A Tent Pole Win

I camp and backpack in a No Limits Kings Peak two-person tent. I think it is a very good design; it has enough room to easily sit upright in. The tent is wider at the shoulders and narrower at the feet (less fabric, less weight), and while I have had two people in it quite comfortably many times, it’s exceptionally roomy as a one-Bill tent. It weighs 5.1 lbs and packs down very nicely, has never leaked, and I’ve only had condensation issues a couple times.

So I was unhappy when one of the tent pole segments broke during our HAT Cossatot backpacking trip. I think hail hit the pole and literally shattered the aluminum section right at the end.I tried a couple Q&D patches (duct tape is our friend), but knew I needed it fixed.

My first stop was to customer service at Academy, where I bought the tent. I called and told them the name and part number of the tent. The bright-voiced young lady on the other end of the phone said yes, they had replacement poles; the first one was 8 FEET LONG, 1 INCH in DIAMETER. No, I said, that’s not right. They also had a fiberglass tent pole repair kit, which was the wrong length and diameter for the aluminum pole. I pressed a bit to find out who made the tent for Academy, hoping to go to the actual manufacturer, but supposedly they didn’t know. Right.

I went looking online for tubes and parts. What I found was the pole had a fairly standard outside diameter, but the inside diameter was significantly less than available tubes. For those who do not know, tent poles are sectioned and hollow, with a stretchy cord running through them. The cord holds the whole thing together (both broken down and assembled), and the end of each section has a hollow insert that fits into the next section. The inserts that were available that I could easily find didn’t match the inside diameter of the pole sections.

While I was doing all this research, I went on several camps with the kludged fixes to the pole. I wasn’t happy with any of them.

I read that REIs did tent pole repairs. I visited several, and at one, they let me root around through all the tent pole pieces they had collected over several years. No luck on one the correct size.

Then I ran across Tent Pole Technologies (http://tentpoletechnologies.com/). I had a couple email exchanges with them, and then measured the existing pole and essentially sent them an engineering drawing of the pole, with a couple stitched-together photos of the whole thing, and got back a quote of $35 for a complete replacement. I paid them electronically, and in a week, got the replacement pole in the mail.

For one thing, it’s 1 oz less than the previous pole. When backpacking, every ounce counts!

The important thing, that pole was a perfect copy of the existing pole, except the broken piece. I took it camping this past weekend and it was perfect.

So this was a pretty cool experience. There is a lot of life left in that tent, and the new pole will help me get that life out of the tent.

This is a good example of the power of online. A company I would have been unlikely to find easily, communications that were fast and high confidence, a secure payment, yielded a super fast turnaround and a quality product.

A couple words about Academy: I expected better support. I know they don’t make their own stuff, but I would expect them to at least have a line on who makes it for them, and to have customer service people who would know that a tent pole for a backpacking tent is not the same thing as the center pole for a beach tarp.


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