Jun 25

Review of the Hilleberg Nallo 3GT tent

by in Camping, Reviews

Our rating: 7.5/10

The Nallo 3GT tent from Hilleberg has a fantastic reputation and for that reason we decided it was worth splashing out on for our trip around South America. We’ve discovered its good points but have been disappointed by its performance in hotter climates and in the end we switched to hammocks for a decent night’s sleep.

Many cycle tourists choose the Nallo for long distance bike trips in spite of it being pricey and it’s easy to see why. At less than 3kg (plus optional footprint) it is one of the lightest tents around that will live up to life on the road. It fits neatly into a roll bag (in our case an Ortlieb) to go on the top of your back rack and has a reputation for being hard wearing.

The tent set up in the Atacama Dessert

The tent set up in the Atacama Dessert

We’ve used the tent on our cycle tour of South America; on the coast of Brazil, during a cold winter in Uruguay and Argentina where we had snow, in the Atacama Desert, at altitude in Bolivia, Peru and further north in the Andes and in the tropical, hot and humid region of the Amazon rainforest.

We’ve found it easy to put up and down, sturdy in strong winds, water-tight in heavy rains and the three man version has an ideal amount of space for two tall cyclists with lots of bags. From the start we have used the optional footprint (an additional cost) and are glad we have, as we store our bags in the vestibule and the ground sheet stops them being exposed to the ground if it is wet. It also adds another protective layer to the sleeping compartment against sharp objects that could damage our Thermarests.

Hot, humid and wet in the rainforest made for uncomfortable sleeping

Hot, humid and wet in the rainforest made for uncomfortable sleeping

The pegs supplied with the tent are good, and we bought extra titanium ones from Alpkit. We’ve bent some of both in tough ground, but generally they have stood up well. The tent poles are also good quality, although we have had to replace one of the sections as it got bent whilst we were camping at altitude on the salt plains of Bolivia. For some reason, tent fabric shrinks when the environment is very dry and salty and we had a real struggle to fit the poles into the fabric tubes.

The vestibule area has plenty of space to store all our bags and for one person to sit comfortably in at the same time. We don’t cook in the tent because of the fire risks (we use our excellent Alpkit tarp for cover if we need it), but if you felt happy to do so there is room. The tent is quite long, but the shape of it means that we have always been able to squeeze it into smaller spots.

The sleeping section has a decent head height and is long enough, just, to sleep us both on our Thermarests – this is good as Paddy is 6”5 and it’s not easy to find a tent long enough for him to sleep comfortably in. In cold weather the tent is cosy and in our thick, down sleeping bags we have comfortably slept at temperatures down to minus 10 degrees Celsius. There are pockets on either side of the tent at the head position which hold a decent amount. The door to the sleeping compartment has two layers and in warm weather you can unzip the top to leave just a fly screen. There is also a small, triangular window with a similar screen at the end of the sleeping compartment.

The tent on the Salar de Uyuni - it's a good shape to fit into small spaces

The tent set up in a rocky outcrop on the Salar de Uyuni - it's a good shape to fit into small spaces

It’s here though that the tent starts to slip in our opinion. The zips on the door compartment and the elastic holders, where you roll the outer layer up, are right at the head sleeping position and if you have long hair, like Laura, you might find you get stuck on them. The outer door doesn’t roll up tightly so we often wake up to find it slouched down onto our heads.

The biggest problem though is ventilation. The tent has two good size doors at the vestibule end of the tent on the sides. The front door can also be unzipped up so that the whole front of the tent is open. When all the doors are open there is a good airflow through the tent. Of course, you can also just set up the sleeping compartment as a stand-alone structure, although we’ve never done this, not having been in a suitable climate to do so.

However, if you have to close the doors on the tent in warm weather it gets very hot inside. The problem is that there is no adequate ventilation at the sleeping end. The small triangle in the sleeping compartment doesn’t link up with any openings on the outer layer of the tent, so little air gets in through here. The outer layer of the tent rolls up a little at the bottom of the sleeping end, but there is no flow produced that gets inside the sleeping compartment. The only other ventilation opening is in the vestibule area, which has a good hood to keep water out, but isn’t large enough to provide adequate air flow for the whole tent.

With the doors open a decent night’s sleep is possible, but in hot weather if the doors are closed hot air collects inside. We had particular problems with this when we were in the rainforest, when it was too wet to keep the doors open but hot as well. In the end, in very warm climates we switched to using our hammocks with mosquito nets when possible.

The other problem, related to the poor ventilation, is condensation. The Nallo 3GT, more than any other tent we have used, collects a lot of condensation, even when the doors are open. The only times we haven’t had a wet tent on the inside is in windy conditions. Otherwise we have always had a wet layer, or in weather of minus degrees a layer of frost/ice.

The zips are good quality and need little cleaning. We don’t think much of the way the doors roll up, as they hang down rather than tying up neatly.

Would we buy it again, knowing what we do? We’re not sure. The weight, durability and ease of use make it an excellent choice for bike touring.  If we were touring in climates which wouldn’t be hot, then we would be happy to go with the Nallo 3GT and just live with the little niggles and condensation issues. For hotter, humid climates though we would look at other options.

Pros

  • Light – at less that 3kg it’s one of the lighter tents available
  • Reliable – in rain and wind the tent performs very well
  • Comfortable – there is a good amount of room for two cycle tourists and bags
  • Ease of use – the tent is quick and easy to put up and take down
  • Good storage area – the vestibule area can hold a large amount of stuff
  • Strong and durable – the tent is hard wearing and should last a long time

Cons

  • Poor ventilation – means that it can get hot inside and leads to problems with condensation
  • Expensive and ground sheet not included
  • Doors not held back well
  • Hooks grab hair

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