Review: When Hilleberg zippers fail. And fail again.

Hilleberg Kaitum 3GT tent
UPDATE: (07.08.2013) This issue has now been solved.

Since we first wrote this post we have received comment on this blog, via email and other online forums about our honest post about our experience with Hilleberg.

Hilleberg have come back to us offering to fit new zippers on our tent, so we’ll update our blog once that has happened.

Faulty zippers aside, as regular readers of our blog will know (as we bang on about our tent so often), there are many things we appreciate about our Hilleberg. If they could get the zipper thing sorted out, I think it would be the perfect tent. Read our Review: What we like about our Hilleberg.

Hilleberg kaitum 3gt tent

Original post :

I blogged last July about the problems we’d had with the zippers failing on our (otherwise wonderful) Hilleberg Kaitum 3GT tent.

Despite Hilleberg replacing the sliders on the outer tent and providing us with a discounted brand-new inner tent, our zipper frustrations have continued. We’re now stuck with an unusable tent and here’s the story of how we got here.

In August 2012 I contacted Hilleberg’s US office in Redmond, Washington to explain that three out of our tent’s five zips had broken down irreparably. They invited us to send the tent for inspection. We were staying in the Northwest of the US with hosts at the time so being without the tent for a while was no big problem.

Shannon at Hilleberg told me that Petra (I assume Petra Hilleberg herself) had inspected the tent and reported that while they’d been able to replace the sliders of the outer tent, the zipper of the inner tent was just too worn down and couldn’t be mended. We were offered a discount on a new inner tent, which we decided to go for.

Petra and Shannon also said that the Kaitum 3GT was not the best tent for our purposes, despite it being clearly marketed for cycle tourers (Hilleberg’s website describes the Kaitum as a strong, robust tent which will stand up to all-season weather), and recommended that we go for the Keron, which comes in a thicker fabric with sturdier poles. Of course, we were not able to afford a brand-new tent (even at a discounted price), since we’d invested in the expensive Kaitum on the basis that it was an ideal choice for cycle tourers.

looking out from the kaitum 3gtShannon wrote to us stressing the importance of cleaning the tent zippers every day. She didn’t seem too impressed with how we’d been looking after our tent. To be fair, we’d done our best to keep it clean given the resources we had while on the road. I’d been cleaned the zippers with a toothbrush as often as I could – about once/twice a week. Shannon wrote:

“I know it is hard for you to understand the need to clean your zippers but the tent has been well used and the outer zippers had fuzz and dust in them. I cleaned up the edge of the flap covering the zippers so that should help a bit. Maintenance is as important for your tent as it is for your bike or a new car. It really helps to keep everything working well. We do recommend that you daily brush out your zippers.”

We collected the tent from Chris, their shipping manager – Shannon had let us know in advance that he’d be the only one in the office that day. I had a brief chat with him about our problems but he wasn’t able to offer much sympathy with our experience – fair enough, that’s not his job. I also picked up a letter Shannon had prepared with more detailed care instructions: clean the zippers daily; wash the tent in a bucket regularly, etc.

Although it should have been a positive day – picking up a refreshed tent which would allow us to continue our journey – we left Hilleberg Redmond slightly dejected. Rather than feeling that we’d received outstanding customer service (which we’ve had when things went wrong from companies such as Showers Pass, Exped and Supernova), we felt more like we’d been lightly scolded for not scrubbing behind our ears. Oh, the shame! While Hilleberg’s customer service was polite, it was also quietly defensive of the Hilleberg tents and refused to acknowledge the zippers failing as being a weakness of their tents. In Hilleberg’s view, the zipper failures were due solely to our lack of care.

We were frustrated that we’d invested in an extremely expensive ‘wilderness shelter’, supposedly designed for ‘expeditions to the most extreme environments’, which appeared to require an unreasonable level of care to maintain its integrity. We were expecting a better response from a company producing such a high-end, high cost product, and were disappointed with Hilleberg’s defensive approach.

But, we were keen to set off on our cycle adventure again. So that is what we did, heading for the San Juan islands off the coast of Seattle, and trying as hard as we could to get the tent’s toothbrush out every morning to clean its zippers thoroughly. A Kaitum 3GT has five zipped entrances, so this was a bit of a faff when you’ve got mats to roll, panniers to pack, bikes to ride and adventures to have. We did get some very odd looks from fellow seasoned campers, who had never seen anyone clean their tent’s zippers before.

Broken hillberg inner tent zipUnfortunately, just a month and a half after our visit to Hilleberg, we noticed that the fabric surrounding the rear zipper on the brand-new inner tent had started to fray. The stitching was rather slapdash in that area, and bits of excess fabric had been getting trapped in the zipper. We were in the full swing of touring at that time and so just took a couple of pictures and avoided using the rear entrance.

During the next few months touring in New Zealand we made special efforts to treat the tent with kid gloves and follow Shannon’s care instructions to the letter. The tent got a good old wash in a bucket before we flew Down Under, and a regular – almost daily – tooth-brush of all the zippers on its entrances.

Given what had gone before, we had much less confidence in the tent entrances, and used the zippers as gingerly as possible.

But, despite careful handling and cleaning, the zippers failed again. In November 2012, while camping in Wellington awaiting our ferry to the South Island of New Zealand, the zipper on the outer side door broke again, the teeth gaping open once the slider had been pulled across. It was only the fourth or fifth time we’d used that side door since Hilleberg had replaced the sliders. We took the frustrating decision to keep that door permanently closed.

