Two of the most common materials used in manufacturing tent poles are aluminum and fiberglass. If you’re buying your very first tent, you may be wondering which aluminum vs fiberglass tent pole you should choose. To help you make a more informed decision, we’ll take a look at the differences and similarities between a fiberglass and aluminum tent pole as well as the pros and cons of each.
Between the aluminum vs fiberglass tent pole, the former is more expensive than the latter. Aluminum tent poles are more expensive than other types of tent poles as well, namely wood and plastic. This is why most budget tents are sold with fiberglass tent poles.
One reason why aluminum tent poles come with a steeper price tag is that they are more expensive to produce than fiberglass tent poles. Keep in mind that aluminum is a naturally occurring element, and will thus need to be extracted and processed before it can be made into anything. On the other hand, fiberglass is purely synthetic and it costs much less to produce them.
How much a tent pole weighs is an important consideration for many campers especially for those who carry around backpacking tents or motorcycle camping tents. For such campers, every ounce of weight counts, and in this regard aluminum wins the fiberglass vs aluminum tent pole debate.
Compared to fiberglass tent poles (and other tent pole materials), aluminum tent poles are much lighter. Consequently, the tents they come with are also lightweight thus making them the perfect choice for campers who are always on the move or simply don’t like lugging heavy tents.
Having a set of strong and reliable tent poles is crucial to ensure the structural integrity of your camping tent. One of the worst things that can happen while you’re out camping is having your tent collapse because of the weak tent pole. And when it comes to strength between fiberglass vs aluminum tent pole, the latter is the winner.
Despite being lightweight, aluminum tent poles are very strong and sturdy. They are capable of carrying heavy tent canvas and fabric and can retain their shape while doing so. They are also capable of withstanding strong winds and rains. And if you are choosing a tent for winter camping, then choose one that comes with aluminum tent poles. Also, aluminum poles tend to bend, unlike fiberglass poles which snap and break. And as many experienced campers can tell you, it is much easier to repair a bent tent pole than a broken one.
Corrosiveness is one of the biggest problems of many campers when it comes to their tent poles. When poles corrode, they develop rust which in turn makes them less structurally sound and unreliable. Then it can even cause unsightly marks and stains on the tent fabric after prolonged contact.
Between the aluminum vs fiberglass tent pole, fiberglass takes the upper hand over aluminum. This is because fiberglass is 100% perfect rust and corrosion-proof. Made from synthetic materials, extended exposure to moisture should have no negative effects on them.
This is not the aluminum case though. Aluminum is susceptible to developing rust and corrosion. They can degrade badly especially when they’re exposed to excessive moisture, which is what happens when you go camping by the beach or during the rainy months.
Fortunately, simple maintenance and care should help to keep aluminum tent poles (or other steel and metal tent poles) free from rust and safe from corrosion. Also, paying a little extra for aluminum tent poles that come with a protective coating (and re-applying the coating regularly) can help rust and corrosion at bay.
So Which Tent Pole Should You Choose?
As can be seen above, both types of tent poles have their pros and cons. As such, choosing between aluminum vs fiberglass tent pole will ultimately boil down to your own needs and preferences. That said, here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing your tent poles.
Is weight really important for me?
If you are more into backpacking or lots of hiking and camping, then weight should be an important consideration for you. As every experienced backpacker knows, every ounce of weight starts taking its toll the longer you are on the trail. In this regard, you’ll want to go for aluminum tent poles.
How much am I willing to spend?
If the budget is an important factor in your decision making, then fiberglass tent poles would be the better option. Not only will you be spending less initially, but you’ll also save money on buying replacement poles which can help keep the costs of owning maintaining them relatively low.
How often will I use them?
As mentioned earlier, aluminum poles tend to be stronger and last longer than fiberglass tent poles. Thus, if you go camping very often, then you’ll want to choose aluminum poles since they are more capable of withstanding constant use and abuse. For a frequent camper, the choice between fiberglass vs aluminum tent pole will lean towards the latter.
Where will I be camping?
If your ideal camping destinations include beaches and very wet environments, then you’ll want to steer clear of aluminum tent poles. This is because excessive moisture can do a lot of damage to their structural integrity and durability.
How big is my tent?
If you are planning to buy large tents like an 8-person tent or a 6-person tent, then aluminum tent poles are the preferred choice. They are much stronger than fiberglass tent poles and are capable of carrying large and heavy canvases or tent without sagging or breaking.
Will I be camping with the kids?
If you are constantly camping with your kids, then you’ll want to avoid fiberglass tent poles. As mentioned earlier, fiberglass tends to snap and break instead of simply bending. When they do, shards and splinters will come out of it which can cause injury to both you and your kids.
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Camping and spending a night in the outdoors is without a doubt one of the best pastimes of all time, whether you’re camping with family and friends or camping solo. In any case, you’ll have to pitch and set up an outdoor shelter, and doing so is much easier and more enjoyable if you have a good set of tent poles with you. So whichever one you choose between aluminum vs fiberglass tent pole, make sure that you choose one that is right for your personal camping needs and preferences. Hopefully, after reading our guide on the differences between fiberglass vs aluminum tent pole you are now ready to make your choice.