August 2006-February 2015
The Hilleberg Kaitum is the tent that took me away from the North Face line of tents. It was about time, due to the pitiful warranty issues with North Face, and those issues caused me to take a serious look at my first Hilleberg at Barney’s in Anchorage. Honestly I should qualify that by saying I did more than look, I paid retail price for a 2 man Kaitum and took it straight into the field on a sheep hunt with a client, and I have never looked back.
The Kaitum is a perfect fit for two guys with enough room for two normal 20″ wide Thermarest sleeping pads and there is still about a one foot of length left above or below a 6′ man. The width is such that two guys are pretty much shoulder to shoulder, which is perfectly fine, but the extra length gives the individual a little extra room for personal gear that one doesn’t want left in the vestibules. The vestibules by the way are fantastic and they are probably my favorite feature. The tent is 31 sq. ft inside, but the vestibule adds 13 sq. ft on each end which is plenty enough room for your entire pack, boots and even enough room to still cook with the Whisperlite if you need to. Mind you, the company warns against cooking in the vestibule, and I do to, especially if you don’t really know how to light a mountaineering stove properly…but that’s another story altogether.
Tent weight is listed as minimum 5 lbs 5 ozs. and 6 lbs 6 ozs packed. The difference of course is the minimum weight does not include stuff sacks and stakes, etc. You can set the tent up of course without the stakes if you are in the right place and you can tie off, or use stones, but this is not a freestanding tent, so I prefer to carry the stakes.
By now I have spent a heck of a lot of time in my Kaitums and I continue to add to the collection, and I have to say their performance in extreme wind, coupled with the light weight and the roomy vestibules are the reason I have to rate them four stars.
I have rode out 4 days of whiteout conditions on a 3,000 exposed ridge in the Alaska Range in April with sustained wind of 50 mph+ for almost the entire 4 days, and this ordeal culminated with winds pushing 90 mph for the crescendo, and yes we survived. Two Kaitums and a Hilleberg Nallo 3GT got us through, though I did have a zipper come of track on one of my primary doors while I was trying to crawl out in an 80 mph breeze. Hilleberg later repaired the zipper without any problem, and I thought this was possibly my fault by forcing the issue under such extreme conditions.
Over the years the frailty of the zippers and the tendency for these to come off track if abused is the only reason I would not go with a five star rating on these tents, but they are still my tent of choice.Back to Gear Reviews