Design & Development

A Continuous, Hands-On Process

We make tents. More accurately, we produce high performance backcountry shelter solutions. That is all we do, so all of our design and development is focused on that single idea.

For us, design always begins with a situation that requires a solution: creating a fully free standing tent with integrated vestibules for paddle tourers is one example. Another example: polar scientists needed a portable laboratory that was strong enough for polar weather, light enough to be transported easily, big enough to stand in and to sleep eight or more, and easy to pitch. Our solution was the Atlas, which we included in our regular line after six years of use by the polar scientists themselves.

The Hilleberg design team – all inveterate all-season backcountry adventurers – creates the initial solution to the problem at hand and works out the general concept. Our founder, Bo Hilleberg, heads the design team, and his thirty-plus years of designing tents and a lifetime spent using them as often as possible is a priceless asset. The team structure and Bo’s vast experience is a powerfully creative mix, and many – if not most – of our tent designs are literally born in the wilderness.

Other team members are tasked with turning idea into reality. They complete the transformation of Bo and the team’s rough sketches into workable patterns on the CAD system, and subsequently into useable prototypes.

At that point, “design” morphs – at least partially – into “development.” Every detail and every tent goes through months – and often years – of testing before it goes into production and is available to the market. No design or construction technique is ever implemented unless it can live up to our exceptionally strict performance criteria.

We test any new materials and the tent prototypes themselves both in high tech labs and in year-round field use. Internally, we have a self-imposed rule that we all spend as many nights as possible per year in the wilderness, in our tents.

At the same time that we are testing new ideas, we are constantly reevaluating our in-line models. In addition, feedback from current users is vital, since such users range from regular backpackers to professionals in every climate and condition.

The greatest benefit of all of this experience is innovation. Read more here.