Camping is an exciting activity and setting up a tent for the stay is a part of that excitement. Choosing a good tent and proper material is very important but it is equally necessary to choose the right tent poles since they affect things like weight, height and strength of the tent.Tent poles are the skeleton of the tent’s design as they provide the basic shape to your tent.
A good framework is imperative to a strong structure.
For sturdy tents, you need to have strong poles that provide a solid foundation and can support your tent properly. The tent poles must be able to bear the stress in times of high winds, rain or snow and ideally should not snap or crimp. Also, loftier the tent, the stronger the poles must be.Therefore, you need to make an informed choice when you decide on the kind of poles to use tent camping.
Types of Tent Poles
Tent poles can be made from various materials like aluminum, carbon fiber, fiberglass, wood, plastic or even rigid steel. Wood and steel are strong but obviously can be very heavy while carbon fiber being light and strong can be a great choice but is very expensive.
The most popular and widely used materials for tent poles are the aluminum and fiberglass.
The poles that already come packaged with tents are mostly aluminum or fiberglass based on the size and cost of the tents. Aluminum is the preferred material for high-end larger tents, while smaller low-cost tents come with fiberglass poles. There are various factors that guide the choice so let us look at the pros and cons of both aluminum and fiberglass tent poles.
Aluminum Tent Poles
|– Very strong|
|– Great flexibility|
|– Aluminum poles are considered top tent pole choice|
|– Easy to setup|
|– Aluminum is corrosive|
|– Aluminum can conduct electricity (lightning)|
Tent poles made from aluminum are light-weight and very strong. Aluminum is an alloy that doesn’t break easily and offers great flexibility in terms of bending. An aluminum pole will most likely bend under heavy loads, like in heavy winds and snow, but its strength will prevent it from breakage.
Aluminum is not considered the pioneer workhorse alloy in the camping arena without a reason!
Aluminum poles slide through the tent sleeve effortlessly making it faster and smoother to set up the tent.
A disadvantage of aluminum is that it is corrosive, however, it is very unlikely. Though, if corrosion happens it makes the poles weak and can stain your tent. Furthermore, another disadvantage is that Aluminum can conduct electricity so it gets dangerous in thunderstorms. It is recommended to avoid high peaks.
Nowadays, aluminum rods come with a protective coating but that could wear off and render the poles susceptible to erosion. The best way to make sure that the poles do not corrode is to wipe them dry before storing and keeping them in moisture-free place. This may not be always possible and can be cumbersome.
Overall, with proper care, good quality aluminum poles are durable, reliable in the field and add a chic look to the tent.
Fiberglass Tent Poles
|– Super affordable, easy replacement|
|– Low maintenance, no corrosion|
|– Does not conduct electricity, better choice in lightning|
|– Heavier and bulkier|
|– Break easier, weaker|
|– Shatters in pieces, BEWARE of splinters|
|– Not as strong in colder weather|
Fiberglass tent poles are relatively cheap. They are low maintenance and the only wear and tear may incur due to rough handling or overload.
There is no danger of corrosion in fiberglass poles and therefore they are simpler to maintain and require less care in storing.
Low cost of poles means replacement in case of breakage and even keeping spares is easier on the pocket.
On the flip side, fiberglass is not as strong as aluminum and therefore, fiberglass poles need to be thicker to support the same weight. This makes the poles heavier and a bit bulky to carry. You may need more number of poles to support a bigger tent and this adds to the weight.
When a fiberglass pole breaks, it shatters rather than snaps. This can cause a tear or the pole to gouge a hole in the tent. A shatter usually happens due to poor flexibility, and fiberglass is not very flexible compared to aluminum.
Fiberglass gets more brittle in freezing weather and once a crack develops, it travels the entire length of the pole making it really difficult to fix in the field.
In case of overload or heavy winds, the poles may develop splinters making them difficult to handle. Also, fragmented breaking makes the poles non-repairable.
Fiberglass snags a bit in the tent sleeve, so it can take more time in tent arrangement.
For sporadic fun summer camping, fiberglass poles make a great non-fussy companion to the tent.
Verdict – Aluminum vs Fiberglass Tent Poles?
As always with good options, the choice ultimately depends on your necessities and preferences. Aluminum and fiberglass poles both have advantages and disadvantages.
Under each heading, included is the preferred choice of tentpole Aluminum Vs Fiberglass.
Weight of equipment
One of the important factors is the weight difference between fiberglass and aluminum tent poles where aluminum poles are considerably lighter than fiberglass. For camping trips that involve a lot of hiking and carrying, aluminum poles would be a better choice.
If budget is a constraint, fiberglass poles are a more viable option since they are inexpensive.
Frequency of camping
For a frequent camper when durability is an important virtue, you should go for aluminum poles while an occasional camper can opt for fiberglass poles since they are easier to stock and maintain.
Place of camping
A major deciding factor is also the place where you are going to camp. If you are camping near the ocean, fiberglass poles should be preferred as saline environment will accelerate corrosion in aluminum.
Size of the tent
Aluminum poles can withstand more stress and therefore for larger tents, they would be a preferable choice.
Based on the kind of weather expected, aluminum poles should be selected for very cold and rough conditions while fiberglass has an upper-hand in drizzle times or places that have moist surroundings. Furthermore, if there is lightning then fiberglass poles are the way to go because they do not conduct electricity.
While camping with kids, fiberglass is slightly dangerous since the poles may break and sharp shards of fiberglass can cause injury.
The first thing you do when the camping trip starts is to put up the tent and having a good set of poles make pitching your tent an enjoyable activity.
Well begun is half done so be smart in choosing the tent poles to enjoy a hassle-free tent setup and stay!