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Hilleberg Rogen Review

   

Backpacking Tents

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 1 review. Most recent review: January 15, 2013
Street Price:   $750 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Best three-season two door tent tested.
Cons:  Very expensive, water can pool on flat roof, only two pockets, below average peak height, large walls catch more wind than single entrance tents, moderate quality stakes.
Best Uses:  Luxurious 3+ season backpacking, car camping, basecamps.
User Rating:       (0.0 of 5) based on 0 reviews
Manufacturer:   Hilleberg
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ January 15, 2013  
Overview
For people who like the luxury of two doors and two vestibules, and travel to remote locations in heinous conditions, the Hilleberg Rogen takes the cake for being the highest performance two-door three-season tent we've tested. This comfortable shelter is built with some of the strongest and most durable three-season fabrics, uses the best poles available, and has an excellent pole design that balances livability with strength and weight savings.

Unfortunately, the Rogen is extremely expensive and other tents, including other Hilleberg tents, are either a much better value or perform much better in foul weather. Sometimes both. $790 is a tremendous amount to pay for this tent. We encourage you to consider the Hilleberg Anjan 2 or Hilleberg Nammatj 2, which we feel offer more bang for you buck. Or, if you have the cash to push the performance envelope and want the best two door three-season tent, read on for a detailed review of the Rogen.

See our full Backpacking Tent Review to check out how the Rogen compares to the 25 other tents we've tested.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Introduction
The Hilleberg Rogen is our highest rated two-door backpacking tent. The other 11 tents in the same class don't come close to matching the Rogen's performance. Furthermore, of the 32 total tents tested, we believe the Rogen is the best tent for people who mix all types of three-season camping activities: car camping, remote basecamps, and serious wilderness travel.

Weather Resistance
We gave the Rogen 10 points out of 10 for its weather resistance. In the section below we discuss how the tent's fabrics and pole design contribute to it's strength, durability, and provide excellent protection from the elements.

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Hilleberg Rogen-- one of the strongest and most durable three-season tents tested-- pitched with sticks, trekking poles, and ice axes in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Credit: Max Neale
Materials
Hilleberg uses Kerlon 1000 for the rain flies on their three-season tents. This fabric is a silicone impregnated ripstop nylon that's lighter and not as strong as the fabrics used on their winter tents, but impressively strong for a three- season fabric; it's warp break strength is 22 lb/in. (For comparison purposes, the 15D PU/Sil fabric used on the Brooks Range Foray breaks at 7 lb/in, the SilNylon used on Mountain Laurel Designs tarp shelters breaks at 15 lb/in.) Kerlon 1000 is the strongest SilNylon used on any backpacking tent we've tested. This means that the fabric is less likely to be punctured and if it is punctured it's less likely to tear both good things. The Rogen's floor is likely to be the most durable of any backpacking tent tested. Its poles are also the best available: 9mm DAC Featherlite NSL Green.

Pole Design
The Rogen adds a creative twist to the classic two-door tent design. Like most others, it has two poles that cross corner to corner, but instead of attaching the top crossover pole with an integrated hub (most companies partner with DAC for these) or mounting it on top of the pole intersection with non-adjustable clips or partial sleeves (the second most popular method used on other tents), Hilleberg sends the cross pole through an adjustable pole sleeve. This method is stronger and more reliable than any other because the poles doesn't need to be bent into place, there are no plastic parts to break, and the pole cannot come out of the sleeve.

The main poles also use pole sleeves, but unlike Hilleberg's winter tents, they slide completely through the sleeve and into grommets. The poles then tighten with straps that have strong metal friction adjustments. We believe this system is significantly stronger and more reliable than plastic clips that are used on every other double wall backpacking tent we've tested (sleeves are our preferred pole attachment method for mountaineering tents).

Protection From the Elements
The Rogen offers superb protection from all of the elements. It's a three-season tent with many features found on four-season tents. Key points, like the vestibule zippers, are reinforced and the tent's bathtub floor comes up higher than most others to protect from splashback and spindrift. The only significant non-structural way to increase its storm protection would be to have an inner tent constructed entirely of solid nylon (the doors are the only mesh parts). This would add weight but would make the tent highly capable of winter use.

The main weakness our testers found with the Rogen is common to many other tents: water can pool on top by the cross pole. When enough water accumulates it can slowly drip through the seams if they aren't sealed (which you need you do). This is a problem that we frequently find on tents with cross poles and/or semi-flat roofs. The solution is to seal the seams and knock the water off by shaking the tent.

