The wind bent my tent poles

10:09 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Just returned from a trip down into the Flint Hills with the Scout troop. I took my Sierra Designs Hyperlight AST, my usual humble abode.

Over the weekend we encountered prolonged very high winds, along with some sleet, snow, rain combination--certainly some of the wind gusts were well in excess of fifty miles per hour, probably very much so, and there were sustained winds of 30+ for nearly 24 hr.

Not surprisingly, there were some tent issues, as we could only achieve very little shelter from the wind where we were camping. One of the tent complications occurred with my own tent, which stood through the weekend but on dismantling it this AM I discovered that the two long poles now both have sections that, while formerly straight when the strain is released, are now permanently quite noticeably curved (the tent also has a short foot-section pole which survived unaltered).

I'm thankful that the poles didn't snap, given the immense strain they obviously experienced. I've not had poles bend into curves like this from wind exposure. Anyone else?

I'm assuming they are trashed, since it'll be problematic to assemble and use them as is, and it also means they are now, I assume weaker than they were on Thursday, and trying to bend them back into straight sections would only weaken them further. Not being an engineer, however, I'm open to suggestions. Anybody got anything to offer for this? Or should I just contact Sierra Designs about new poles?

10:39 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi Perry,

Sorry to hear that. How did the Scouts fair?

Um...is the Hyperlight a solo tent? Can't remember.

If it was me (and it ain't) I would try to replace the poles with original SD poles. You can also get poles made...can't remember who, but there was a thread about that a while back.

I have heard dark rumors about those who had abandoned hope using an arrow straightening tool to straighten tent poles. I have no experience doing that myself, nor have I ever witnessed this great feat.

You could also pitch the tent in a wind storm and turn it the other way around....okay, even the Scouts know better than that.

You could also consult with ministercreek about hurricane force winds and how to keep the poles straight next time.

That's about all I can offer my friend, maybe someone else knows a snazzy trick. You can see how much help I would be on a real trip! HaHa

11:32 p.m. on April 5, 2009 (EDT)
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I heard if you pack them with sand you can bend them into shape without weakening them.

The center poles on my Nemo are a little bent now and according to the manufacturer "it is normal that center poles develop a small, permanent arc" . I don't know how much of a permanent arc i need, but they're easier to put up now anyway.

Good luck!

12:08 a.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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I bet SD will sell you a new section and some new elastic so you can repair them. If not, lots of suppliers online sell Easton aluminum pole sections, in every size made. Did you have guylines set up, and the poles anchored inside the fly?

12:40 a.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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trouthunter--

The Scouts actually did okay, on the whole. One tent was pretty much completely blown down, and another lost a fly, and a couple others were flapping and shaking pretty hard at times but stayed up.

FWIW, there was one tent with fiberglass poles (I started a thread recently about the Al v. fiberglass bit, so this is moderately relevant)--and it was the "pretty much completely blown down" tent--but completely undamaged, as far as I could tell, nonetheless.

My tent was the only one with only two poles; the others all had three or more. (I'm not counting the small pole at the foot space area of my tent--it's actually optional, and of no great significance.) I think that the lack of another crossing pole resulted in too little support for large surface areas getting pushed around by the wind.

Did I mention that it was REALLY windy? Birds were flying backwards. Cows, which turn their backsides into the wind, were unable to pass gas. One of the Scouts dropped an empty chip bag; it blew over a hill and on towards Iowa in an instant. No more than ten minutes later, it came flying back into camp from the southwest, bearing an Australian duty stamp. It was blowing so hard it turned a ceramic coffee mug inside out. Everyone and everything had to lean into the wind. We tried to make a lean-to with a tarp as a windbreak. The wind turned it into a lean-90, it being perpendicular to the vertical.

One of the scoutmasters, trying to shout into the wind, literally swallowed his words and had to get 'em pumped out at the local hospital. It was so windy we actually lost three days--time literally flew by--it's now Thursday in most of Kansas. Windmills got going so fast that some of 'em made sonic booms. One windmill at a stock tank near Emporia was bringing water up so fast they had to issue a flash flood warning.

It was blowing so hard it ripped up the spikes and curled the rail line up like ribbon on a birthday present outside of Great Bend. A railroad worker there had to drop his sledgehammer in order to fend off the spikes flying by. The sledgehammer landed in downtown Marysville, Missouri.

The wind was so strong it was picking up cars, buses, farm tractors, bulldozers. The highway patrol had to ask air traffic controllers for help nailing speeders.