Hillebergs side entrance zipper brokenAt the same time, the zipper on the front outer entrance started to fail again. The teeth of the zipper would refuse to close once the slider had passed. It took such effort to keep the thing closed that we eventually gave up and so – for about three months’ camping – we kept the entrance permanently tied back and open to the elements… and to the local wildlife.

I suppose it is testament to the quality and strength of the tent material that, while camping on New Year’s Eve 2012 at the foot of Mount Cook, New Zealand, we managed – just – to withstand a horrendous storm with the entrance with its broken front zipper permanently tied open. That was a scary night, and not something we’d like to experience again.

‘The Hilleberg Principle’

Hilleberg set out three principles upon which they base their ideal tent: “RELIABILITY – your being able to depend on your tent, no matter what; EASE OF USE – being able to pitch it easily, even in high winds, in the dark, alone, and while wearing heavy gloves; COMFORT – its livability, including the obvious, such as fully waterproof outer tents and floors” and “being able to depend on your tent, no matter what’.

It is plain to see that when zippers fail as severely and as frequently as theirs do, the reliability, ease of use and comfort of the tent are severely compromised.

bespoke extension using the fabric from their old Hilleberg NalloThe Hilleberg zipper problem is one that others have suffered. We heard first-hand accounts from other cycle tourers about their zippers failing, often quite early in the tent’s life. Of the five other Hilleberg tents we came across during our travels in North and South America, New Zealand and Australia, three had suffered severe zipper failures. In Tasmania we met Robert and Sabine from Germany, who’d had to fasten the outer entrance of their Nallo 2 with clothes pegs when their zipper failed. They were making a special trip out of their way to have the whole thing replaced. In Patagonia we met Sarah and her husband, also from Germany, who sewed their own tents and backpacks and had constructed a super-duper tent with a bespoke extension using the fabric from their old Hilleberg Nallo. An experienced seamstress, Sarah singled out the Hilleberg zippers for particular criticism, saying they were the weakest tent zippers she’d come across. Also in Patagonia we met Nicolas and his cycle touring family from Switzerland. All four of them were living in their 4-person Hilleberg and their zipper failed after just three months’ use. In fact, as soon as we met other Hilleberg users – mainly very experienced mountaineers and cycle tourers – the conversation turned immediately to the poor quality of the zippers, and how they’d never had such problems with other tents.

Online we came across several other incidents of Hilleberg zipper failure, for example Guy and Frederike of A Bike Journey, Linda’s comments on our blog post, and here on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum.

We are deeply disappointed with the performance of a tent which is marketed as ‘supremely reliable and easy to use in all conditions’ with ‘all-season strength as well as […] low weight’. It is pretty unreasonable to expect daily cleaning of a tent marketed as ‘supremely reliable and easy to use’, especially when it carries a price tag of almost £1,000.

I absolutely understand that nothing is infallible and that we’ve given the tent some good use, but that is what an expedition tent is designed for. We experienced the first zipper failure after just 60 nights in the tent. Is that speed of failure acceptable?

I hope that Hilleberg will respond to this post by offering to replace all our tent’s zippers at no cost to us. I also strongly urge them to acknowledge that this is a recurring problem which really lets their tents down. They should seriously consider upgrading the zippers on every new tent they make.

Are you a Hilleberg owner who has also had problems with your zippers? Please do leave a comment on this article with details of your experiences. Perhaps together we can persuade Hilleberg to give their zippers the upgrade they clearly need and drastically improve the reliability of their otherwise fabulous tents.

Here’s our Hilleberg history in numbers:

Kaitum 3GT three-man tent: £854.95
Footprint £104.95
Total: £959.90

Bought tent: 20 June 2011
Started cycle tour: 15 January 2012
Sliders and inner tent replaced: 31 August 2012
Ended tour: 2 February 2013

Number of nights camped:
… when side outer zipper started to fail: 60
… when front inner zipper started to fail: 120
… when zipper sliders and inner tent were replaced: 160
… when brand new inner tent zipper fabric started to fray: 40
… when front outer zipper broke completely: 198
… in total between 15 January 2012 and 2 February 2013: 314


  1. Recently threw away my 3 year old Hilleberg tent and went back to a Salewa, no such problems with minimal maintenance.The zippers on Hilleberg tents are the same as those on some of my tool bags (tradesman bags) those I changed to YKK, could not afford to put YKK zips on my Hilleberg.Lesson learnt.

  2. Hello from Moscow,
    I hope you remember me from our meeting in Torres del Paine in Patagonia!

    Nice to see that you go further and further :)

    What concerns tent zippers. Actually I had a similar problem with my Vaude Hogan tent I used for last time in Patagonia. However, my Vaude was from 2007 and pretty well used, also the outer fly looked bad after so many months of sunlight exposure. I had contacted Vaude, but they basically recommended me buying a new tent, even without discounts. ;)

    Since then I went to Big Agnes, and I had to deal with their customer service twice. Once that was my fault (I broke a pole while pitching my tent, being totally exhausted) and the other time there appeared a hole in the outer fly. Not clear why, I used the tent just for 6 months.

    They have sent me new outer fly for free (from US to Russia) and they have sent me a new pole, also for free. They were really fast and helping.

