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Reviews > Shelters > Tarps and Bivys > Hilleberg Mesh 1 and Tarp 5 > Test Report by Morgan Lypka
Hilleberg AB Mesh Tent 1 & Tarp 5
TEST SERIES BY MORGAN LYPKA
Initial Report - June 21, 2018
Field Report - August 22, 2018
Long Term Report - October 23, 2018
NAME: Morgan Lypka
HEIGHT: 5’4” (1.6 m)
WEIGHT: 110 lb (50 kg)
EMAIL: m DOT lypka AT yahoo.com
City, Province, Country: Kimberley, British Columbia (B.C.), Canada
Backpacking Background: I started backpacking 2 years ago, when I moved to the Rocky Mountains. Most of my backpacking ventures are 1 to 3 days long, typically around Western Canada. I get cold quickly, and handle heat well. My backcountry trips involve hiking, trail running, ski touring and cross-country skiing. I am getting into kayaking, rock climbing and fly fishing. I camp with a lightweight 3-person, 3-season tent and am starting to hammock and winter camp. Decreasing my packed weight in the backcountry is a developing focus of mine (fitting everything was the first).
PRODUCT INFORMATION AND SPECS
Manufacturer: Hilleberg the Tentmaker AB
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer’s Website: http://us.hilleberg.com/EN/
MSRP: Mesh Tent 1: $210 USD; Tarp 5: $160 USD
Mesh Tent 1: 410 g (15 oz)
Tarp 5: 320 g (11.3 oz)
Mesh Tent 1: 390 g (13.8 oz)
Mesh Tent 1 bag: 21 g (0.7 oz)
Tarp 5: 316 g (11.1 oz)
Dimensions (listed and measured):
Mesh Tent 1: width of rear - 70 cm (28 in), width of front (door end) - 120 cm (47 in), length - 210 cm (83 in), height of front - 95 cm (37 in), height of rear - 55 cm (22 in)
Tarp 5: width - 2.15 m (7.1 ft), length - 3.15 m (10.2 ft)
Colour: red tarp, black tent (other tarp colour options were green and sand)
Mesh Tent 1: woven mesh fabric
Tarp 5: Kerlon 1000 (20 D High Tenacity Ripstop Nylon 66)
The Hilleberg Mesh Tent 1 is a solo non-freestanding A-frame mesh tent. It does not come with poles or pegs, but has loops on the tent corners for pegging. Pegs are available for purchase on the manufacturer's website. The mesh is woven rather than knitted, which provides a softer feel. The tent is equipped with a sewn-in waterproof floor that goes up approximately 4.3 in (11 cm) on each side of the tent. There is one entrance at the head of the tent, which has two zippers. The tent is equipped with two 2 mm (0.1 in) adjustable guy lines, which are each attached to a small metal ring at either top end of the tent. The tent has a wider box near the head, narrowing slightly at the feet. A bag was provided with the tent.
The Hilleberg Tarp 5 comes with a bag attached to itself that it can be packed into. It has eight 2 mm (0.1 in) adjustable guy lines, each attached to a small metal ring. On the manufacturer's website, it's indicated that the tarp is designed to provide shelter for one person plus gear. With the ability to use many different types of gear or other items to hold the tarp up, there are options to have the tarp higher off the ground or with its edges touching the ground. The tarp is recommended for 3-season use, and holds a hydro-static head of 5000 m (49 kPa). The tarp is also translucent.
A manual for setting up both the tent and the tarp was provided, and there are a video and guidance on the manufacturer's website for pitching both the tent and the tarp, which I referred to. The manual was pretty straightforward, using mainly just pictures. A 2018 catalogue came with the package, along with a letter from a public relations representative of the company. The letter included contact information in the event of any questions or issues with the product, and it indicated pages in the catalogue which have more information on the testing products (pages 72-75). Photos below, left to right: 1) small box shipment of tarp, tent and catalogue; 2) Hilleberg 2018 catalogue and letter from public relations representative; 3) instruction manual for setting up both tent and tarp.
