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Hilleberg Jannu Review
Cons: Not as comfortable as other mostly heavier models, zippers are small and slightly harder to grab
Bottom line: Built for the worst conditions while mountaineering or alpine climbing.
The Hilleberg Jannu is the panacea for the worst conditions imaginable while mountaineering and alpine climbing. Due to its fast setup, bombproof storm protection, and slightly lower than average weight, (7 lb. 1 oz), the Jannu is our highest rated self-supporting dome tent. We highly recommend it for high altitude alpine climbing and general mountaineering; however, it is considerably less comfortable to hang out in than the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 and is over $300 more expensive. We feel the additional cost and decreased comfort is worthwhile if you need world-class strength for base camping or high altitude technical climbing.
If base camping is your primary objective, consider the Hilleberg Tarra, Trango 2, or The North Face Mountain 25, which all have two doors.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Ease of Setup
Throughout our review, this model is by far the easiest tent to set up; you can set it up from the outside in four easy steps: (1) stake out the base of the tent, (2) insert the poles into color-coded, two-foot long sleeves, (3) snap the poles into alternating plastic clips, and (4) stake out the vestibules and guylines. Unlike most double wall tents, where the poles support the inner tent and the fly attaches on top, all Hilleberg tents have a built-in inner tent that suspends from the outer tent. This connects to the fly with dozens of elasticized toggles and can easily be removed and pitched by itself with an optional kit. The outer tent can also serve as a lightweight and exceptionally strong floorless single wall shelter.
The above chart shows how the other tents in our lineup fared in the Ease of Setup metric compared to the Jannu.
The Jannu's pitch-the-outside-first design is superior to traditional double wall tents because it's significantly easier to set up even with one person (you can also keep your gloves on); having the fly on top protects the inner tent from rain and snow and the poles stand up by themselves once inserted into the sleeves, which makes setup easier because you don't have to hold one pole while you try to set up another. These details make setup easier than nearly every other double wall dome tent we've tested. The difference is significant regardless of the conditions but becomes greater as the weather worsens. Two people can have the tent pitched and tied out in super strong storm mode in under five minutes. See the video at the bottom of this page for setup instructions.
Its primary advantage over the Hilleberg Nammatj 2, or several other single wall tents like the Black Diamond Eldorado or Mountain Hardwear EV 2, is its strength. This tent's web of intersecting poles makes it capable of handling severe snow loading and winds that batter it from all sides. The Nammatj's or MSR Dragontail's tunnel design performs phenomenally well in high winds, but primarily in winds that vary little in direction. In open areas, like on big glaciers and in polar regions, the wind tends to change little over the course of a night so the Nammatj does very well. In high mountain conditions, wind patterns can be chaotic and unpredictable and, depending on your "campsite," might demand a tent with a stronger sidewall.
Here's what we like about the Jannu: not only is it totally bomber, but it's expedition worthy and among the strongest tents in our review. What sets the Jannu apart, however, is it weighs 2-3 pounds less than most comparable models (in regards to strength), like the Hilleberg Tara, North Face Mountain 25, Trango 2, and Black Diamond Fitzroy. This makes it a fantastic option for both expeditions and alpine climbing in the lower 48. If you don't expect to encounter as challenging four season conditions where the Jannu's extra strength might not be necessary, then our testers might prefer the lighter Hilleberg Nammatj, Mountain Hardwear EV 2, or BD Eldorado for an all-around North American mountaineering on peaks like Mt. Rainier or Mt. Shasta.
If you are moving up from those climbs to more technical routes in more regions or more classic expedition climbing, then we suggest this Editors' Choice award winning tent. Its' self-supporting design is also a better choice for base camping if you leave the tent unattended and aren't there to remove snow from it or check on the tieouts; these are situations in which the Jannu excels. The two greatest characteristics that make this tent viable for terrible conditions are its aggressive pole design and use of top-tier fabrics.
