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Why no Hilleberg copy designs?

I have always admired the Hilleberg tents and hope someday to be able to afford them. One thing always struck me as curious - why there aren't more tents with the same basic design as the Allak and Staika?

If you look at the current market of North American style tents i.e inner tent with bathtub floor, mostly mesh upper, inner skeleton then a fly overtop, this design has endless examples from different companies. Many look like direct copies of other products. Yet if you look for exoskeleton designs with fully vented doors that can be zipped shut like the Allak/Staika then you hardly find any. I know that other Euro manufacturers have examples of this but it seems like only Exped have anything close to Hilleberg's domes with their Orion. 

It seems to me that a U.S. company like MSR or Big Agnes could easily make an exoskeleton dome with double doors (mesh and fabric), and take some market share for themselves. MSR even has an exoskeleton double wall tent for the Euro market called the Hubba Tour. It frustrates me that no one seems interested in pursuing this. 

Thoughts? Maybe I am just misjudging the North American market. 

Exped of course has copied the Hilleberg tunnel tent designs.

It must be remembered that both Allak and Staika are not really domed tents as such---the inner tent is a simple rectangular wedge tent while the fly is a self-standing dome. 

Who would want to copy such a thing?  Because most dome tents make better use of the geometry than Hilleberg---by using the poles to configure a larger inner tent instead of Hilleberg using the poles to make two large vestibules and sticking to a small inner wedge tent.

A case in point is the Mt HW Trango tent---

Now study the Staika (my pic)---

It looks similar---BUT---it ain't!

Here's a pic of the Staika unadorned.  Nothing like the above Mt HW tent.  The Staika inner is not taking advantage of the dome poles.  So I would consider the Staika not in the same category of a true dome tent.

So actually the Staika is more of a Wedge tent like the old Mt HW Light wedge (my pic)---


The tunnel design existed well before Hilleberg .

Both Stephenson and Norrona had them. 

In 1972 Norrona had the Ravneskar, a double entry 3 pole tunnel tent.

Bibler had  3 pole full freestanding tents also before Hilleberg did the Allak.

The Pinon was one.

Contrary to Franco's opinion, I believe that the Tarptent Moment tents were at least partly inspired by the Hilleberg Atko. But the Moment design improved on the Atko, especially the current Moment DW.

Eric B.

The Fjallraven Dome tents are the most similar that I've seen....I'm guessing other Scandinavian manufacturers might have something similar.  

While I do think there is some market share to be gained by using the fly first pitch (and having the whole tent go up at once/not exposing the inner to the elements), I still believe that the reason Hillebergs are the best tents made is the Kerlon fabric. 

So, while some other companies could make up some ground by employing (what should be far more common by now) superior design I still think there's other things that would keep Hille on top. 

It isn't my opinion, I was "there" when the Moment came about.

The Moment is a slimmed down version of the Scarp. The Scarp was designed as a convertible 3/4 season tent (using the X poles) the Moment borrowed the inverted V corner set up (PitchLoc corner) cutting the size and therefore the weight of the Scarp.

The Scarp is a single hoop end supported tent like the Akto, however it has a lot of different features deliberately introduced to overcome what was perceived by Tarptent to be the weak points of that single hoop design.

(introducing  higher ends,higher sit up area, bottom as well as top vents, dual entry/vestibules, stronger (inverted V) corner strut support that also adds better panel tension )

Just about every backpacking tent manufacturer in the world has done a single hoop tent of that type but it started with Robert Saunders in the UK. 

And let us not forget about the Early Winters Omnipotent tunnel tent which also appeared in 1972 with the later versions to be the first to use the newly invented and original Gore-Tex material on it's vestibules. . 

However the tent that made the most difference in the modern history of tent design in the USA, and signaled the death-nil for most all A-frame tents and even tunnel tents, came out in 1975. That tent was the iconic and now very collectable The North Face Ring Oval Intention. As TNF was the most prominent tent maker/outdoor gear manufacture in the US, they figured out that the geodesic dome design, coupled with the newly designed aluminum tent poles that were just redesigned aluminum arrow shafts, would be what they felt at the time........the very strongest, lightest weight, high/medium profile tent that could be used in extreme expedition conditions. And the rest is history as:

My first tent, TNF Ring Oval Intention which I bought in 1979 on sale and still have, with it's newer fly made of heavy duty experimental silicon impregnated material. I had the fly made due to UV damage that rendered the original unusable. I chose yellow as the original blue fly was hugly depressing when one spent much more than a day inside the tent in bad weather as well as making the new fly full coverage............


