There are a lot of good tents on the market fitting the needs of a wide variety of users, but regarding serious tents for serious mountain hunters, there is still one company that steps out ahead of the competition — Hilleberg. I’ve had the pleasure – and occasional misfortune – of sleeping in a variety of manufacturer’s tents over the years, and when it came time to purchase my own all research pointed toward Hilleberg. I don’t have any ties to Hilleberg, I simply wanted the best tents available. Neither myself nor the Journal of Mountain Hunting has any affiliation with Hilleberg, my bias towards them is that they continue to be the best tents I have used.
Before we dive into the Soulo BL, it’s important to understand Hilleberg’s rating system for their shelters. Unlike conventional tent manufacturers, they have scrapped the two, three, and four-season monikers for a simple colorized approach. Part of that reason is to dissuade the idea that four-season tents are only for winter use. From my experience, even their lightest-duty tents outclass other supposed 4 season tents. Their rating system falls under Blue, Yellow, Red, and Black Label tents. Specific tent models across each line may share a similar design, differing primarily in weight and strength.
Blue Label – Specialized tents, each designed and built for a specific purpose. These tents are group shelters, some with modular design, intended as a long-term “base camp” style shelter for extreme conditions.
Yellow Label – the lightest weight tents, engineered for warmer climates and the snow-free months of the year. Ideal for warmer weather trips where the lightest weight is the highest priority.
Red Label – All-season tents that prioritize lightweight over absolute strength, adaptability, and overall comfort. Ideal for all-season trips where weight is a priority and where the conditions may be all but the most challenging. Red Label offers the greatest value when balancing strength and light weight for mountain hunters in most conditions.
Black Label – The strongest, most adaptable, most comfortable all-season tents. Ideal for any trip, anywhere, in any weather condition, and any season. These tents are as bombproof as you will find.
Hilleberg Soulo BL – 1P
When it comes to serious mountain hunters, most people fall into two groups: those who value weight above everything, and those who value strength above everything. The Hilleberg Soulo Black Label (BL) is built for the latter. Now a lot of tents may make the claim of “bombproof” but this one earns the moniker. To that point, it may very well be considered overkill for most users, myself included.
As a long-term Hilleberg Akto user, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of the Soulo BL initially. Having used the 3lb 12oz Akto everywhere from the frozen north coast of British Columbia in February to the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, it was hard to believe that I’d need anything more out of a solo tent, particularly one that weighs in at 6lbs 3oz, but the opportunity arose to get my hands on one, and the idea of a freestanding solo tent appealed to me. After some convincing from a couple of avid sheep and goat hunting buddies, I opted to take the Soulo BL north for my 2021 guiding season. The irony of taking a 6lb 3oz solo tent under the context of horseback guiding and ending up doing two backpack sheep hunts back to back is not lost on me, but the opportunity solidified my love for this tent.
I’ve now used this tent for two seasons of guiding and personal hunting, and in the process, it’s become my go-to for everything but the hottest/driest adventures. I’ve found it to be a big step up in interior tent space over the Akto model, which aids in maneuvering around and getting dressed/undressed in your tent, but also in moisture mitigation on those socked-in days without much airflow.
Its vestibule is functionally sized – enough so to contain an expedition-sized hunting pack, rifle, boots, spotter, and tripod at night with just enough room left over to fire up a coffee from the comfort of your sleeping bag in the morning.
Set up, as with any freestanding Hilleberg, is straightforward, as the inner tent body stays clipped into the fly, and the poles run exterior to the fly. For serious weather, this is a feature that is mandatory in my eyes, as you can confidently set your tent up in a raging downpour while keeping the inner tent dry. Most tents from other brands have a fly that is external to the poles, although more and more have taken on this feature.
The Soulo BL uses 10mm DAC poles and purpose-built dual guy-line points from all corners of the tent. This combination shines when the storms blow in. I’ve now ridden many stormy nights high in the alpine with this tent, and the lack of movement in the tent fabric and walls is outstanding. Nothing burns you down on a sheep hunt like lack of sleep from your tent death rattling in the wind all night… I’ve been there too.
Finally, the inner tent entrance is an inverted T design, with a vertical zipper in the middle and horizontal dual zips across the bottom. This provides excellent access to the tent body with both “doors” rolled up and secured out of the way. Whether you’re re-organizing your sleeping set up, or crawling in and out of your raingear under the protection of your tent, it is a welcome feature that makes this tent shine above the Akto as well as its competition. I’ve also used these zippers to moderate ventilation, often leaving ½ the door rolled open on bug-free nights for maximum airflow and to reduce condensation.
Specs: Soulo BL
Number of people: 1
Outer tent fabric: Kerlon 1800 (40 D High Tenacity Ripstop Nylon 66) Poles: 10mm
Minimum Weight: 5lbs 1oz
Packed Weight: 6lbs 3oz
Inner Tent Area: 20.5ft2
Vestibule Area: 6.4 ft2
Price: $895 USD
Who is it for?
Hilleberg’s Soulo BL is for mountain hunters that need the burliest solo tent to withstand the harshest conditions. Gale force winds, arctic storms, torrential rains – if you can pitch it and stake it down, this workhorse will shake off the worst mother nature can throw at you. If what you value is absolute strength and comfort in a solo freestanding tent, then look no further.
While I love this solo tent, most folks may find that it’s overkill and may want to shave 1lb by opting for the lighter sibling, the Red Label Soulo. For those that don’t mind carrying a 6lb solo tent, I don’t know that you’ll find a better-built or more comfortable option. Some folks may balk at the price of this – and other Hilleberg tents – but they are lifetime products and truly built to a higher standard than many of the tents on the market. I’m still using an 18yr old Hilleberg Nammatj GT 2 in the mountains, and I expect no different from the Soulo BL.