    So, if you’d ever consider changing a tent, have a look at — they offer very good quality and excellent service, which is actually worldwide and not only US-based :)

    Here we are in Negev desert:

    Warm hugs

  3. @Paul: I’m sad to hear that you have had the same problem. Though I’m sure that Hilleberg do use YKK zippers. They just feel very small and weak on the places where you want to put a more durable zip.

    @Andrey: Yes we do remember our very windy walk together. We didn’t managed to leave Torres del Paine in one piece, got blown off our bikes – broken fork and well beaten up along with a cut cornea.

    I too managed to break one pole when pitching the Hilleberg in a hurry, though easily fixed with the spare pole.

    We managed to find two perfectly round holes, 3mm in diametre, in our fly, a few days apart. One of them also went through the inner (two holes here). We have no idea how they got there, if it was an insect or stone. Easy fixed with our Exped Downmat repair kit.

  4. Great article Woolly. It’s very worrying though as we have recently purchased a Nallo GT II which we haven’t even used yet! I dug out as many reviews as possible before deciding on it and although I did uncover some concerns about zips they seemed to be mostly about the pullers wearing and I thought we could live with that. It sounds much more likely that the zips are simply too lightweight for the application. My greatest concern though is for the attitude of Hilleberg. Not just in your case but in other experiences I read about on the web. I get the feeling they have backed themselves into a corner on this and are passing the buck to the customer which is unfair. I hope they have the courage to hold up their hand and say they got it wrong and think again about how they treat these failures. It takes me a huge amount of discipline to spend two minutes every morning and night cleaning my own teeth. I really can’t see me paying more attention to the tent’s teeth!

  5. Dear henry,
    we bought our Hilleberg Nallo 2 autumn 11 and after half a year, in Queensland, Australia the zipper of the inner tent was irreparable defect. I wrote to hilleberg and asked them kindly to send me a inner tent to australia and they wrote back, that outworn zippers are no case of warranty…
    But – the zip of a inner tent is the crucial part of a tent, especially in area with lots of mosquitoes. Finally, they sent some meters of zip and some runners to our home adress in Germany – what a big help. I whent to a upholster shop close to Cairns and they would have charged around 150 Dollars for the repair – so I bought a zip and 2 runners for 10 dollars and within 5 hours I repaired it by my own.
    After this experience, I will NEVER go for another extreme expensive hilleberg tent and everybody who asks me I will tell this storry.
    Regards, Robert

  6. I’m on my third Hillberg cycling around the world since 2009. I won’t be going for my fourth, ziper problems, issues with innr and outer tent sticking together in dew causing a mess insde the tent, and way overpriced for what it is. I feel the pain, always after a new brand to try out.

  7. Hey,

    Just saw your blog post on twitter, and felt compelled to comment.

    We are also on a bike tour with a Hilleberg Nallo 3GT, and just like you, after 4 months the zip to the main door went. We contacted Hilleberg and had exactly the same response. They told us that we should have bought a Nammatj as it features heavy duty poles and zips.

    We bought the Nallo after reading travellingtwo and seeing other good reviews online, yet after shelling out nearly AU$1000 for a tent, we can say that we’re more than disappointed by both the zips performance and the substandard customer service we have received.

    The tent overall is a high quality piece of kit, however if we had known that we would be unable to close the door and had to replace the zips after 4 months, we would have bought a Big Agnes for half the price, and replaced it if it fell apart before the end of the tour.

    Anyway, enough ranting about Hilleberg’s poor quality zips.

    Chris and Mel

  8. We have a Hilleberg Nammatj 3 gt. After about 15 weeks of use, the zipper of our innertent started failing. We wrote Hilleberg and they told us the problem was dirt; it wears the sliders and causes the tent to open again. We should clean the zippers regularly, preferably every day. But, when you’re trekking like we are, that’s not an option. They did send us new sliders (to Argentina, without hesitation) and we installed them. We were happy, the zipper worked properly again. But now, after about 8 weeks of use, the problem is starting all over again. Even after regular cleaning with a toothbrush. We will write Hilleberg again and wait for their response.

  9. The zipper story …
    I had been warned about light zippers on Hilleberg tents, but I bought a Nallo 4GT anyway, and went to Patagonia for many monthes.
    The zippers (the inner tent zippers first) started to fail after about 3 monthes of INTENSIVE use.
    (review at :

    The YKK zippers used for both inner and outer tent are way too light, especially because due to the fabric and shape of the tent they are extremly solicited.
    When the tent dries, the fabric shrink, and the zippers suffer, they absorb a lot of tension. Of course, we all know to release the straps of the tent to minimize the issue, but as good as you are there will be time when it won’t be possible to do it…
    And when you camp for days in windy, dusty places, brushing your zippers every day with a toothbrush will not be enough… dust will go everywhere, even where your toothbrush can’t go.

    Hilleberg should have use zippers one size or 2 bigger.

    My previous tent a North Face VE25 had way bigger zippers and after 12 years or intense use, they never failed (but everything was overkill on this tent… that why it was almost 6kg.)

    While on a one year trip, Hilleberg send me new zippers to do the replacement myself (pretty messy when you are out in the wild)…
    When I actually got the new zippers, I had already managed to fix it by pinching it with my leatherman pliers, since then it works, and when they start to fail again… I give them a bit of pliers (every few month). Probably one day it will not work anymore, I guess I will have to replace the zippers sooner or later…

    Overall, I love the lightweight and space of the Nallo 4GT, but the zippers are really too weak.

