Saved by a Tent Pole - Backpacker

Saved by a Tent Pole

Use these five techniques when things get grim.
fishing rod

Tent pole fishing rod (Photo by Louisa Albanese)

Make a Hawaiian sling: Carve a two-prong spear from fire-hardened wood and whittle the end so it fits snugly in the pole. Use cordage to tie the spear to the shaft. On the opposite side, coil shock cord (harvested from the pole) around the spear and knot it, leaving a roughly 14-inch loop on the end. To use: Stake out a spot where you can see fish without casting a shadow onto them, hold the shock cord between your thumb and fingers, and reach up toward the spear with the same hand, stretching the cord as far as it goes. Release to fire. The slingshot action improves the velocity and accuracy over thrusting or throwing.

Splint a fracture

Use enough pole (multiple sections, if necessary) to stabilize the joints on both sides of the injury. Use the shock cord to hold the poles in place, but don’t tie them so tightly they hamper circulation. Use a T-shirt or bandana to pad the tie points.

Winterize yourself

Improvise a raincoat or jacket (or crush it at your backcountry toga party) by draping your body with your tent fly or canopy, then use the shock cord to snug the material in so you can hike to safety.

Hunt with a blow gun

Make darts from sharpened bone or fire-hardened wood. Add bird feathers or any downy material for fletching. Pull out the shock cord, then feed the dart, tip out, into shooting end of the pole. Exhale sharply to fire at small game within 8 feet. Aim for the head and be ready to deliver the coup de grâce.

Access water

Use a tent pole as a straw to slurp up water in hard-to-reach places. Loosely pack the pole with plant fibers or cloth to strain out large particles. (Note: This doesn’t filter out pathogens.)