Hilleberg Adds A New Tent — Saitaris Dome

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 30, 2010      

Another report from summer Outdoor Retailer trade show:

We chose Hilleberg tents for our Denali backcountry skiing trip last spring, mainly because all Hilleberg designs provide an incredible mix of wind resistance and lack of mass. Most Hillebergs are of the “tunnel” variety, meaning you have to stake out the ends of the structure during setup (a minor inconvenience once you get used to it). We used a couple of Hillberg’s tunnel tents in Alaska. They were superb, though we did experience common tunnel-tent issues such as not being able to hang much weight from the ceiling.

Instead of a tunnel tent during WildSnow Denali, Caleb and Jordan opted for for the Hilleberg Saivo dome tent as they’re both large guys and wanted the roomy interior and two-door configuration the Saivo provides. While adding a bit of weight to our overall expedition load, the Saivo worked well and was nearly as wind resistant as the tunnel tents. I was impressed.

New Hilleberg tent model.

New Hilleberg Saitaris tent model is a jumbo version of the Saivo dome tent we used on Denali.

This coming season Hilleberg will be selling the Saitaris, a jumbo version of the Saivo dome with an added large vestibule. Saitaris is designed to fit four sleepers, or three with ultimate comfort. It’s 49 inches high inside, and weighs about 14 pounds depending on your choice of stakes and other accouterments.

Our take? If you want the most room and wind resistance for the least weight, tunnel tents such as Hilleberg’s Keron or Nammatj give you tons of bang for the ounce. If you want more resistance to snow loading and the setup ease of a dome, Saitaris would be an excellent choice as a combined basecamp and travel tent for trips such as the Denali West Buttress.

Bear in mind that both these tents are built with the “double wall” type of construction, meaning they’re basically an inner breathable tent with a 100% waterproof and windproof outer shell, separated by a few inches of air space. In our experience, while double wall tents weigh significantly more than singles, they’re much warmer and develop quite a bit less breath condensation. (You can compensate somewhat for the added weight by carrying a lighter sleeping bag, as the interior of the tent will be warmer at night.) Those are important considerations if you’re winter camping or doing arctic mountaineering, and not so important for activities such as summer backpacking or lower altitude base camps.

So, winter is coming. Are you one of the few and brave backcountry skiers who’ll venture out with a tent instead of heading for a hut? If so, Hilleberg is definitely an option. Check ’em out.



8 Responses to “Hilleberg Adds A New Tent — Saitaris Dome”

  1. Caleb Wray August 30th, 2010 10:11 am

    Nothing but good things to say about our Saivo experience on Denali. However if we had been an expedition of say, just 3, the Saitaris seems like a great option. For Jordan and I the Saivo was perfect given that we had the GoLite Shangri-La cook tent to retreat to for cooking and passing down time. The addition of the Nammatj-like vestibule on the Saitaris would provide ample room for cooking and hanging out during a long expedition style climb. So that would be about 4.6lbs a head for head for a 3 person team. Sounds like a winner.

  2. Eric Steig August 30th, 2010 10:34 am

    I hate to rain on the Hilleberg parade but we had 10 tents up on Mt. Waddington this summer (glaciology field work). Two of them got destroyed in a bad storm. Guess which two?

    The Mountain Equipment Co-op Snowfield (new model is called the Lightfield) was fine, as was the Nunatak.

    The 7 Mt. Hardwear EV-3s were fine, as was the small Mt. Hardwear ‘Satellite’ The small Hilleberg (can’t remember model but will find out) and the big base camp Hilleberg both died. Reason for failure very clear: zippers are structural. They shouldn’t be. Bad design. Perhaps not all Hillebergs share this bad design, but Hilleberg advertised both as true mountain tents. I’m not impressed at all.

    The big Mt. Hardwear “Space Station” is another story — also dead, in a crevasse somewhere ….

  3. Lou August 30th, 2010 11:20 am

    Eric, your points and feedback always appreciated so no need to worry about raining on the parade (grin). I think what I’d say in response to that is that how a tent is set up is key in terms of what it does in a storm, and all I can think is that the HIllibergs might be more sensitive to how they’re erected? Also, it is known that tunnel tents sometimes are not as good with snow loads as dome tents with plenty of poles, so that can be a factor as well. During testing of tents last winter, I let a Hilleberg tunnel tent fail from snow load. It was a big load and didn’t worry me, but it was obvious a dome tent could have held more. Also, I didn’t do the best job of setting up the tent and thus it didn’t shed snow as well as it could of.

  4. Louie Dawson August 30th, 2010 4:17 pm

    I don’t know if it is the case on all models of hilleberg tents, but on our Nammatj, there were some adjustable webbing straps at the base of the doors designed to take the load off the zippers.

  5. Eric Steig August 30th, 2010 8:11 pm

    Lou and Louie,

    Since tent failure is something none of us want, I ought to find out what kind of tents these were — can’t remember since I didn’t buy them. I’ll get back to you on this.

    Set up — well, maybe, but it seems to me that good tent design ought to be somewhat dummy proof, since we can all be dummies in the midst of bad weather. In any case, we had several days of perfect weather to set things up well — which we did — before the storm.

    For what it’s worth, we know from a high-precision anemometer that the wind was 50 knots. That’s lots, but it’s hardly he highest possible winds one could experience.

  6. Eric Steig August 30th, 2010 8:12 pm

    I should add that snow wasn’t an issue — it was a clear night.

  7. Christian August 31st, 2010 12:53 am

    I am surprised you mention that a dome is easy to set up. In my opinion that is the biggest strength with the tunnel design: it can easily be errected single-handed in a storm as it can be “errected flat”. Another plus is that they can be transported semi-errecteted in a sledge (i.e. with the poles inserted but not tightened. But, I guess it all depends on where you are going to errect the tent.

    I also think that winter tents should come with snow-skirts as default. Hilleberg offers this as a customization job, but I know of more than a few people that has opted for Hel-sport tents instead of Hilleberg for that reason.

  8. Lou August 31st, 2010 7:58 am

    Christian, I’ve found that sometimes finding anchors for both ends of a tunnel tent is time consuming and difficult, that’s mainly why I’ve always felt that dome tents were “easier.” But yeah, dome tents can be a hassle as well. Easiest is a bivvy sack!

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