From the TNF Ring Oval Intention came the:

Sleeve Oval Intention

The North Star.  The later incarnations of the NS were the Himalayan Hotel and the Himalayan 47.  The body of the North Star was used in a contract with the US armed forces when TNF made the ECWT(Extreme Cold Weather Tent) which sold to the US government for $2800.  It  is reputed that "these tents can withstand a 107 mph (mile per hour) gale.  If there ever was a bombproof tent this is it. IMHO. "



And then the VE-25.........................which has been around in different incarnations for over 35 years, probably longer than any other tent . The VE-25 is the most copied low profile tent for extreme conditions that has ever been produced in the USA. I think the reason that the US did not copy the designs of Europe is that every time a tunnel tent design within the US market was introduce it was very short lived, with only one exception that I can think of,  the Early Winters Omnipotent and it's little brother ............who's name I cannot remember and the Stephenson’s Warmlite line of tents which are still being made.

The fact is that the US collectively feels, or has felt for many years, that the borders of the world end at the Pacific and Atlantic and there was no need to copy anything that the rest of the world came up with or had. A good example of that was the front-load washer. While Europe had a front load washer for 20-30, the US was still using top-load washer before but a single model was introduced. That model was a failure as they could not figure out the proper gasket to seal the door, it consistently leaked and was doomed from the beginning.  So the USA kept using the agitating top-load washer even though the front-load was a far better way to wash clothing both for the clothing and the environment.

Good links and discussion, Apeman.  There's also this---

Another link---

Back in the day North Face was considered the best down bag maker and excellent tent makers.  I used their A-frame Tuolumne for 10 years and hundreds of bag nights.  Also used their Windy Pass VE-24---a cheaper version of their VE-24.

I consider their VE-23/24/25 to be the King of Tents---and remarkably it's a design like the Hilleberg tunnel which NF has kept and tweaked and improved over the last many years.

After the Tuolumne I went with a NF Westwind---also excellent.

Here's some stuff on Robert Saunders---

It's hard to come up with a really comprehensive evolution of backpacking tents from let's say 1930 onward.  In 1972 Early Winters came out with their already mentioned tent.

Jack Stephenson had his first tunnel in 1958.  Gerry produced his Himalayan tent in 1953.  Bo Hilleberg made his first tent in 1973.

The Whymper mountaineering tent was made in the 1860s out of canvas and was around 20 lbs---a backpackable tent.

Later the Mummery tent came out in the 1880s and was oiled silk and weighed around 2lbs---floorless. 

Early Winters Omnipotent and it's little brother ...

WinterLight ?

I like that Omnipotent name because Todd Bibler then came out with his Impotent.

I wonder how many tents designs have been made and  lost because they came about before magazines and then the internet made it easier to share knowledge of them. 

Franco said:

Early Winters Omnipotent and it's little brother ...

WinterLight ?

I like that Omnipotent name because Todd Bibler then came out with his Impotent.

I wonder how many tents designs have been made and  lost because they came about before magazines and then the internet made it easier to share knowledge of them. 

Actually, there was a shortened version of the Omnipotent.  The Omnipotent had 4 poles, while the shortened version had 3 poles and I believe 2 ft. less length.  The Winter light was a entirely different.   

The Omnipotent SL.

Here is one :

Omnipotent-SL.jpgand this is the Winterlight :


Tipi mentions the Gerry Himalayan in passing. That was a design that has not been duplicated by anyone else. It was a triple layer A-frame that stood up to almost anything. A couple friends and I, members at the time of the CalTech Alpine Club, rented one in anticipation of a strong mid-winter storm. In looking back through weather records, the storm we went through long held the record for a massive Sierra storm.

The tent itself was, as I said, triple layer. The main tent was a 3-person A-frame with a floor plus front and back vestibules. One of the vestibules was dedicated to scooping snow through the floor unzip flap, to melt for water and cooking (GASP!! Yes, we cooked during the storm inside the tent on our Primus (called a 123, available still, though used by most as a decoration - a beautiful work of art). The other vestibule was also a triangle-shaped floor zip, but this time for getting rid of "waste" matter (who wants to go outside in 40-mph winds at -40°F to relieve yourself?).

The fly was fairly traditional in its design and fitted over the main tent with lots of guy lines. The inner tent was a "frost cloth" - a cotton tent liner that tended to move the moisture from our sweaty bodies and breath inside, through the main canvas tent, and on through the fly. It worked quite well.

However.... We went to Mammoth Lakes, signed out with the Rangers (who decided we were experienced but wanted an itinerary to find the bodies, just in case). We headed over toward Devils Postpile, though we ended up not going quite all the way, due to the deep soft snow (rare for the Sierra, which tends to have wet snow). We took turns for the next 3 days going out and shoveling snow off the tent. The storm finally let up enough for us to dig out and pack the tent. We then trudged out on our skis with skins (skis were longer and moderately wide in those days). On getting back to Mammoth, we had to dig out the car. The rangers were happy to see us alive, of course.

