By Margaux Gros. Trekking Poles. Published at Monday, March 04th, 2019 - 21:27:23 PM.
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.
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.
Trekking poles effectively turn a two-legged animal into a four-legged one, spreading the load, improving endurance and reducing stress on the knees by up to 40%. Weighing in at only 530g for the pair, the bargain Forclaz 500 is the ideal choice for the weekend walker, with an extra-long soft foam grip, neoprene-lined wrist loops, an antishock bush and a telescopic aluminium construction.
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.
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