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  1. #1
    Never say never
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    Custom made tent poles

    I've been having a difficult time finding a tent that will fit me (6') and also be compact and light enough to easily carry on my bicycle (due largely to the tent pole sizes being too long). While doing some searching around, I came across the following website.

    http://www.polesforyou.com/

    I'm not sure how much they charge, but it's nice to know that if you find a tent design that's right for you, but its poles are too long to easily carry on your bike, that you can have an option to have them replaced with shorter segmented poles.

    My apologies if this has been covered here already.

  2. #2
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    Everyone should choose their gear and load it on their bike however it works best for themselves. Having said that, I don't understand the concern about carrying normal length tent poles on a bike. One of the big advantages a bike has over backpacking is that bulk (up to a point) doesn't matter. That's not so much true for weight, but for bulk, strap it on the rear rack behind you and ride. You won't know it's there.

    I normally roll my tent poles up with my tent and slide the whole thing into a stuff sack to be strapped across the rear rack of my bike. I've often considered, when riding in traffic, pulling out my aluminum poles and strapping them on top and offset towards the cars that aren't giving me much room. I fantasize that cars would see the metal poles sticking out out of the left side of my bike like a porcupine quill and move over a bit more to keep from getting scratched.

  3. #3
    Never say never
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    ... I don't understand the concern about carrying normal length tent poles on a bike. One of the big advantages a bike has over backpacking is that bulk (up to a point) doesn't matter. That's not so much true for weight, but for bulk, strap it on the rear rack behind you and ride. You won't know it's there.
    I have about 12.5" (L) X 5.5" (W) of rear rack area on my bicycle. Let's say I used a tent with 25" segmented poles. To me (and maybe I'm way off here), it seems like if I load the tent on the rack crosswise, that it would be kind of tippy from end to end ... not to mention sticking out a foot on each side of the bicycle. I've seen it happen before with tents loaded this way, where the gear inside the tent bag shifts every time a sharp corner is turned. Maybe it just wasn't packed tight enough in that case. ??

    On the other hand, if I loaded the 25" long tent pack on the bicycle lengthwise, it would be at least twice as long as the length of the rack, if not more. In that case, I almost feel like I should hang one of those red warning flags on the end of the tent pack. (I'm being sarcastic).

    But I guess if that's what people are doing, then that's an okay way to go. I'm just trying to know what I'm doing before I make an expensive (to me) purchase.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ezdoesit's Avatar
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  5. #5
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    The poles for my REI Half Dome 2 measure 17.5" long. This is for a tent with a floor size of 90"x54". I'm 6'1" tall and the tent is plenty long for me. The whole tent, rolled up around the poles and in the stuff sack, measures 20" long. I strap it across my rear rack like this (tent is the bottom right of the stack of the first picture and bottom left of the second). Ignore the laundry drying in the first picture:





    It doesn't stick out appreciably beyond the width of my panniers. If it stuck out a little more, it wouldn't bother me. I like to present a wide profile to cars passing me. I strap the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and pillow (I sleep well) to my rack with nylon cinch straps. I cinch them down tightly and they don't move a bit while I'm riding, unlike loads attached with bungee cords.

  6. #6
    Never say never
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    The poles for my REI Half Dome 2 measure 17.5" long. This is for a tent with a floor size of 90"x54". I'm 6'1" tall and the tent is plenty long for me. The whole tent, rolled up around the poles and in the stuff sack, measures 20" long. I strap it across my rear rack like this (tent is the bottom right of the stack of the first picture and bottom left of the second).

    It doesn't stick out appreciably beyond the width of my panniers. If it stuck out a little more, it wouldn't bother me. I like to present a wide profile to cars passing me. I strap the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and pillow (I sleep well) to my rack with nylon cinch straps. I cinch them down tightly and they don't move a bit while I'm riding, unlike loads attached with bungee cords.
    Thanks a lot for the info and the pics. It all helps. I'm pretty sure I've seen some of your bike pics before. (Love your bike!)

    It's interesting that you say your stuff sack measures 20" because the specs on REI's website say the packed size for that tent is 23" long. (http://www.rei.com/product/728308). See ... I look at those website specs when trying to decide on a tent thinking they are accurate. (Silly me!) :-/ If the specs aren't accurate, well how would a person know without actually seeing it in person? When I look at the packed size of a tent printed on the box, I've always been thinking that the length of that packing size was determined by the tent pole length. From what you're saying, I guess I've been looking at it wrong all this time.

    That reminds me of something a little bit related to all of this. Today I was in a store checking out the Kelty Teton 2. There is a diagram of the floor shape (with dimensions) printed on the end of the box. The dimensions on that diagram list the tent length as 7'-6" (which to my way of adding equals 90" total). Then there is another area on that same end of the box that lists the overall dimensions of the tent (just text, no diagram). The length dimension there is listed at 88". Obviously one of those 2 length measurements is incorrect.