Wouldn't you know it, though? On the way back to Pasadena, the car began dying. Luckily, it started at a high point in the road, so we could coast much of the way south on 395 (for those not familiar, just south of Mammoth Lakes has a lot of downhills). Eventually in Mojave, we managed to convince the tow company to haul us South to where we could get a bus to  Pasadena. The car was given to the tow company as the price of towing (students in those days did not get student loans).

Fond memories of the Gerry. Not so fond memories of the cold, the winds, and digging in the deep snows.

Old tent memories are better than old girlfriend memories!!  Here's a pic of the old Gerry tent---

Bill says,

The other vestibule was also a triangle-shaped floor zip, but this time for getting rid of "waste" matter (who wants to go outside in 40-mph winds at -40°F to relieve yourself?).

The art of Effluvia Extraction is still practiced inside tents during blizzards, low temps and harsh conditions---without the need for a zippered floor hole.  It's called Squatting Over Paper Towels (or Plastic Bags etc)---while still inside the tent.  Wad it up and set it outside and in 30 minutes it's frozen solid.

Heard of two mountaineers who lined their cook pot with a plastic bag and used it as a toilet.  What fun.

Franco, that was it. I could not remember that it was just the SL. Been looking for one of those for a while as I have a couple versions of the regular and colorful Omnipotents. All the SL's I've found over the years have not been in the best of shape. I've got a couple of in yellow and the other green if I remember correctly. Suppose I should go and look.

Bill, Great story.................

Tipi, Though I've many times gotten up in the night and pee'd in a plastic bottle of some sort I've always saved depositing a duce for after I'd gotten up had had morning coffee. I'm glad that I've never had to pass one in a tent or in hanging bivy on a rock wall. And I agree with you that tent stories are much better than old girlfriend stories...........though I do have some very fond old memories of girlfriends in and with tents that's for sure.


that was the only photo of the SL I could find so I guess it is pretty rare.

Same for the Paradigm, hardly anything on that one too apart from this :



I finally got around to scanning through your reference :

WOW! That brought back memories. That brought back outings I had with a number of the people listed, a number of them mentors.  Plus lots of gear that we used at that time (very different from what's available these days). And yet .... many of the same problems in the discussion sections that we are facing in preserving the wilderness to this day!

I recommend everyone here on Trailspace to scan through and read the whole reference, not just the Gerry tent.

Tent porn...

I had the NF V23 and V25 domes.  Well built, but confining and low ceilinged.  Expensive too.  Did not like the tents so much when hunkered down for more than a few hours.  The funky orange color fly didn't help matters.  I loaned the V23 to the other half of our group on a Sierra spring trip.  We skied up over Duck Pass (just a spell down the way from Bill's snow story). A big wind storm caught us at Virginia Lake.  It pulled the v23 off its moorings.  The occupants cut their way out of the tent as it tumbled into the night over the crusted snow.  I lost my tent, they lost a bunch of gear.  Yard sale in a blizzard.  The failure was probably due to wind shifting and getting around the minimal revetment that team built around only one side of the tent.   The V25 met its maker on an Andes trip when bad weather blew up the trip and prevented us from getting all of our stuff off the route.  

Below: On the right side of the image is one of those NF V tents on a pleasant outing to Mt Langley, when we were ambushed by a early afternoon wind storm, forcing us to make camp below the summit at approx. 13,500’.  We are cooking dinner (not in the tent); two of us in the center of the frame.  Air temp: -6°F (day time) wind speed: ~45mph.  The weather calmed after dark. 

The Early Winters Omnipotent was a double walled, non-gore tex tent.   I think that was the only tent in their lineup which fell into that category.  Cannondale made excellent tunnel tents back in the 1970's.  

The original point on Hilleberg copies, nearly every European tent maker makes similar styled tents, they just are not popular in the US.  Terra Nova for example.


Please explain how the Moment design could have come from the Scarp when my original single wall Moment came before the Scarp.  

Changing to a double wall (Moment DW) was not really something that needed a Scarp design to accomplish.

Eric B.

The Scarp was out by the end of 2008.

The Moment came out towards the end of 2009.

This is the product page from Dec 2009 

By the time the Scarp design was almost finished, the moment had not started.

Took several years for the Scarp to be designed.

The Moment DW was released in 2013. 

I bow to your intimate connection to Tarptent and concede (finally ;o) to your chronology of the introduction of the Scarp v.s. the Moment.

(But I still like comparing the Moment DW to the Atko B/C the Moment DW has a better overall design when the X-ing pole option and resistance to snow load is considered for 4 season use.)

Eric B.

September 27, 2020
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