There appears to be very good craftsmanship with the tent. I ran my fingers along all the ropes and found no snags. After laying out the tarp I could easily identify which end was for the wider door end by looking at the lengths, but I then realized that the metal rings at the centered front and back locations of the tarp are held on by red fabric, whereas the side metal rings are held on by black fabric. Knowing now which side is up and down for the tarp as well, this should make for fast tarp orientation confirmation. The mesh of the tent is particularly soft to the touch and quite translucent. I was surprised at the door toggle on the front (I figured a minimalist tent wouldn't have this feature, so I was very happy!). The zipper felt a bit heavy when pulling, but it didn't catch on anything when trying it out.
I set up the tent first, and then set up the tarp on top. I will try the other way in the field as well. I wasn't able to fully prevent the tarp from sitting on the tent with my in-house set up. I'm confident that this will be easier in the field. I used my two hiking poles at differing heights. The manual that comes with the tent indicates specific distances from the tent and heights that the poles should be set at. I didn't measure the distances and heights I was playing with for my indoor set up, but plan to follow the recommended heights and distances in the field for better results. I used makeshift fixed items in the house for which to tie the guy lines to or stick the guy lines under. From this, I was able to see that fixed items can provide some angle and tension difficulty, particularly for the tarp. I look forward to trying a combination of fixed and free anchoring and support items in the field. I also was trying a variety of knots to tie the guy lines around. Some of the knots I used likely weren't appropriate, and with the rope being slippery, they would not hold. Going forward, I will likely try to use the tensioner without tying knots if possible. The inside of the tent itself appears to be spacious, and I look forward to testing it out sitting up in there and sleeping on my side. Photos below, from left to right: 1) tent set up; 2) tarp set up.
I packed the tent and tarp in my carry-on suitcase for flying, and it was nice to see that the tarp fit in the tent drawstring bag, along with the tent. This will make storing and traveling with the two easy. In addition, I did not have to be concerned about the additional weight they were adding for my trip. The tent and the tarp made it through Canadian security for airplane carry-on with no issues.
This tent and tarp appear to be made of very high quality material. I am definitely experiencing a learning curve of figuring out the best set up.
Likes: lightweight, good quality material, good craftsmanship
Dislikes: nothing major; rope is slippery (good for undoing knots, but won't hold for all knots), zipper is a bit slow to pull
Location - Brightsand Lake Regional Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Activity - Car camping, 1 night
Temperature and Weather - 18 C (65 F) and overcast
Ground Consistency - dirt, rooty
Location - Sand Lake, B.C. (Rocky Mountains backcountry)
Activity - Solo backcountry camping, 1 night (short hike in from a Forest Service road)
Temperature and Weather - 6 C (43 F) and clear skies
Ground Consistency - grassy, and marshy nearby
Unfortunately I didn't get as many nights in as I had planned or would have liked to due to the below described incident. Up until the tear, I was starting out slowly to get comfortable with the minimalist shelter set up, and I regret not testing the tarp in these two trips, not knowing they would be my only two trips to report on for this test period.
Set up with fishing net on one end, 2 hiking poles on other, at Sand Lake
The Tear, and The Customer Service
Mid July I tore my tent post-backcountry trip, accidentally getting it caught on my truck where it was drying on the bed of the truck when I drove away. I emailed Hilleberg, and they mentioned I could send the tent in for repair for a nominal fee, or have them send me patches to repair it myself with use of a sewing machine. Due to the extent of the tear (in the mesh and down two sides of one of the tent pointed ends, which I unfortunately don't have a photo of) I didn't want to try the fix myself. As well, this way, if the mesh got torn again, I would know how to do the repairs better by looking at Hilleberg's fix. I was told that the turnaround time was three weeks. I sent in my tent that week, and received a follow up email that the tent had been received. Three weeks later, I received an email that Hilleberg was shipping me a new Mesh Tent 1 (which I am expecting in the coming week). Hilleberg mentioned they were filing the damage to the tent under warranty, and sending me a brand new mesh tent free of charge! I inquired as to whether the tent was damaged beyond repair, and it turns out it wasn't; the tent repair was just going to take a while to get the structure of the tent back, and Hilleberg didn't want me to miss out on any more summer camping while they were repairing the damage. Needless to say, I was very impressed with the customer service, and I feel as though Hilleberg has gone above and beyond. A customer relations person and a repair specialist person reached out to me during the waiting time, and both were friendly and knowledgeable on the repair process. I appreciated not having to check in on the status of the tent repair, and I appreciated not feeling forgotten about.