    Hey guys at Hilleberg, don’t save 100gr on those zippers… Have stronger one for new models and advertise it, your customers will love you :)

    Customers… be carefull with those Hilleberg tent as long as they carry the “lightweight zippers”!
    They are great, but the zippers will likely fails in a wild and remote place… so be prepared, take spare zippers, know to change it but above all learn the quick “plier” trick that may save your nerves if not more…

  10. Thanks all for your comments. We have now send the tent to the Hilleberg office in the USA. Hopefully we will get back a tent with working zips after it has been in their good hands.

  11. Same zip problem for us. We toured in 2011 with an MSR Hubba Hubba (which gave us no zip problems at all), but in 2012, after a lot of research we upgraded to a Hilleberg Kaitum 2GT as we wanted bigger vestibules. After 140 nights three of the zips were barely useable and after much hassle we managed to find some replacement zip sliders (only single-sided though not double so more awkward to use), which were a pain in the ass to fit. We’ve now done a further 70 nights under canvas and the less-used zipper we didn’t need to replace the first time is now on its last legs. When we were trying to source replacement zip-sliders Hilleberg put us in touch with their UK repair outfit (we were back in the UK for a short while at the time) but rather than sell us some zip sliders for us to take back to China and fit to our tent ourselves they were only interested in doing the repair work on the tent themselves, which a) wasn’t possible as the tent was in China and b) was more expensive than doing it ourselves.

    We do brush the zippers sporadically but certainly not every day – this is an unreasonable expectation in our opinion and has not been necessary on any of (much cheaper) tents that we’ve owned (Hubba Hubba MSR and Macpac Minaret).

    We’ve also been disappointed with the amount of condensation that collects inside the tent despite using a footprint. And we’re now experiencing problems with moisture being sucked up through the footprint and groundsheet and collecting under anything we put on the floor of the tent (plates, cups, sleeping mats, panniers etc).

    We’ve written in more detail about our Kaitum on our website:

    Come on Hilleberg – sort your zips out!

  12. Hi all,

    just thought I’d let you know that we were looking at purchasing a Hilleberg tent here in Australia but you have successfully turned us off the brand. For the price thay are charging they really need to make sure the tent is 150% right! Thanks for all your feedback on the zipper issue. I think it is outrageous to suggest that you need to clean zippers on a daily basis. We have mostly owned Macpac tents and although we have had zippers fail, it is generally years after our purchase (and after plenty of use including some cycle trips in dusty places). And, I’ve never ever cleaned one of those zippers ever!!!

    Thanks again,

  13. Well, you have convinced me not to buy Hilleberg now. Currently have a golite shangri la, and have had no problems with the tent or the zips. As others have said, when you pay that much for a tent that you will be using off the beaten path, it should be bombproof. Sounds like Hilleberg needs to rethink their tents. Saving a few grams to make someone clean the zips daily?!!? is not a good deal IMO. Better to go with a much cheaper option like a tarptent, and replace it when it breaks.
    I also had a TNF VE24 and that lasted decades. Was bombproof, and was half the cost of a hilleberg.
    Thanks for posting about this.

  14. Dear Henrik,
    hats off! Your article is amazing!
    On the one hand I feel relieved that I found it. On the other hand I feel a big anger rising in me! Why? My experience with Hilleberg is almost the same in detail! Some of your sentences and comments of your readers are absolutely congruent with mine! Excuse my bad french (and english) but Hillebergs zippers just sucks! A big cheekiness that’s what it is!
    A short overview of my story:
    – 2009 bought a Nallo 3 GT
    – after about 20 nights one of the outer tents zippers ripped the first time
    – after about 50 to 80 nights it went worse and the seam of one bag in the inner tent had many threads (do you get this? don’t know how to explain)
    – also many threads of the seam at the inner tents zipper

    I REALLY take care of my equipment. Apart of the described issues the tent looked in 2011 almost as new (even after 2 trips to Iceland). As I never had such a light tent before I was not experienced with those thin membranes and their shrinking features in sun. Already back than I had the assumption that this tension is just to much for those tiny zippers. But to be honest: Hilleberg as one of the best tent makers was infallible for me.
    In 2011 I contacted Hilleberg and asked to send in the tent in order to repair it (in Sweden). They were really kind and offered me a repair for about 30€, which sounded amazing.
    Three weeks later I received a brand new Nallo 3 GT. This was like Christmas! I sworn I would never buy another brand! Besides I wouldn’t have to since this one was with proper zippers and over all this is just the best company in the world. This is what I thought. BTW: they didn’t commented the exchange. I was close to send them a present but in the end just wrote a very graceful email.

    I took this tent to a 3 weeks trip to Norway and to a 3 months trip to Iceland. All fine. Another 2 weeks trip to Croatia – a first fail of one of the outer zippers. Not too bad.
    In october 2013 I started a one year trip with my girlfriend. She also loves this tent. So both of us treated it with kid gloves. About after 30 nights the inner tent zipper failed for the first time. Sounded bad. Treated it with a toothbrush. Still bad sound and hard to move. Then one of the outer zippers failed. I can’t remember the exactly chronicle, but short time later the other one failed as well. The inner tent zipper went worse. All zippers were visible clean. At one point I had to use pliers to let them all work again. Our main concern was the inner tent zipper, because it was hardly working anymore. After the plier treatment it was really hard to move but at least it did what it should. Same with the other zippers. Since we need our equipment for one year we treat it with a lot of caution. We were seriously concerned about these failures and so I wrote an email to Hilleberg. The response is below as a quote. It’s almost the same they told all of the other “careless” clients.


