Is the elastic shock cord in your tent poles deteriorated, brittle, and no longer elastic? New poles can cost a $100 or more, so why not simply replace the cord for less than 10% of the cost of new poles?!
I have a North Face Rock 22 two person tent (two identical poles), and after years of use, the elastic cord inside the poles became brittle and lost their elasticity. I bought the tent new for around $200, and new poles were going to cost $150!!! I bought 30' feet of new shock cord for $6 on Amazon... 30 minutes and a pint of homebrew later, my tent poles were good as new!
Note that your poles will most likely be a different length than mine, but the concept should be the same (we'll go over the simple math involved).
What you'll need:
Shock Cord (1/8" or smaller). You need at least the length of all your poles combined. My poles were 152" each, I bought 30' (or 360" of cord).
Scissors or Knife
Sharpie or Marker
Matches or Lighter
3rd Grade Math Skills
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Step 1: Cut the Cord and Remove the Grommet Pegs
Take a deep breath..... pull two sections of pole apart and cut the cord. The pole will separate into the individual pieces (Mine has 8 sections per pole, and only the two end sections are different, so I made sure to keep those separate). Pull the peg out of the end of the pole, you should see the standing end of the cord, knotted and connected to the peg. My pegs were threaded, so I had to unscrew them from the pole sections.
Step 2: Measure Your Pole(s)
Next you're going to want to measure your poles so you know how long your cord needs to be. My tent has two poles of identical length, so I only had to measure once. if you have poles that are different lengths, you'll need to perform this step for each pole.
Measure your pole from end to end, this will be the final 'stretched' length of your cord. I played around with the elasticity of the cord and came to the conclusion that for every foot of relaxed cord, I would get 1'-4" of stretched cord. So this means that we need to take our final length (length of the pole, therefore the final stretched length) and multiply by 75%. This will be our cord's relaxed length.
Take your pole length in inches, multiply by 0.75. Measure this length onto your cord and mark with the Sharpie. My poles are 152" long, so my measurement looks like this:
152" * 0.75 = 114" This is where I mark my relaxed cord.
REMEMBER: DO NOT CUT THE CORD YET! It is very difficult to feed a 114" cord into a 152" pole.... Ask me how I know.
Step 3: Thread Your Peg and Knot the Cord
Feed the standing end of the cord (the end at the 'zero' on the tape measure) through the hole in the grommet peg. Tie a simple binding knot about 2" from the end and tighten. Your peg should now be between the knot and the long end of the cord.
Feed the other end of the cord (the long end) into the first section of pole and continue until all sections are on the cord. Make sure that the pole sections are oriented correctly so they will fit together as designed (male end toward female end for each joint).
Feed the long end of the cord through the other grommet peg so it's sitting on the end of the pole.
With the pole sections connected as if you were erecting the tent, stretch the long end of the cord until you see the mark you made earlier. Tie a simple binding knot at the mark and tighten.
**At this point, the pole should be taking shape. The pole sections should be connected, the pegs in place (but not inserted), and the cord in its stretched position.**
Step 4: Cut/Singe the Cord and Insert the Pegs
Cut the cord, leaving about 2 inches of standing end.
Singe the end of the cord (on both ends of the pole) with the lighter or matches.
Fold the cord over onto itself, inserting the standing end into the pole. Feed the knot into the pole.
Thread the peg into the pole.
Repeat each step for each pole.