Aggressive pole design
The vestibule pole is commonly the first thing to break on many mountaineering tents. Once that pole snaps, the front of the tent can catch wind like a kite and damage other areas. We've seen this happen on tents like the Mountain Hardwear Trango. Fortunately, this four season tent does not use an additional pole for the vestibule; it is much stronger and less likely to break as a result. This is another thing that makes the tent bomber. The tent's generally low-profile shape also allows wind to pass over it easily. Other tents that are taller and/or larger catch more wind and require many more poles or heavier poles to provide the same amount of strength.
If you are paranoid about the world ending, fear an instantaneous 10-foot snow dumping, or want to camp on top of Everest, you can add an additional set of poles to further bolster the Jannu's strength. The tent's combination of pole sleeve and alternating clips enables this (put both poles in the wide sleeve and use right-facing clips for one pole and left-facing clips for the other pole) and would make for an insanely strong tent, though we feel it is rarely necessary. Even when using this contender on a backcountry ski expedition in Greenland, our testers did not bring extra poles. If you fear the worst, an extra pole set is available from Hilleberg for around $150.
After pole design, fabrics are arguably the most important part of a tent. Here too, this tent is world class. It uses Hilleberg's proprietary Kerlon 1200, a tip-top 1.47 oz./yd. silicone impregnated ripstop nylon with a 26.5 lb. tear strength. This is the second strongest fabric used on any of the winters we've tested. (The strongest is found on Hilleberg "Black Label" tents like the Nammatj and Tarra.) Strong fabrics are important because if they are punctured by something like a broken pole or a crampon, they are less likely to tear.
This award winner has a myriad of small features that contribute to its strength. (1) Three ground straps run perpendicular to the length of the tent and absorb stress during high winds and keep the pole arcs at the proper height and tension. They can also be used as guylines if needed (this is a unique feature found only on Hilleberg tents). (2) All tieout points are heavily reinforced. For example, the vestibule webbing adjusters are made of metal, not plastic. (3) Two strong metal clips remove stress from the vestibule zipper. (4) The guylines are made of a Spectra-polyester blend that doesn't absorb much water and doesn't stretch as much as lower quality nylon cord. The fact that they don't absorb water is key because moisture can dramatically add weight in wet conditions. The guylines come pre-rigged with camming adjusters. No, you don't have to spend an hour cutting and attaching lines; the camming adjusters are super easy and very fast and we much prefer them to the trucker's hitch knot when we are wearing gloves. (5) Its' lines attach to the tent with a six-inch loop of webbing that can wrap around the pole once and transfer tension from the tieout stitching to the entire pole. This too is a unique feature and we love it.
The Jannu is a palace when you consider how light and strong it is. But it is considerably smaller and less comfortable than many other two-person double wall tents. The Hilleberg Nammatj 2, for example, is much more comfortable both in its interior and vestibule.
The floor area (36.6 sq. ft.) is the second largest of any two-person four season tent that we've tested. This specification is somewhat deceiving, however, because the low angle of the rear end and sides dramatically reduce interior volume. There is enough space to sit up in the front of the tent, but not in the rear. The 13 sq. ft. vestibule extends at a low angle above the door, providing storage space for gear or a small cooking area. The Nammatj has a larger vestibule that is easier to enter and exit and better for cooking. Again, there is a tradeoff between strength and livability; a vestibule with a dedicated pole would increase comfort but decrease strength. On the bright side, our testers love the vestibule's zipper design, which uses a continuous zipper that hits the ground in two places, making a large arc. The zipper starts at the lower left corner by the front left pole and curves up, around, and back down to the front right guy point on the vestibule. There are multiple configurations for opening; the left side is best for getting in and out quickly and the center is best for loading up gear or for periods of good weather. See the photo below.
