Fiberglass vs alum. tent poles

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Iaone, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Iaone

    Iaone And there I was!

    Mar 9, 2009
    Land between two rivers
    I seem to read alot of negative comments about fiberglass poles. I have used them for years now without a problem. The first tent I bought that had them ,I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I used to always bend the Alumn. ones. I have had fiberglass bend under severe wind loads and never broke any, if they would have been alumn. they would have bent. I have also had Alumn. poles get bent it storage/travel. So to get to my question, why do you use alumn. vs fiberglass tent poles? What are your experiences with failure of either?:ear
  2. Mastheadmike

    Mastheadmike Adventurer

    Dec 13, 2010
    Sunny Philadelphia
    Fiberglass are heavier; older ones could splinter and shred stuff over time. They were a step up over the aluminum poles though because early aluminum poles weren't as small or flexible-however that was also partly a function of popular tent shape/design. Free standing tension rigs didn't start to become popular until the 80s. As the fiberglass trend helped restructure tent shapes, aluminum manufacturing processes helped pole design and technology catch up.

    At this point it is really a cost issue for manufacturers to use fiberglass over aluminum...
  3. HaChayalBoded

    HaChayalBoded Brooklyn Bored

    Oct 11, 2006
    BRC \ NYC
    People will chime in and say how much better their aluminum poles are. Fact of the matter is most people have not broken their fiberglass poles. those who have would probably have also crushed their aluminum poles, or they could have been rotting away for some time before that has happened.

    If your tent came with fiberglass poles and you like your tent don't fret about it. I've got some fiberglass poles that are older than I am and they look just fine.

    I also have a couple of cheap tents I use for weekends and to lend out that have fiberglass poles and they too look just fine. And I lend them to those who probably do not take as much care of my belongings as I would myself (which is why they are borrowing cheap gear instead of uber expensive gear to begin with).
  4. acesandeights

    acesandeights Noob

    Jul 2, 2008
    So. Oregon
    I use both, depending on the tent. The only ones that have failed me are fiberglass. I've had two fiberglass poles break while setting up a tent, not due to wind/snow. Also, if the aluminum ones come pre-bent, they don't seem to bend/kink.
  5. JTucker

    JTucker Long timer

    Sep 27, 2008
    West By God Virginia
    I have both. I have a Eureka two man with fiberglass poles. One of the fly poles broke first time I used it. They replaced them about six months later.

    I also have a solo tent with aluminum poles, first tent I've ever had with aluminum and I really like them.

    Of course neither one has been used since I discovered the hammock. :D
  6. Snr Moment

    Snr Moment Unafarkler

    Nov 10, 2008
    Billings, MT
    For weight only. Used to backpack a lot and had aluminum poles made for my Eureka Apex. Still have them today along with the FG ones that I don't use for back ups. Going to try the hammock thing this year, so no poles.
  7. S/W

    S/W Been here awhile

    Oct 21, 2003
    I have never broken an aluminum pole, but, have broken 4 or 5 fiberglass ones.
  8. Toompine

    Toompine Been here awhile

    Nov 22, 2010
    I remember wood poles. Big ones maybe 3/4" in diameter. Think I had those with my army surplus pup tent in Boy Scouts. Remember those, two tent halfs that buttoned together. You hoped your tent mate brought his so you could actually have a tent. On a couple of occassions we had a "lean-to":rofl
  9. duck

    duck Banned

    Mar 19, 2004
    Seattle (Berkeley with rain)
    I use a cheap-assed Chinese 7x7 tent that I got from Big 5 on sale for $20. Guess what? It's got fiberglass poles. I'm way under the $1/night metric and the only thing that's broken so far is the bungee in one of the poles. $2 fix. It's the best $20 I ever spent.

    I also have some Motoport Kevlar jeans. Funny that my pants cost almost 20 times as much as my tent.:lol3
  10. fishkens

    fishkens Long timer

    Nov 14, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    This is very easy. Aluminum poles are lighter and less likely to break than fiberglass poles. Lives on the highest peaks on the planet have relied on aluminum poles for a few decades now. Do you think all those Everest expeditions costing multiples of $10,000 per person would choose aluminum poles if they weren't the best?

    But, how many of us are scaling 8,000 meter peaks? Not many.

    What are you doing? Camping at rallies, etc. in mild weather 10? 20? days a summer? Crap, just about any tent will serve your needs perfectly well.

    Are you going to make a lifestyle of this? Extending your camping season into winter months? If so, you may enjoy the satisfaction of owning a $400 Moss tent as I have for over 20 years (I love my tent).

    This is not a decision to worry about if you're camping during the summer months. Buy a $20 tent and if it works then enjoy it. If it blows up, dry yourself off and buy a $200 tent and stake it out if a storm threatens.

    This is one of the last decisions that you should worry about.
  11. henrymartin

    henrymartin Mr. Tourguide no more.

    Sep 11, 2010
    South of the Great North Woods
    Well, i will never own another fiberglass pole if I can help it. Heavy, can (and does) splinter. I love DAC aluminum, which is by far stronger and more flexible that the old aluminum.

    BTW, there are custom pole makers that can make either DAC or easton aluminum, or even carbon fiber poles. If you (or anyone) wants to replace their fiberglass poles, Google it. It ain't cheap, but it may be worth it. My last tent had 18 lbs of fiberglass poles. The DAC replacement weighs less than 3lbs.

    Fiberglass is okay, unless you handle a freestanding tent with 4-pole design, each pole about 25ft long and you have to fit it in a sleeve/clip combo. That sucked.
  12. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

    Feb 13, 2008
    SW PA.
    Are you going to make a lifestyle of this? Extending your camping season into winter months? If so, you may enjoy the satisfaction of owning a $400 Moss tent as I have for over 20 years (I love my tent).

    I have one of the Moss Stargazer models. As solidly built as my Rabb easy.
  13. ABHooligan

    ABHooligan The Flying Mythos

    Oct 2, 2008
    I've had a couple of tents (not sprawl-mart cheapo's) with FG poles, and have invariably had failures at the socket joints.

    My current Sierra Designs tent uses pre-bent Easton poles, no worries in five years.

    I've started packing a Noah' tarp on my bike trips-no poles-just two trees, or a tree and my bike. Worked well in some fair storms, but not bug protection. Packs small and light, and the night breeze blowing through is nice.
  14. web037

    web037 Been here awhile

    Oct 19, 2008
    Sierra foothills
    I thought carbon fiber was the hot new ticket. anyone have experience with those?