Last fall we loaned out a favorite tent to a friend. Next time I went to use it, one of the poles was missing. Nowhere to be found. Damn!! Hate it when that happens! After a strained phone call to my friend (now banished from the gear room) I contacted the manufacturer about a replacement. No dice, discontinued. But – and here comes the revelation part – they turned me on to a resource that opened a new door in my gear existence.
You guessed it, Quest Outfitters. Make your own gear, their website claims. Repair your gear. Find replacement parts. Get repair-kit gizmos from buckles to zippers, from Cuben fabric to Velcro, find patterns for packs and tarps, and take advantage of clearing house specials. At first the site is a tad dizzying, but they also walk you through it with tutorials, videos, and help both online and over the phone.
So let me say right here, I am not one of those handy types always customizing my stuff, who thinks nothing of whipping up a stuff sack on the sewing machine, who replaces a zipper the way some people replace a shoelace. But, replacing a tent pole . . . maybe I could do that.
I called up, gave the pole specs, we discussed a couple of options, and 5 minutes later my order was placed, a whopping $15. In a couple of days the pole parts arrived in the mail. That night I laid them out on the dining room table, pitched the saggy tent in the living room, and went to work. In twenty minutes I had the shock cord cut and threaded, the end caps in place, the tension adjusted. First try, perfect fit. Damn, am I good!
Made me feel like I was pretty handy, not to mention thrifty, and most satisfying, it made my favorite tent like new again. Then, predictably, it made me go back to the website and hunt around. Maybe I could, possibly, pull off making that lightweight tarp . . .
I should make an honorable mention of another website for Tent Pole Technologies. They specialize in replacing and repairing missing or damaged poles. A bit more spendy, but nice to know about.
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