The story of Hilleberg and Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune’s history with legendary Swedish tentmaker Hilleberg traces back to the early days of the shop under the ownership of founder Gary Neptune.

Gary had become renowned for his encyclopedic knowledge of gear, his love for the highest quality equipment, and his quest for bringing little-known brands and innovative products into Neptune in large part to serve the types of adventures Gary himself was pursuing.  He was always on the hunt – often in Europe – looking for cutting edge, alpine-ready designs.

Gary recalls, “I had heard about Hilleberg for years, but they weren’t available in the US at that time. I finally got to see them at the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. I was really impressed by their unique designs, high quality materials and extreme attention to detail. That year (2005) we brought them into Neptune. I believe we were the first store in the US to carry Hilleberg and they quickly became our most important tent brand.”

Hilleberg, a family owned and operated business, was founded by Bo Hilleberg, like Gary himself, a keen adventurer. See what drove Bo Hilleberg to become a tentmaker:

Today, Hilleberg is still the most important tent brand we carry at Neptune. When it comes to checking all the boxes, Hilleberg tents are unparalleled in their versatility, their ease of use, and their roominess and comfort. But it’s their strength, stability, low weight, and durability that make them the best choice for long-term, demanding, all-season use in the harshest conditions.

This may be the last tent you’ll ever need to own

At Neptune we’re sometimes asked why Hilleberg tents are more expensive than other tents we carry. To simplify it, Hilleberg tents outperform others and last much longer because of the materials they use, and those materials are frankly more expensive. But what that gives you is performance and longevity that is unparalleled.

Let’s just focus on the fabrics since that’s what protects you from the elements. Hilleberg’s signature Kerlon outer fabrics are triple coated on both sides with 100% pure silicone. This imparts a tear strength that is an order of magnitude greater than the more common polyurethane coatings found on less expensive tents. Besides having an insanely high tear strength and puncture resistance, their waterproofness rating (called “hydrostatic head”) is also far better than any other tents on the market. And, all this performance adds no extra weight, as they start with lighter weight base fabrics.

While the outer tent’s fabric keeps the elements out, the inner tent fabrics must serve to keep the occupants as comfortable as possible. Hilleberg inner tent fabrics are very lightweight and both air permeable and highly breathable, so they let moisture vapor escape while keeping actual water drops from penetrating.

Neptune stocks biggest selection of Hilleberg tents in North America. Check out all the models here and come see them pitched in our store in Boulder.

About Gary Neptune and his personal adventures with Hilleberg tents:

Gary Neptune founded Neptune Mountaineering in 1973 in Boulder, Colorado. It became (and still is) one of the most influential and iconic outdoor specialty stores in the US. A voracious adventurer, Gary has climbed Everest, Makalu, Gasherbrum II, Ama Dablam in the Himalayas, Aconcagua in Argentina, and numerous routes in the Rockies of Colorado and the walls of Yosemite, California. He met his wife Bibi at the Everest base camp and the two have skied the Haute Route and have raced in the Vasaloppet in Sweden, the Birkebeiner in Norway, and the Marcialonga in Italy. In 2019, they completed a 10-day crossing of Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island, Canada, using, of course, Hilleberg tents. 

Gary & Bibi Neptune during their 10-day ski crossing of Baffin Island, Canada