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Dome Tent Poles: Aluminum vs Fiberglass

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  • Dome Tent Poles: Aluminum vs Fiberglass

    I'm a relatively new Assistant Scoutmaster and I've been considering the purchase of an Alps Mountaineering Meramac 6, but find they don't have the aluminum-poled version in stock and won't until next spring 2007.

    Now I'm wondering if the fiberglass-poled version will be OK. I've read lots about fiberglass poles splintering with cold and age, and am pretty concerned about it. Someone suggested to me that fiberglass poles might be even better than aluminum poles since they can get stepped on or hit without much damage. Weight is really not an issue since this tent will only be used while car camping - I use a Eureka Spitfire for backpacking.

    Advice? Experience?? Should I buy the tent with fiberglass poles now or just wait until the spring to get aluminum poles?

  • #2
    I'd go for aluminum, but I'm a certified "gear head."

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    • #3
      Good Lord Kenk!!! WHY wait when you can have NEW gear today!!! Unless you just have a personal preference of aluminum over fiberglass, I'd probably only make the distinction for backpacking. If you are going to use it for car camping, why wait? My old car camping tent uses fiberglass poles and they have taken a multitude of abuse over the years that I'm not sure aluminum would have.

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      • #4
        Hello,

        We just purchased 6 new Meramac 5 tents with the "ZF" option (heavier flooring and larger zipper size). We opted not to get the aluminum poles, due to price and fear that if the aluminum poles get stepped on they might crimp and not be usable. We don't know for sure if this was a real concern, but we are very happy with the tents, and have had good luck with the fiberglass poles in the past. We figured that the fiberglass poles should last the life of the tent, and if not, we can replace them for less than the extra cost of the aluminum pole upgrade. As you mentioned, we were not concerned about weight as these are used for car camping.

        I believe that the ZF upgrade option is far more important than the aluminum pole upgrade.

        ASM59

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        • #5
          Have you tried checking the dealers listed on the Alps Mountaineering website to see if one of them might have the tent you want with aluminum poles in stock?

          I'd try to get the aluminum poles, even if I did have to wait. They are stronger and more durable than fiberglass, and tend to be easier to mend in the field (with the proper aluminum pole repair sleeve - every tent should have one). The problem with fiberglass is that once it starts to shatter or crack, the crack can travel up the entire length of the pole segment and that can't be fixed in the field - not even with duct tape (because the tape will make the pole segment rigid rather than flexible for use in the pole sleeves). If the fiberglass cuts it's way through the tape (they can often have sharp points and edges - and the worst splinters in the world are fiberglass), it will slice its way right through the tent. Aluminum poles don't shatter - they might bend or break (if stepped on or some other human error occurs) but the damaged area will be in one place only, and won't travel as the day(s) wear on.

          CalicoPenn

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          • #6
            Can you get ahold of a phone number for the company? We order aluminum poles direct from the company that makes our tents -- either replacement poles/parts or entire pole sets. For personal tents, my family calls the company and orders ultralight poles directly. You get what you want & they actually fit the tent. Also, many tent companies will offer a discount to BSA troops.

            Ma

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            • #7
              I would say aluminum poles are slightly more desireable than fiberglass for car camping. We have another manufacturer's fiberglass poles in some of our tents and they are a problem with splitting and slivers. Now they are not new, probably 6-8 years old, but the fabric is outliving the poles.

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              • #8
                I would say aluminum poles are slightly more desireable than fiberglass for car camping. We have another manufacturer's fiberglass poles in some of our tents and they are a problem with splitting and slivers. Now they are not new, probably 6-8 years old, but the fabric is outliving the poles.

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