replacing tent pole shock cord

I have an 10 yr old REI half-dome tent and one of the poles needs to have the shock cord replaced I haven’t taken the pole apart yet and was wondering what’s entailed in restringing the shock cord and how to gauge how much to order.

As always,

Thanks in advance,


I went to a fabric store and got some strong compareable elastic, then used a wire coat hanger to fish it through. It is simple to do, although getting the tension right can be a bit of a try and retry exercise…


I think the system may be to order more
shock cord than the length of the assembled pole, just to make fishing it through easier. Then you can apply the appropriate tension, connect appropriately, and cut off the excess.

If you plan on being in an REI store soon, the salespeople will know the system.

another thing to consider when using
Also once its done–to make your shock cord last longer. When taking down the tent, always start in the MIDDLE part of the pole and break apart there…then work outward to the ends. Many people undo the ENDS first and work to the center which makes the cords last less. WHY? Well, the obvious. There is MORE slack in the center of and elastic cord than the ends. Thus if you only stated at the ends you are pulling where the cord is the tightest tension THUS each time you are making it a little weaker and weaker etc. You get more out of the cords by starting in the middle.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

– Last Updated: Mar-21-09 11:56 PM EST –

I love "how does it work" puzzles, so I'm going to comment on what you just said.

By starting at one end and working your way to the other, you are gradually increasing the tension on the shockcord within the remaining and ever-decreasing length of connected poles as each new joint gets pulled apart to a slightly greater degree than if you started in the middle, since the cord on the "back side" of any joint you are disconnecting is "out of the picture" and not able to share in the stretch. Thus you are imparting stretch to a somewhat shorter length of cord at the end, and apply slightly greater tension by the time you reach that point than if you started in the middle. Is that what you are saying? If that's what you mean, you are definitely correct, but I think that's a pretty minor issue since the cord has a lot more stretch than what we "ask" of it during pole-disassembly.

If you are saying what it LOOKS like you are saying, then it is not correct. A stretched cord, or anything else that is under tension, has the same tension anywhere between the two anchor points. The first joint you pull apart will endure the same tension and create the same degree of stretch along the ENTIRE line no matter where that joint is located, because no matter which joint you pull apart first, the cord gets stretched because the anchor points get farter apart by an amount equal to the joint overlap.

Easy stringing
I have used electrical tape to join the old and new cord before pulling it through. Make sure to wrap about 3" of tape on each end of the cord, not too thick though or it won’t fit inside the pole. You could also try a dab of crazy glue on each end and butt them together & tape. Sometimes the tape comes loose.


Repair kits are avail at most
stores that sell camping goods you get a good quantity of shock cord and a piece of wire to pull the cord thru each section. However as mentioned before attaching old to new may be easier, but you may still have to pull thru one section at a time.

Good Luck


a vacume cleaner might work …
… feed cord in to get started , stick tent tube into vac hose a little ways , cup hand around connection … have a way to not allow too much cord to be drawn through into vac hose .

Try a section at a time or try the intire joined length … I’d be curious if it works or not , because it works for other simular things .

great ideas guys!!
I love it when picking folks brains is so useful!!



You’ve got to be f&^%$#$ kidding me? Ahhh nothing is worth it. Go camping and paddling!!!

Just quoteing what the manufature of the poles/tents tell me when i purchase the things.

Aw lighten up. You either understood…

– Last Updated: Mar-22-09 1:31 PM EST –

...what I said or you didn't, but since it went completely over your head, no matter. I said I enjoy understanding complex mechanical puzzles, and if you wanna cuss me out for doing a proper job of explaining how something works, it's no skin off my nose. Also, you might have just said this was what some manufacturer says (not all of them, since the neither manufacturer of my tents say to do this) instead of incorrectly interpreting what they wrote (or perhaps blindly believing a poorly-written explanation (there are plenty of badly-written instructions out there) without thinking about the reason), and I wouldn't have chimed in at all.

For the record, I do disassemble poles from the center for the very reason I stated, even though I doubt it matters much. And if it makes you happy, I just loaded up a boat a moment before turning on the computer.

along that line…
“A stretched cord, or anything else that is under tension, has the same tension anywhere between the two anchor points.”

I was thinking about that on the morning dog walk, and I think it’s only true if the line under tension is perfectly straight(like across a tabletop), and/or has no weight. It’d be true in zero-g. From a practical standpoint, it’s true if the tension force is significantly greater than the gravitational force.

Here’s my thought experiment: Take a length of cord, cut it in half, and put a spring gauge or other tensiometer in the middle. Put one at each end. Attach the ends to movable uprights. When the uprights are close together and the cord hangs vertically, there is no tension on the middle. The tension on the ends is due to the weight of the cord. As you move the uprights apart all 3 gauges will show an increase, but the ends will always show slightly more because they’re also supporting the weight of the cord. The effect becomes more pronounced as the cord becomes heavier – think of a hawser.

But given the weight of 1/16" bungee, the tension, and the way the pole segments keep it from deflecting, saying the tension is equal everywhere is probably close enough…

Thanks for making my walk interesting!