How to Fix a Tent Pole

  Tent poles are the skeleton of your outdoor shelter, providing structure to keep the tent upright. If a pole breaks, your tent may wobble, flap, or completely collapse, so it’s wise to be prepared with the necessary equipment and know-how to fix a damaged pole. In this article, we’ll teach you how to:

  •   Splint a broken tent pole: Learn how to use a repair sleeve or a tent stake as a splint to fix a bar while you’re in the field.
  •   Replace shock cord: Learn how to do an at-home repair if the elastic shock cord inside your tent pole breaks or wears out.

  Using a Pole Repair Sleeve

  The easiest and quickest way to fix a broken pole is with a pole repair sleeve. Also called a splint, this short tube is often provided with your tent. If not, buy one and pack it with you. A good pole repair sleeve is slightly larger in diameter than your pole, so it doesn’t move around too much. Using a repair sleeve to fix a broken tent pole is simple:

  •   Line up the damaged pole sections.
  •   If the bar is bent but not entirely broken, gently straighten out the bend.
  •   Slide the sleeve over the pole end until it’s centered over the break or kink; you might have to use pliers to crimp or a rock to bend splayed pieces so the sleeve can slide over them.
  •   Wrap each end of the sleeve/pole a couple of times with duct tape or whatever heavy-duty tape you have.
  •   If your pole breaks where one pole end inserts into the next one, you will have to splint the sections together; remember that this will prevent the bars from folding up neatly when you take the tent down.

  Using a Tent Stake as a Splint

  If you’ve lost or forgotten your pole repair sleeve, you can use a tent stake to concoct a crude splint:

  Line up the broken pole sections.

  If the pole is bent but not entirely broken, straighten out the bend.

  Align the stake so that it’s centered next to the break.

  Wrap each end of the stake/pole multiple times with duct tape or heavy-duty tape you have on hand.

  How to Replace Tent-Pole Shockcord

  Over time, the elastic shock cord inside your tent poles may get irritated and break or lose its elasticity if the shock cord snaps while in the field; you can still use the stick by carefully assembling the individual sections. However, when you get home, you’ll want to replace the shock cord; it makes assembly simple and keeps you from losing a pole section. Fortunately, replacing it is a straightforward process.


  •   A permanent marker
  •   Masking tape (optional)
  •   Scissors
  •   Locking pliers
  •   New shock cord (approximately the length of your tent pole)

  Here’s how to replace the shock cord:

  •   Start by laying the tent pole out straight.
  •   To avoid mixing up sections, label them with a permanent marker. (Use masking tape if you don’t want to write directly on the pole.) If the old shock cord passes through a pole hub, carefully label the corner, too.
  •   Snip the old cord, then pull the elastic from a pole end. NOTE: Take care to keep all the pole sections in the same order and orientation as you work.
  •   Keep an eye out for the pole tips: small metal pieces that fit into the end of the outer pole sections. Don’t lose them!
  •   Unknot the ends and lay the old cord down next to your new shock cord; cut the new section of the shock cord to match the entire length of the original.
  •   If the old shock cord is stretched out and no longer elastic, cut the new section about 8 inches shorter than the old one.
  •   Tie one end of the shock cord to a pole tip, then feed the other end through all but the last pole section.
  •   Stretch the shock cord to extend its length, then use your locking pliers to hold the line firmly. This keeps it from slipping back inside the assembled pole sections.
  •   Feed the remaining shock cord through the final pole section and tie it to the pole tip.
  •   Go back and unclamp the cord between the final two pole sections. Double-check that all pole sections now sit tightly in the fully assembled pole.
  •   If the shock cord is still loose, untie one end and remove 6 inches at a time until the poles are held together firmly when assembled. Do not over-shorten the cable.
  •   Unseat the sections and fold the pole, starting at the middle point.

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson

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