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.

We welcome your comments, and invite you to follow our journey by plugging your email addy into the box at the right.