Ask 10 people to describe their perfect camping trip and you are likely to get 10 vastly different answers. This is the exact reason why picking a tent is not a one size fits all approach and understanding what you will be using the tent for is essential before shelling out your hard earned. Last week we took a closer look at the Tentipi tents which we argue are the perfect shelter for family camping and now we will swing over to the other end of the spectrum. The Hilleberg Soulo is arguably the best one-person tent on the market and its durability and strength make it the perfect option for those looking to explore the countryside safe in the knowledge their shelter won’t let them down. Read more below to find out a little bit more about the history of the Hilleberg Soulo, what makes it such a special tent and some of the more ‘extreme’ uses this tent has seen. You can shop the model online now at Nordic Outdoor and we have just taken delivery of the most popular sand colourway – these do not tend to stick around for long so make sure to act quick to secure yours.
The story behind the Soulo
Here at Nordic Outdoor the Soulo is our bestselling Hilleberg tent. To understand why the tent is so important in the Hilleberg catalogue and why there is such a high customer demand for this we need to look at the story behind the tent.
As Bo Hilleberg began making tents in the early 1970’s he quickly discovered Kerlon 1500, an incredibly strong silicone coated fabric which is almost seven times stronger than any other tent fabric. With this new fabric he went to work designing and by 1980 had introduced the world to the brands signature tent, the Keron. For the next 7 years the brands focus was on creating the strongest tents on the market which could withstand anything the elements could throw at them and the Hilleberg company developed a worldwide reputation for quality and durability. In 1987 Hilleberg took a new approach sensing that there was a market for incredibly strong tents with a lighter weight. This realisation saw the birth of what is now known as Hilleberg Red Label as the Nammatj was used as the inspiration for the Nallo, which showcased a lighter fabric and 9mm poles.
Since the Nallo was introduced the Hilleberg Red Label has cemented its place in the brands collection, with a selection of tents ideal for offering all-season strength and stability where lighter weight is a priority. Much like the Nallo being based on the Nammatj many of the red label tents have evolved from their black label counterparts. The Black label Staika was adapted with lighter fabric and a thinner pole design into the Allak which has formed the basis for the design of the Soulo. The name for this particular model comes from the Sami language where Soulo can be translated to ‘Island’, not as many people think just a translation of ‘solo’.
Design of the Hilleberg Soulo
As mentioned above the Soulo takes many of it’s design features from its ‘big brother’ the Allak. The Soulo is a freestanding design which allows it to be pitched almost anywhere while the three pole design includes multiple crossing points which provides outstanding strength and snow-load handling capability. The main difference between the Soulo and the Allak is in the interior space (the Allak being a 2 man tent) and the single vestibule which is featured in the Soulo.
The Soulo is constructed using Hilleberg’s Kerlon 1200 fabric which offers an incredible tear strength of 12kg and even though it is designed for ‘three season’ tents it offers more strength than many so called expedition grade fabrics. The Kerlon fabric is so strong due to its three layers of silicone which is light and waterproof while offering much more strength than the usual polyurethane used in tent design. Hilleberg summed up the importance of this best when they stated
“Such high tear strength is like insurance: It is much better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it, especially since this ‘insurance’ adds no extra weight, and increases the durability and longevity of your tent”
Since it’s introduction the Soulo has cemented its place as one of the best single person tents on the market and thanks to it’s incredible strength and relative lightweight it is the perfect choice for every adventure. Backpackers will appreciate the light weight of the tent, mountaineers will be drawn to the strength of the tent, motorcycle tourers may have more of a focus on the compact pack size and ski tourers will appreciate the incredible snow load handling. The Soulo also offers a great internal space for one person with tall users appreciating the 2.2m length and the height offering enough room to sit up comfortably.
The Soulo in Action
Hilleberg describe the Soulo as a three season tent however the truth is for most adventures in the UK the Soulo will be more than enough. The versatility of the model is best described by Australian Geographic Outdoor who claimed “If you want just one tent to cover all your bases, invest and you’ll find long lasting comfort”. In a nod to the versatility of the Soulo you’ll find a collection of our favourite Soulo images at the bottom of this blog.
While Hilleberg themselves would encourage anyone undertaking a more ‘extreme’ expedition to choose a black label tent (and we agree) that hasn’t stopped a few people doing some incredible things using the Soulo.
Lonnie Dupre is a famed American explorer and also a huge fan of the Hilleberg Soulo. For three consecutive years Lonnie aimed to complete the first January ascent of Denali however each time he came up short. With the natural instinct in these extreme environments being to get below ground for each of these first three trip Lonnie would build a snow cave every night to shelter from the extreme cold and winds of over 50mph. In 2015 however Lonnie decided to do away with the 3 hour task of building a snow cave every night and instead packed a Hilleberg Soulo on his attempt. This time he reached the Summit, becoming the first person to do so in January. While the Soulo isn’t the only reason this trip was a success Lonnie says it made a big difference thanks to being quick and easy to pitch and the Soulo’s ability to handle large snow loads (in one 30 hour period there was a snowfall of over 8ft!).
Another more extreme example of the Soulo in action comes from Alexander Barber who packed the Soulo for his ascent of Annapurna in 2015. While this trip was ultimately unsuccessful Alexander still swears by the Soulo due to its three pole design offering unparalleled wind resistance and the benefit of the vestibule for cooking during the expedition. When reaching Camp 2, Alexander found his Soulo under 7ft of snow and although all the other tents in the camp had snapped poles and ripped fabrics he managed to dig the Soulo out and it popped up as good as new! The benefit of using Hilleberg in these more extreme expeditions Alexander said is that you can set them and leave them with confidence they would be there to greet you when you reach camp!
Final Words on the Hilleberg Soulo
From our own experience of using a variety of tents the general consensus in Nordic Outdoor HQ is that you’ll struggle to find a better one man option than the Hilleberg Soulo. While looking at the tent from the outside you might not at first appreciate why it comes with such a hefty price point but you can rest assured that every single feature has been meticulously designed with usage, lifespan and durability in mind. The Soulo may not be the lightest of one man tents but the general rule of thumb is that selecting a tent simply because it has the lightest weight is rarely a good idea.
While it’s important to do your research and ensure you are getting the right tent for your needs there is a reason the Soulo is the bestselling tent here at Nordic Outdoor. I for one can’t wait for the lockdown to end so we can get back out into the hills with nothing but a Soulo for company.
The Hilleberg Soulo is now available online at Nordic Outdoor in Sand & Red. Shop Here with Free UK Mainland Delivery .