By Fawnia Baron. Trekking Poles. Published at Thursday, February 21st, 2019 - 20:01:06 PM.
All things being equal, a trekking pole with a one-piece shaft will be both less expensive and lighter and stronger than a trekking pole with a multipiece shaft. For example, the single-piece Black Diamond Vapor Carbon 1 weighs 35 percent less and costs $20 less than the comparably strong Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork.
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.
Consider models with foam, cork, or faux-cork grips. Choose rubber grips only if they will be used exclusively in winter. Always avoid plastic grips—they’re cheap but terrible.
This summer, I tested eight pairs of poles representing a range of prices, features, and designs. I had used some of these models in years past, but I gave them all a fresh look while guiding and hiking in California and Colorado. My first pair of trekking poles cost $100 and were nothing fancy. Poles have improved over the past 16 years, and while I really liked some options that push $200, the poles I recommend for most people, Cascade Mountain Tech’s Carbon Fiber Quick Lock trekking poles, retail for just $45.
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