Bibler tent pole problems

10:01 a.m. on January 17, 2002 (EST)
(Guest)

I have noted several people who post messages in this newsgroup have Bibler tents and use them in cold conditions. I hope they can help with these problems.

I have used a Bibler Fitzroy tent winter camping for years. I use it as a one season, winter, tent and am generally happy with its performance. However there are two problems I encounter with the tent poles. (The tent uses four poles placed inside the tent.) The problems do not exist at 'normal' temperatures, but I never use the tent in normal temperatures. The problems manifest themselves at temperatures below ten degrees Fahrenheit and are especially vexing in sub zero temperatures.

Problem one: The poles are shock corded in the usual manner. When cold the shock cord loses its elasticity and becomes a solid that inhibits joining the poles together. The shock cord actually tends to push the poles apart. I have heard the term 'winter shock cord ' used. Is there such a material? Where can it be obtained? Is winter shock cord common in newer tents?

Problem two: Since the poles are placed inside the tent water condenses on the poles and capillary action draws the liquid water into the joints. This water freezes solid overnight. (This would seem to be one advantage to having the poles placed outside the tent.) When taking the tent down I find the tent poles literally frozen together. Thawing each joint with body heat does work but is time consuming and uncomfortable. Is there a wax, spray coating, or other way to treat the joints to eliminate the wicking of water into the joints?

1:24 p.m. on January 17, 2002 (EST)
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I'm sure Jim Shaw will comment as well, since he and I both have Biblers that we use a lot in winter.

I have found that virtually _all_ bungeed poles have the problem with loss of elasticity at low temperatures. It takes the form of slow rebound, but goes away when the cord warms up. This is _not_ a Bibler problem, but is inherent in the bungee cords. I have had or seen the same thing with TNF, ID, SD, Wild Country, MtnHw, and several other top of the line expedition tents, and at temperatures as high as +15F, but even just very slow rebound at 25F (in that case it was a Eureka tent designated as 4-season).

My worst experience with this was a couple years ago when we hauled into the 17k camp on Denali late in the day (still light, of course, since there is 24 hr of daylight up there), in very cold temperatures (-15F) with goodly winds (30+ knots on my little wind meter), and with one of the party very exhausted. Under these conditions, you want to get the tent up quickly and get the exhausted one inside fast. We managed to get two tents up, but the third one's poles were as you describe - limp, long cord that wouldn't let the poles mate. So we crowded 4 into one tent, with the nominal 3 in the other. One of the guys couldn't stand it after 3 or 4 hours, so he stuck the poles for the third tent inside his clothes for a few minutes, and voila, elastic cords again. The poles for the tents that did get set up had been inside packs, while the third set had been on the outside.

So, Solution Number 1 - Carry the poles inside your pack, near your back, so they get a little warmth. I usually carry mine there, and have rarely had problems with my Bibler, even at -25F.

Solution Number 2 - dress in your warm clothes and stick the poles inside your jacket while you do other things for a few minutes.

On the freezing problem - again, this is _not_ a Bibler problem, nor is it an interior-pole or even single-wall tent problem. The worst cases of freeze-up I have seen or experienced have been with tents having flies, both sleeved (TNF, for example) and clip (like SD). Vapor from both body and cooking gets through the main tent body and gets trapped under the waterproof, non-breathable fly long enough to condense and freeze on the poles. The worst cases I have seen have been during warm moist Sierra blizzards where the moisture collects during the day ("greenhouse" effect of the fly melting the snow next to the tent) and freezes when the night temperature falls below freezing.

The only prevention approaches that work are (1) ventilate the tent thoroughly (easy to do on the Biblers, using the ceiling and door vents as described in Bibler's "owners manual", but requires leaving the main tent and vestibule doors open on tents with flies such that you get convective flow to flush the moist air from the fly-to-tent space) and (2) don't cook in the tent or vestibule. Some people (Jim S) say you can run the stove (with vents open) without the pot of boiling water and drive the moisture off, but I hate to waste fuel. Some people have trouble with (1), feeling it leaves the tent interior too cold and lets the wind and spindrift into the interior (not a problem if you adjust the vents properly, which takes experimentation and experience).

