Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mr T’s Tent Pole Storage Tube

“Today I will be mainly using Cable Ties, Extractor Fan Ducting & Sticky Back Plastic!” He says smiling to himself knowing it gets worse, much worse!

Something has been bugging me ever since my trip to Squires Café Bar last year, the tent poles! They are long to hard to stow away safely!

I suppose taking a camping bed didn't help either!

Don’t get me wrong, after shelling out a small fortune on a Series 2 Redverz Expedition Tent the quality of the poles is not in question it’s just the fact that they are just too long to fit inside my panniers. Plus I’m always worried I’ll damage them when the tent gets strapped onto Mr T. It’s as simple as that!

Heading over to Squires Café Bar at Sherburn in Elmet (just the other side of Leeds to you & me)  to help out on the RBLR1000 ride last year, I stowed the tent on the back. In doing so it made me realise that it’s quite a big bit of kit, hanging over the panniers.

My next trip was down to the Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting near Belper in Derbyshire. Again the only option for getting my gear onto Mr T without too much messing about was across the back seat and onto the panniers. This makes accessing the panniers a pain without shoving the tent out of the way.

There’s one word that describes this tent perfectly

Now having used the  tent a couple of times I’m over the moon with it. There is so much room in it once erected that I would not go back to using a small crawl in tent ever again. What I want to be able to do is just stuff the tent in a pannier and go. Not have it sat across the back seat all the time. I've even managed to fold it down to two thirds its original pack size with very little effort what so ever.

As you can see, it folds down nice 'n' small.

So where to fit the poles without constantly worrying about their welfare every trip. As I have a couple of trips away this year, plus the RBLR1000 with Ben. I needed to get this issue resolved sooner rather than later.

After much head scratching the answer was staring me in the face. There is a space down the inside of the pannier rack on the right hand side rear. It’s something I've thought about before and having read about a chap in the USA fitting an empty mock exhaust there for storage. It stands to reason it’s just begging to be utilised in some way.

As the tent poles are way too long to fit into tool tubes as I seen advertised of ebay and "as look would have it" I read about this week on  Pat Around the Americas Blog. Pat  attached a couple of  the tool tubes to the inside of his panniers which utilised the same space perfectly.  All be it on the XT660Z as opposed to XT1200Z.

Now I’m not a great lover of “Sticky back plastic style DIY” but when all else fails I always turn to the garage for inspiration. I started first of all by making a cardboard oblong tube. This was made after measuring the space available so as it would fit perfectly behind the Metal Mule Pannier Rack. Ensuring the tube did not  foul the swing arm or brake was paramount along with it being long enough for the tent poles to fit inside nice and snug!

I then posted the dimensions of the cardboard tube which are:-  650mm long x 110mm deep x 55mm wide, on my local riders site. The 55mm width being the maximum space available behind the pannier rack before the tube touches the rear bake or swing-arm.

As luck would have it one of the lads came back with a solution, “Cooker Hood Extractor  Ducting” 110mm x 55mm x whatever length you need. Brilliant! Only drawback when I found it on eBay was it was “white!” Still at £5.75 a metre I didn’t care. I placed my order and within three days the ducting arrived. As it happened the section that arrived was broken at one end but the kind people at “The-Ventilation-Shop” gave me a 100% refund, for which I thanked them very much indeed.

The ducting is the perfect size to slot behind the pannier rack and can be cut to whatever length required. The poles fit perfectly inside in their storage bag without rattling. I was delighted.

Next problem, how to turn the white ducting black. eBay came to the rescue again in the form of “Sticky Back Plastic” Yes!!!! Or more precisely “Matt Black Air Drain Vinyl Film” from M-99 Shop. 1000 mm x 1000mm x 1000mm cost just £8.95 including (free) postage.

An hour in the garage cutting and shaping a stopper for the solid end i.e. near the rear foot peg. I used a little bit of clear silicone as I had just finished refurbishing the shower that day. I cut a piece of sponge and stuck the inside the closed end to stop the poles from chattering (sad I know, but if I ‘m doing something I’m doing it right).

I cut the number plate end at exactly the same angle and parallel to the pannier frame tube. Tipping the tube down a little first so any water that gets in will run to the end and out of the drainage hole I've drilled.

I melted 4 small slits in the ducting to accommodate the cable tie fixings before covering the hole tube in the “Matt Black Air Drain Vinyl Film”.  Once covered I applied heat by way of Lilie Rose’s hair dryer for about 15 minutes. The film is fantastic and really goes very soft. Care was needed not to ruffle the soft vinyl but the finish is unbelievable. There is no way on earth I could have got such a professional finish with paint.

Threading the cable ties through the holes took some time and was quite fiddly but well worth the effort. Now once attached to Mr T, I had the dilemma of how to make a stopper / flap for the number plate end.

Jeannie jokingly said you need one of these and passed me the lid from, of all thinks, the children’s milk shake carton! It fitted perfectly! Yes, I laughed too but hey it works so don’t knock it! A couple more small clear cable ties this time and a spare reflector just for good measure and the “Tent Pole Storage Tube” is fitted and working perfectly.

“Tent Pole Storage Tube,  DONE!”

Tent Poles Stowed Away, Safe & Sound

The reflector just finishes the job off nicely

I’m going to get a waterproof tent pole size bag made and use the tube for other stuff, gloves, head-overs, first aid kit, in fact just about everything in my top-box will fit in it including the Cycle PumpAdventure Model & Stop & Go  Tube & Tubeless Repair Kit. Not that I will put those in as it is not secure but you get my drift, it’s uses are endless!

So there you have it, a usable, cheap and fairly tough storage tube made to measure for Mr T.

“Tent Pole Storage Tube,  DONE!”


  1. How has this stood the test of time? I'm thinking of commissioning a local metalworking place to make me one out of aluminium...

  2. The tube lasted very well but I sold this bike some time ago and took the tube off at that point.