How to Repair Aluminum Tent Poles

How to Repair Aluminum Tent PolesTent poles provide the rigid structural support for the tent, and, therefore, they tend to absorb plenty of strain over time. Even lightweight, durable aluminum tent poles can break, with two forms of damage being the most common. The first is when the shock cord, which binds together two or three poles into one section, wears down and breaks. The second is when the pole itself buckles under strain or an impact. There are easy fixes for both of these problems, requiring only a few parts and tools.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Broken Cord

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ramrod
  • Tape measure
  • Shock cord
  • Knife
  • Table vise
  • Metal washers
  • Mill file
  • Aluminum flashing
  • Duct tape
Step 1
Find a metal or wooden ramrod of a suitable size for fitting into the narrower "male" end of the pole. These rods are not ready-made products, so you will need to improvise.
Step 2
Slide the rod down into the tube from the narrow "male" end and jab at the knot that is fixing the old shock cord into place to dislodge it and push it out the wider "female" end of the tent pole.
Step 3
Repeat for the other pole sections. Shock cord is used to join two or three tent pole sections together for ease of assembly and storage.
Step 4
Measure the length of the assembled tent pole. There should be indented spots in the bottoms of the outside poles, where the shock cord was knotted and fixed into place, and if so, measure from these spots. For example, a two-section pole is 48 inches long, but from the indentations it is 44 inches long. If there are no indents, then subtract 4 to 6 inches to compensate, because you will need to make your own indents to complete the repair.
Step 5
Cut a section of shock cord that is longer than the measurement of the tent poles. You will want some extra cord for tying knots. For a 44-inch pole, cut a 50-inch length of cord.
Step 6
Set the poles in a straight line, but leave them disassembled. Thread the cord through the poles, so the extra cordage extends out of the wider "female" ends of the poles.
Step 7
Thread one end of the cord through a metal washer that is small enough easily to fit inside the pole, and tie a knot around it. Have a friend take a firm hold of the pole or put it in a table vise, and pull the knot into the pull up to the indentation at the base. If there is no indentation, pull it about 2 inches into the pole, and then make your own indentation to secure the knot by squeezing that spot with a pair of pliers.
Step 8
Repeat Step 7 at the other end of the tent pole section. The result will be a new shock cord that is loose when the poles are fitted together, but taut and under tension when they are disassembled.

Bent Poles

Step 1
Straighten the pole by hand and examine the area around the bend. Straightening the bend will often result in a tear in the aluminum. If there is no tear, skip directly to Step 3.
Step 2
File any jagged aluminum bits from the tear with a mill file.
Step 3
Buttress the bend in the tent pole by wrapping aluminum flashing around the bend and tear.
Step 4
Secure the flashing with three or four layers of duct tape.

Tips & Warnings

You can use duct tape alone to buttress a bent tent pole, but this will be a weaker support than duct tape and flashing combined.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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