    Sorry to hear about your problem with the worn out zip-sliders. Travelling around in Patagonia and Iceland for long periods will put a lot of strain on equipment, like your tent. Sliders on the 6 mm zippers on our lightweight tents of the red and yellow label series can have difficulties to hold properly for that kind of use over time. We do have our black label tents, made for this kind of hard use during long periods. On those tents you have much better margins with all details and functions, of course to a slightly higher weight. The Nallo tents were not really meant to be the heavy duty companion on long and demanding trips for years. They are better suited for shorter trips where low weight is essential, perhaps more so than being the strongest possible option.
    Sand and dirt will wear down the sliders like it´s now on your tent (quicker on 6 mm zippers than on 8 mm zippers). Often changing sliders will fix the problem for still some time, but in the long run the zippers will probably have to be replaced. We can send you some new sliders if you want to replace the old ones. If you in the future want to change zippers you can contact our German service partner on the following address:

    Meanwhile we use just one of the 2 entrances, which works better than the other. The plier treatment was about 5 weeks ago. 1 week ago we couldn’t use one of the inner tent zippers any more. No chance. A few days ago we could hardly close the inner tent with the other slider. That happened – murphy’s law – in an area with a bug plague. Currently we are in a hostel because we lost our pleasure of camping. It’s just a pain in the ass with such a tent! We now have to go to a bigger city (in Southern-Chile!) in order to find sliders, which are maybe hopeless to get. Again we did the plier treatment. The worse slider broke. Fuck it! Now the inner tent has just one slider, which is hardly moveable.
    I spent 850€ + footprint in order to avoid those horror stories for me. Wrong decision!

    My conclusion is just the same as yours and the other guys: Hilleberg does great tents BUT don’t trust the zippers of the yellow and red label tents. They won’t last long! Promised.
    Even IF Hilleberg would exchange the tent again, it wouldn’t satisfy me. Now that I had these issues with two different tents I am 100% sure it would happen a third time!

    Possibly we have to buy a new tent here. We don’t expect such a good fabric like Hilleberg’s but for sure we’ll get one with better zippers. It’s such a sad circumstance! This company is just ignoring a serious issue. In my email I advised them to use 8mm zippers. I believe this wouldn’t change the weight of the tent too much.
    Now that I found your blog I will write a again to Hilleberg to let them know my anger.

    BTW: to avoid tangled up guy cords I made a little invention, which I proved for about 4 years. It works perfect! Check it out:

    Ok, please cross fingers for our search of new sliders!
    Kind regards,

  15. Ok, this is an update on our Nallo zipper issue. We could get by a few weeks (was it month?) by using pliers from time to time. Although the sliders were barely moveable afterwards it worked somehow. Then in El Chaltén in Patagonia nothing worked anymore. The inner tent was just not closable. At around 5°C not really funny. Guess what! We found a Lady, which has YKK-sliders and repairs tents and other outdoor gear. In this season she already repaired several Hilleberg tents. She replaced the sliders and everything was fine again.

    For all people having zipper problems in Patagonia, go to this Lady:

    Mountain Repair El Chaltén
    7am-12am works in Busterminal at Cal Tur (office 3)
    after 12am you’ll find Daniela in her “office”, which is a trailer in Cabo 1° Garcia street, El Chaltén
    or just ask in the tourist office for Daniela and Mountain Repair


    • Hello Chris, what fantastic news :)

      We tried to find Daniela too when we were there in 2012, to fix a sleeping bag, but sadly we didn’t find her home, only her dog.

      Happy travels with your new repaired Hilleberg!


  16. Well, after months and months of humming and hawing, and drooling over every possible image related to Hilleberg I could find, and a mere day away from finally pulling the trigger to purchase, I came across this review on one last “lets be sure” fact finding mission and – I’m officially out of the Hilleberg fantasy. Finances are difficult enough these days to be spending quality income on a quality product only to have said product fall short, and cost MORE money.

    I will also say that, one of the very first things I did when researching Hilleberg tents was to watch their own set up videos. I was struck even then, early on, at the repeated – almost barrage – of “maintain this or else, don’t do that or else” commentary. I also came across a suggestion on the Hilleberg site related to condensation on the foot end of the Nallo series and a suggestion to cover your lower sleeping bag up.

    I was so looking forward to joining the Hillie family – but agree with one of the earlier commments – the decision to design a part of the tent as integral as their poles, with what appears to be a poorer quality zipper than my old Mountain Hardware Drifter – leaves me deeply concerned and potentially looking for an alternate lightweight, 4 season tent that won’t disintegrate at the slightest bit of wind above the treeline.

    Thanks for a great thread, and great – honest review!

  17. Hi Folks,

    I wish I could counter all of your bad zipper stories with a tale of heroic zipper longevity. Sadly my own story mirrors those above.

    Our Kaitum 2GT has been through some extensive trips, none longer than 3 months though, and has generally been faultless. Hugely impressed with the design and construction that was until the zips gave up.

