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Hilleberg Jannu Review

Built for the worst conditions but still light and packable enough to consider for summer mountaineering
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $990 List
Pros:  Stormworthy, highly resistant to snow loading, pitches quick from outside, great ventilation, multiple setup configurations
Cons:  Zippers are small and slightly harder to grab, less headroom than other models
Manufacturer:   Hilleberg
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 15, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Weight - 27% 5
  • Weather/Storm Resistance - 25% 9
  • Livability - 18% 7
  • Ease of Set-up - 10% 9
  • Durability - 10% 9
  • Versatility - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Hilleberg Jannu is a versatile shelter for mountaineering and alpine climbing. It strikes a nice balance between something that is expedition worthy but is still light enough to take into your local mountain range. Our testers loved the ease set-up setup, bombproof storm protection, and respectable weight, which make it one of our highest-rated overall models. Made for high altitude climbing and mountaineering, it does have a few disadvantages; it's considerably less comfortable to hang out in than other full-blown expedition focused tents and is expensive. Also, while not nearly as heavy as full-blown expedition models, it is still a bit heavier than most lighter-duty 4-season models.

Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


The Jannu is one of the best all-around 4 season tents available. It finds a near-perfect balance of being one of the strongest contenders in the review  but still maintains a respectable weight and comfortable amount of room to hang out in. Shown here on an extended trip to the IIulissat Ice field in Western Greenland in March.
The Jannu is one of the best all-around 4 season tents available. It finds a near-perfect balance of being one of the strongest contenders in the review, but still maintains a respectable weight and comfortable amount of room to hang out in. Shown here on an extended trip to the IIulissat Ice field in Western Greenland in March.

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 pole structure is easy to set up  even with one person in high winds (while wearing gloves). After staking the base of the tent out  the poles insert into partial pole sleeves (shown here)  that stand up by themselves.
The Jannu's pole structure is easy to set up, even with one person in high winds (while wearing gloves). After staking the base of the tent out, the poles insert into partial pole sleeves (shown here), that stand up by themselves.

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 pitches from the outside with a combination of partial sleeves and reinforced alternating clips. This is the lightest available double wall tent with PHENOMENAL static strength.
The Jannu pitches from the outside with a combination of partial sleeves and reinforced alternating clips. This is the lightest available double wall tent with PHENOMENAL static strength.

Weather Resistance


The Jannu is full-on expedition-worthy, but weighs less than comparably strong models.

This is truly an "all-conditions tent " and there are few places in the world we wouldn't consider taking it. Strong pole design  steep walls  and a tight pitch help the keep its occupants comfortable during an exceptionally windy day in the central interior of Iceland.
This is truly an "all-conditions tent," and there are few places in the world we wouldn't consider taking it. Strong pole design, steep walls, and a tight pitch help the keep its occupants comfortable during an exceptionally windy day in the central interior of Iceland.

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.

On extended expeditions  especially in harsh  remote destinations  the livability of your tent becomes more important than weight. Vanessa Kiss prepares for a cold night in the Jannu in western Greenland.
On extended expeditions, especially in harsh, remote destinations, the livability of your tent becomes more important than weight. Vanessa Kiss prepares for a cold night in the Jannu in western Greenland.

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.

The poles connect with a short pole sleeve at the bottom (not shown) and alternating pole clips attach to a super strong nylon strip that runs the entire length of the poles. For terrible conditions  two poles can be used.
The poles connect with a short pole sleeve at the bottom (not shown) and alternating pole clips attach to a super strong nylon strip that runs the entire length of the poles. For terrible conditions, two poles can be used.

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.

The Reactor and the Jannu at 11 800ft.
The Reactor and the Jannu at 11,800ft.

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.

This product is super strong. Notice the many guy lines (made of Spectra)  camming adjusters  removable roof vent cover  and how the fly extends to the ground. BOMBER!
This product is super strong. Notice the many guy lines (made of Spectra), camming adjusters, removable roof vent cover, and how the fly extends to the ground. BOMBER!

Top-Tier Fabrics

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.

Vanessa Kiss and the Jannu before a windy night in central Iceland.
Vanessa Kiss and the Jannu before a windy night in central Iceland.

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.

Yet another brilliant feature. The Jannu's guylines have a webbing extender that's designed to wrap around the pole once. This transfers some stress from the stitching to the pole.
Yet another brilliant feature. The Jannu's guylines have a webbing extender that's designed to wrap around the pole once. This transfers some stress from the stitching to the pole.

Livability


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.

The Jannu's three different vestibule configurations are shown here. The middle is our lead tester's preferred option because it is easier to enter and exit. You can also roll the vestibule away completely  not shown.
The Jannu's three different vestibule configurations are shown here. The middle is our lead tester's preferred option because it is easier to enter and exit. You can also roll the vestibule away completely, not shown.

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.

The Jannu (shown here) and Tarra share a large top vent. Note the webbing strip that reinforces the vent and the elasticized toggles that attach the inner tent to the outer tent.
The Jannu (shown here) and Tarra share a large top vent. Note the webbing strip that reinforces the vent and the elasticized toggles that attach the inner tent to the outer tent.

Durability


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.

The Jannu (left) and Siavo (right) on an UNSUPPORTED 370-mile packrafting  skiing  and mountaineering traverse of Mt. Logan  Canada's tallest peak  19 551 ft.
The Jannu (left) and Siavo (right) on an UNSUPPORTED 370-mile packrafting, skiing, and mountaineering traverse of Mt. Logan, Canada's tallest peak, 19,551 ft.

Versatility


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.


Weight/Packed Size


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.

Testing on a backcountry ski expedition in Greenland. Unlike tunnel tents  the Jannu's pole structure can handle significant snow loading  which allows you to leave it unattended for a day or longer.
Testing on a backcountry ski expedition in Greenland. Unlike tunnel tents, the Jannu's pole structure can handle significant snow loading, which allows you to leave it unattended for a day or longer.

Features


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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