Field Test Findings
Both nights I slept without the tarp which was a nice way to ease myself into the system setup. At Brightsand Lake, I intended to set up the tarp, but I started the tent set up as the sun had gone down. The tent set up took me longer than planned, 30 minutes, from resorting to the manual, reading my measuring tape, and re-standing up the poles, which I will get in to more a bit below.
At Sand Lake, I had a clear view of the stars, which were visible through the mesh, and really enjoyed the open air sleeping feeling. There were many mosquitoes at the marshy location, making the mesh invaluable to me. No bugs got in the tent. At Sand Lake I decided to use my fishing net as one tent pole, with my hiking poles together on the other end. Once I got tension in the ropes from stakes in the ground, the poles and net stood much sturdier, but I had them fall down on me numerous times while getting everything taut since I was setting it up myself. I used a measuring tape for the setup, following the distances and heights in the manual closely, but not exactly. At Brightsand Lake, I used one hiking pole on either side and had a simliar experience with set up. Here I also got complimented on my tent, with a couple mentioning that it looked like a nice lightweight option to keep the bugs away, which I confirmed. Neither night did I have the tent fall down or collapse at all, although neither night had too much wind. At Sand Lake, with temperatures dropping lower, I got cold while in the tent. I was using only a very lightweight sleeping bag. I read in the tent lying down, and had enough space to roll on either side, with objects such as a book, a light and a small bag beside me. There wasn't enough room in the tent for me to fully sit up without bending my neck, so when I went in the tent it meant I was ready to lie down. At Sand Lake, where the ground was moist and a bit wet and marshy, I felt no evidence of water coming through the bottom of the tent. In the morning, the tent had lots of moisture and water on its base which it shed off with a short amount of time drying in the sun. On one of the trips, I accidentally set the tent up in the opposite direction I was intending to, meaning my head was slightly downhill, and didn't realize until the pegs were in. In my Initial Report, I had indicated that differentiating the front and back end of the tent was easy because of lengths, but in this case, rushing set up in the field in minimal light, I failed to differentiate. The guy lines are reflective, but during setup with minimal outdoor lighting and a low light head lamp, rushing again, I tripped over them a couple of times.
I would like it if the ropes had indicators of rope length to give a ballpark on distances, so that I wouldn't feel the need to use a tape measure (although I understand that there are many ways to setup the tent with varying rope distances and heights).
Pros - excellent customer service, visible sky and stars through tent, great at keeping out bugs, much more spacious than a bivy sack
Cons - setup is a bit finicky as a soloist, needing to have an estimate of distances and heights for setup, unable to sit up in tent
Location - Height of the Rockies Provincial Park Wilderness Area, B.C.
Activity - Backpacking and day hiking; 2 nights, 3 days
Weight of Pack - 40 lb (18 kg) while backpacking
Length and Elevation Gain - 22 km (14 mi) long with 1350 m (4400 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - -2 to 18 C (28-64 F), overcast, rain, snow and hail
Ground Consistency - hard packed dirt
Location - Saint Mary's Alpine Provincial Park
Activity - Backpacking; 1 night, 2 days
Weight of Pack - ~35 lb (16 kg) while backpacking
Length and Elevation Gain - 15 km (9 mi) long with 1000 m (3300 ft) gain
Temperature and Weather - -3 to 13 C (27-55 F), overcast, frost, snow at higher elevation (not where camping)
Ground Consistency - medium packed dirt, some rocks
My first night set up at Height of the Rockies, I actually set up the tarp the wrong way, and didn't realize until stretching it out. I switched it around, but then set up the tarp too far back on the tent, so that the head end was slightly poking out. I then practiced moving the tent underneath the tarp, and this was quite easy to do, playing with the tensioners and then just re-staking the tent further back. After this experience, I deemed it easier to set up the tarp first, followed by the tent. At the beginning, I found it hard to get the tarp to a height and tension where it would not touch the tent. After experiencing some rain, with no concerns, I don't see it as a huge deal to have them not touching, as it is sometimes with other not quite as waterproof tents/flys.
