Friday, April 22, 2011

Adapting BD trekking poles to replace tipi pole

When we bought our Shangri-la 3, I had seen several references to an SL 3 adapter that extended a trekking pole for use in place of the supplied pole. It was a 16" x 5/16" tube in which the tip of one's trekking pole simply went in one end, and the other side was capped to prevent puncturing the tent floor.

Well, they don't make it any more. I checked out a several hardware stores in the area, and couldn't find a lightweight tube of the right inside diameter. The more I thought about the concept, the less I liked it. Tho it would cut down on the amount of futzing required to get the tent up, it didn't seem like it would be very stable ... #SourGrapes.

Searching the intertubes came up with several solutions for basically lashing the two poles together, and one solution sold at BPL UK for ~$22 that connected two trekking poles together end-to-end, using a shaft the same diameter as the lowest section of the pole.

I thought to myself "Self, I dunno if any of these are right for our Black Diamond Trekking poles, but if BD sells replacement shafts, we could be in business!" A bit of snooping came up with BD's replacement parts page

I ordered a "Trail Lower Shaft (Universal) SKU BD0112950000ALLS" for $12.60 (incl shipping). When it arrived, it had a nylon guide on one end, and a flex tip on the other. I made a few measurements with the OEM pole and with my trekking poles, cut the flex tip off with a hack-saw, and cleaned up the edge with some fine sand paper.

The OEM pole weighs just over 11 ozs, and my finished adapter weighs 1.5 ozs.

I took the lower shafts out of both of my trekking poles. I slid one end of my adapter into the middle shaft of one pole, the other end into the middle shaft of my other pole, and locked them in place with the flicklocks. I then measured it against the standard OEM pole and marked the adapter to reduce the amount of futzin' required to set the right height.

I could cut it shorter, and shave some more weight, but I like how it adds some stiffening to the weakest links of the rig. It'd also be nice if it had the nylon guides on both ends ... but it doesn't. As it is, it reduced my pack weight by 9.5 ozs, plus those OEM poles were bulky. I could probably squeeze in six more packages of ramen noodles with the space I gained.

Hope this helps anyone else with a Shangri-La 3, Shangri-La 4, Hex 3, Megalight, Megamid, or any shelter requiring a tall, solid adjustable pole.

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  1. Great idea! I came up with the same thought for my Black Diamond Trail poles but I haven't done this yet. Figured I'd search to see if others had experience with this yet.

    How has the adapted center trekking pole rig held up? Does it seem sturdy in heavy weather (wind, snow)? Any other thoughts after giving it more use?

    1. Thanks. I've had no problems with it, tho I have yet to experience really high winds. I've so far resisted the temptation of cutting the adaptor down to reduce weight, and it effectively doubles the thickness of the whole lower sections of the trekking poles. Not an engineer, but it seems pretty stout.

    2. Thanks Bill. Glad to hear it's holding up. I'll definitely be giving this a try!

      Joel (aka Anonymous)

  2. Bill,
    What is the max usable length? I am thinking about trying this for the Shangri-La 5.

    1. I'll have to go dig that stuff out. But you can estimate it by measuring your pole with just the two upper segments fully extended (cause you pull the bottom segment out doing this), and double that. You can probably add another 10 inches to that number to account for the pole segment you use as a connector.

      If you have all the segments extended fully, the resulting pole will be weaker than if you don't. If you leave a few inches in each joint, it will be more rigid, and better able to sustain high winds. In the pics above, you can see I kept pretty much the whole length of the section I bought to use as a connector - even tho you only see a couple of inches of it in the conjoined pole. As a gram weenie, I am compelled to cut off the excess, but I want the increased rigidity. I understand that not being an engineer, I tend to over-engineer everything I make, but I'd hate to have these poles fale in a high wind.

      So, if you want to look at it critically for your application, take the bottom sections out of your poles, extend the upper sections, lay the poles tip-to-tip, and measure. If that's not long enough to replace your tipi pole, increase the distance between the pole tips till it is. Lay one of your lower segments down. Would you be able to have at least a couple of inches inserted in each pole? Then see if you can achieve that length without fully extending the upper segments to increase rigidity.

      I'll dig out those poles and measure it. In the mean time, I hope this helps.

      (Note to self: Cut 6" off the adaptor segment ..)