It was blowing so hard it completely plucked all the chickens in Abner Newton's pens. Abner's dog stuck his head out the pickup window and is now the only dog in Chase County with no hair from the collar up. Abner's wife, Lucille, who's never had much use for the dog, now calls him an "hairless idiot". And she's got some nasty names for the dog, too.

1:37 a.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry,

LOL at the image!

You may be able to borrow a conduit bending tool from an electrician or pipe bending tool from a plumber. They are in several different diameter tubing sizes.

But the best bet is to contact Sierra Designs in Boulder (look on their website for the phone number). They are pretty good about warranty, or if it is out of warranty and you plead that it happened while you were an adult leader on a Boy Scout outing, they might replace it for free or just the shipping cost. They used to give scout discounts, though in the present economy, that may have stopped.

10:49 a.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm not really sure I got a good enough visual on how windy it was. Was it blowing dogs off chains?

11:07 a.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry,

That was a scout campout, so you must have had a weather rock. This is an image of the one on top of Mt. Sunflower, the highest peak in Kansas

For those not familiar with a weather rock, this important weather tool consists of a heavy boulder suspended on a chain. It tells you what the weather is. When there is a strong shadow on one side of the rock and sunlight on the other, the weather is sunny. When the rock is wet, it is raining. When there is white stuff on the rock, it is snowing. When the rock is hanging sideways on its chain, there is a tornado at that location.

12:08 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Did you have guylines set up, and the poles anchored inside the fly? Yes, and yes. Though the Poles anchored inside the fly seemed a bit frustrated at having to sit there all day....

Bill--thanks for the tip about contacting SD by phone. I've already sent them an email, and mentioned the Scout trip aspect, but a follow-up phonecon might be worthwhile.

And yes, believe it or not, there was a weather rock. It was heavy enough--barely--that it didn't blow away, but it's now down at the bottom of a ten-foot-deep hole, 'cause all the soil around it DID blow away....

And by the way, I heard from Sylvia Peabody, the Newtons' neighbor. She says the wind was so strong at her place that in order to get a chicken ready for frying, all she had to do was pick it up by the neck. The wind would pluck it, blow the innards out the vent, decapitate it, and then send it flying through the kitchen window straight into the frying pan. She said they did have to nail the cast-iron pan to the stove top to keep it from flying away, but all in all, it worked pretty well.

1:05 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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That happened to my tent poles camping at the Lamping Homestead Recreational Area back in Feburary. This is located high on a ridge here in Ohio's Wayne National Forest.

The area was hit with 70 mph winds that was produced by a strong cold front that pushed through. In addition to all this on the backside of this front winds blew in excess of 50-60 mph for the entire night and part of the next day.

My ALPS Taurus Outfitter Tent never collasped but the poles were bent as the net result of battling these winds. Tough little tent to say the least.

I would suggest you contact Sierra Designs about getting replacement poles. That's what I did with ALPS Mountaineering. That seems like the best route to take.

1:34 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi Perry,

...You could also consult with ministercreek about hurricane force winds...HaHa

I'll be sure to report on this very subject once I ride out an hurricane in my tent. I should point out I never repented of doing this very thing.

In the meanwhile, I am looking for the perfect tent to accomplish this most worthy of endeavors.

2:04 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Hurricane force? I'm not sure that's an adequate standard. After all, "hurricane force" starts at 64 knots = 74 mph. I'd not be at all surprised if some of the gusts over the weekend made it there.

Now, in order for a system to be classed a hurricane (or typhoon), it must have sustained winds of such or greater--a much different entity, I'll be the first to grant, than what I experienced on Saturday.

Being in "Tornado Alley", though, I'd be interested perhaps in a tent that came with an attached root cellar....

2:20 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm simply waiting for the day I can experience an hurricane in my tent. This is something I was wanting to do for such a long time now.

I truly believe it is possible to survive such a tempest in my tent.

4:34 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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...Being in "Tornado Alley", though, I'd be interested perhaps in a tent that came with an attached root cellar....

Perry,

Since we always dig "boot pits" in the vestibule when snow camping, will this qualify in place of a root cellar? Oh, wait, the root cellar helps keep the tent rooted in place, doesn't it.

7:46 p.m. on April 6, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry,

Nice commentary on the windy conditions! Thanks for the laughs.

Bill,

I have a miniature weather rock purchased at a souvineer shop on Lookout Mnt. TN. I'ts my favorite souvineer. Also, if you can't see the rock, it's foggy. I added that one because of where I backpack

9:11 a.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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trouthunter--

Wouldn't a "miniature weather rock" be a "weather pebble"?