On both of these trips, I didn't bring tent stakes with me and used a combination of rocks and sticks. When I ran out of good sticks, or if the ground was too loose or too hard, I would tie the tarp string around a rock. This seemed to work well on the odd string when the rock was heavy enough. Sometimes after waking up in the morning I would notice a stick had pulled out, but I never experienced too much exposure (from wind or rain) from the tarp not being taut. On both of these trips, I used hiking poles to hold up the tent/tarp. In Height of the Rockies, I used two sets of poles, which just made things easier. On my second trip, solo, I just had my hiking poles, which worked as well but I had to be a bit more finicky with the set up.
Camp Spot - Height of the Rockies
I love being able to see outside while sleeping in the tent, even with the tarp on, as seen in the photo below. At the same time, having my head 'exposed' made me feel less secure. I am used to having the option to zip up a tent if I want it (outside of intentionally sleeping with no fly or tarp) and have more of a barrier between the outside and I, so this is something that will take adjustment for me.
The first night in Height of the Rockies, I was quite cold. The temperature dipped below 0 C (32 F). That night, I pulled out my emergency blanket, and had that on top of my sleeping bag. Unfortunately, since it reflects most body heat, it made my sleeping bag wet and I would periodically have to move it off, and then pull it back on. For the next night, I decided to drape my emergency blanket over top of the mesh tent, under the tarp. This worked excellently. My body heat was reflected, keeping me much warmer, and there was enough draft through the tent so that no moisture built up. This also didn't impact the waterproofness of the tarp, and it rained hard that night. Winds were quite strong as well, with added hail, and I thought to myself if the tent were to fall over at any point, this woud be it. Fortunately, all of the pegs stayed in the ground for the most part and the tent stood strong. The wind through the tent did however cause the foil emergency blanket to make a bit of noise, flapping in the wind. This night, I didn't have any rain come in through the head or foot end of the tent, proving that the tarp was long enough on both of those ends. For my stay in Saint Mary's Alpine Park, I used the emergency blanket draped over the tent also - this is now my go to with this set up if I am expecting temperatures to dip below 0 C (32 F). One downside of the tent is the inability to sit up straight in it. When it was raining in Height of the Rockies, my friend and I were waiting for the storm to pass before hiking out. I couldn't get comfortable in the tent, so I went into my friend's tent where I could more readily wrap a blanket around myself and sit upright in the middle of the tent. This made me realize that passing time in the tent when not sleeping was not ideal. I was able to notice the waterproof difference of my tarp vs. my friend's tent/fly set up - the Hilleberg tarp was still crisp after much rain, some hail and some snow, whereas my friend's fly had become quite saggy with the weight of the water, although fortunately no water leaked in.
Since the Saint Mary's Alpine Provincial Park is a wilderness area, having a bright red tarp to look for made getting back to my campsite easier, when I would wander afar. Packing up the tent and tarp was always super easy. When the tent and tarp were wet (always just the exterior bottom of the tent, never the inside), I would roll them up and stuff them in the outside pocket of my backpack. I would then use the tent bag to put my clothes in to keep dry (if it was still raining/snowing, or even if I just wanted to keep them together). I have not noticed any wear and tear yet on the tent or tarp, albeit the tent I tested for the Long Term Report (LTR) was new, as I tore the original tent in the Field Report (FR), so the testing period for it was shorter.
The Hilleberg Mesh Tent 1 and Tarp 5 is a high quality tent and tarp setup that performed well in all three-season weather conditions, including snow and hail. Being non-freestanding, the setup requires/allows some thinking, creativity and patience.
Very waterproof (the tarp, and bottom of tent)
Strong, good quality material
Bright colour, easy to see from afar (this was a pro to me)
Being able to see outside from the inside of the tent, even with tarp overtop
Able to handle harsh weather conditions (snow, rain, hail, strong winds)
Good adjustability of tent and tarp once they're set up (tensioners)
Cannot sit upright in the tent (I found the manufacturer's website to be a bit deceiving on this)
Set up isn't a no brainer - depends on ground conditions, available 'equipment', and natural resources in the area (trees, etc.)
Thank you BackpackGearTest.org and Hilleberg for giving me the opportunity to trial this high quality tent and tarp. This concludes my report series.
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