Our beloved founder, Irving Liss, started Hilton's Tent City as "Hilton's War Surplus" in Scollay Square in Boston in 1947. The City of Boston claimed Irv's original location by eminent domain in order to construct Government Center, and Irv relocated to our long lived Friend Street location in the early 1960's. He bought tents by the truckload, and packed the building from basement to attic with anything outdoor related. Irv made a name for Hilton's Tent City as the best place to get a deal on gear- anywhere. Irv worked six days a week in Tent City, poring over invoices and ledgers, clenching his signature, snubbed-out cigar in his teeth, up until the ripe old age of 88.
Irv went to the Great Campground in the Sky in 2010. Hilton's buyer, Tony Staffier, has been keeping the store jam-packed with the best selection of no-nonsense gear and clothing for the outdoor enthusiast for over forty years, and has seen every trend under the sun- he knows what works, what's a gimmick, and what's just too good to pass up!
In 2017, Hilton's Tent City packed up its Big Tent™ on Friend Street in Boston and hiked its wares just a short ways north of the (Charles) River to the People's Republic of Cambridge®, right into the heart of Central Square, halfway between Harvard and MIT on world-famous Mass Ave. Never have we been so jam packed with deals galore, never have we had the opportunity to bring such cram-packed camping goodness to so many happy customers! We are now located just steps from the Red Line Central stop, on Graffiti Alley and Municipal Lot #5.
Hilton's Tent City has evolved from military surplus to general outdoors to specialty backpacking, to everyday outerwear for the wicked Boston, er... Cambridge climate and beyond. It has grown into the most eclectic mix of gear and equipment imaginable. We stock over a BAZILLION items in the store, we hire seasoned, outdoor enthusiasts who are the most knowledgeable staff anywhere in the outdoor industry, we use every product we sell, and can give a detailed demonstration of how to use it, as well as offer pros, cons, and alternatives. We're no fuss, no baloney, and always willing to help!