Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW

Fibraplex carbon fiber tent poles can save ounces of tent weight - are they durable enough?

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by Doug Johnson | 2006-11-07 03:00:00-07

Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW

Introduction

Fibraplex carbon fiber tent poles are lightweight replacements for stock aluminum tent poles. On the two sets tested, the Fibraplex poles cut the weight of poles by 33 to 43 percent and offered comparable stiffness to the stock poles. For those looking to cut ounces, Fibraplex poles are worth a close look.

What’s Good

  • Lighter than stock poles by 33 to 43 percent (in the two sets tested)
  • Comparable stiffness to DAC Featherlite 8.84 millimeter outer diameter poles (stock Black Diamond Lighthouse)
  • Comparable flexibility and strength to aluminum models
  • Good customer support with quick replacements (if needed)
  • Pole sets available for many tents as well as custom poles
  • Reasonably priced for shelters with fewer poles ($52 for a two-pole Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic)

What’s Not So Good

  • Not quite as stiff as Easton 7075 poles (stock on a Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic)
  • Need to use caution with ferrules - if not seated properly, they are a weak point
  • If overstressed they will break instead of bending
  • More expensive for shelters with more or longer length poles ($130 for the three-pole Black Diamond Lighthouse)

Specifications

  Year/Model

2005 Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 tent poles

  Pole Material

Carbon fiber with carbon fiber ferrules and aluminum tips

  Pole Dimensions

Fibrapole 292 poles: 0.292 in (7 mm) outside diameter, 0.25 in (6 mm) wall thickness, 32 in (81 cm) maximum section length

  Ferrule Dimensions

CF Ferrules: 0.240 in (6 mm) outside diameter, 0.38 in (10 mm) wall thickness, 4 in (10 cm) length

  Length - Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic

One 73.5 in (187 cm) pole, One 44.5 in (113 cm) pole

  Weight - Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic

Fibraplex poles: 3.3 oz (94 g), Stock Easton 7075 poles: 4.9 oz (137 g)

  Length - Black Diamond Lighthouse

Two 142 in (361 cm) poles, One 39 in (99 cm) pole with aluminum elbow

  Weight - Black Diamond Lighthouse

Fibraplex poles: 9.3 oz (263 g), Stock DAC Featherlite poles: 15.9 oz (450 g)

  Weight Savings Over Stock Poles

Squall Classic: 1.6 oz (46 g) - 33% lighter
Lighthouse: 6.9 oz (195 g) - 42% lighter

  MSRP

Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic set: $52
Black Diamond Lighthouse set: $130

Performance

Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW  - 1
Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 carbon fiber tent poles were strong enough to easily survive moderate winds on the Emmons Glacier on Mount Rainier.

The Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 poles are direct replacements for stock aluminum tent poles and are the only replacement carbon fiber poles available. They are available from Fibraplex (who also manufactures carbon fiber poles and cord for non-outdoor purposes) in pre-made sets for specific tents as well as in custom configurations for any shelter or tarp (including those with hubs such as the MSR Hubba Hubba and Big Agnes Seedhouse tents).

I tested Fibrapole 292 sets in two configurations: as a stock replacement set for the Black Diamond Lighthouse and as a custom set for the Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic.

Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW  - 2
The wall thickness of the Fibrapole 292 and CF Ferrule are designed for maximum strength and flexibility.

The first reason for selecting Fibraplex poles is weight reduction as compared to aluminum models. The Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 poles dropped 1.6 ounces off of the Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic and 6.9 ounces from the Black Diamond Lighthouse. That is a weight savings of 33 and 42 percent, respectively, over stock sets.

The poles came with the correct tips and fit easily into both applications. The sizing for both shelters was just right producing fabric tension that was identical to the stock poles. Like the aluminum sets, the Fibrapole 292 poles are shock-corded and sized for easy storage. The only hassle was that the aluminum connecter tips were wider than the poles, causing them to snag in the pole sleeve of the Squall Classic. However, this was only a minor nuisance and by correctly pushing the pole out of the sleeve (instead of pulling it), there was no problem at all.

Stiffness of the Fibrapole 292 poles proved to be right in the ballpark when compared to aluminum poles. The Fibraplex models were of similar stiffness to the DAC Featherlite poles that came with the Black Diamond Lighthouse but a bit more flexible than the Easton 7075 models. When arched into a hoop application, the extra flexibility made little difference in the field. When used non-arched, such as the front pole of the Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic, the pole bent under load more easily than the stock Easton model. This was only a problem when pitching the tent with high tension, however there’s no doubt that the Easton poles are stiffer in this application.

Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW  - 3
The Fibraplex poles proved very strong and flexible. Here, they are shown at their maximum flex before failure (left). When failure occurs (right), it is always at the pole/ferrule junction and is either due to overstress or improper seating of the ferrule.

