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Carbon Fiber or Aluminum Tarp Poles


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  • #1294578
    Evan Chartier
    Spectator

    @evanchartier

    I am trying to decide on new poles for my shelters- a spinnaker GG spinntwinn (2 person) and an Oware Cuben 1 person. I dont like to hike with poles, so I am thinking of the CF or aluminum poles. I have done a bunch of research on the poles and I have looked at several sites such as fibraples, polesforyou, questoutfitters, zpacks, and GG. Most of the conversations I have read are about tent poles and not specifically tarp poles which are not expected to bend.

    It sounds like the most straight forward option would be either the GG pole set for the spinntwinn (aluminum) or the zpacks CF poles. I would love to hear your thoughts- am I missing anything?

    1. Zpacks CF 48" and 32" weight: 2.4 oz Price w/shipping: 41
    2. GG aluminum pole set 45" and 32" weight: 3.2 oz Price w/shipping: 31

    Would it be silly to get 2 longer poles to use with my tarptent squall 2, and simply use duct tape and a hitch when the extra length is not needed?

    Is there a difference in strength between the CF and Aluminum when used for a tarp set up?

    Thanks!
    Evan

    #1916889
    Michael Cheifetz
    BPL Member

    @mike_hefetz

    Locale: Israel

    I had similar thoughts and ended up buying a CF pole from (i think) MLD and AL from GG

    IMO it really depends what kind of tarp you are looking at – I was trying to fit it to a micro trap (one that only uses one pole and goes over your head in a flying diamond setup) and I found that the AL poles were a bit borderline since in that type of setup the pressure on the pole is quite large (although its a small tarp the angle of the guyline pulls straight down on the pole)
    so i bought the CF one which is stiffer

    I assume (havent tried it) that with a longer setup (A frame/lean to etc) the angles will be more moderate and thus the AL would be great.

    I now have an MLD railstar…but thats a totally diff ball game as the stress there is huge…

    Mike

    #1916896
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    I use Fibraplex carbon fiber poles, but in slightly different lengths than what you list. They work good and last a long time. I wrap them up in other stuff and carry them vertically within my backpack so that they are never stressed.

    There is a trick that you can do with segmented poles that are shockcorded together. Normally the segments are sized to be roughly equal length. With some careful engineering, you can make two of the segments be regular length, and make the third segment only 2 or 3 inches long. Then, for use in nice weather, you can stick all three segments together for maximum height. In bad weather, you pull the short third segment away from the other two and let it dangle. That shortens the pole by 2-3 inches to lower the whole shelter.

    Note that the carbon fiber pole fabricators do not normally want to build them this way.

    –B.G.–

    #1916899
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    or, cut the third section into two unequal pieces, use one for one total length and the other for a different

    like have 2 sections 20 inch, 3rd section cut into a 5 and a 10 inch piece, use one for 45 total inches, the other for 50 total inches

    Use shockcord???? That weighs too much

    #1916919
    Evan Chartier
    Spectator

    @evanchartier

    Thank you for the replies.

    Bob: I did read a few posts where you spoke about your fibraplex poles. They sound nice, but from what I saw they are more expensive than the zpacks ones, correct? I thought it was over 50 bucks for the two poles before shipping. Do you know if these poles are a different quality than the zpacks CF poles?

    Michael: I guess the same goes for the MLD poles- they are listed @ 60 bucks before shipping- do you know if they are a different quality?

    Bob and Jerry: Thanks, good tip- not sure if I could make a clean enough cut with a hacksaw!

    I could be persuaded to spend more if the poles were stronger, but I havent read anything comparing them.

    #1916922
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    If I had to make a wild guess, I would suggest that Fibraplex makes all of the poles that are sold by these typical cottage companies. If Zpacks orders up a dozen or two dozen sets at a time, they get a price break, and that is profit to them.

    I've only purchased five poles from Fibraplex, but I have never seen any quality problem in the least.

    –B.G.–

    #1916928
    Evan Chartier
    Spectator

    @evanchartier

    Bob: Interesting point, I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps zpacks is selling the same poles. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
    Evan

    #1916930
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    Hacksaw, then file edge to make it smooth so it doesn't cut into fabric

    #1916973
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > I would suggest that Fibraplex makes all of the poles that are sold by these typical cottage companies
    Do NOT know about that, but I do know there are lots of suppliers of CF tubing. Readily available stuff.

    Cheers

    #1916991
    drowning in spam
    Member

    @leaftye

    Locale: SoCal

    My Zpacks pole is Sky Shark.

    #1916996
    Evan Chartier
    Spectator

    @evanchartier

    Interesting, I checked out the manufacturer and they are for sport kites. I wonder how they hold up for tarps?
    Evan

    #1917000
    drowning in spam
    Member

    @leaftye

    Locale: SoCal

    I got it to use with a poncho tarp. It seems to be strong enough. It didn't break when my poncho pulled all my stakes out of the ground and almost all my gear got blown into the weeds. I didn't have my stakes rocked though. It was a lean-to setup with the Zpacks (Sky Shark) pole on one corner and an Easton pole on the other. It was along the I-10 PCT crossing. You know how windy it gets there. At some point I want to use poles and ferrules from these guys to make a really tall tarp pole.

    #1917014
    Evan Chartier
    Spectator

    @evanchartier

    yeah, it is super windy there near I10! Gosh, I miss that trail. Cant wait to get back out there.

    I wrote zpacks an email, just waiting to hear back from them regarding their experience with their CF poles.
    Evan

    #1917019
    Rakesh Malik
    Member

    @tamerlin

    Locale: Cascadia

    "or, cut the third section into two unequal pieces, use one for one total length and the other for a different"

    Another alternative is the adjustable straight poles that TiGoat and Seek Outside make. They make them in custom sizes. I have a TiGoat adjustable pole that's served me well, and it's quite light.

