Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Hilleberg Mesh 1 and Tarp 5 > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes


Mesh Tent 1 & Tarp 5

Initial Report - June 5 2018
Field Report - August 23 2018
Long Term Report - October 23 2018

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 52
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 210 lb (90.7 kg)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).

Product Information



Year of Manufacture:


Manufacturer’s Website:


Mesh Tent 1: $210 USD
Tarp 5 :  $160 USD

Dimensions (verified by tester):

Mesh Tent 1:
Length 210 cm/83 in
Width front 120 cm/47 in
Width rear 70 cm/28 in

Lenght 5: 3.15 m 10.2 ft
Width 2.15 m  7.1 ft


Listed: 410 g/15 oz
Tent - 391 g/13.87 oz
Sack 21 g / 0.74 oz
Total – 412g / 14.61 oz

Listed: 320 g/11.3 oz
Measured:  313 g / 11 oz

Product pix

Product Description:

The HILLEBERG MESH TENT 1 is designed to provide the minimalist solo trekker an open air sleeping experience without the discomfort of bugs and other pests. The tent consists of a very lightweight woven net A-frame style shelter with a sewn in waterproof floor. It includes attached ridgelines but no poles or stakes. Users supply their own supports (trekking poles, sticks, trees, etc). The shelter was designed to work with with the Tarp 5 tarp shelter but can be used alone as well.

The HILLEBERG TARP 5 is Helleberg’s smallest and lightest tarp. Named for its 5 sq foot area (0.5 sq m), it also has 5 sides. It is intended to provide minimalist shelter for a single person with some additional room for gear. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other shelters, and their Mesh Tent 1 was designed to be a complement to this tarp to create a complete minimalist shelter. This tarp is made from the lightest tent material Hilleberg uses, “Kerlon 1000”, and includes 2mm (3/32 in) guy lines (no poles or other hardware).

Initial Report

June 5 2018

packed in stuff sacksFor this test I received both the Mesh Tent 1 as well as the Tarp 5 for a complete minimalist one-person shelter system. When the product arrived I was immediately impressed and surprised by how light and thin the material of the tarp is. It is kind of hard to believe anything this thin and light could be also be strong and waterproof. The tarp comes stuffed into its integrated stuff sack that during use functions as a gear pocket. Each corner of the tarp and about the center of each side has a metal ring (titanium I think) attached by a strip of material, each ring has a (2mm / 5/64th inch) guy line (with plastic tensioner) for a total of 8 anchor points. A nice detail is that the front and back anchor rings are attached to the tarp with red material while the rest use black. This it to make it easier to position the tarp for setup.

The Mesh Tent is also absurdly light. There are fabric anchor loops sewn to each corner and a double zipper for the opening. Attached to the ridge ends of the tent there are ring/guylines of the same materials and configuration as on the tarp. I am impressed with how soft and strong the mesh fabric feels, as well how finely woven it is. I know of no insects that are small enough to get through this mesh. This tent is clearly constructed of top quality materials. The door in the front of the tent includes a double zipper as well as a loop/toggle to allow me to secure the tent door out of the way.
One detail that I really appreciate is the stuff sacks. The integrated stuff sack for the tarp is large enough to easily pack the tarp, while small enough to make a small tight package once packed. The stuff sack for the tent is large enough to easily pack away the tent while still having room for the tarp and my 10 stakes without having to force it in. This is a very nice detail.

Front with door openPlease note the manufacturers web site includes lots of information on the products, materials, as well as photos and videos on how to setup and use their product. I watched the videos on the Mesh Tent 1 and Tarp 5 (more than once) prior to receiving the product.

I examined both items and found all the materials and stitching to be of top quality with no flaws or imperfections that I could find. I also verified the measurements were per the manufacturers specifications.

I grabbed the trekking poles I am currently testing (see my review of the Mons Peak IX Tiger Paw Carbon trekking poles), some tent stakes, and set the system up in my yard. Two things were immediately obvious. First, this requires some skill and practice to set up effectively. Second, anchor points (*) (preferably 10, but a minimum of 6) are critical to the correct setup and use. I set it up and took it down a few times. Getting the anchors in the correct locations is going to take me a bit of practice as well as some trial and error. Once set up I found the system to have a reasonable amount of room. At one point my dog joined me in the tent and decide it was play time. This meant her on her back with claws thrashing about. To my horror she clawed at the mesh walls of the tent, but to my delight, her claws simply slipped along the material with out causing any damage whatsoever.

As can be seen from the photo my favorite hiking partner Meg has already claimed her spot.

* As there are multiple options for anchoring the system including tent stakes, trees, rocks, sticks, etc. I will use generic terms like "anchor" or "anchor point" in this report unless I am describing something specific to a type of anchor.

  • Stupid light shelter system
Room for Improvement:
  • None so far
back of shelterside view

Field Report

August 23 2018

Soft groundUSE:
  • 2 nights backpacking (with my dog) – Bumping Lake, Central Washington Cascades, elevation 3400' (1000 m), calm warm weather
  • 2 nights backpacking (solo) – Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)  Central Washington Cascades, moderate to light wind, temps ranging from warm during the day to cool at night

Before going on my first real outing with this tent I got some additional practice setting it up with different configurations (tarp pegged down low for bad weather, up high for air flow, etc). While this was nice it turned out to be unnecessary. Despite the seeming complexity, I have found the system to be surprisingly easy to set up, and more secure (despite some of the ground conditions) than I had anticipated.

