Hilleberg Jannu Review
Cons: Zippers are small and slightly harder to grab, less headroom than other models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
If we had to choose one four-season shelter for a wide range of trips and conditions that airs on the side of strength, the Hilleberg Jannu makes a very strong case. It combines an excellent balance of versatility, comfort, and strength and brings a Denali or Himalayan level of storm-worthiness. It doesn't boast the most headroom, nor was it as packable as other options, but our review team loved the easy-to-pitch design, various set-up configurations, and top-notch ventilation options. If you aren't planning to camp in extreme weather, you could easily get away with a lighter, more compact shelter.
Ease of Set-Up
The Jannu is easy to pitch and takes four 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. Hilleberg uses a unique design, where the poles are on the outside of the entire unit. The inner tent connects to the outer fly via dozens of elasticized toggles. Both the inner and outer tents can be pitched by themselves.
The above chart shows how the other tents in our lineup fared in the Ease of Set-Up metric compared to the Jannu.
The Jannu's pitch-the-outside-first design is superior to traditional double-wall tents. It's easier for one person to set it up, and you can even keep your gloves on. Since you're not setting the inner tent up first without the fly, it won't get wet if its raining or snowing out. Once you insert the poles into the sleeves, they stand up by themselves, so you don't have to awkwardly try to balance one pole while setting up another.
These details make the setup more straightforward 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 for setup instructions.
The Jannu is full-on expedition-worthy, but weighs less than comparably strong models.
This tent's web of intersecting poles makes it capable of handling severe snow loading and winds that batter it from all sides. In open areas, like on big glaciers and polar regions, the wind tends to change little throughout a night. In high mountain conditions, wind patterns can be chaotic and unpredictable and, depending on your "campsite," might demand a tent with a stronger sidewall.
This balance of extreme strength and decent weight makes the Jannu a fantastic option for both expeditions and alpine climbing in the lower 48. If you don't expect to encounter challenging four-season conditions in places like Denali or Antarctica, where the Jannu's extra strength might not be necessary, we'd suggest you look elsewhere.
If you are moving up from those climbs to more technical routes in more regions or more classic expedition climbing, then the Jannu may serve you well. Its self-supporting design is an ideal choice for base camping if you leave the tent unattended and aren't there to remove snow from it or check on the tie-outs. The two most significant characteristics that make this tent viable for terrible conditions are the aggressive pole design and the 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. Fortunately, this four-season tent does not use an additional pole for the vestibule; it is much stronger and, as a result, less likely to break. This is another thing that makes the tent bomber; the low-profile shape also allows wind to pass over it easily. Other models that are taller 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 another set of poles to bolster the Jannu's strength further. The pole sleeve will accommodate two poles, and then you clip the right-facing clips on one pole and left-facing clips on the other. This makes for an insanely robust 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.
After pole design, fabrics are arguably the essential part of a tent. Here too, this tent is world-class. It uses a tip-top 1.47 oz./yd. Silicone impregnated ripstop nylon with a 26.5 pound tear strength. This is the second strongest fabric used on any of the winters we've tested. (You can find the strongest on Hilleberg "Black Label" tents like the Nammatj and Tarra.) Sturdy fabrics are essential because if they get punctured by something like a broken pole or a crampon, they are less likely to tear.
Many other features make this tent even stronger. Three ground straps keep the pole arcs at the right tensions and height and can be used as guylines also. The guylines are a Spectra-polyester blend which do not absorb as much water as nylon. There is also a camming adjuster included, so that you don't have to use a trucker's hitch to tension the guylines. Finally, the lines attach to the tent with a six-inch loop of webbing that can wrap around the pole once and transfer tension from the tie-out stitching to the entire pole; this, too, is a unique feature that we love.
The Jannu is top-tier when it comes to strength for its weight. However, it is considerably smaller and less comfortable than many other two-person double-wall tents.
The floor area (34.5 sq. ft.) is undoubtedly larger than many tents. This specification is somewhat deceiving 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. 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. The zipper hits the ground in two places, making a significant 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, while the center is best for loading up gear or for periods of good weather.
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 quickly 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 adverse conditions and, when coupled with a partially open door, effectively combats condensation. All testers were very impressed with its superb ventilation.
This model balances a tricky tradeoff between low weight and expedition durability. Our model has held up well after three years of use in the Lower 48, Alaska, and Greenland. To some extent, we are glad that Hilleberg does not use their toughest, heavier fabrics on the Jannu; it's already tough, and the low weight is critical.
The major factor that makes this award winner so durable is the use of top-tier silnylon fabrics. The polyurethane (PU) coated fly fabrics found on most other expedition tents are more susceptible to hydrolysis (chemical breakup of the coating) and last for far less time than silnylon. The Jannu has been proven on many epic expeditions all over the world, and we are confident in saying that it is incredibly 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-pound packs. Its reliability provides the confidence that enables trips like these to happen.
This contender earned a high score in this category as it can be pitched in several ways and works well for a wide range of conditions and uses. You can remove the inner tent and just pitch the fly with the poles leaving the body behind, which significantly increases versatility. Some of our testers like to remove the inner tent (saving 30.5 ounces) for shorter fast and light trips in all seasons.
This tent's default setup (inner tent + outer tent + poles) weighs 98.5 ounces, or six pounds five ounces. However, most folks will find a packed weight closer to between six pounds 12 ounces to 7 pounds one ounce, though it comes with far more than you need. We found we most commonly went with a packed weight of six pounds 14 ounces.Here's a detailed breakdown of all components:
- Inner tent: 31 oz.
- Outer tent with guylines: 47 oz.
- Three poles, including bag and extra pole segment: 24 oz.
- 18 stakes + stake sack: 7.5 oz.
- Stuff sack: 1.5 oz.
While this tent is exceptionally strong for its weight, it's overkill for most people traveling in the mountains of the contiguous United States and Southern Canada. If you plan to travel in some fairly extreme environments AND want something reasonable to carry for climbing in ranges like the Canadian Rockies, the Cascades, or the Tetons, then this fits the bill. However, if you are primarily traveling using on shorter, less expedition focused trips, you could certainly get away with something a lot lighter.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 ounces. 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 ounces 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.
We weren't a fan of the small metal zipper pulls. Hilleberg intentionally does this so that you can only pull the zipper in the correct direction - a longer cord would allow you to pull it at different angles and reduce the lifetime of the zippers. They also don't use a reflective cord on their tie-outs, claiming that their proprietary cord is more durable.
Three Color Options
It's 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.
This tent is not cheap; in fact, it's one of the most expensive in our review. However, the Jannu offers an acceptable value in one aspect, as it provides a mega stormproof design with top-notch fabrics and materials. Very few models can provide the same combination of strength, versatility, and low weight that the Jannu can.
The Hilleberg Jannu is one of our highest rated double-wall tents, and no model can match its use for expeditions or mountain ranges in your backyard. We'd recommend it for high altitude alpine climbing and mountaineering applications that demand the ultimate static strength; however, it's still light enough to be considered for summertime mountaineering. With that said, it's a little overkill if you're not planning to take it on adventures beyond summer mountaineering. For pure expedition use, we'd splurge on a bigger, more comfortable tent, but if weight is of concern on your expedition, this tent provides the strength without a ton of cost to livability.
— Ian Nicholson