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Water can pool on top of the Rogen by the cross pole.
Credit: Max Neale
Ease of Setup
Another important part of the Rogen's pole design, shared with all other Hilleberg tents, is that the inner and outer tents are linked with elasticized toggles. The tent pitches from the outside just insert the poles, tighten them, and secure the guylines and the tent is pitched. Unlike most double wall tents, where the inner tent pitches first and the outer tent attached to the outside of poles, all Hilleberg tents pitch in one piece (the inner tent is suspended from the outer tent). This makes the tent much faster to pitch and prevents the inner tent from getting soaked from rain and snow. The Rogen's guylines and camming adjusters, which come attached to the tent, are both high quality and very easy to use. The strong majority of other tents tested have low quality line that absorbs lots of water, they don't include enough guyline for all guy points, don't ship with the line attached, and don't use camming adjusters. Our testers believe the best tents should ship with the best line and the best camming adjusters. Hilleberg does, too!

Livability
The Rogen competes with dozens of other two-door backpacking tents. Its materials and pole design are stronger more durable than others, but it isn't as a spacious as some of its competitors that weigh 10 to 20 ounces more. Our testers give the Rogen high marks because it balances the demands of serious backcountry travel (strength and durability) with the livability of a frontcountry shelter. No other tent we've tested walks this line as well as the Rogen. Nonetheless, taller people might prefer a higher peak height. The Rogen measures 38" from the floor to ceiling of the inner tent. Most other tents in the same class are 40" to 42" tall, which allows taller people or those who use structurally insulated air core sleeping pads (2"-3" thick) to sit more upright inside the tent. (Our six-foot-plus testers were not able to sit completely upright inside the Rogen.) We mention this not because it's a significant drawback, but because it's something to consider if you're taller or plan to spend lots of time awake inside the tent.

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Zeb Engberg (6' 1") sits on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (2.5" thick) and chows down inside the Rogen. Notice that he can't sit fully upright.
Credit: Max Neale
In other respects, the Rogen is highly livable. Its two large doors make it easy to enter and exit, its two vestibules have the most covered area of all tents tested (the North Face Minibus has slightly less covered area but more covered volume), and the vestibule doors can be opened on either the left or the right side, or both sides can be rolled up out of the way during good conditions. The Rogen has two pockets, which our testers believe is sufficient, but more pockets would provide more storage options for base and car camping. (The REI Half Dome 2 has six side pockets and four ceiling pockets.) The Rogen doesn't have more pockets because the elasticized toggles that connect the inner tent aren't as supportive or as strong as the direct connection most double wall inner tents have with the pole structure. We believe that saving weight and increasing the adaptability of a shelter are more important than the minute increase in livability that additional pockets bring. Finally, the Rogen has solid nylon interior walls, which make the tent warmer and prevent spindrift and sand from blowing into the tent. The interior doors have solid bottoms for the same reason, and mesh uppers to promote ventilation. Again, this is an excellent balance between weather resistance, livability, and weight savings.

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The Hilleberg Rogen's modular vestibule can be rigged as shown for bombproof zipper protection (with both of the vestibule toggles through the metal ring) or with either the right or left toggle to open either door.
Credit: Max Neale
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Unzip the Hilleberg Rogen's vestibule and roll both sides away for excellent ventilation. The large doors provide an easy entrance.
Credit: Max Neale
Adaptability
The Rogen is much more adaptable than most other double wall backpacking tents. Its inner tent can be removed from the outer tent by releasing its toggles (takes two minutes) to create an expansive floorless tarp shelter for saving weight. Most standard double wall tents can be "fast pitched" with the poles, fly, and footprint. The Rogen sans inner tent is better than "fast pitching" because it's lighter (fast pitching only eliminates an inner tent's mesh walls and ceiling) and more storm resistant (splashback can accumulate on a fast-pitched footprint and get your stuff wet). Removing the Rogen's inner tent saves a significant amount of weight and can make the tent a passable option for solo backpacking trips we suggest pairing it with the 7 oz. Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight Bivy.

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The Hilleberg Rogen and Anjan's inner tent attaches with toggles. Removing it takes 1-2 minutes and gives you a lighter floorless tarp shelter that reduces weight for camping in insect free areas- a huge advantage over most other double wall tents.
Credit: Max Neale
Weight and Packed Size
By most backpacking standards the Rogen is not a lightweight tent. It weighs 74.5 ounces, or 4 lb 10.5 oz, on our scale, which makes it 17 ounces (31 percent) heavier than the lightest similarly sized two-door double wall tent, the Big Anges Copper Spur UL2,and 46.3 ounces (260 percent) heavier than the lightest double wall tent we've tested, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II. The Rogen is more durable and stronger than all other similar double wall tents, which is excellent, but our testers believe it's too heavy for mobile trips longer than one week. It's very comfortable, however, so some people may find it worth bringing on trips of longer duration.