My first outing was a short trip (~3 miles [5 km] to where I camped) with my dog. We found an awesome spot by the lake where we spent two nights. The flying bugs were few, only coming out around dusk/dawn, but the place was totally overrun with ants. We found ant mounds that were enormous, some chest high! The ground was a mix of dirt and rocks so I had difficulty in setting stakes. I ended up using a small tree trunk as the foot anchor and had to supplement a couple of stakes with large rocks to prevent them from coming loose. There was no wind to speak of.

I camped about 3 miles (5 km) from the trailhead the first night, and 4 miles (6.5 km) further the second. When starting out I was quite concerned about finding suitable locations to pitch this shelter. There was still a LOT of snow on the trail and many of the exposed areas were mostly mud. I did end up finding suitable locations. Setting up the first night there were gusty winds which made me glad for the manufacturer's recommendation to stake down at least one corner of the tarp when laying it out. It is so light that it could have easily blown away. The ground was mostly dirt and pine duff making it quite easy to plant my stakes but that made me worry if they simply pull out again. This concern was unwarranted as once set up, even when there were gusts of wind the shelter remained secure. I set it up with the tarp low on the windward side just in case I got rain, and high on the leeward side for ventilation. The second night was calm but the ground conditions were similar.

RocksThere really is not much room in the shelter, but then again there seems to be plenty. Confusing? Let me explain. I am unable to sit up inside the tent and getting in/out requires some crawling. Also moving around to do basic tasks such as organizing my gear, changing my cloths, etc, the space in the shelter is quite cramped for me. However when it comes to sleeping I find the shelter to have plenty of room for me, some of my gear and even my dog. I place some basic gear that I want handy down near the foot of the tent and my boots and other gear outside under the tarp flaps, leaving plenty of room for my dog to sleep next to me.

As mentioned I found setting it up and taking it down far less complicated than I anticipated. I have found it easy to estimate the initial placement of the stakes and poles, and by adjusting the guy lines I have not had to move the poles. Getting the system taut without putting too much stress on the stakes was also easier than I anticipated. Taking the system down and packing is amazingly simple with plenty of room in the shelter stuff sack for the entire kit (tarp, tent, guy-lines, and stakes).

As mentioned one camp involved LOTS of ants. I appreciate the mesh and high quality zippers resulted in not a single one of the little guys getting into my shelter. This was well as they did end up biting my dog every time she lay down on the ground. Same applied to the few other bugs I encountered.

I would note that I have been using a ground cloth under the shelter made from a scrap of Tyvek house wrap material. I have chosen to do this not because I think the shelter needs protection, but only to extend the life of the shelter floor as much as possible.

Likes: Lightweight & compact, easy setup/take down, no bugs
Wants: None so far

Long Term Report

October 23 2018
Tarp5 over hammockUSE:
  • Backpacking 2 nights Sand Lake Washington (Pacific Crest Trail Central Washington)  5300' (1600m) Warm days (~75F / 24C) and cool nights (~50F / 10C), no rain or wind.

I only managed to work in one more short backpacking trip to one of my go-to areas in the Washington Cascades. About a 1hr hike in, followed by 2 nights of mostly relaxing at camp and a bit of wandering around the lake and surrounding trails.

As with the other trips the tent was easy to set up (getting easier with each use) and I had little trouble getting all of the stakes and guy lines configured for a taut pitch. The guy line tensioners work surprisingly well given that they are little more than small bits of plastic. They make fine tuning the setup quite easy. I still really appreciate how much room there is in the stuff sack. I can store the mesh tent, the tarp, the stakes, and even the ground cloth I have been using with room to spare. And I can tell you one thing I really hate is to be trying to pack up my gear with cold stiff fingers and having to deal with stuff sacks that are just not quite big enough. Give me a slightly over-sized stuff sack any day.

Tarp5 over hammockSince receiving this system I have been wanting to try the tarp with my hammock. As I have been unable to arrange a hammock trip I finally got around to setting up my hammock in my back yard and pitched the Hilleberg Tarp 5 over it. It FIT! In fact it fit really, really well, and to top it off it is much lighter than the tarp I normally use and easier to get a taut pitch. So it looks like I will be retiring my old tarp and replacing it with this much lighter one.

In preparation for wrapping up this report I pulled out all of the components of the system and inspected them for indications of wear or damage. Despite some abuse from my dog's claws aside for a small stain or two from some pine pitch, the system looks just about as good as new.

Prior to this test I had been using a hammock for most of my outings and quite frankly was not looking forward to sleeping on the ground for this test. However, after using this system I expect to be faced with a difficult decision as to which sleep system I will use going forward. This is the first tent I have encountered that is a reasonable alternative to my hammock. And the tarp is so small and light that I see no reason not to carry it as an emergency shelter for day trips. Now that the test is concluded I get to speculate on future use and it is probably no surprise that I fully intend to continue using the tent and tarp for some trips and the tarp with my hammock for others. So unless I need my larger two-person tent (not something I use very often) at least part of this system will be part of all my outings.

This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at HILLEBERG and for the opportunity to test this product.


Read more reviews of Hilleberg gear
Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Hilleberg Mesh 1 and Tarp 5 > Test Report by David Wilkes

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson