Flagpoles: useful or nuisance?

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By Greg Illes

Anybody who has been to an Off-Highway-Vehicle (OHV) camp, or to Quartzsite or other big gathering, has seen the tall flagpoles reaching high above some of the RVs.

People use flagpoles for a couple of reasons. First, a characteristic pennant, banner or some such object is an easy way to spot your campsite in a vast sea of resident RVs. Second, it can be cool to advertise or display your personal art, be it the U.S. flag, fancy LED lighting or one of the many varieties of streamers.

If you decide to be a flag-flyer, you have a few choices on how to mount the critter. Each has its pros and cons.

Ladder mounts are easy and strong, and they keep the flag away from the body of the RV. You need to pad them so they don’t click and clack as the pole moves with the wind. If you have chairs or bicycles hung on your ladder, there might be a conflict.

Awning mounts can work, but the angle of the pole will change with whether the awning is deployed or not. These are best for short flagpoles.

Bumper and hitch mounts are simple and strong, but they might allow the flagpole to hit the RV body. For the hitch, you’ll have to undo any other use of the hitch, or you could install a piggyback hitch sleeve.

Under-tire mounts are steel plates with brackets, and you drive onto the plate to anchor it. Again, caution must be used to make sure the pole doesn’t flex over and bang the RV.

A small caveat: If you decide to fly a U.S. flag, note that “official” flag etiquette says that if you fly it at night, it must be illuminated.

There is, of course, a dark side to flag flying. In even the slightest of winds, the fluttering fabric and wobbling flagpole make plenty of noise — not so much for the neighbors, but definitely for the occupants of the RV. Many folks (author included) find that sleep is impossible with a random-noise generator ten feet above the roof. Also, it’s far too easy to drive away from your campsite with a 20-foot pole waving gaily to your neighbors as you pass by. Whether it’s a checklist or something you hang on your steering wheel as a reminder, be sure you don’t take your high-reaching flagpole for a cruise — it won’t survive the experience.

photo: Greg Illes

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.

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Mike Sokol (@mike)
2 months ago

I’m in the middle of doing an RV lightning study for SnapPad, and my initial reaction is that a metal flagpole is a conductive rod taller than anything around it and will attract a bolt of lightning directly to your RV and destroy your electronics and maybe injure you. If it’s a fiberglass flag pole than that would probably be okay. But mounting a 20′ metal lightning rod on your RV without a complex grounding system is asking for a direct hit. Don’t become part of my experimental data sample.

Hazel Owens
2 months ago

It’s great that you talk about how people use flagpoles for a characteristic penner or banner. However, your point about how it can be cool to advertise or display art is great. I’ve always wanted to be able to display a US flag on my vehicle. Based on your article, a hitch mount is strong and simple which may be a great option for my vehicle. I will look into purchasing a flag pole hitch.