The cure for frozen poles is as you describe - use body heat. Which means -- rub your gloved hand back and forth on the joint for a couple seconds. It doesn't take much, especially if you reduced the icing by proper ventilation of the tent in the first place.

By the way, something that will extend the life of your bungees is to fold your poles from the middle outward, rather than starting at one end. This is recommended by the tent manufacturers (actually is in the "owners manuals"). The reason it works is that you even out the stretch along the bungee, where if you start at one end, you can run out of stretch completely.

8:55 p.m. on January 17, 2002 (EST)
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Trim yer bungee cords

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I'm sure Jim Shaw will comment as well..

You're just testing me... (;->)

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I have found that virtually _all_ bungeed poles have the problem with loss of elasticity at low temperatures.

The cords on my Eldorado caused me some fuss the first time I set it up in the Winter. I just pulled the end of the bungee out about a foot and tied it off. The books tell you to rapidly stretch and release the bungee several times which warms it internally - I can attest to this method working in the bugees are shortened properly, and for this a tool like a pair of tweezers is a help. DO IT AT HOME

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My worst experience with this was a couple years ago when we hauled into the 17k camp on Denali , - limp, long cord that wouldn't let the poles mate.

Man I would have cut it off and stuck the poles together. Were you around back in the good old days when poles were solid and bungee cord was yet to be invented? (;->)


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So, Solution Number 1 - Carry the poles inside your pack, near your back, so they get a little warmth

Could use the stove I guess... (Butane Pocket torch?)- Hot water?

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The only prevention approaches that work are (1) ventilate the tent thoroughly

Yes. A moving air flow that you can feel. Sometimes I put my head at the rear of the tent cause there is so much cold air coming in the front door.

(2) don't cook in the tent or vestibule. Some people (Jim S) say you can run the stove (with vents open) without the pot of boiling water and drive the moisture off, but I hate to waste fuel.

Oh but I Love to melt snow and cook in my tent - while sitting in my big down bag. As far as fuel goes - its cheap enough and besides I make my partner carry it - I had a broken leg ya see... Anyway warming your hands in hot steam in a warm tent is great if it doesn't kill you. I mean one of the great pleasures of camping is eating and cooking - unless you're trying to cook in a snow storm, in which case it is fun to cook indoors.

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The cure for frozen poles is as you describe...

I've never had frozen poles in my Bibler. The worst frost I've seen in the Eldo was a few ice crystals on the poles. I think you aren't venting properly if you are getting moisture inside the poles.

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By the way, something that will extend the life of your bungees is to fold your poles from the middle outward,

I'll second that - I always do that, otherwise part of the bugee is really tight when stored and you will have to shorten it often.

Hey I just remembered where the spare pole tip in my pack came from - my Eldorado from when I shortened the bungee.

Jim S

10:49 a.m. on January 18, 2002 (EST)
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747 forum posts
pole bungee solutions

Quote:

Problem one: The poles are shock corded in the usual manner. When cold the shock cord loses its elasticity and becomes a solid that inhibits joining the poles together. The shock cord actually tends to push the poles apart.

Problem two: Since the poles are placed inside the tent water condenses on the poles and capillary action draws the liquid water into the joints.

The subject of bungee failure in tent poles came up recently. Though its not really a failure since all elastomers lose elasticity when cold.

Since my camping gear is laying all over my living room it was easy to put some Bibler poles into the freezer. When I put them together [folded in half in the middle] there was an extra 2 inches of bungee cord that didn

1:48 p.m. on January 18, 2002 (EST)
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I did, too!

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BTW I sealed my Eldo outside, Bill didn

December 19, 2014
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