Tent poles are one of the most important parts of a tent. Without tent poles, no tent! In good weather and proper use, most poles will hold up well. However, in adverse conditions the poles are put to the test. The poles have to endure a lot, for example when stretching the canvas or in strong winds.
In this article, we’ll tell you about the different types of tent poles and share some tips for caring for them and prolonging the life of your tent poles.
Types of poles
There are a lot of different tent poles available on the market. In general, we can distinguish 4 types of poles: steel, fiberglass, aluminum and inflatable poles.
Below is an overview of the different types:
Steel tent poles
These poles are very strong and are mainly used for large, heavy tunnel tents. And heavy they are. With all the developments in the tent pole market regarding light weight, they are used less and less.
Chances are your tent has fiberglass poles. These poles are very common and the advantage is that they are easy and cheap to repair. However, fiberglass poles need to be treated with care because if they are put under a lot of pressure they can break and splinter. In this way, they can also cause damage to your tent. Fiberglass poles are lighter than steel poles and are ideal for long term camping.
Tip from flip: if you’re going to be touring, don’t choose a tent with fiberglass poles. Frequent mounting and dismounting of the tent degrades the quality of the poles.
Better nylon, cotton and polycotton tents will use aluminum poles. The poles are very light and strong and can be pre-bent. There are many possibilities in terms of tent architecture, for example, steeper walls and thus more interior space can be created. Aluminum poles last a long time – even if you put up and take down your tent frequently – and can withstand all weather conditions. The lightest tents usually have aluminum poles.
Our preference is always for lightweight aluminum poles. Strong, light and compact, in short: everything you are looking for in tent poles. In our Jade, Bedouin and Dogon tents we use aluminum DAC tent poles. These poles are strong, light and made using a more sustainable process.
You see them more and more: tents with TPU air tubes instead of poles. You fill the ‘poles’ with air using a pump and inflate your tent as it were. Setting up the tent is quick and easy, but there are some drawbacks. The tubes can easily leak and the tubes are included in your tent, which makes it a large and heavy package. You also need to always have a tape kit and a pump with you. At NOMAD we choose not to use this option because of its heavy, cumbersome nature and the fact that a tent is simply less sturdy and has a shorter lifespan with airbeams.
Longevity of your poles
Always keep the following factors in mind when caring for your tent poles:
- Undue pressure or force can cause damage and bend a pole section (for aluminum poles) or even break it (for fiberglass poles). Always handle your poles with care and don’t bend them more than intended.
- Make sure your tent poles are clean and dry when you store them. This way you will prevent mold and rust. Rust is especially common with steel poles. You can treat your steel poles with car wax to prevent rust. Is there any rust? Then lightly go over it with a sandpaper and apply some anti-rust agent.
Pole sections are held together with elastic. If used incorrectly, the elastic can dry out and lose its tension. It is advisable to store a stick in the right way.
Do not start at the end of the stick to take the parts apart. Instead, start in the middle of the stick. First, divide the stick into 2 (nearly) equal parts and then do the same with the two remaining halves. This way, the tension on the elastic will be the same everywhere.
When storing your tent poles, again, make sure they are dry and clean to prevent future damage.