Since the initial inception of the Soulo tent back in 2007 it has grown to become a mainstay in the Nordic Outdoor collection and one of the most sought after tent models in history. While the tent was seen as many to be the 'perfect' one person tent without adjustment, Hilleberg shook up the camping world with the introduction of the Soulo Black Label in 2021. 

With there now being two different options (the Red Label (RL) and Black Label (BL)) one of the most common questions we get asked is 'which one should I buy'?

While at first glance they may seem near identical -  there are a few fundamental differences between the two. The more expensive of the two, the Black Label was introduced in 2021 with added benefits of better strength and durability being made with Kerlon 1800 fabric and using 10mm poles. Though, it does come with the drawbacks of weighing 400g more and of course the price.

In this blog we take a look at the two options, their benefits and drawbacks and (hopefully) help you conclude one which model is perfect for your needs.



History of the Hilleberg Soulo

For those who are unfamiliar with the Soulo tents they are completely free standing tents made by the iconic brand Hilleberg. The tent takes inspiration from other previous models of Hilleberg and combines them to make the perfect gold standard collection we know today. With an integrated vestibule the Soulo is a 1 man tent made for solo travellers. The tent was intended for and has consequently become popular with solo expeditions which experience high winds or snowfall due to its rigid nature giving you the piece of mind that it will stand no matter what.

Bo Hilleberg, the founder of the brand began making tents in the 1970’s. After coming across Kerlon 1500, a extremely strong material perfect for tents which had for some reason not been used yet he dedicated the next 3 years of his life to creating the most durable tent he could. As a consequence of this the Keron tent was created in 1980 and it is still a signature tent of Hilleberg to this day. In 1987 Hilleberg realised there was an increasing demand for durable lightweight tents and so he began to work right away, through this came the creation of Red Label and the Nallo tent. With it being made of a lighter fabric than previously used and adopting 9mm poles Hilleberg had once again changed the tent production scene. Since these early innovations Hilleberg's collection has continued to grow alongside their reputation and the brand is today accepted as one of the best tent manufacturers in the World. 

Fast forward to 2007 and many innovations and adjustments later - the Soulo was created. The name 'Soulo' comes from the Sami word for island, the native language of the indigenous people in the north of Sweden, contrary to the popular belief that the name means solo in English. The labelling of the tent as an island could be due to the shape of the tent and its free-standing nature, but also could refer to how just as an island can be a shelter from torrential seas so too can the Soulo from the worst weather conditions.

Since the tent's creation it has been used on adventures, expeditions and escapes across the globe. Lonnie Dupre used the tent on his solo ascent of the Denali mountain in Alaska facing extreme weather changes and high levels of snow. Will Copestake a Hilleberg ambassador brought it with him on his challenge to kayak around the coast of Scotland and climb every Munroe which took him 364 days. In which he received the 2015 Adventurer of the Year Award by the National Adventure Awards.


Red Label vs Black Label

In terms of design both tents are effectively the same. The Soulo takes it’s design from the Allak tent which is another free-standing tent from Hilleberg available in two-person and three-person sizing. The difference between the two in terms of design is that the Allak is a larger tent with a double vestibule rather than the Soulo's single vestibule. Both the RL and BL have extremely high snow-load protection/capability due to their design with the 3 poles crossing to ensure the tent has unmatched snow-load bearing capacity. One of the biggest advantages of the Soulo tent is the freestanding nature which means they can be pitched almost anywhere -  allowing you to choose exactly how and where you want to camp, whether under protection or out in the open.

For differences between the Red Label Soulo and Black Label Soulo the most prominent difference is in weight - with the BL weighing 400g more than the RL. Additionally, the pack size of the BL is slightly larger than the RL, however in truth both of these tents pack sizes can be reduced considerably from the advertised dimensions. The reason for this additional weight and pack size is simple however - the Black Label tent is made from more durable (and therefore heavier) materials. Hilleberg left no area untouched in terms of improvement for durability with even the tent bag being made of a better material. The BL features a 40 denier 18kg tear strength flysheet fabric, the same for the canopy and a 100 denier floor sheet. Whereas the RL has a 30 denier and 12kg tear strength flysheet, 30 denier canopy and 70 denier floor sheet.

Other than the outer material of the tent the most critical difference comes in the poles supplied. The Black Label Soulo upgrades to 10mm DAC Aluminium poles which are stronger and more durable than the Red Label's 9mm poles. It is worth noting however that the poles on the Red Label tent can be upgraded to 10mm (contact us for details) or with both tents you can 'double pole' if you find yourself in the position of structure and stability being absolutely critical.

From these specs we can see the immediate trade-off between the Soulo Red Label and Soulo Black Label. Does the extra strength and durability compensate for the additional weight and cost?

This then leaves you with the question which of these two is actually best for you? Within the UK some say that there is no need for a BL if your camping domestically though we disagree with this. Those who live near the coast or in other exposed areas know how high winds can get on certain days with the highest ever wind recorded in the UK being 173mph in the Cairngorms. While this is not a normal speed, how high this is shows us how even lower extreme winds can occur where a BL could be handy.

The big difference in strength between the two tents may also make you think that the Red Label model is lacking - though on the contrary it's just that the Black Label Soulo is so excessively strong. For normal camping or even in these higher winds the Red Label will do just fine, additionally with heavy snow fall it’s the same.

The main reason someone who camps in the UK year round, or an extreme weather camper would choose the Black Label tent is primarily for peace of mind. The Soulo Black Label will ensure a comfortable experience no matter the weather with minimal movement and you can be certain it will withstand anything you put it through.




If after this you're still uncertain that the Soulo would be the best tent for your needs you could consider an alternative such as the Hilleberg Akto. Introduced two years before the HIlleberg Soulo it was the brand's first one-person tent. The initial concept was to create a one-person tent which would work in all seasons while remaining light enough and packable enough to compete with bivy bags. The Akto is significantly lighter than the Soulo being only 1.7kg which means it could be a better option if weight is an important consideration on your travels. With a sleeping area which can feel slightly longer than the Soulo (despite being the same size) and a slightly larger vestibule area there are campers who prefer the Akto's coffin like construction. Where the Soulo stands out however is both the freestanding construction and the additional strength offered thanks to the three pole design rather than the Akto's single pole.


Final Thoughts

Overall no matter what tent you choose from Hilleberg you can be certain that it is the best quality around. The consistently high demand for the brands products serves as a testament for their quality, durability and longevity.  Each tent serves its purpose perfectly and allows for you to have the best experience while out in the wilderness that you can.

In our opinion the Soulo Black label is probably more tent than most conditions require, however if you have the budget and the space to bring it with you, it allows you to have all the best features of the Soulo but with additional peace of mind that your tent can handle even the worst of Mother Nature without blinking.

If you want to discuss the Hilleberg Soulo in more detail or have any specific questions then don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our resident camping experts at [email protected] or alternatively give us a call on 0131 552 3000.