Hilleberg Jannu Tent
A Sidetracked Review
My sleeping bag is fully zipped up against the cold. Somewhere in the distance a stag roars – the sound is carried on the wind and echoes around the mountains. Winter is just around the corner. I think about what it would be like if there were wolves outside, roaming the Highlands as they did in the not too distant past.
Our camp is perched on a heather promontory deep in the Cairngorms. To get here we walked through ancient woodland bustling with life until gradually, as the trees thinned and then disappeared completely, the space around us grew and the ‘big world’ of the Northern Cairngorms took full effect. These mountains might not be large by international standards but there is a sense of space here that you just don’t get anywhere else in the UK. The scale is different, everything seems further apart.
Our shelter for the night comes in the form of a Hilleberg Jannu – an ideal tent for lightweight pursuits in the mountains, at any time of the year. It’s a two man semi geodesic design that is made using some of the best materials and components available. Hilleberg tents aren’t cheap, but they do have impeccable build quality.
The Jannu’s 3 DAC 9mm poles are colour coded for ease of pitching. The inner and outer tents are designed to be pitched as one which is a real advantage in wet weather. The inner can be separated from the fly for drying purposes though. Hilleberg are best known for making tunnel tents but being semi geodesic in shape the Jannu can be easily moved around to find the best spot before pegging out – a definite advantage on uneven ground.
After inserting the poles correctly it’s a straightforward task to simply clip the fly to the poles. You can really feel the Hilleberg quality when pitching the Jannu – everything is just taught enough to provide stability but not too taught as to lead to a struggle. The patterning, weight of materials and location of clips seems just right. The materials and components interact as if they are well oiled. Erecting the Jannu is a slick process.
Hilleberg use 3 different weights of fly material in their range – all are silicone coated and of the highest quality. Hilleberg use the mid weight Kerlon 1200 on the Jannu. This fabric is very light and has exceptionally high tear strength. The groundsheet has a 5m hydrostatic head and again provides a good balance between weight and durability. Altogether the Jannu weighs a touch over 3kg which, considering it’s so strong and spacious, is pretty impressive.
When pitched and fully pegged out the Jannu is taught and strong. It doesn’t quite have that bomb proof feeling that a 4 or 5 pole full geodesic tent offers, but it’s strong enough to stand up to all but perhaps the most ferocious winds. I really like the extra large loops of fabric that the guy lines are attached to. When wrapped once or twice around the pole they increase the effectiveness of the guy lines and improve the overall strength of the structure markedly.
Good venting is often crucial to maintain a comfortable environment inside a tent, especially in winter. The Jannu’s inner has v shaped vents in the roof that can be fully opened for maximum airflow, or left un-zipped half way to leave mesh. In line with this there is another vent on the fly sheet. Both vents are covered by the ‘cap’ of fly sheet material that is attached during pitching. The cap protects the vents and enables good airflow through the inner even in wet weather. Combined with the large two way front door that has a full mesh back, the venting in the Jannu is very effective. Condensation on the inner tent, above the groundsheet at least, has never been a problem.
The porch on the Jannu seems to divide opinion. It is quite long and provides good internal space but the resulting shallow angle means the roof is very low at the end of the porch. Due to the length of the porch it’s also a stretch to reach the bottom of the door zip on the left hand side of the tent when un-zipping from the inside. The door opening is asymmetric though and the right hand side zip is much easier to access. Due to the asymmetric zip, it’s also possible to shelter from the wind on the lee side of the tent if pitched correctly.
Versatility is the Jannu’s key characteristic. It’s neither the lightest, roomiest or strongest tent in its class, but it has an unbeatable combination of these attributes making it a great choice for anyone wanting a tent they can use across a variety of situations and conditions. Without a doubt Hillberg tents come with premium price tag, but they really do represent an investment and that high price translates into a tent that should last for years, perhaps even decades. Sometimes outdoor gear can feel a little homogenous these days but it definitely feels special to use a Hilleberg. They are one of the few brands creating products that really are a cut above the rest.
When we wake the next morning and unzip the fly, the sun is just about to peep over the skyline and bathe us with its power. The grouse have been chattering since dawn and we start the process of making that all important first brew. Our pitch is well hidden from the main path below but later, as we climb the slopes on the hillside opposite, the Jannu’s red flysheet stands out vividly against the tobacco shades of heather. It isn’t long before it disappears though – merging into the vastness of the Cairngorms as everything is swallowed by space.