By Mabelle Dupond. Trekking Poles. Published at Tuesday, March 05th, 2019 - 03:01:06 AM.
Given current pole technology and availability, I would rule out any pole that weighs more than nine ounces each or 18 ounces for the pair. People with less arm strength (or scrawny runner arms like me) may want to set an even lower threshold. To keep weight to a minimum, avoid “anti-shock” models, remove the mud/trekking baskets, and consider models with shorter shaft lengths.
When evaluating poles, I start with the shafts. They need to be stiff, free of vibration on impact, and able to endure reasonable contact with rocks and vegetation without fracturing. Next, I look at the hand grips, which should be soft on the hands but still responsive, meaning not mushy. I also really like extension grips. Finally, the locks need to be secure and reliable and easy to use and repair. Only some of the poles I tested met those criteria.
Product weight is always a consideration with outdoor gear, and it’s especially important with trekking poles. You won’t notice the difference between a six- and eight-ounce pole when it’s in your backpack, but because of the leverage poles generate when swinging in your hand, a six-ounce pole will feel dramatically different than an eight-ounce model.
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.
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