Hilleberg Nammatj 2 Review
Cons: Not as strong as dome tents (not as good for base camping), only two pockets, can be more challenging to pitch in rockier terrain
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hilleberg Nammatj 2 is incredibly versatile. It's sturdy enough for most expeditions but light enough to take on 3-season mountaineering and backpacking trips. The tunnel-shaped design offers a relatively spacious interior and is strong enough for winter camping; however, it can be challenging to set up if you're not pitching your tent on snow or in an established campground, which is pretty common for summer-time mountaineering in the lower-48 and Southern Canada.
There are four different versions/sizes of this tent. We tested the Nammatj 2.
Ease of Setup
All Hilleberg double-wall tents pitch from the outside first; their inner tent suspends from the pole structure and outer tent. This design is faster to set up than most double-wall tents that pitch the inner tent first. It also helps to keep the internal tent drier. The Nammatj has two poles that insert into reinforced sleeves. Slide them in, secure each with an adjustable strap, then stake the front into the wind, then the rear, then the other tie-outs. After a bit of practice, one person can have the tent pitched in less than two minutes.
In calm conditions, it's possible to pitch the tent with only the four corner points, which is extremely quick. The pole sleeves and quick-adjust guylines make the Nammatj dramatically faster to set up than two-person dome tents such as The North Face Mountain 25. However, it's not as easy to pitch in rocky terrain, slabs, or locations where self-supporting or freestanding dome tents are faster and easier because its challenging to get anchors in the ground.
Tunnel tents offer the ultimate blend of comfort and strength while maintaining a reasonable weight. The Nammatj has steep walls and a spacious interior; it is more comfortable than dome tents that have low angle walls. For example, the Nammatj is much more comfortable than the Jannu, which has only a small area in which to sit up. The critical difference here is the Nammatj's flat roof and relatively steep side walls, which dramatically increase interior volume and make the tent less claustrophobic.
The Nammatj's vestibule is more spacious than others due to the higher ceiling. Although the vestibule floor area is the same as the Hilleberg Jannu, the Nammatj vestibule has more volume, making it much better for gear storage and cooking. Ventilation is another crucial factor that influences comfort. Here, too, the Nammatj does very well. Both ends of the tent have a massive vent that ties out with three self-equalizing guylines. Each vent can be opened fully or closed with either mesh bug netting or a solid nylon fabric. These options allow you to adjust the airflow according to what's going on outside.
For example, you can close the windward end (Hilleberg recommends that this be the front of the tent) and leave the leeward vent open. The rear of the inner tent also has a vent that can be opened fully (to reach out and adjust the outside vent) or closed with either bug netting or a solid nylon fabric. Overall, the Nammatj has superb ventilation. It is dramatically better than the vast majority of the tents we tested, and virtually every other contender from other brands.
In part thanks to the ventilation, cooking in the Nammatj's vestibule is more pleasant and likely safer than in many other lightweight two-person tents, as the vent is right above the stove. You can exhaust carbon monoxide even in foul weather without opening the door. Bonus: moisture vapor from cooking also escapes, thereby reducing condensation.
Although our testers found the Nammatj to be highly comfortable, it's not a palace like huge dome tents or larger tunnel tents (like Hilleberg's Keron). The Nammatj only has one pocket on each side wall, unlike dome tents for base camping that may have eight or more pockets. This reinforces the fact that the Nammatj is a mobile tent that aims to balance weight, strength, and comfort rather than provide all the comforts of home (and weigh so much a porter or yak must carry the tent).
The Nammatj uses 10.2 mm DAC Featherlite NSL Green poles, which are some of the better aluminum poles found in any mountaineering tent. If you think the world might end, you can add another set of poles, sold separately, to the tent — just insert them into the oversized pole sleeves. But, we've never done this with any of the Hilleberg tents we've tested and would only recommend it for extended base camping.