Because the Fibrapole 292 poles are so much lighter than aluminum models, I had initial concerns about the poles’ durability. Because of this Fibraplex sent me a complete extra pole section and several replacement segments to test for failure. I found that failures with the poles always occurred at the ferrule/pole junction where the carbon fiber split. Breakage of this kind was only possible with improper use or stressing the poles far beyond their reasonable range. During several tests, I was able to bend a 120 inch length until the tips actually touched before breakage occurred. When overstressing a shorter pole (such as the 73.5 inch Tarptent hoop pole), breakage occurred in a smaller arc but still one that was much more extreme than was required for the application.

When I inquired about the frequency of pole breakage, Fibraplex informed me that most breakages occur when ferrules are not fully inserted into the poles. My tests backed up that statistic; partially inserted ferrules resulted in pole breakage with far less bending than fully inserted ferrules. The bottom line: Fibraplex poles are strong enough as long as you make sure the ferrules are properly inserted and you don’t stress the poles far beyond what’s required for your application. But unlike aluminum poles, these carbon poles break instead of bend.

In the field, durability was never a factor. I used these poles in a variety of settings over several months with no issues at all. This includes pitching the Lighthouse on the Emmons Glacier on a climb of Mount Rainier. During moderate winds with 30-40 mph gusts, I had no problems, except for a minor increase in tent deflection (lean). By effectively guying out the tent I was able to greatly reduce this tendency to lean in high winds. With reasonable usage, I would trust these poles in far more extreme conditions than those experienced on Rainier; with proper guying out of the tent and clearing of heavy snow loads, the Fibrapole 292 poles will hold up just fine.

At $130 for the Black Diamond Lighthouse pole set and $52 for the Tarptent setup, Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 carbon fiber tent poles are a relatively expensive investment that doesn’t add much to the functionality of a shelter. But for us ounce-counters, Fibraplex poles are a good way to cut shelter weight without much (if any) sacrifice in strength or stability. At $32.50 per ounce of weight saved for the Tarptent and $18.84 per ounce for the Lighthouse, the question of whether or not Fibraplex poles are worth it is up to you.

What’s Unique

Fibraplex makes the only carbon fiber replacement tent poles that you can purchase, thus offering the only ticket to making your tent lighter. (While Easton also makes carbon fiber poles, they are not available aftermarket.) Fibraplex also offers custom setups, making them usable with most any shelter.

Recommendations for Improvement

While Fibraplex Fibrapoles are well built and high quality, I would like to see the following changes:

1. More robust offerings for mountaineering or winter applications.

2. A tapered design that places more material at the weak point - the ends of the pole shafts. This would be a positive step toward making the poles a little more durable.

3. Finally, a less expensive price would make Fibraplex poles a better value.


Citation

"Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/fibraplex_fibrapole_292_poles_review.html, 2006-11-07 03:00:00-07.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW


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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW on 11/07/2006 19:16:09 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW

Daniel Goldenberg
(dag4643)

Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW on 11/07/2006 20:26:58 MST Print View

With regards to pole breakage, the fibraplex website carries a repair kit that has some sections of replacement poles that can be used to make a permanent repair.

repair kit

Edited by dag4643 on 11/07/2006 20:44:32 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 Carbon Fiber Tent Poles REVIEW on 11/08/2006 13:49:05 MST Print View

> 2. A tapered design that places more material at the weak point - the ends of the pole shafts. This would be a positive step toward making the poles a little more durable.

I have played with the Fibraplex poles - quite nice. Yes, the joins are the weak points. They can be reinforced by sleeving them with some aluminium tubing, and one of the Easton arrow shafts should fit nicely. I use this method on another CF tube to make my own tent poles.

The Easton 2113, 2114 or 2115 should work, with some epoxy resin.

Edited by rcaffin on 11/08/2006 13:52:09 MST.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
fibraplex reinforcements on 11/08/2006 14:55:29 MST Print View

Yep, using the stock internal CF ferrule on one side and adding an external AL I would order the ferrules seperate from the poles for user installation. Key is to have the AL external ferrule fit pretty darn tight or the stress is amplified to a small edge on the CF pole. I have not completed all my tests, but seems that making the Al part 1/8" shorter on each end than the internal CF ferrule would be the strongest. Maybe some type of off set would be even better. Idea is that making them the same length does not help as much since the force would still all fall on the pole at a poing with no strength over lap from the outside or inside ferrule. Lightly sand and then burnish the external AL ferrule edges so they slide through pole sleeves well and don't catch. This technique also help a bit with stiffness when making straight tarp pole sets with the .292 CF poles. A three section CF straight pole at no more than 45" is as long as it will go w/ a solo size tarp and not have excessive flex, IMO. Using good quality bungee than is not too small will also help avoid the potential of the joints not closing completely and then breaking. -Not as big a risk in straight poles though.

Edited by mountainlaureldesigns on 11/08/2006 14:57:46 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: fibraplex load bearing on 11/08/2006 17:13:36 MST Print View

Doug, I'm wondering if you have a feel for the load bearing / deflection difference between a fibraplex pole set and an Al pole set for the BD tent, in response to a snow load?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: fibraplex load bearing on 11/08/2006 18:50:47 MST Print View

Hi Ryan,

I just pulled out the two sets (Fibraplex and stock BD aluminum poles) to refresh my memory.

