By Helaine Masson. Trekking Poles. Published at Sunday, April 28th, 2019 - 02:26:45 AM.
Most hikers, though, will be unable to overlook a serious shortcoming: They’re not collapsible. That means they don’t travel well, they’re unwieldy when lashed to a backpack, they can’t be adjusted for different terrain or outdoor activities, and they’re fussy to use with many trekking pole–supported shelters. But if you don’t need poles for any of that, you’ll fall in love with the FKs—nothing performs better.
I’ve been hiking and trekking with poles for 16 years. That includes trips on the Sea-to-Sea Route (7,775 miles, 11 months), the Great Western Loop (6,875 miles, seven months), the Alaska-Yukon Expedition (4,700 miles, six months), and a half-dozen high routes in the Mountain West. Fortunately, in those years, I’ve seen pole manufacturers shift away from models made from heavy aluminum, uncomfortable plastic grips, and squeaky, heavy “anti-shock” springs.
Still, these poles are inexpensive for a few reasons: The shafts vibrate, the grips are a bit rough, and the carbide tips don’t last as long as those from Black Diamond or Leki. The locks don’t slip or break and are easy to adjust, but they’re not as nice as the metal locks on the REI Flash Carbon poles. Cascade Mountain Tech sells a higher-end pair for $58, the main benefit of which is more solid-feeling shafts.
My eight-year-old poles are still going strong, and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from others who have purchased them. (I did have to rebuild the grips with Aquaseal, but that’s reasonable after nearly a decade of use.) At 8.5 ounces per pole, they’re slightly heavier than the Cascade Mountain Tech poles, and I’d love to see these an ounce or two lighter. But I don’t see how Black Diamond could cut weight without sacrificing strength, durability, or a few features—in other words, the things that make these poles great. If you can justify the extra expense, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles are worth it.
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