By Geneve Roche. Trekking Poles. Published at Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 - 21:33:23 PM.
I don’t have a preference between foam and cork. The grips merely need to be tactile, nonabrasive, and slightly soft (not mushy like the REI Flash Carbon).
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.
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.
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.
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