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If you spend enough time camping, the shock cords in your tent poles may wear out, which can make it difficult to assemble the poles and pitch your tent. In extreme cases, the shock cord may snap in two. Fortunately, most camping supply stores and online retailers offer replacement shock cords, but you can also repair the original cord in some cases.
Purpose of the Cord
While most modern tent poles contain shock cords, early tent designs utilized poles with completely detachable segments. Shock cords are not necessary for your tent poles to function – they simply keep the numerous sections attached to each other, thus preventing lost segments. If your cord breaks, you can simply assemble the individual segments and use the pole as is. The use of an elastic cord allows you to separate the segments when necessary, yet the cord retracts slightly when the segments are connected, preventing slack cord in the interior of the poles.
Replacing the Cord
After acquiring a replacement cord, use a pair of pliers to remove the metal plugs at both ends of the pole. Untie the shock cord from each end and pull it until it is all the way out of the poles. Tie the shock cord to one metal plug and thread the free end through all of the pole segments. Thread the cord through the eye on the second metal plug and pull it taught. Tie the cord to the plug and cut off any excess material. If it is difficult to thread the cord through the poles, tie a bit of fishing line to the free end of the cord, thread the fishing line through the poles and use it to pull the cord through the poles.
Repair Rather Than Replace
If you prefer, you can try to repair a broken or worn out shock cord, rather than replace it. If the cord has become too stretched out, you can remove one of the end plugs and untie the knot. After removing the slack and re-tying the knot so that the cord is taught, cut off the excess length. If the cord breaks in the middle, remove a few inches of the cord’s core on each side of the break. This will make the cord slightly thinner, allowing you to tie a small knot in the cord, which will still pass through the poles easily.
Preventing Future Problems
Take good care of your tent poles to avoid damaging the shock cord. When assembling your tent, connect the middle segments of the poles last; when disassembling your tent, separate the middle pole sections first. This helps to reduce the strain placed on the shock cord, helping to prevent premature failure. Additionally, avoid placing your poles on the bare ground, where dirt and debris can penetrate the pole and abrade the cord.