Bill--

Which is smellier after a few days out there, boot pits or arm pits?

3:15 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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I was in a Hilleberg Nammatj tent at 5200 feet in a vicious windstorm and ended up with one bent pole which I managed to rebend using my hands. It's still good to go.

I had a NF Westwind three pole hoop tent sent up in the NC mountains when a freak tornado pulled thru and my tent swayed terribly, enough to split the aluminum at the socket points. A split pole is the beginning to a totally broken pole. The sharp edges didn't help the shock cords any.

Had a Mt Hardwear Light Wedge with the "new improved"(crappy)Atlas poles--poles joined together with a cheap looking metal insert--and one pole snapped in two as I was tightening the flysheet. I did a field repair using cordage and four small sticks as I didn't have a repair sleeve. I called Mt Hardwear and they sent me a new pole for free, but I was bummed out enough to deep six the Atlas junk and configured new poles from an old dome tent with 11-12mm poles. I cut them to fit with a hacksaw and added new shock cord. Now my Light Wedge is a three season tent with four season poles.

I even had an Ozark Trail dome with 3 fiberglas poles in a summer South Dakota thunderstorm and the wind was so bad I had to go outside in the rain and hold the tent down from blowing away. Two of the poles were split lengthwise--typical fiberglas garbage.

7:26 p.m. on April 7, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry,

If it is plastic double boots on a Cascades or Alaska Range peak, the boots are far smellier. Coming back to Seattle from 5 days in the Baker area, the smell in my friend's van when we took our boots off was so bad that we drove the whole distance with all windows and the roof vent/sunroof open, even though it was pouring rain the whole time.

12:16 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Driving in the rain with the sunroof open 'cause the smell was so bad? Wheew! Can only imagine that odor!

Walter--

Sounds like you've got some great experiences there. All earned the hard way, of course--the best kind. I used to have a TNF Westwind--loved that tent, btw--but it succumbed to various abuses, including one Scout trip in which a couple of tussling Scouts (playfully tussling, that is) rolled onto it and sharply bent two poles and tore the fly. Dumb*** I was at the time, I suppose, as I just chucked the tent after that rather than have it fixed and poles replaced/repaired. Oh, well.

BTW, the SD folks have agreed to repair the poles--I'm shipping them off tomorrow.

11:53 a.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry,

That's great news! One of the many reasons to deal with a reputable, quality company, and one of the many reasons they have the reputation! You rarely if ever get that kind of service with an off-shore company.

12:33 p.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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You're exactly right, Bill. And Sierra Designs just increased the likelihood my next tent (or whatever) will bear their logo. I am hugely loyal to good customer service.

2:38 p.m. on April 8, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry Clark--
You may be interested to know that a brand new Westwind can be purchased in England for around $500, at least this was true about 2 years ago. North Face still makes them but not over here.

1:58 p.m. on April 9, 2009 (EDT)
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Walter--thanks for the tip. I'll have to look into that. As I said, I loved that tent. We went through a lot together, and it never even came close to failing me.

1:45 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry... at least the wind only bent your poles. Last weekend my grandma got her tent knocked down.

Tent being a euphamism for house, of course. Those two cars used to be in an enclosed, attached garage. The garage and a good part of her house is now in the field 1.5 miles away.

Also, I'm fairly certain that the propane tank did not start out where it is now.

5:36 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Yowza. Not what you wanna wake up to in the morning. Especially the flying propane tank. Not a phrase I would want to use very often!

2:15 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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And now they're straight. Just received the repaired poles back from Sierra Designs. The new sections are a different color than the old, but I think that just adds some character to the whole thing. The Hyperlight AST is back in action!

3:23 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm glad SD took care of you. Kinda puts a smile on your face doesn't it?

So now you have a one of a kind Hyperlight AST. Cool!

Only one in the world maybe, now you just need a harrowing tale of survival and possibly get a book deal or movie! Where will you ever come up with a good story?

Geez, I've heard of these things happening but never watched it happen to anyone I knew. Man, do you think I could get a free ticket to see the movie?

I mean, if it's not too much to ask.

4:19 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Perry,

That's great news! One of the many reasons to deal with a reputable, quality company, and one of the many reasons they have the reputation! You rarely if ever get that kind of service with an off-shore company.

ALPS Mountaineering did that self-same thing for me when my poles got bent after battling those 70 mph winds.

I guess ALPS is a "reputable, quality company". :)

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