The aluminum poles a bit stiffer in deflection and load bearing but it isn't a huge difference. Although I don't have the equipment to do a true scientific analysis, my estimate is that the aluminum poles are between 10 and 20% stiffer.

That said, once the poles are flexed within a tent where the pole has full contact with a sleeve or the tent body, the difference becomes quite minimal. When taking moderate winds on Rainier over 3 days, I didn't notice any deflection differences compared with the tent in similar experiences with aluminum poles.

In other words, these poles are quite comparible to the aluminum models but do flex a little bit more.

The carbon poles are what I will use in these tents in the future and in all situations. I trust them.

Cheers!
Doug

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: fibraplex load bearing on 11/08/2006 19:07:28 MST Print View

Take a look at the Black Diamond First Light Review:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/black_diamond_firstlight_tent_review.html

It has a measured comparison between the Fibraplex poles, Easton CF poles, Easton 7075 aluminum, and DAC FeatherLite 7075 aluminum poles. The Fibraplex poles are hands down stiffer for the weight, although they do deflect about 25-30% more than than the aluminum poles.

I find the FirstLight definitely has more deflection with the Fibraplex poles. I would seriously consider using the Al poles in exposed sites with high winds.

-Alan

Edited by ryan on 11/08/2006 23:04:19 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: fibraplex load bearing on 11/08/2006 23:13:39 MST Print View

Thanks, Alan and Doug. The reason I'm asking is that I have a Fibraplex pole set for my 2-pole (wedge shape) Big Sky Tent and it suffers dramatically relative to aluminum poles with respect to snow loading.

I also have them for an Integral Designs eVENT MK1 Lite, also a wedge design, and they are fine, the difference between the CF pole set and the Al pole set is not as dramatic.

The differences are probably related to structure and how the poles are secured: clips in the BSP tent and interior with velcro in the ID tent.

But clips don't tell the whole story. In my hoop tent (an MSR Zoid), the CF poles are excellent, and the difference in performance relative to the Al poles is even less.

So, in short, when you are considering an upgrade to a CF pole set, consider the loss of performance relative to deflection (very high winds, snow loading), and recognize that the loss of performance will have a great deal to do with the tent's structure.

I did break a CF pole in a Hilleberg Akto, and I've broken a set in an ID MK1XL, both from excessive snow loading. The Akto, I left in my backyard for a week of storms, and the MK1XL, was in the real world on Froze-to-Death Plateau (basecamp for Granite Peak, MT) in the winter during a heavy snowfall. We couldn't dig fast enough.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: fibraplex load bearing on 11/09/2006 08:32:28 MST Print View

Yes Ry,
I would agree. Shelter design plays a crucial role in the suitability of using CF poles.

I think that having poles entirely INSIDE the shelter (or in a continuous sleeve) definitely benefits CF poles. The continuous pole sleeve is probably the best option although internal poles with many attachments points like the BD, Biber, and ID tents come close to mimicking a continuous sleeve. These tents do quite well with CF poles.

The stiffness and tension of the fabric around the poles is also a factor, with stiffer fabric under more tension also benefiting the CF poles. I would only use the CF poles in a tent like the BSP tent when in very sheltered conditions. This is probably combination of tent geometry and the quite stretchy noseeum netting that they anchor to. There are also only a few anchor points to the silnylon tent fly which again is not the stiffest fabric.

-A

Donald S Bosch
(manofmt) - F
CF poles on 11/10/2006 21:37:06 MST Print View

I have restored my old ring style TNF Oval Intention with a silnylon floor and fly. To further reduce weight I have replaced the 6 poles with CF. Because of the number of pole intersections(15), I hardly notice a difference in pole deflection. I will see how it works out this winter.

Edited by manofmt on 11/10/2006 21:38:47 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: fibraplex reinforcements on 11/10/2006 23:07:29 MST Print View

Hi Ron

> Key is to have the AL external ferrule fit pretty darn tight or the stress is amplified to a small edge on the CF pole.
Yes - a tight fit and swamp with epoxy or Black Max Loctite is good. I have done a fair bit of that.

> seems that making the Al part 1/8" shorter on each end than the internal CF ferrule would be the strongest
I would go further, and suggest making the Al ferrule either 1/2" longer or shorter than the CF ferrule. Shorter would be fine.

I have overloaded 2-D CF tubing and the snap was at the transition between the ferrule and bare tube. Clean break.

2-D: 5 layers, pultrude/wrap/pultrude/wrap/pultrude, with polyester medium, but at a very high packing density. BIG machine, not hand lay-up around a mandril.

Snow loading is the hazard: my tents now have a peak rather than a flat top. Even so, a layer of snow and a sharp down-draft ... :-)