Adjustable-length poles will have twist- or lever-style locks. Avoid twist locks, period. Lever locks are more reliable (no slippage) and easier to adjust and troubleshoot.
My pair of Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork poles are tough, stiff, and have endured years of hard use. Black Diamond included stainless-steel lever-style locks that are secure and easily adjustable, and the foam extension grips are comfortable and versatile. The cork in the hand grips is real. These poles,
All single-piece poles are fixed length and usually available in five- or ten-centimeter increments. Most (but not all) multipiece poles are adjustable. Adjustable-length poles will be heavier and more expensive than fixed-length models, collapsible or not. For example, the adjustable-length Black Diamond Distance FLZ and Distance Carbon FLZ are $20
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
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)
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,
As for carbide pole tips, all are not created equal. I have worn down some tips to rounded nubs within a few hundred miles, whereas others have lasted thousands. Leki and Black Diamond tips are both notably reliable. Once poo-pooed by “real walkers,” hiking or walking poles are now gaining
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.
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
For many users—especially those on tight budgets—the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock poles offer enough functionality with a few justified trade-offs. I think most people will be happy with these poles and an extra $120 in their wallets.
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