    I'm sure that TiGoat and Seek Outside are not the only companies that make custom adjustable straight poles, though :)

    #1917028
    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member

    @scfhome

    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    You can now get Easton carbon tent pole sections from Quest Outfitters. They are a lot stronger than Fibraplex.

    However, both are designed to be able to bow for use in dome tents. So they are not as stiff as a hiking pole would be. If you want something that stiff, you could look for a sale on carbon avalanche probes that are stiffer, or buy one of the Black Diamond carbon trekking poles that are made up of sections that separate amd fold up.

    The last time this came up on the GEAR forum, Mountain Gear had a sale on carbon avalanche probes for around $30-$40. You might find a used one, or a broken one with enough left intact for a tent pole, and get a better deal.

    Highly tempered ALU X-C Ski poles can be both as stiff and as light as carbon, and can be quite inexpensive at discount stores after ski season is over. But they don't break down like tent poles into sections. I did find one recently from Scott in three sections that telescope like a hiking pole, but it wasn't very light and the pair cost over $50. You might also look at the larger diameter Easton ALU pole sections sold on Quest, but without knowing the "spine", or stiffness, of the tube, even a larger diameter one might not be as stiff as a hiking pole. There are so many different quality carbon and ALU tubes that it would be hard to generalize about which is stronger for roughly the same weight.

    Haven't seen what the small US companies are selling, but if they are very light carbon that is not more than 3/8" diameter, they are probably not very stiff or very strong. May have noticed one that was 1/2" in diameter on one of the cottage sites. That would be worth looking into, but probably not cheap.

    #1917065
    Jon Hancock
    Spectator

    @bigjackbrass

    Locale: Northwest England

    I was all for carbon fibre until I was on a campsite last year and saw a carbon pole snap and punch a hole right through the side of the cuben pyramid it was supporting… That did rather put me off, given the very small weight benefit and high cost of carbon fibre compared to aluminium.

    #1917066
    Michael Cheifetz
    BPL Member

    @mike_hefetz

    Locale: Israel

    evan – IIRC the MLD is Easton
    its small diameter (ie – NOT as large as treking poles) so i imagine will bow a bit and could snap – but for small tarps IMO its ok

    would NEVER trust that w TS or mid

    #1917070
    drowning in spam
    Member

    @leaftye

    Locale: SoCal

    My Zpacks (Sky Shark) carbon pole has an outer diameter (OD) of 0.295".

    Let's try putting together a stiffer pole from Rockwest.
    pole, 60" length, 0.034 lbs/ft, 0.45" OD, 0.375" ID (x2 = $45.48)
    ferrule, 11.75" length, 0.04 lbs/ft, 0.365" OD, 0.25" ID ($13.99)

    16" pole sections with 3" ferrules, half inserted into the pole.
    48" pole: 0.156 lbs (2.5 oz) before adhesive and shock cord
    32" pole: 0.127 lbs (2.03 oz) before adhesive and shock cord

    I'd assume it's much stiffer due to the outer diameter being 50% greater.

    The Easton poles are a little easier to calculate. They're also thicker than the Zpacks pole. 0.355" versus 0.295".

    Since they have 17" sections, I'd assume you'd go with a 51" pole (3 oz, $12.54) and 34" pole (1 oz, $10.54). Shock cord, end tips and would still need to get added, maybe end caps too. You could probably do without shock cord if you really wanted to shave grams.

    The GG poles have a 0.344" OD. If they're Easton poles, 54" 1.8 oz and 36" 1.15 oz poles would be constructed initially. The non-ferrule poles are 0.033 oz/in. Trimming off 11" to match the GG specs would result in a 2.58 oz pole set before shock cord. The shock cord, end tips and end caps must get it up to 3.2 oz, or they're using lighter pole materials.

    For any of the pole constructions, it should be noted that a three section poles doesn't need an end tip to hold the shock cord because you can use ferruled poles for the end poles, and tie a knot big enough to get stuck behind the ferrules. Zpacks does it this way, GG uses end caps to restrain the shock cord. In my calculations above, I used 2 ferruled poles and a non ferrule pole for the longer pole, and a ferrule and non ferrule for the other, so an end tip is needed for the shorter pole, and end caps if you want to plug the open ends.

    To summarize
    1. Zpacks CF 0.295" OD, 48" and 32" lengths, weight 2.4 oz, price w/shipping $41
    2. GG aluminum pole set 0.344" OD, 45" and 32" weight: 3.2 oz, price w/shipping $31
    3. Rockwest 0.45" OD pole set, 48" and 32", 4.53 oz, price w/o shipping $59.47
    4. Easton 0.355" OD pole set, 51"" and 34", 4 oz, price w/o shipping $29.93

    #1924372
    kevin timm
    BPL Member

    @ktimm

    Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)

    For any pole that is near 4 ft tall I would recommend at least .5 OD for weather handling. CF is strong, but if you go to light you will get a snap. Aluminum can do the same, but it often bends a bit first. We have done extensive testing with CF poles in tents up to 10 ft tall and in winds over 60 MPH. For fair weather you can use less. If you really want to save the most weight, cut a stick to length. If you want ease of setup and strength get carbon but don't under do it.

    #1924671
    Brian Johns
    BPL Member

    @bcutlerj

    Locale: NorCal

    Offers CF or Al poles. The 45" and 48" CF poles are Easton, but also twice as thick as the Zpackspoles IIRC. They weigh a little more, but I think my 2 45" poles only weigh 1.8 oz. each. Worth looking at their aluminum also probably. They are only around $14 each and weigh 2.1 oz. or something, i.e., only marginally heavier than the $30 carbon poles.

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