    So with all of the above in mind, can a person believe the specs??? Maybe not. (grrrrrrrrrr). Boy they sure don't make it easy for an uninformed person to buy a tent when you need to pay attention to specifics.

    Anyway, now I'm totally confused ...

    Thanks again for the help. I'm thinking I can't believe the specs anymore (to a degree). I guess you just have to take an educated guess at the tent you buy and hope for the best. ??

    Oh by the way, it seems that many people (like you) use the top of your rear panniers as sort of a resting area for all the sleeping gear that goes on top of the rack ... sort of like leaf extensions on a table. I'm not sure if the panniers I plan on using will help that way or not (they're smallish). I guess I won't know until I put it all together.

  7. #7
    Never say never
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy834 View Post
    ... I strap the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and pillow (I sleep well) to my rack with nylon cinch straps. I cinch them down tightly and they don't move a bit while I'm riding, unlike loads attached with bungee cords.
    P.S. By the way, the tippy load that I saw and referred to earlier, was attached with bungee cords. Nuff said.

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpk0925 View Post
    I have about 12.5" (L) X 5.5" (W) of rear rack area on my bicycle. Let's say I used a tent with 25" segmented poles. To me (and maybe I'm way off here), it seems like if I load the tent on the rack crosswise, that it would be kind of tippy from end to end ... not to mention sticking out a foot on each side of the bicycle. I've seen it happen before with tents loaded this way, where the gear inside the tent bag shifts every time a sharp corner is turned. Maybe it just wasn't packed tight enough in that case. ??

    On the other hand, if I loaded the 25" long tent pack on the bicycle lengthwise, it would be at least twice as long as the length of the rack, if not more. In that case, I almost feel like I should hang one of those red warning flags on the end of the tent pack. (I'm being sarcastic).

    But I guess if that's what people are doing, then that's an okay way to go. I'm just trying to know what I'm doing before I make an expensive (to me) purchase.
    First, I have owned quite a few tents and none have had 25" poles. Most tents I have used pack down to about a 20" package and some shorter.

    Second, when strapped firmly, crosswise on the rack it always has ridden nicely. It doesn't stick out much if at all past the panniers.

    Third, for those who mention wanting to carry the tent in the panniers... I don't want to put a wet tent in my waterproof panniers with dry gear. I don't want the moisture migrating to the rest of my gear and the tent does not need to be protected from the rain. The tent stays dry if rolled with the waterproof bottom on the outside, even in an all day rain. If the fly is wet when packing it up, it gets rolled on the outside of the roll. Sometimes i may lay it out to dry on a stop during the day but usually not.

  9. #9
    Never say never
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    First, I have owned quite a few tents and none have had 25" poles. Most tents I have used pack down to about a 20" package and some shorter.

    <snip>
    Since I started looking for a tent a month or so ago, I've always looked at the "packed size" in the specs as being the stuff size of the tent. I'm starting to realize that the packed size listed in the specs might be referring to the size of the box the tent comes in. If that's the case, it's a shame that they don't list a true "stuff size" ... or at least the segmented length of the tent poles. That would be extremely helpful to know.

  10. #10
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    Most tent poles I've seen come in pretty manageable lengths.
    If I ever wanted shorter pole segments:
    I'd visit my local metal warehouse and buy a meter or so of smaller diameter tubing to use as ferrules on my existing poles.
    Remove shock cord, hacksaw all my poles in half, then epoxy in the new few inches of ferrule into one side of each new joint.
    Then rethread the bungy.
    The ferrule tubing diameter is the same as the ones on the poles already. $10 fix.

  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpk0925 View Post
    Since I started looking for a tent a month or so ago, I've always looked at the "packed size" in the specs as being the stuff size of the tent. I'm starting to realize that the packed size listed in the specs might be referring to the size of the box the tent comes in. If that's the case, it's a shame that they don't list a true "stuff size" ... or at least the segmented length of the tent poles. That would be extremely helpful to know.
    I am not sure what is up with that, you would think they would want to list the smallest size they could.

    You can find very good reviews at:
    http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/
    Some of the reviewers give listed sizes and weights and actual sizes and weights. The reviews by Ray Estrella are particularly good and give these figures.

    The MSR tents generally have accurate numbers, at least for packed size. Some of the other's are off.

  12. #12
    Never say never
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    ... You can find very good reviews at:
    http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/
    Some of the reviewers give listed sizes and weights and actual sizes and weights. The reviews by Ray Estrella are particularly good and give these figures.

    The MSR tents generally have accurate numbers, at least for packed size. Some of the other's are off.
    Thank you!

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