Areas for Improvement
The Rogen's stakes are strong but thin. Larger ones, such as the V stakes that ship with Hilleberg's "lightweight" Kerlon 1200 winter tents, would be an improvement. Eight-inch Easton tubular stakes would be even better. Why? Because small stakes hold best in compact ground, which is found only in established campsites. Longer and/or larger stakes would provide better holding power in soft ground. Our testers also believe that Hilleberg should ship the Rogen with guyline for the two crossover guy points, which they recommend staking out during high winds. Larger interior zipper pulls would be a nice addition, as would reflective guylines.

Best Application
We believe the Rogen is best suited to people who want one tent for car camping, basecamping, and for backpacking trips in severe conditions. Our testers prefer tarp shelters for serious backpacking, but if you're willing to carry the extra weight, the Rogen is an outstandingly versatile and comfortable tent. One application that the Rogen excels at is international basecamping (when you travel via plane to a destination and camp for one or more weeks in the same place). In such an application the lightest and most livable tent with the greatest weather resistance will be the best; the Rogen takes the cake here.

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Zeb Engberg carries the Hilleberg Rogen's poles (red, left side of backpack).
Credit: Max Neale
Value
At $790 the Rogen is the most expensive backpacking tent we've ever tested! It costs more than all of our award winning winter tents!! and costs 4.4 times as much as the REI Half Dome 2, our Best Buy backpacking tent. We tested 32 backpacking tents and the Rogen is one of our highest rated overall and is the highest rated in its class. But is it worth $790? This will depend on how much time you spend in a tent and where you go. Two examples: 1) if you backpack 10 days each summer, for three summers in a row, then you'd carrying this tent on your back for 30 days. If that was your usage, then the value question you'd need to ask is whether saving 13 ounces (compared to the REI Half Dome 2) is worth $20.33 more per day? (790-180=610/30=20.3) Our feeling is that, for most of us, the practical answer is no. Beyond the weight savings, such usage would be unlikely to take advantage of the Rogen's exceptional design and materials. Example 2) If you sleep in a tent for 30 days per year for 10 years the Rogen's 13-ounce weight savings, increased strength, and increased durability would cost $2.03 extra per day (compared to the Half Dome 2). Moreover, the Rogen is far more likely to withstand 300 days of use than the REI Half Dome 2 (and similar budget tents). If you desire to push the performance envelope, and have the cash to do so, then the Rogen is a great choice actually the best choice based on our tests.

Another value question to consider is "can two other tents provide the same or more performance for the same or less cost as the Rogen?" We believe the answer is yes. For $550 you can get the 22 oz. Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid and the 13 oz. DuoMid Insert for backpacking ($375 and 40 oz. less than the Rogen) and the 88 oz REI Half Dome 2 ($180) for car camping and basecamping. If you want to save more weight and don't need the absolute greatest weather resistance, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Shelter ($600, 28 ounces) and REI Half Dome 2 provide the lightest two person double wall tent and a comfy tent for car and basecamping. Both of those options provide one tent that's more comfortable than the Rogen and another tent that's, according to our criteria for evaluation, better for backpacking, and both options provide two tents for less than the cost of the Rogen.

Other Versions
The Hilleberg Anjan 2, $600, wins our Editor's Choice Award, as its versatility, durability, adaptability, and weather resistance are unmatched for its 3.6 lb. weight. Top-tier materials, poles, and a time-tested tunnel design quickly made the Anjan an all-star choice among our testers. If we were to have a single tent for all three-season trips, including backpacking, car camping, bicycle touring, kayaking, and more, the Anjan would be it.

the Hilleberg Nammatj 2, $695, is arguably the single most versatile tent we have ever tested and also wins our Editor's Choice Award. The Hilleberg Jannu, $885, is the panacea for worst-conditions mountaineering and alpine climbing and wins our Top Pick Award.

The Hilleberg Jannu, $885, is the panacea for worst-conditions mountaineering and alpine climbing. Due to its fast setup, bombproof storm protection and low weight (6 lb. 1 oz.), the Jannu is our highest rated self-supporting dome tent. We highly recommend it for high altitude alpine climbing and mountaineering.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 15, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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Hilleberg Rogen
Credit: Hilleberg
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