    Now I’ve had tents from terra nova and MHW that I have used for decades that have never had a zip problem of any sort. In fact the terra nova trisar, a semi geodesic 2 man tent I bought when I was 18yrs old only died 12 years later when the fly material was so uv damaged it ripped beyond repair.

    Like everyone else I just feel that for the price hilleberg could spec tougher zips. It would weigh marginally more but I know I wouldn happy with the compromise.

    Would I buy another one? It would still be in the top three but I would be looking really hard for an alternative.

  18. Yup. My front zipper failed on my super-expensive Hilleberg tent. From your comments, I will just sew a new one in on my own and not deal with Hilleberg again. Other than that it is a great backpacking tent. Light, warm, dry.

  19. To update my last post, I solved my Hilleberg tent zipper problem with a Fix n Zip. It worked like a charm. Some guy in Oregon City, Oregon is selling them on the internet for ten bucks. I searched for a replacement zipper and found that it is a European size not sold in the U.S. Got the medium Fix n Zip. Forget about cleaning your zippers. That is ridiculous. It is the little puller thing that is the problem, not the zipper itself. I love the tent and now that the zipper problem is solved, I’m good to go camping and backpacking 4 seasons in my Nallo.

    • Great blog. Unfortunate that this big fat old fly should decide to rear its ugly face and land in our’s and Hilleberg’s ointment.

      Have you tried ‘fixnzip’? -do we know or should fixnzip theoretically solve the zip problem?
      Have Hilleberg uprated the zips they’ve been installing since this post was made?

      Questions questions!

      Appreciate any responses.

  20. Every time I receive a notification there is a new post on this article I jump on it hoping Hilleberg is announcing the will fit stronger zipper in the new tents… huuu lol. not this time ;)
    But yes, this thing looks interresting… please give feedback when you have tried !
    Thanks & happy camping !

  21. … actually it replace the plier trick. I wonder if the screw does not need to be adjusted over and over as it may be subject to screw/unscrew by itself or by friction… please test and let us know :)

  22. Ahhhhh my nallo 2 inner tent main zip has just failed, i use the tent on motorcycle trips due to its light weight and have only used it for 60 nights over 3 years.

    I agree with the general comments, for the premium price it should be bomb proof. I have just asked for a quote to get it fixed from the UK recommended repair service. If its too dear I am going to have an independent put a heavy duty zip in as this is the only weakness for me on a superb tent.

  23. I was just about to purchase a Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT tent, having sourced one at Alpenstock in Stockport, near Manchester in the UK. I thought I researched all quality tents and based on that research, the Hilleberg Nallo 3 GT came out tops but very pricey. Non the less, I thought, go for it, I’ll benefit in the long term. Just to be 100% sure, I googled ‘failure issues with Hilleberg tents’ and found this thread and wow, I’m so glad I did before making the purchase.

    I’ve never heard of having to clean zips on a daily basis on any tent and furthermore, I’ve never experienced zip failure with any tent before. Even my 20 year old Wild Country tent is still going strong but not so waterproof these days, hence the need to buy a new tent.

    Based on what I’ve read in this thread and other related threads, I will definitely not be purchasing any Hilleberg tent. I will revisit alternative brands. If I’m to part with serious money for a tent, then it must be a 100% reliable product, built to last for many years. Sorry Hilleberg, your products are just not good enough!

  24. Zippers opening up after the slider has gone through ?
    This is usually a sign that the slider has either worn out or that the slider connecting pin has been bent so that the top and bottom plates of the slider are no longer parallel to each other. ie. they are splayed apart at the rear of the slider – it may only be a fraction of a millimetre. You can try a fix of the slider but once it has been splayed the connecting pin is usually weak. Many sliders are made of diecast metal which once bent a couple of times will fatigue to total failure.
    You can try to carefully squeeze the slider plates together at the rear of the slider. This can be tricky as the plier jaws must reach from the front of the slider to squeeze the back without squeezing the front.
    Pliers with hollowed out jaws will help. I usually use multigrips and set them a little wider so that the jaws pinch at the end only – leaving a 1 cm clearance near the fulcrum.
    Be careful to not over-do the pressure because once the connecting pin at the front of the slider gets bent a few times it will weaken and break altogether.
    Now rather then replacing the entire zip when the slider is not working give this alternative a thought. Just replace the slider only. You may need to unpick one end of the zip to take off the old slider and put on a new slider. Your might need to remove the metal clips that prevent the slider pulling right off. Restitching just the end of the zip is a hell of a lot less hassle than replacing the entire zip.
    So where do you get a replacement slider ? Well I keep all old zips when anything wears out. I have a collection of about 20 different sliders and usually one of them will work. Alternatively you can buy a small sacrificial zip and rat the slider on it.
    With tent zips of spiral nylon construction it may be possible the buy similar zip by the metre and the sliders are purchased separately.
    I hope these tips help someone with a lazy zipper.

  25. Bummer, thinking about purchasing a nallo 3gt but now I think I’m gonna pass and maybe try my luck with Vaude or Terra Nova. I’m doing the northern tier right now and meet an English dude in north dakota recently and he has had several zipper issue’s as well. The tent I am touring with isn’t holding up and I was planning on springing for the nallo but now I’m lost.