The Nammatj's low-profile, aerodynamic design slices through wind like a hot knife cuts into butter. Our testers used the tent on Mt. Rainer, Denali, while base camping in the Mohave desert (where there are often high winds and blowing sand), and for scores of trips across the United States and Canada. Tunnel tents are usually the best choice for polar expeditions where high winds whip unrestricted across miles of ice and snow. Felicity Aston, a UK-based explorer, chose the Nammatj for her epic 59-day solo journey across Antarctica; she became the first woman to ski across that continent alone.
The Nammatj's fabric is a durable silicone coated nylon that breaks at 40 pounds! That's up to five times stronger than many backpacking tent fabrics and roughly twice as strong as the average fabric in the winter tents we've tested. Result: if the material gets punctured, it is less likely to tear. All Hilleberg 4 season tents have walls and vestibules that extend all the way to the ground. This is not the case with many other winter tents from other brands.
The extended length serves to reduce spindrift and splashback, and the tent is much more weather resistant as a result. The only fly setup we've tested that is more weather resistant is on the SlingFin HardShell, a four-person expedition basecamp tent with a snow skirt that can be extended out from the tent or clipped tight underneath.
Although the Nammatj excels for the vast majority of winter conditions, it does have two limitations that could be potential drawbacks for some people.
(1) The tunnel design is not as resistant to snow loading as dome tents that have a web of intersecting poles. Our testers reach for tunnel tents for the vast majority of winter trips because they balance weight, strength, and comfort well. However, for extended winter base camping or alpine climbing, dome tents perform better. In fact, dome tents are often mandatory if you plan to leave it unattended for a while in foul weather (such as in an alpine/glacial basecamp). Then, the static strength of a dome makes the tent more likely to stay intact while you launch off on a multi-day summit bid and aren't near it to remove snow from it or check on the tie outs.
(2) Alpine climbing demands a tent that is as light and compact as possible. The Nammatj is too big, too heavy, and its tunnel design would be a nightmare to pitch on a small ledge. We find that tiny tents perform best when you need to chop a tent platform with an ice axe or perch on a ledge.
Although these potential drawbacks can be significant, we feel they do not exceed the benefits of low weight, comfort, and versatility. Our Nammatj models have proven themselves on a host of North American mountaineering classics. If you are looking to move beyond Rainer and the West Buttress of Denali to technical, harder high altitude climbs, you'll likely want a double-wall dome tent (like the Hilleberg Jannu) or a superlight freestanding single-wall tent.
Hilleberg has been building tunnel tents for more than 40 years. The Nammatj is part of their "Black Label" line, which hosts their toughest tents. All of the tent's materials and features are super burly. The top-tier silnylon is both very resistant to tearing and also highly resistant to hydrolysis (the chemical breakup of the coating). Hilleberg tents use top-tier materials and a construction technique that eliminates the need for seam sealing, thereby saving weight. The combination of the poles and fabrics makes for a bomber setup.
Many other small features also contribute to durability. For example, a flat piece of webbing lies across the vestibule opening and serves to keep the vestibule in the proper shape, reducing tension from the zipper. The ends of the pole sleeves are reinforced with a durable material, and, unlike on most other tents, the ground level adjustments are made of metal, not plastic. Hilleberg even adds small metal rings to the ground level tie outs, so vibrations from high winds don't wear out the webbing loops, which are already very tough.
Just how durable is the Nammatj? That's hard to estimate. Despite extensive use for more than two years, our models have not experienced any significant problems. (Someone stepped on the side wall with crampons once, but that was a quick patch with nylon repair tape). We've heard from mountaineering guide services and NOLS instructors that the first point to break on the Nammatj (and Keron) is usually the seam above the center toggle that connects the outer and inner tents. Supposedly, the stitching fails there before anywhere else, but we did not find this in our testing.