Ventilation is a key component of tent design; this model provides the best ventilation of any tent with a similar pole design. It has a large customizable top vent with numerous possible configurations; the inner tent's vent has both a solid nylon and mesh cover and the fly has a breathable solid nylon panel (not waterproof) above the inner tent's vent. Above that lies a large Kerlon 1200 cover (see photos), with all zippers accessed from the inside. The cover attaches with two toggles on one side and two hooks on the other, with the hooks allowing you to easily remove the vent for setup and take down (to allow access to pole clips). The vent cover is substantial in size and guys out on three sides. This provides excellent ventilation during bad conditions and, when coupled with a partially open door, effectively combats condensation. All testers were very impressed with its excellent ventilation.
This model balances a tricky tradeoff between low weight and multiple expedition durability. Our model has held up well after three years of use in the Lower 48, Alaska, and Greenland. We are glad that Hilleberg does not use their toughest, heavier fabrics on the Jannu; the tent is super tough already and the low weight is critical.
The major factor that makes this award winner so durable is the use of top-tier Kerlon fabrics. The polyurethane (PU) coated fly fabrics found on most other expedition tents, such as the Mountain Hardwear Trango and North Face Mountain 25, are more susceptible to hydrolysis (chemical breakup of the coating) and last for far less time than Kerlon. For example, the author used a Trango for 90 consecutive days in Patagonia and, near the end of that time, the interior PU started to flake off, thereby eliminating the fly's waterproof properties. The Jannu has been proven on many epic expeditions all over the world and we are confident in saying that it is wildly durable.
Luc Mehl et al. chose the Jannu for their 30-day, 370-mile UNSUPPORTED traverse of Mt. Logan (Canada's tallest peak, 19,551 ft.). That trip involved packrafting, skiing, and mountaineering while carrying 130 lb. packs. Its reliability provides the confidence that enables trips likes these to happen.
We give this contender three points in this category, the maximum possible, because the ability to remove the inner tent greatly increases versatility. Some of our testers like to remove the inner tent (saving 30.5 oz) for fast and light trips in all seasons. Due to its walls and vestibules that extend all the way to the ground, the tent is remarkably resistant to bugs.
This tent's default setup (inner tent + outer tent + poles) weighs 98.5 oz. or 6 lb 5 oz. This is extremely light considering the tent's strength. However, most folks will find a packed weight closer to between 6 lbs 12 oz to 7 lbs. Here's a detailed breakdown of all components:
Options for reducing weight
There are several ways to reduce the weight of this tent. The most significant is to use only the outer tent for a savings of 30.5 oz. The next most significant way to reduce weight is to upgrade the stakes. It comes with 18 DAC V stakes, which are good quality, but heavy all-purpose stakes. Upgrading to 12 Ruta Locua 9" Carbon Stakes saves 4.5 oz. and provides more holding power than the stock stakes. If necessary, the remaining guy points can be tied out with sticks, rocks, logs, etc. When camping on snow, we like to use ice axes, skis, crampons, snowshoes, poles and other things for stakes. Occasionally, we'll use a dedicated snow stake, such as the Hilleberg Snow and Sand Peg.
Hilleberg does not use reflective cords on their zipper pulls because they find that the smaller and harder-to-grab metal pulls they use are more durable in the long-term (because cords can be pulled at different angles and may derail the zipper sliders). Similarly, they also choose not to use reflective cord for the tie outs because they claim that none are as durable as the proprietary cord used on their tents, and also because they say that reflective cord can cut through guyline attachments easier (such as a loop of cord used to extend a line). Durability!
This tent really excels when used for alpine climbing and high altitude mountaineering.
Three Color Options
It is available in three colors: red, green, or sand. We have experience with all colors and prefer the red for winter use and other colors for three-season applications.
The tent is a total steal if you need its world-class strength and durability, or just have the cash for the best. For most people, we feel the Hilleberg Nammatj 2 is a better value because it is nearly as strong and $200 cheaper.
The Jannu is our highest rated self-supporting tent. We recommend it for high altitude alpine climbing and mountaineering applications that demand the ultimate static strength.
— Ian Nicholson, Chris McNamara
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