When we’re on a bike tour, there’s no place that feels more like home than our trusty tent, the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT.
Our tent, set up in New Zealand. At this point, it had been used over 300 times.
It’s not the cheapest tent on the market by a long shot (about $1,100 U.S.) but it is very durable. Among other things, we’ve tested it in 15+ hours of the hardest rain we’ve ever seen (we were perfectly dry), and in gale-force winds (the tent flexed gracefully with the gusts).
We love this tent so much that we’ve actually bought two of them. The first one was the tent that accompanied us for most of our 3-year world bicycle tour. When we decided to replace it, we’d used our first Nallo 3GT over 400 times. To put that in perspective, if you bought this tent today and used it as much as we did, you’d pay around $2.50 U.S. for each night of worry-free camping. Bargain!
When we replaced it (30 months into our trip), the Nallo 3GT was still functioning perfectly but the outer shell had suffered some heavy UV damage and we weren’t sure how much longer it would last. We were offered a newer model at a hefty discount so we jumped at the chance to renew our tent. Had we not been so impulsive, the old one probably would have lasted quite a bit longer. We could also have renewed our tent by simply buying a new outer tent from Hilleberg, although we didn’t know that at the time.
Our second Nallo 3GT has been used about 100 times and we expect it to last for at least as long as the first one (probably more, because we’re now more savvy about protecting our tent from UV damage by using a tarp and pitching in shady places).
You can set this tent up with the front fully open. This is great in light rain, and on hot days (it allows for a lot of air flow).
Advantages: Here are a few of the reasons why we really like this tent…
- Quality. This tent really does stand up to everything. We’ve tested it in heavy snow, pouring rain and fierce winds and it’s never let us down.
- Lots of space. We have the 3-person model and it’s perfect for 2 bike tourists plus all the associated gear. We can put all our bags in the porch, and still have room to sit and read. That means we don’t feel claustrophobic, even on rainy days when we might be inside the tent for a few hours.
- Light. At 2.7kg, this is one of the lighter 3-person and all-season tents on the market.
- Easy to pitch. There are only 3 poles and set-up is intuitive. Not long after we bought this tent, we had to set it up in the dark. We had no problems. Hilleberg say you can pitch the tent with as few as 4 pegs. On very rocky ground, we’ve pitched it without any pegs, simply by using rocks to secure the corners and tying the guylines to nearby trees, bushes or other fixed objects.
- Great customer service. Hilleberg have been super at answering any questions we had about the tent, and helping to troubleshoot when the zippers wore out (this was easily fixed).
- Multiple set-up options. In addition to the ‘standard’ set up, you can completely open the front of the tent. This is really nice in the summer, or any time you want a lot of air flowing through the tent.
We currently use a Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT for cycle touring which weighs less than our Terra Nova Quasar. When we are cycletouring we are mainly using lowland campsites and thus prefer the Nallo over the Quasar as it gives us far more room for the weight carried. -Jon & Frank of the CycleTourer website
Disadvantages: Like anything, there are a few downsides to this tent…
- Too short for tall people. If you’re over 6 feet tall, you’ll struggle to stretch out fully in this tent. Andrew is 5’11″ and his feet nearly touch the end.
- Expensive. This is definitely not the cheapest tent on the market. It costs about $770. Yes, it’s going to last you a long time, but if you’re not sure how much you’ll use it, you might be better off with a less costly model. Alternatively, watch for sales. Sometimes you can get a deal on last year’s model.
- Occasional condensation. On very cold nights in damp climates, we try to keep all the heat in by fully closing both the main entrance and the door that separates the porch and sleeping area. That does lead to some condensation. Most of the time, we’re not camping in extreme cold and so we don’t entirely seal the tent. You can leave the doors partially open (while still keeping the mosquito net panels closed) to improve airflow.
- Sometimes too big. This is a roomy tent and you need a relatively decent amount of space to put it up. This isn’t often a problem but sometimes we have to hunt an extra few minutes for the perfect spot.
- Groundsheet sold separately. It’s not all that unusual for tent groundsheets to be sold separately, and you can expect to fork out about ($98) for the official groundsheet for this tent. The footprint is almost essential, as it makes the porch usable in all weather (even when the ground is wet). Alternatively, you could just lay a small sheet of plastic down, but then that’s one more (relatively heavy) thing to carry.
Even in rocky areas, without much space and hard ground, putting this tent up is no problem.
On the whole, we feel the advantages of this tent far outweigh the disadvantages and we’d heartily recommend it for anyone planning an extended bike tour. To paraphrase a famous commercial:
Cost of a Hilleberg tent? $1,100 U.S.
Cost of the groundsheet? $100 U.S.
Cost of knowing that you can sleep through the worst storms? Priceless!
Are there other tents to consider? Of course! We’ve profiled a few options in our article about Choosing A Tent For Bike Touring.
If we didn’t have such a big budget, we might go for the MSR Hubba Hubba. It costs far less ($329.95 from REI) and you can take the rain fly off completely, for star gazing on clear nights.
This particular Hubba Hubba tent is owned by Shane, who’s currently taking it through Africa.
We also really like the look of Macpac’s Citadel Tent, and featured a small review of it in July’s bike touring newsletter.
And if we were touring solo, instead of as a couple, we might consider the compact Hilleberg Akto. This one is owned by Stijn.
Want to read more reviews of the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT? See: