Darren and I have recently experienced personally the two ways in which tent poles can break: The shaft can split and the shock cord inside can snap.
We learned about that latter failure this weekend. After we unloaded the car, we started the work of putting up our tent. I held up the bag of poles, dumped them on the ground and was surprised to see a couple of loose poles not attached to anything.
What happened? It’s a mystery for the ages. When we packed up after using them last time, they were intact.
If you lie awake at night worrying that this will happen to you, I have solutions!
Problem 1: Splitting tent poles
Do not fret. The solution to this is a cinch: Duct tape. Wrap it around, ensuring that you not only cover the split, but the area above and below the split.
Problem 2: Broken shock cord
The solution to broken shock cord was surprisingly simple: Plastic clothesline. And I really lucked out in finding it, because we just happened to be camping near a very well-stocked store. In most other places I can think of, we would have been out of luck.
Clothesline works so well because it’s slightly stretchy and slightly stiff, has clean ends so you can easily thread the tent poles and it has plenty of length so you can chop off what you don’t need.
When you’re stringing together your poles, leave the clothesline a little bit slack so you can fold the poles back up when you’re finished using them.
Duct tape is an essential we always keep in our supply bin, but clothesline is a new one. Now we will never leave home without it! It seems like it could come in handy for a number of things.
Keep a 50- or 100-foot package of clothesline in your bin and you’ll be totally prepared if and when your tent poles crap out!