Tent Poles – Most backpacking tents use aluminum tent poles due to their high strength-to-weight and durability. Over the years aluminum tent poles have maintained strength while engineers have found ways to reduce weight by shrinking pole diameter and wall thickness. Fiberglass tent poles tend to be heavier and are susceptible to splintering when repeatedly arced over time. The following types of tent poles are commonly found in top-brand backpacking tents:
DAC Featherlite NSL: The latest version is Featherlite NSL (“new sleeve”), which uses aluminum inserts to connect the tent poles sections. Rather than glue or crimp the inserts in place, DAC mechanically expands the insert into pole ends. DAC says this bonding process makes pole junction points 20% stronger than the main pole tubes, permitting the use of thin (though strong) tube walls. DAC also uses a “green anodizing” process which eliminates a polishing stage that required the use of toxic agents phosphoric and nitric acid.
Yunan Air Hercules: Features an aluminum/scandium alloy and a “floating connector” that joins the sections of the tent poles. Both are intended to provide strength and flex at a low weight.
6000-series aluminum: Aluminum is available in various grades, from a 1000 series through 9000. Aluminum uses alloys to make it heat-treatable. In 6000-series aluminum (6061 being commonly used), the alloys are silicon and magnesium, resulting in medium strength and good corrosion resistance.
7000-series aluminum: Zinc is the major alloying element in this series, which includes tent poles identified as 7075. Small amounts of magnesium are also used in the 7000-series which creates a strong, kink-resistant, high grade of lightweight aluminum commonly used in aircraft. The 7000-series will flex further than 6000-series (of the same diameter) before they bend or break.
The latest DAC Featherlite NSL in the 7000-series are composed of a proprietary alloy known as TH72M. DAC created it to boost the its resistance to what is known in the aluminum industry as stress corrosion cracking (SCC), a key foe of high-strength aluminum tent poles.