Filed under:Clothing and equipment manufacturers, Mountaineering, Ski Touring, Walking / Trekking, Hilleberg
In 1973, Bo Hilleberg and his wife Renate introduced the first Hilleberg tent. Today, Hilleberg has over 60 employees and nearly 40 different tent models, but it is still proudly a small family company, with a dedicated hands-on style using a unique blend of old school craftsmanship and technical innovation.
Hilleberg’s approach to making tents has always been rigorously functional. “I have always believed that function comes before design,” says founder Bo Hilleberg. “We look at what we want to accomplish, and find the best way to achieve that function.” The company does this by building every tent with the optimal balance of six essential principles – reliability, adaptability, ease of use, durability, and comfort, at an appropriately low weight – for its desired performance.
Crucial to Hilleberg’s function-first philosophy is quality control. When Hilleberg moved its production out of Sweden in 1996, they deliberately chose to stay in Europe, creating their own facility in Rapla, Estonia. “Estonia has long had a strong textile industry, so it has a lot of highly skilled workers,” says Petra Hilleberg, Hilleberg’s CEO and Bo’s daughter. “It is also only a short plane ride away from our Swedish headquarters. This allows us to work with greater efficiency and to maintain maximum control over quality. And less travel equals less impact on the environment.”
As integral to Hilleberg as their commitment to quality is their “Responsibility Code,” which guides all aspects of Hilleberg’s operations. Simply put, says Petra, “our Code directs us to make the most functional yet simplest-to-use products we can, to build them so they last a long time, and to make sure they work well for what they are designed to do. We foster long-term relationships with suppliers and customers and we ensure that all those who work for us have clean, safe working conditions, and are treated fairly. And we talk honestly about our products and how to use them.” This approach, she adds, “comes from what we have always believed about integrating nature and the outdoor life with everyday life.”
Bo Hilleberg sums it up: “The concepts of simplicity, engagement, and leaving as little an impact as possible on one’s surroundings transfers directly to how we run our company, and they have been guiding us since we started Hilleberg over 45 years ago.”