By Robinetta Gautier. Trekking Poles. Published at Sunday, April 28th, 2019 - 11:30:32 AM.
The Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock trekking poles are not best in class, but they’re an irresistible combination of price and utility. Each spring, I see them at my local Costco for $30 per pair, and on Amazon they’re never more than their $45 MSRP. At just under eight ounces per pole, they’re a smidge lighter than other premium models, and their max length of 53 inches (135 centimeters) makes them suitable for snow travel and really tall people. When telescoped down to their minimum 26-inch length, they will fit into most checked suitcases. (You’ll have to disassemble them for carry-ons.) I’ve used these poles extensively, including on a thru-hike of the Wind River High Route, and I’ve recommended them to countless hikers.
I have broken several trekking poles, and I’ve witnessed other hikers break theirs. The common denominator was not the shaft material but user error. Specifically, the poles were being used on steep, loose, off-angle, and/or slick terrain, and the pole either became overly levered (like between two blocks of talus) or broke the hiker’s fall after they slipped.
In 2002, on day eight of my first-ever thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, I descended to the Nantahala Outdoor Center at mile 138 with a deflated spirit, a crushingly heavy pack, shin splints, and inflamed iliotibial bands. That afternoon, I shipped home a box of unnecessary gear, ate a cheeseburger, and traded the tree branches I’d been crutching on since day four for a new pair of Leki trekking poles. Trekking poles transfer load from legs to arms, helping to avoid injury and fatigue, and they were vital on my journey to Maine. The additional points of contact add stability on slippery or unstable surfaces, and on long trips they can even be used as tent poles with some backpacking shelters. I’ve brought a pair on every trip I’ve taken since that first Appalachian Trail journey, including expeditions that lasted months and covered thousands of miles.
As for carbide pole tips, all are not created equal. I have worn down some tips to rounded nubs within a few hundred miles, whereas others have lasted thousands. Leki and Black Diamond tips are both notably reliable. Once poo-pooed by “real walkers,” hiking or walking poles are now gaining popularity.
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