In order to endure wind and elements, tents must be made of high-strength materials suitable for the environment in which they are used. Strong, fabric-like coverings are absolutely necessary, but the real strength in a tent comes from its supporting structure: the poles. A variety of tent poles is available in numerous grades and materials. To ensure a more enjoyable camping experience, analyze how you will use your tent before buying poles.
Aluminum tent poles, some of the lightest poles available, are designed to work on a variety of terrains. One kind, Easton Aluminum, can withstand heavy impact and is used in professional climbing and mountaineering tents. Regular aluminum tent poles are commonly used in smaller dome and tunnel tents. These poles also can have elastic material connecting the poles together for easier setup and take-down. Most mid-range and high-end tents are designed with some kind of aluminum, Easton Aluminum or aluminum alloy as their main support structure.
These tent poles are designed for flexibility and strength. They are sometimes considered the future of tent poles, and are used just as much as Easton Aluminum in high-end tent models. Carbon fiber has some advantages over other materials. Like aluminum, it has high impact-resistance, but it is also lighter and won't corrode the way aluminum can. Many climbers and mountaineers opt for carbon fiber poles when selecting a professional-grade tent.
Fiberglass is the bargain material of the tent world. Both cheap and somewhat light, fiberglass is still used in some low-end tents. Fiberglass does not come close to the performance and durability of aluminum or carbon fiber and thus should not be considered for camping tents. Instead, it is better-suited for backyard tents. Another factor: Fiberglass can crack under stress, which can cut or scratch a camper or hiker. Despite the low cost of fiberglass, even most low-end tents will use aluminum instead.
Poles made of rigid steel are inflexible and used primarily for large or heavy tents. Rigid steel poles are usually heavy and are not suitable for tents designed to be mobile, such as backpacking and camping tents. Instead, rigid steel tent poles are used almost exclusively in semi-permanent structures, such as cabin tents, shelters, screen houses and canopies. Rigid steel tent poles do have advantages over other types of poles; they are probably the strongest and most durable tent poles and will not easily snap, break or shatter.
Article Written By Justin Chen
Justin Chen is a freelance writer and photographer with 6 years of professional experience in outdoor activities, extreme sports, travel and marketing topics. His professional work experience includes publication with KOMO 4 News Seattle, Fisher Interactive Network, and Demand Studios. He is a current Pre-Med student at Walla Walla University.