Jun 13, 2008 at 1:25 pm #1229533
Does anyone have any experience using Fibraplex carbon fiber tent poles with a Hilleberg Nallo 2?Jun 13, 2008 at 1:46 pm #1438219
I have quite a bit of experience with Fibraplex poles — although for my Big Agnes Seedhouse 2SL and not the Nallo.
The pole's compactness and light weight are extremely enticing. However, I recommend it only for balmy two-season use. If winds become more than light/moderate — you can expect the tent to bend and deform significantly. And if winds should gust, get your pole sleeve repair kit out!
Fibraplex does have excellent service. I should know. I've broken them three times (twice when setting up my tent l-e-i-s-u-r-e-l-y in my own, windless backyard) — and each time, Fibraplex repaired/replaced the broken section for free. Not much good when out on the trails though.
For winter use — one word — DON'T. Now, I'm not saying the poles will break every single time, but they're not gear that I would count on. Hope this helps.Jun 13, 2008 at 1:53 pm #1438220
Exactly the type of firsthand experience I was hoping to hear about. Thanks Benjamin, very helpful.Jun 13, 2008 at 3:47 pm #1438250
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
That puzzles me. I have used Fibraplex poles and they weren't that bad. Not as stiff as the CF arrow shafts I prefer, but quite usable.
Did you have lots of guys set on the tent? All my designs use lots of guys, making the tent rock solid even in bad weather, but I know many in America like free-standing tents without guys. I'm curious.
RogerJun 13, 2008 at 6:46 pm #1438286
2 of the 3 breakage happened in my own backyard as I was playing with my tent — slow and easy. The third time was out in the wilds — on the twice-replaced poles' maiden voyage — and one section near the front door snapped. To be fair, the winds were gusting up to 50 mph – so we are talking pretty strong winds. Still, two other tents — a tarptent Rainbow and the other one an identical BA Seedhouse with aluminum poles — survived unscathed. Neither Seedhouse were guy out in the front.
If it were just the third scenario by itself, I wouldn't have judged the Fibraplex poles too harshly. But combined with the earlier backyard experience, I finally gave up on them.Jun 14, 2008 at 9:26 am #1438348
First LastBPL Member
@snusmumrikenLocale: SF Bay Area
I have a different experience with the Fibraplex poles – I love mine! Bought them for my Black Diamond FirstLight tent two or three years ago and have never used the stock poles since.
They are only half the weight (7 ounces vs 14 ounces) and because they are thinner they pack smaller as well.
Must have over 50 bag nights with these poles in all kinds of conditions and I only had a problem once. They cracked on a trip to the Grand Canyon when I bent the poles without having connected the sections properly. A duct tape repair rendered the poles usable for the remaining three nights of the trip. Fibraplex fixed them for me with prompt and cheerfull service when I returned home.
My thinking is that if the poles break I fix them with duct tape or in worst of cases use the tent as a bivy for the remainder of the trip. For me the weight savings are worth it – YMMV.Jun 15, 2008 at 12:11 pm #1438472
We have also had the Fibraplex Nallo2 poles snap while the tent was set up to dry off in the back yard….warm, calm day. It actually happened twice, and the second time I was nearly skewered as if an arrow was shot at me (missed my eye by a tiny bit). We would not touch these poles again 'with a ten foot pole'. Not only unreliable but dangerous. Both accidents happened AFTER we had used them in the field in reasonably windy conditions which they handled just fine.Jun 16, 2008 at 9:05 am #1438570
Eric NobleBPL Member
@ericnobleLocale: Colorado Rockies
Allison's post reminded me that silnylon shrinks when it dries. I wonder if something about the design of the Nallo 2 and shrinking silnylon caused the poles to fail? I don't own a Nallo 2 and haven't used Fibraplex poles, so take this for what it's worth.Jun 16, 2008 at 9:31 am #1438575
I have used the fibraplex for a Hilleberg Kaitum. This tent uses two poles that have the length of a Nallo 2 and one pole in the middle of a Nallo 3. I pitched my new tent with the fibraplex poles in the back garden before our trip. Everything seemed alright and I was very pleased that I had found a way to lighten the weight of the somewhat heavy Kaitum (however, it is light for what it is).
But on the trip in the middle of the wilderness it happened. I had inserted the pole in the front (i.e. the Nallo 2 – length) and after a few seconds – without me touching it or any other violent influence – the pole snapped. The ferule was gone. There we were – far from civilisation and a broken UL-tent pole. I wasn´t very pleased. It took me a while until I had constructed a stable construction with an aluminium and a Ti-stake and some string. This construction and the other two poles were OK for the rest of the trip.
But you can guess what my decission was on the further use of the fibraplex poles. Not again.
In addition I had the funny feeling that for long hikes the risk of damaging the poles was too high for me – especially when you get into serious wheather conditions in very remote places.
Fibraplex refunded all the money and commented that it seems that the curvature of the Nallo 2 is too much for the poles. And they also said that they are going to withdraw the poles for this tent (havn´t checked on that yet).
This comment was a little bit alarming for me as we were talking about a pole curvature without any extra stress by wind. Do they not test their equipment? If the poles are build so much at the edge of their physical capability it doesn´t seem to be a good choice for backpacking that includes rain and wind in the wilderness.
