The Two-Minute Tent, Hilleberg’s on Ice

Katabatic winds, sub, sub-zero temps, and long days skiing across Antarctica have pushed modern day polar explorers to find every advantage they can to save weight and time pitching their nightly abodes.

Most have now adopted Hilleberg tents, and watching them being pitched in Antarctica by Polar Experts like Richard Parks and Johanna Davidsson it is easy to see why.

The tents are carried in your sled in a single long roll, the tent folded in half, with the poles taped so there is only one section break in the middle. Essentially the tent is stored more than half-pitched already with a lot of the work done.

When you stop, you pull out the very end of the tent into the wind, stab a ski or snow stake deep into the snow to fix it to, then unroll it and secure the top of the tent poles into a hoop. Then you secure the other end and the tent is up. For added security add a few extra stakes. Maybe not quite two minutes but pretty close.

You can also keep a lightweight foam tent floor in place so when you hop inside you are already insulated from the ice. To take it down in the morning is equally as easy. In icy temperatures, anything you can do quicker and without taking your gloves off is a godsend.


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The Hilleberg castle effect, pitched sideways. Vern Tejas unique combination at Vinson High Camp, Antarctica.

While this super fast method assumes you can store the tent in a sled, even if you have to roll it up in a traditional stuff sack and carry in your pack it is still a big time saver when you reach camp. For peaks like Denali, the lower glacier can all be covered using this method.

Talking with Bas Gray before his own departure across the ice in 2018, he said many of the new speed records to the Pole are being assisted by new technology, from sleds and the latest runner technology to smooth the passage over the ice, to diet, to tents.

In the end though, watching a host of people set off, often alone, on their polar journeys, it is still the magnitude of the undertaking and the immensity of the snowy continent that stands as the real triumph.

And with that red hoop of the Hilleberg in the background, it never hurts to look the part as well.

This is a gratuitous Antarctica photo, the person is not skiing, but it is still quite cool. Approaching the Wind Scoop, a short 1/2 hour ride by snow mobile from Union Glacier and a whole different world.