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.
- 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)
|2005 Fibraplex Fibrapole 292 tent poles|
|Carbon fiber with carbon fiber ferrules and aluminum tips|
|Fibrapole 292 poles: 0.292 in (7 mm) outside diameter, 0.25 in (6 mm) wall thickness, 32 in (81 cm) maximum section length|
|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
|Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic set: $52
Black Diamond Lighthouse set: $130
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.
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.
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.
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.