When these poles are just useful for fair wheather I ask myself why I need a tent with such poles at all. For such wheather conditions a tarp is more than sufficient.
But there might be big differences in quality (just a theoretical hypothesis) between the poles which could explain the reason for other people not to experience problems. However, this fact would still be a problem to me because you then never know whether you have a weak pole or the good ones. But I guess it´s up to you how to decide. I have made my decision.Jun 16, 2008 at 12:47 pm #1438606
You may be right about shrinkage Eric…no way of knowing. However the second breakage happened while inserting the pole into the sleeve, so THAT was not a shrinkage issue. And for comparison, I have had a Double Rainbow completely 'collapse' in a gale force downdraft. It sprang right back into shape. I can guarantee a CF pole would not be so forgiving.
CF poles make great arrow shafts, trekking poles and straight tent poles but I would never trust one under the stress of a hooped tent again.Jun 16, 2008 at 1:04 pm #1438611
Henry SBPL Member
For what it's worth, we don't/won't offer carbon fiber arch poles. It may very well be that WRAPPED carbon fiber poles would be ok–if you can flex it enough, haven't tried–but unreinforced carbon fiber is just too unforgiving of off-axis stress to depend on it. Carbon fiber stressed along the fiber axis is extremely strong but when you bend it into an arch you exert stress perpendicular to the fibers and the material can fail catastrophically, without warning. For the cost of a few extra ounces, high quality aluminum is very cheap insurance. Aluminum bends to relieve stress and survives in situations where carbon fails.
-HJun 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm #1438641
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Preamble: I have been using CF poles in my summer and winter tents for many years, under all sorts of conditions. Prior to that I had been using Easton aluminium poles, again under all sorts of weather. I have seen failures in Easton poles:
I have repaired such breaks with aluminium sleeving – a discarded sardines in tomato sauce can actually:
There is a limit to the amount of curvature you can put in any pole, be it CF or Al (or a stick picked up off the ground). Exceed that limit and the tube will snap. In addition, in the case of Al it is possible to 'work-harden' the tube by repeatedly taking it close to the limit, such that it becomes more brittle. Been there, done that, second picture. There are several solutions to this.
Aluminium poles: PreBend. It is possible to put some curvature into an Easton 7075 T9 pole. When you do this it alters (increases) the amount of curvature that the pole will take before it reaches its limit. This is commonly done at the factory using special equipment, but it has to be done properly or you can wreck the tube. I have seen a skilled shop owner put some curvature into an Easton pole (as a replacement), but doing it by hand is risky. The details of how it works without breaking the tube are … curious.
CF poles: You can NOT prebend these. You can put elbows into the pole assembly, as I do. Otherwise you must limit the curvature.
There are three different ways to make CF tubes: fabric wrap (Fibraplex and others such as bike frames), pultruded (kite spars such as Avia), and bi-directional wrap (arrow shafts such as Easton Carbon FX and a Korean brand).
Fabric wrap is tolerant but not all that stiff. It may suffer from slight variability, especially if done by hand. Fibraplex used make their tubing by hand (very early days), but I think they have now got some automation involved.
Pultruded is enormously stiff but will fail abruptly and catastrophically with a full-length split. It is not the CF which breaks in this case but the polyester (or epoxy) resin which encases the fibres. That resin is far weaker than the CF fibres.
Bi-Directional wrap is hardest to get as it requires a very large production machine for its manufacture, but it is the best sort in my opinion. Sadly, it is more expensive than the pultruded version.
Even so, it is possible to snap one of these if you load a joint too far, or don't seat the joint properly:
Caution: there are quite a lot of CF arrow shafts on the market which LOOK like bi-directional wrap but which are really a fake. I got burnt by one brand (Rebel 4560) which turned out to be pultruded glass fibre with a film of cosmetic carbon fibre over the outside. It was called 'carbon fibre', but they carefully avoided making an enforceable claim.
I suspect Henry is talking about pultruded tubing? If so, I agree wholeheartedly. But don't dismiss CF tubing when the engineering is done properly.
CheersJun 16, 2008 at 8:22 pm #1438675
Roger, thanks for the thorough explanation of the pros and cons of different CF poles. I think that within the context of the original question which is "Fibraplex poles with a Nallo 2" that some of us have had total and unprovoked failures with the Fibraplex poles. It is up to Fibraplex to address whether or not they have improved their manufacturing process to correct the problem, but the fact that they have discontinued making poles specifically for the Nallo leads me to believe that the curve of that tent design just puts too much strain on their poles. I can think of quite a few other tent and tarp designs that have even tighter bends, and by extension I would not want Fibraplex poles for, eg a tarptent Cloudburst or maybe a Stephenson's WarmLite. *Maybe* if I knew where to get the double wrapped CF you mention I *might* consider trying CF again, but the extra grams of carrying AL are worth the piece of mind to me.Jun 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm #1438676
Petra Hilleberg advised me against using carbon fiber poles for the Nallo 2 and it seems that the experiences of most here are consistent with Hilleberg's own test results.Jun 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm #1438679
Sometimes, we sooo want something to work that we open our hearts — and our wallets — no matter what other people say. Awhile back, when I posted my three mishaps in much more excruciating detail on another forum… I jokingly ended my post with "folks who read all this and still want Fibraplex poles can have mine for $xxxx.
Amazingly, the poles sold and I got a good chunk of my money back. :)
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