Gone Outdoors

How to Make Your Own Lightweight Tent Poles

by Jeremiah Blanchard

The market for camping and outdoor sport supplies has grown tremendously over the years and outdoor enthusiasts can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on camping gear and outdoor equipment. Making your own gear has become economically efficient and somewhat of a pastime for hikers, backpackers and survivalists. Most hiking and camping gear can be made from junk, scrap around the house, and what nature provides. A tent-and-pole shelter is the most important element for outdoor protection and survival.

Making Lightweight Tent oles

Use thin, dried bamboo stalks to form your tent poles. The bamboo must be flexible and sturdy enough to support the weight of your shelter material.

Cut the bamboo into 1.5- to 2-foot sections to allow for easy carrying. Make longer cuts if you wish; however, longer dimensions are difficult to backpack through thick vegetation.

Sand down the ends of the bamboo to 2 inches from the cuts that you made earlier. Sand the bamboo to fit into the other cuts in a descending order. Start with the skinny portion (usually the top of the stalk) and work backwards towards the bottom, sanding and fitting each cut into the one before it.

Tie a large square knot in one end of a long piece of stretchable nylon cord. Run the free end of the cord through your first segment of cut bamboo.

Continue running the cord through the bamboo until all sections are in order. Tie another square knot in the end, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space between the knot and the top of the bamboo. Then fold the bamboo segments into a bundle and tie them with the remaining string.

Items you will need
  • Bamboo stalks
  • Sandpaper
  • Knife or hatchet
  • 50 feet of stretchable nylon cord