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  1. #1

    Question Tent POLES breaking

    Guys, what's the deal with these new lightweight aluminum tent poles? I've been through different brands of tents now, and continue to have pole breakage.

    In the 1970's I had a Eureka tent with silver colored poles, and never a problem. In the 90's I bought a larger tent with similar-looking aluminum poles, dull silver in color. After handling them, your hands were blackened, but they never broke.

    I moved up to a 3-person LL Bean tent with these newer aluminum poles. It was advertised as a tent strong enough to withstand snow accumulation. These newer style poles are shiny, skinny, and usually colored. They do not rub black on your hands. After several set-up's, the tent was sitting in my living room to dry for a couple of days. When I took the fly off, I found a pole had snapped. LL Bean replaced the pole. I went to Vermont in 06, and while it was set up for a couple of days another pole snapped. The tent sagged, I got wet. Considering the tent untrustworthy, I talked to LL Bean, and being the fine company they are, gave me full value of the tent toward another model they sold, the Mountain Hardware Hammerhead 3.

    I love this tent! It is a great design, and the most expensive tent I've ever owned, at $350. It had similar looking poles to the LL Bean. Shiny and reddish brown. After maybe three set-up's, a pole snapped while set up. (This is key. It never snaps while you are bending it, always after it's been set up a couple of days.) I hoped this was a fluke. Mountain Hardware replaced the pole for free last year. This year, I went to Gillette from NC the long way, with tent setup's in Kentucky, Wisconsin, two nights in N Dakota, Wyoming, and three days in Gillette. Several thunderstorms at night on the trip, always dry inside. Tear-down in Gillette Sunday morning found a broken pole and more heartache. I used the pole repair sleeve to fix the pole, and made it home to Winston-Salem in three days. I set the tent up in my living room to dry, using the repair sleeve on the broken pole. In three days I took it down, and found one of the other poles had also snapped.

    I handle the poles as if they were made of glass. I never let them smack together. I always thread them through the tent supports before bending the pole on set-ups. The tent is carried on my seat/luggage rack lengthwise by cinch straps and is the bottom item in a bag with Kermit chair, thermarest, down bag. The poles are rolled up inside the tent and cushioned by tent and fly while cinched down. I have spent so much time investigating every aspect of pole handling, and can't come up with any technique of mine that could conceivably harm the poles. For the love of God, I just want a tent I can depend on.

    I'm sure LL Bean would let me trade on a different tent, but from my research almost all the poles are made by two companies. Those would no doubt break too. Anybody have experience with carbon fiber poles? I know they are expensive and have no idea how to find them for my tent, but am desperate for any answer. Is it me? Or is it the poles?

  2. #2
    Wow! It can't be you, I have nothing but good to say about aluminum poles. I've owned 3 tents, 2 from Sierra designs, with no trouble. My kids have bent (slightly) some sections but they still work fine.

    Are your pole sections marked "Easton"?

    This isn't helping is it.


  3. #3
    I've never found markings on any tent pole I've owned. The sources I've checked indicate that most high performance aluminum poles are made by DAC or Easton, so I'm confident my poles are made by one or the other.

  4. #4
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Braintree, MA
    The MSR tent I bought last year included a sleeve to repair a broken pole. Of course, they're high quality poles in the first place. Cheaper tents aren't likely to come with extras like this, are they? So far, I haven't had trouble with poles breaking on my Eureka or MSR tent.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 And DRAT! Missed the last one in 2015!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  5. #5
    Seattle-area Rounder OfficerImpersonator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Just north of Seattle, WA
    This is why we need to avoid buying cheap crap from LL Bean, Wally Mart, etc.

    Quality brand name gear costs more because it's quality brand name gear. If you buy a cheap tent, but have to replace it every year, how cheap is the price of ownership over a five year period?

    I spent $700 on my Mountain Hardware tent, but it will last me for the rest of my life.

    Agree with what was posted above - if the tent pole doesn't say "Easton" on it, it's likely junk.

    And any outdoor store (REI, Cabela's, Sportsman's Warehouse, etc.) will sell tent pole repair kits - essentially an aluminum sleeve you wrap around the break and crimp into place. Everyone should have one in their tent stuff sack just in case.
    Seattle, WA
    2012 R1200GSA
    2002 R1150RT-P
    1992 K75S sold

  6. #6
    Just as another data point - I've had no problem with my Coleman "Exponent" (their "adventure" line) tent poles, which are aluminum... and I don't think I'm especially easy on them. Sorry to hear about your problems!

  7. #7
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    More success with cheapies;

    I've heard more success camping stories recently, of those buying 50$ tents and doing just fine. Go figure. My Chinese Eureka Timberline, just bent a pole in Gillette, during the BIG stormy night there. I have blamed it on cheap aluminum and learned one lesson. Seems the pole story told here, however is exceptional and clearly really good tents, with less than quality aluminum poles. Mine was certainly an offshore tent with crap for aluminum poles. Shame on Eureka! The better poles( with better, pricier tents) are aircraft grade for obvious reasons and should never fail in a tent scenario. Somebody in your case has cut corners, with two tents now! Highly unprobable, but you are living proof of bad luck tenting. Logic would dictate that a bad batch of poles made it to the retail end and you found a couple of them. Me, I like to buy middle priced, good tents and made a bad buy recently and have learned a lesson. I will study carefully, my next tent and where its made! Eureka? I do have another of the same brand, for years now and its been exceptionally good. Not all bad. Randy"Polarbear"

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