How To Replace A Broken Tent Pole

Replacing a broken tent pole is not difficult
Replacing a broken tent pole is not difficult

We can all agree that going camping is epic.

But do you know what totally kills the camping vibe?

When one of your tent poles bites the dust.

A broken pole can completely kill your good time outdoors, we get it. But don’t be sad just yet.

This guide will show you all the tips and tricks for dealing with a broken tent pole, from quick temporary fixes to full-on pole replacements.

Assessing the Damage

Noticing any significant damage avoids future headaches
Noticing any significant damage avoids future headaches

Before you can start making repairs, you must first assess the situation.

Which pole is broken – one of the main support ones for the tent body or a pole for the rainfly?

  • If it’s just a tiny crack or a clean break without any harsh bends, you might be able to slap a quick fix on it

  • But if the pole is mangled and cracked like a pretzel, you’ll most likely need to replace it entirely

    • We’re sorry to tell you but no amount of duct tape will fix something that is jacked up

Repairing Broken Tent Pole

So you’ve got a pole with a small crack or clean break.

That’s not terrible – it could definitely be worse.

Here are a few handy repair moves you can try first.

Duck Tape to the Rescue

Duct tape can be a lifesaver when it comes to repairing tent poles
Duct tape can be a lifesaver when it comes to repairing tent poles

Never underestimate the power of duct tape.

If your pole just has a little crack but is otherwise intact, you can firmly wrap some duct tape around that crack to hold the pole sections together.

It’s not a pretty solution, but it’ll get the job done.

Pole Repair Sleeve Trick

For poles that have snapped completely in half, a repair sleeve can be a camper’s best friend.

These little cylindrical tubes slide right over the broken ends, allowing you to reconnect those pole sections.

You can usually score pole repair sleeves at any camping or outdoor stores, or you can go full DIY and make your own out of poster tubes or plastic piping.

Shock Cord is Kaputt?

Most tent poles have this internal shock cord running through them. It’s what gives the poles their snappy, reconnecting power.

But if that cord breaks or goes missing, suddenly your poles are a total nightmare to set up:

  1. First, you have to remove the old cord remnants from the pole sections

    1. Use some needle nose pliers to gently pull out any scraps, always careful not to crease or dent the poles in the process

  2. Once that’s done, get yourself a new shock cord that’s the right length and diameter for your poles

    1. You can find camping cord replacements pretty much anywhere that sells outdoor gear

  3. Then it’s just a matter of trying to attach one end of that new cord to the grommet hole in the first pole section

    1. Use those needlenose pliers to feed the cord all the way through the hollow poles, pulling it gently along

    2. Once it emerges from the other end, tie it off tightly to the second grommet

And just like that, your poles will be snapping together like their old selves again.

Replacing the Entire Pole

Sometimes you just have to say goodbye and replace your entire pole
Sometimes you just have to say goodbye and replace your entire pole

As much as we love a good hack, sometimes there’s just no repairing that busted pole.

If your tent pole is severely bent, cracked in multiple spots, or just an all-around stubborn piece of pole, it’ll need to be replaced entirely.

Other signs you should get new poles are:

  • The pole sections won’t reconnect properly, even with a fresh shock cord

  • You’ve used way too many tent pole repair sleeves and the pole is basically a Franken-pole at this point

  • The pole is made of crappy quality materials and breaks constantly, no matter what you do

It sucks, but poles made of subpar aluminum or fiberglass won’t last forever. Sometimes you just have to accept that it’s time for some shiny new replacements.

Finding the Right Replacement Poles

Finding the right tent poles replacement may require some research and effort
Finding the right tent poles replacement may require some research and effort

To get new poles, your best bet is to go straight to the manufacturer that made your tent. Most companies will sell you individual pole replacements for their tents.

This is normally the best option as it ensures that you get poles that are the same length, diameter, and shape as your tent’s body.

If you can’t find manufacturer poles or they’re wickedly overpriced, you may need to do a little hunting.

Take your busted poles to a camping shop and have an employee help you scope out replacements with the right specs.

Look for things like:

  • Pole length (both the full-length and individual pole section lengths)

  • Pole diameter/thickness

  • Pole materials (aluminum, fiberglass, etc)

  • Number of pole sections needed

  • Straight or bent pole shape

Getting the wrong-sized poles is a total rookie move. Poles that are too long, thick, or the wrong shape just won’t fit properly or hold up your tent.

So make sure those replacement specs are on point and ask for help if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

Some companies also sell universal pole kits or DIY pole-making supplies that can work in a pinch if you can’t find an exact match for your poles.

Installing Those New Pole Replacements

Installing new replacement tent poles can be done at home or in the field
Installing new replacement tent poles can be done at home or in the field

Don’t sweat it – it’s a straightforward process:

  1. Lay out all the individual pole sections, along with any connectors, plastic tips, or grommets

    • Make sure you have all the required pieces

  2. If the new poles didn’t come with pre-installed shock cords, now’s the time to rig some up using that cord replacement technique from earlier

  3. Once that’s done, start clipping or snapping all the pole sections together based on the configuration of your tent model

    • Most tents will have diagrams or folding instructions if you’re unsure of the right setup

    • Once they’re all locked together, carefully feed the assembled pole through the tent’s pole sleeves

  4. From there, it’s just like pitching any tent: stake down the corners and sides, tighten any guy lines, and make sure those poles are standing tall and secure

  5. Give everything a test, and if it’s all still solidly upright, you’ve got yourself a successfully re-poled tent

Final Thoughts

Whether you need to wrap some duct tape, replace a torn shock cord, or go full replacement mode, replacing a broken tent pole isn’t hard now you’ve got all the know-how to fix the situation.

Just try to treat those new poles with a little more care this time around. Nothing’s worse than someone who always breaks tent poles. Don’t be that person.

It’s time to grab those repaired or replaced poles and get out there!

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