  26. Justin,

    Don’t ditch the idea completely. Like everything in life it’s about a compromise. The build quality and durability of the tent is second to none and my kaitum 2GT (apart from the zip) has been the best tent I’ve ever owned. The zip was annoying but not a deal breaker. Competed to the other tents you mentioned I’d still buy the hilleberg. If you are planning on using it a really tough environment or for months on end I’d take hilleberg a recommendation and choose one of their toughest tents rather than the mid-weight range. All the best with your trip.

  27. Justin and Patrick,

    Well, after looking very closely at all the options available, nothing matches the quality of finish on the Hilleberg range of tents. So I’ve taken a gamble on the zip issue and purchased a Hilleberg Nammatj 3GT. I have been assured that the zips on the Black Label range are heavy duty and will not fail. Only time and usage will confirm if I’ve made the right choice or not? Looking forward to many extended European motorcycle tours in all seasons, so here goes! Enjoy your travels.

  28. Unfortunately I think you are right about it still being the best option. I planned on getting the Nallo 3GT. I’m on a bicycle so I have weight requirements, I was already pushing it with the Nallo 3GT, stepping up to black label would put me way over the weight limit of how much weight I’m willing to bring on your tent wise. I could go with the Nammatj without the extra vestibule space (not the GT). Another alternative is I could get an upholstery shop to put a better zipper on the nallo.

  29. I shouldn’t have to compromise like this though, I don’t think I’m going to either. I don’t want to have to spend another couple hundred bucks somewhere getting another zipper added or carrying a heavier duty black label that is heavier than I need or want. Other than the zipper the nallo seems to hold up great for cycle tourist. Zipper failure is a big deal and I think I’m just gonna wait and not spend the money on something that failure is almost a guarantee.

  30. Hi People – I think I already wrote something in response to some other thing about Hilleberg tents. But re-reading your woes I feel compelled to write something on zips!

    I have a 20 year old Nallo 2. Minimum of 400 nights spent in it. I had a new floor sewn in (all this footprint malarkey is a bit weird, and I haven’t used one mostly – the old one failed because it was worn thin, not punctured) a couple of years ago. Original zips. My Nallo 3 GT, probably 200 nights, no problems with any of it, zips are fine. My Akto has seen serious action for many years, minimum 300 nights, no problems at all, zip or otherwise. I find Petra/Hilleberg’s advice to clean the whole tent regularly, and toothbrush the zips virtually daily utterly unrealistic and impractical. I have never cleaned a tent (bar brushing out grass etc from time to time) nor cleaned/brushed a zip – EVER!

    I mostly wild-camp in the mountains of the UK where sand and grit is scarce – even in drier, summer conditions, it’s grass and other green vegetation on the surface mainly. I wonder if there’s something about bike-packing/’civilised’ campsites that influences things? I think I am pretty sympathetic in my treatment of all mountaineering kit, but as noted in the blog Hillies are designed for tough conditions, and my tents have received some harsh treatment in harsh conditions. Nary a zip failure. I DO take care, try not to over-tension zips, but obviously tents need to be tensioned against the weather, and we all need to be able to get in and out regardless. So I really don’t understand other people’s zip problems.

    Sorry, that’s not helpful! But that IS my experience – 40 years of backpacking and some cycle touring, the last 20 years mainly with 3 Hilleberg tents which have performed faultlessly.


  31. Oh yeah (Hi again) – Condensation…

    I’m sorry, but you (somewhere back up the Hilleberg whinge train) CANNOT blame Hilleberg for condensation!!! Ferchrissakes! If you use a fitted footprint (why?) water simply will get stuck there between the 2 layers. ‘Sucking water up’ – No, really, really not. And if you do insist on a fitted footprint you must make sure it’s separated and dried every time, as it can’t do that unaided. If water is coming through still, there’s a f—ing leak!

    The most waterproof tents will get most condensation. Heavier zips are, er, heavier. You can’t have it both ways folks. BTW – I don’t think zips need cleaning, but you do need to treat them respectfully. I see this often out and about, people yanking on zips, and don’t even get me started on pegging, even on the world’s most expensive tents! Just because people have expensive tents doesn’t make them sympathetic users or even competent… Rant over. Now let’s all get a life (-:


  32. I don’t know if this forum is still active, but I’d like to add my two cents worth: I have a Hilleberg Unna–love the tent and use it year-round. I’m just about to send the fly to Hilleberg U.S. For the second time. Because of the zipper (both times): there’s a 6- to 8-inch section where the teeth separate after the slider passes over them; since receiving the fly back (with the letter admonishing me for not keeping it clean), I had taken better care of the tent, especially the zipper. I was also very careful when opening and closing the zipper, because the zipper still showed signs of separating. It meanwhile separates every time The slider passes over it, and it has to go back. Again. Last time there was supposedly nothing wrong with it that a little cleaning couldn’t fix; maybe this time it’ll get repaired.

  33. I’ve only taken it out a few times since my purchase, not gonna really break it in until this summer where me and my wife are flying to Europe to cycle around for three or four months. I really hope I don’t have zippers issue’s I’m trying to put the kid gloves on when dealing with the tent and almost didn’t buy one, hopefully I have better luck than you did with the Unna. If I do have problems and they blame me for it in a letter or email it’s really really gonna piss me off.

