill for one night, it was mighty nice having all that room, especially if the bucks in that area would have cooperated and I’d have stayed longer.  You can see a complete video review of the Nallo 3GT in this video shot in that backpack camp.  (If you want to know how I got that nice black eye and see if I tagged a good buck, you can start here and follow the blog back up.)

Final Thoughts

While I probably overdid it in the size department, thinking about some October camps where I’ve lived in a foot of snow for six days, the tent would be just right in that situation and with another hunter along. I still wouldn’t try to cram three guys in this tent, but some people would and I’m sure they’d get by with the more than 65 sq. ft of living space.  

At 6 lbs 13 ozs, the Nallo 3GT might be too heavy for the September or earlier backpack hunters, but throw in high winds, a snowstorm or two, and the chance of a hunt running longer than a few days, I think the weight could be justified for two guys. If not, you could drop down to the Nallo 3 with a standard vestibule and save a full pound.

If you have any questions on this tent or any Hilleberg, give the guys at 1-Shot gear a click here or a call at 303 284 3828 as they are very familiar with the Hilleberg line up. Tell them Rokslide sent you to ensure you get the best pricing.

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Robby Denning
Robby Denning started hunting mule deer in the late 1970’s, only missing one season in 35 years. At 25, he gave up the pursuit of all other big-game to focus on taking the best bucks possible. He began hunting the West on a DIY budget hunting an average of 30 days a year for mule deer. Robby loves the hunt as much as the kill and the entire process from research to scouting to hunting. He’s killed four bucks over 200 inches in the last 15 seasons, mostly on easily-obtained tags. He owns a public-land scouting service and runs a private-land outfitting business helping other hunters in their pursuit of deer and elk. Robby has scouted and hunted literally thousands of square miles of mule deer country and brings a wealth of knowledge about these experiences with him. To him, the weapon of choice is just a means-to-an-end and will hunt with bow, rifle, or muzzleloader – whatever it takes to create an opportunity to take a great mule deer. He is also the author of "Hunting Big Mule Deer" available on Amazon. Robby believes all of creation is from God for man to manage, respect, and through which to know its Creator