By Margaux Gros. Trekking Poles. Published at Sunday, January 20th, 2019 - 21:58:17 PM.
The Quick Locks include extension grips—sections of foam below the main grip that extend your range of carry options—and are available with either cork or foam grips. Both options will work fine, though the faux cork and two-piece construction isn’t as slick as Leki’s seamless grips. Cascade Mountain Tech includes snow baskets for winter use and rubber tip covers for paved surfaces, options that cost extra with other brands.
From a performance-only perspective, Ultimate Direction’s FK poles are the best I’ve ever used. Designed with a wide, single-piece shaft—20 millimeters thick, versus the standard 16- or 18-millimeter diameter—the FK poles are the stiffest and strongest I have ever used, and my measured weight of 3.8 ounces per pole (in the 115-centimeter length, without straps or baskets) is simply dreamy. After using them, it’s disheartening to use any other set of poles.
Folding poles pack down really small—to 15 inches, say, versus about 25 inches for telescoping poles—making them ideal for air travel, mixed hikes and scrambles, and trail runs. But they come with trade-offs: The joints always wobble, and the design is usually heavier, resulting in a sacrifice to either weight or strength.
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.
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