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504 Kelty Adjustable Tarp Poles 2011-10-26

Car Tarp set up in campground

When we camp in a campground for multiple nights, we typically set up a tarp or rain fly, over the cooking and eating area - which is more than likely over the picnic table. We have a few different tarps but like the Kelty Car Tarp the best because of it's versatility. It can be set off the side of the vehicle or free standing. The Car Tarp come with poles - skinny poles.

Last summer ('11) I was camping alone at Glacier Gorge Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Amy was in Nashville for a few more days before she was able to join me.

It was late June and RMNP was being hammered by major afternoon storms. I set the Car Tarp with the skinny poles over the picnic table in order to provide a shelter from the pending storms.

On the first day the storm passed quickly. The storm packed a lot of wind but was soon gone. I was outside writing and just worked through the blow.

The second day after a long hike, I was resting and noticed a fast moving front coming east toward the campground. I tightened all of the line adjusters and added a couple of guy lines to the tarp to add stability. The storm hit and hit hard. I am sure it was at least gale force winds; but my anemometer was in the vehicle and I was not going after it. The winds shook the little tarp and bent one of the poles. The rain then began blowing under the tarp's protection. Due to the bent pole the tarp began flapping in wild gyrations. I gathered my few belongings and headed to the tent.

bent poles
Sitting inside the tent I could hear the poor tarp taking it's lumps as it whipped and popped to the gusts. After the storm cleared I stuck my head outside the tent. The poor tarp was laying on the ground. Looking across the campground almost every tent was damaged or moved. The tarp itself survived, but both poles were bent.

We still liked the Car Tarp and so we replaced the skinny (now bent) poles with a heavy duty variety. We purchased the Kelty Adjustable Tarp Pole. They are one inch diameter, over eight feet tall, and are very sturdy. The poles are perfect for campground camping.

A few Tarp Pole tips ...

The Kelty Adjustable Tarp Poles are tall. They telescope; but that just makes the poles taller.

The poles are expensive - $40 each.

The poles are ideal for the campground but are too heavy (27 ounces per pole) and bulky to carry backcountry. Using a silnet tarp and trekking poles are a lighter alternative for backpacking.

The Adjustable Pole makes the setup a breeze. Place the tip of the pole in the grommet and then telescope the pole to the desired height and tightness.

The tarp poles are great long reach pokers. They extend your reach around the house or at camp.

Putting a ferrule (the end of an ice axe) protector (or something similar) over the tip of the pole makes the pole usable inside a non-grommetted tarp - like the Megamid.

There was some discussion over whether instead of tightening the guy lines for the impending storm, I should have instead loosened them to allow the tarp to collapse, and not bend the poles. We bought the tarp to protect us from stormy weather. If we were going to collapse it with each storm, then why bother setting it up? We just needed heavy duty poles - the Kelty Adjustable Tarp Poles seem like they are the answer. We like 'em.

Pole protector

Happy tarp pole trails.



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