  34. in 2014, i was cycling for 3month in northern europe and i slept about 80 nights in an old hilleberg nallo2. i never cleaned the zippers and i had no problems with them. but as the tent was old and used and the footprints of the (new) nallo2 don’t fit anymore, i decided to buy a new, freestanding one for my current trip: i bought a hilleberg allak in spring 2015 and started cycling in june 2015. of course i cleaned the zippers from time to time, although they didn’t seem dirty to me. but after 5 month, the zippers started to die. the ones on the outer tent as well as the ones on the inner tent. i got new zipper sliders (from the shop in switzerland where i bought the tent) and replaced some of those – but i still have problems with the zippers. it was very annoying when i couldn’t close the tent in winter time in china or in mosquito areas, especially as i had sometimes to kill several mosquitos inside the (inner) tent, making the inner tent looking ugly…!

  35. Same here, Nalo 3 GT outer door zipper failed in a force 9 gale in the Outer Hebredes. Fixed the zipper with a leatherman. Had to pay Hilleberg’s repairers in the UK for a permanent fix. Groundsheet and footprint leaked as well. Great tent apart from all the faults!!!

    What make should I replace this with? Really like the design of the Katium, but want one that more reliable….

  36. Thanks, you just put me off hilleberg.
    I send them an email if they still use those zips and am curious as to what they will say …..

    we went car camping in 1995 around Australia, used a Moss tent (believe they were purchased by MSR) for a full year, in dust dirt and everything else
    had about 250 nights in the tent,,,,3person 4.5 kg costing 1500DM then
    cleaned the zips maybe 5 times and were still perfect
    used the tent afterwards in europe for some time and still great zips
    fabric was totally faded from the sun-fair enough and needed seam sealing
    great tent great quality

    • “Thanks, you just put me off hilleberg.
      I send them an email if they still use those zips and am curious as to what they will say”

      And… what did they say?

  37. Hello all we feel your frustration with zipper failures on tents! check our New & Revolutionary Patent Pending 2-in-1 tents at and we guarantee that ZIPPERS WILL NOT be an issue. Not only we use the best suppliers of components but use the best available components in class to make our gear! and its all followed by top notch customer service and after sales support through our Warranty & OMG program. Once you use our tents you will never use another tent. We ship products world wide from Chicago, USA.

  38. I have a 2017 Hilleberg Anjan 3 person tent and have also suffered zipper problems. I’ve replaced the sliders twice and think eventually I’ll need to replace the outer zipper totally.

    However this tent has been used heavily on a cycle tour in high winds at high altitude in lots of sand, and it has suffered a few sand storms.

    I see the problem more with zips in general. I think using zips on tents or bags is a bad idea. Or perhaps YKK zips should make machined stainless steel sliders not cast alloy – as they suck. Or someone else should make zips for Hilleberg. This is an obvious design opportunity to either make better zips or remove the zips altogether. I don’t believe ‘heavier’ zips of the same kind will fix the wear problem as they are fundamentally the same construction and thus I believe they will suffer the same issues.

    For comparison I had an Ortlieb bike bag that had a tizip – that lasted 15(!) days of riding in the same environment before it broke. I got a refund and changed to a zipless Porcelain Rocket bag, which is excellent. I have a friend who followed shortly after us through the same sandy windy section in Northern Argentina with a Big Agnes tent. Some of his zips don’t really work at all any more and his slider snapped.

    I think if I was using the Anjan at home in New Zealand I would have had no zip problems – there is not much sand or grit, but rain and wind.

    In the past I’ve used a Big Agnes Copper Spur and MSR Hubba Hubba extensively. I’ve also used Macpac, Wild Country, Kelty, And Nemo tents a little. For me the Hilleberg is the best combination of weight (1.9kg) strength and size.

    I’ve had amazing service from Hilleberg – who have twice sent me repair packs for free in South America. Again, by comparison Ortlieb and Thermarest have been somewhat useless and much harder to work with.

    So, on balance, yes the zipper issues are very annoying but I would still buy the same tent again.

  39. The saga continues in 2018. I’ve got an Allak and the zipper on the fly separated. While working the zipper back open to attempt a multi-tool repair, several teeth became damaged. This happened on a backcountry trip and while I was finally able to close the zipper, I was unable to use one vestibule for the remainder of the trip. I’ve just contacted Hilleberg and am waiting to hear their response.

    I’ve only got about 30 nights of use so far, and, while I take good care of it, clean the zippers with a toothbrush? Are you kidding?

    With the glacial dust encountered most everywhere I travel here in Alaska, I’d need to spend hours cleaning the zippers.

  40. It’s interesting to read two versions of this: the old ones surviving, the new ones failing. It’s probably the usual case of a once good product now being made cheaper and cheaper and sold for a higher and higher price. I can add a little to that myself as I used to have a Keron 4GT some 20+ years back which was fine. It’s the reason I bought a second one in 2011, which had all the zipper issues the old one didn’t have and lasted a mere 6 months while on a RTW before the fabric split open. Hilleberg claimed it was UV degradation due to me using it in sunlight(!) I guess a tent should only be used on dark winters’ nights. Maybe that’s why their brochures depict them half covered in snow? Hilleberg offered a new one with a discount. The zippers on that failed again, as did the fabric and it had more than a few leaks too. Add to it seriously dumb designs such as an inner tent which you have to open fully before you can go in or out (the mosquitos love that) and a floor which lets water through and I’m off Hilleberg for good.

  41. I had very similar experiences with my Nallo 2 while traveling across South America in 2008. Zippers failed miserably despite being cleaned regularly. I received a similar scolding from Petra Hilleberg and no attempts to resolve. I will never buy another of their tents.

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