All Hilleberg tents have removable inner tents suspended from the outer tent. You can pitch the outer tent by itself to save weight any time of the year, which is a critical feature missing on many winter tents from other companies. We like to use just the outer tent for summer backpacking trips and shorter winter trips where saving weight is a top priority. Because the Nammatj's walls and vestibule extend all the way to the ground, the tent is remarkably effective at resisting flying insects. We find that separate bug protection is rarely needed.
Big mountain guide services use outer tents of the extended vestibule versions of the Nammatj and its larger sibling, the Keron, for cook and group tents. Why? They dig deep into the snow so clients can sit down on benches. This is a much lighter alternative to colossal dome-shaped group tents and is a widely used technique on many high altitude peaks across the globe. Although the shelter does not have a huge vestibule, you can do the same with the Nammatj 2.
The above praise for the tent's livability, weather resistance, durability, and adaptability become much more impressive when you consider that the tent weighs only 6.5 pounds!
The Nammatj 2's inner tent, outer tent, poles, and guylines weigh only 5 pounds 7 ounces.Each component weighs:
Inner tent: 30.9 oz.
Outer tent with guylines: 41.4 oz.
2 Poles: 15.1 oz.
Pole stuff sack + extra pole section: 2.0 oz.
18 stakes + stake sack: 8.9 oz.
Stuff sack: 3.1 oz.
The Nammatj is extremely light when compared to other double-wall winter tents.Reducing Weight
You can reduce the weight of the Nammatj several ways. Our favorite way is by using the outer tent, which will give you a savings of 30.9 ounces. This is an excellent option for fast and light travel in any season or to use it as a group hangout shelter (just clip the inner tent back in when you want to sleep).The next way to reduce weight is by upgrading your stakes. The Nammatj comes with 18 DAC Y stakes, which are moderate quality, heavy all-purpose stakes. We also recommend considering 12 Ruta Locua 9" Carbon Stakes, which will save you
5.5 ounces. They also provide more holding power than the stock stakes and are more durable than the stock stakes. Our tests show that the stock Y stakes bend relatively easily, especially in the compact, rocky soil typically found in alpine camps. Pointy tubular stakes like those from Ruta Locura or 8" Hyperlite Mountain Gear ultralight stakes offer the best performance for use in bare ground. In winter, we like to use ice axes, snow pickets, skis, crampons, snowshoes, poles, and other things for stakes. Dedicated snow stakes, such as the Hilleberg Snow and Sand Peg, are essential if you run out of other things to use as stakes or are base camping.
Unless you are base camping for months at on sharp volcanic rocks, we feel there is no need for a footprint for the Nammatj or any other tent. The majority of the winter tents tested use 70 denier fabrics for the floor. These are much more durable than backpacking tent floors, most of which use 15 to 30 denier fabrics. The Nammatj goes above and beyond by using a 100 denier fabric!
If you want a footprint for base camping and car camping, consider cutting your own from Tyvek Home Wrap, available at hardware stores. Tyvek is likely more puncture resistant and much cheaper than Hilleberg's optional footprint, which also covers the vestibule floor — a feature that we do not find useful on a tent with one vestibule. The weight of the tent and your sleeping bag hold Tyvek in place.
Three Color Options
The tent is available in three colors: red, green, or sand. We've used all three colors; for winter use, we prefer red, which is easier to spot if you need a rescue (via people, helicopters, or planes). We like green for primarily three-season use and bike tours (it's stealthy and harder to be seen), and sand for desert dwellers or military applications.
This is a phenomenal value for a tent that can do just about everything. Seriously, while maybe not a screaming deal in the traditional sense, this tent offers incredible value for its versatile, strength, and durability.
The Hilleberg Nammatj is versatile. We recommend it to anyone that wants comfort and high performance in horrendous conditions - with respectable weight. However, its tunnel design requires that you be inside or near the tent to remove snow from it, and it's too large to fit on tiny bivy ledges, nestled between boulders, or camped our on rocky moraines. With that said, the Nammatj is a top choice for nearly every winter activity except alpine climbing and extended basecamps in exposed terrain.
— Ian Nicholson