First set of trekking poles

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by Natch, Oct 22, 2018.

  1. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    I've decided to buy a pair of trekking poles to take on day hikes and after spending hours reading reviews and watching videos I could use some help.

    Budget poles like Foxelli ($70), Montem Ultra Strong ($60), and Cascade ($40) are recommended on a few review sites and Youtube reviewers. When I read the Amazon reviews they really seem hit or miss though. People either have good luck with them or they break after a few hikes. They are affordable the first time, but if they break I'll have spent as much as one of the more expensive sets.

    The Black Diamond Distance Z poles are liked by Outdoor Gear labs, but they aren't adjustable, which is something I'd like in order to use them with a tarp. They also liked the Black Diamond Alpine, but they run $150, which is pretty privy for a piece of gear I've never used before. My next question is anything can obviously break, but are they substantially less likely to do so than one of the budget poles?

    What would you all suggest? I'd like something that won't take up much space to pair with a 22 liter Osprey pack.
     
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  2. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Supporter Bushclass I

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    There is lots of personal preference involved in Trek poles. It's best to go to a place that at least has a few styles available to try out in the store. Hiking gear shops should have a wide variety. I got a used pair really cheap but would have very specific preferences after using mine for a while.
    If you do lots of steep up and down that will matter lots in the length adjust-ability aspect.
    Initially I though Trek poles were for "much older people" until I tried a pair on slightly wet mud tree root trail. The difference in stability was astounding.
    You could always pick up a budget pair then sell of and get a high end after you find out what you'd really like.
     
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  3. Red Wing

    Red Wing Supporter Supporter

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    I've used the Black diamond trail backs the longest. I've had to self arrest on a fairly large hill and it bent, but held. Was able to bend it back, still in use.

    Had the Cascade pole for a couple years, would easily recommend if youre weight and money conscious. Best value in that regard.

    Both are flick lock which is a must for me. Allows me to fix them to be as tight as I need unlike twist locks which will eventually fail and you cannot fix in the field
     
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  4. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    I live in mountain country, so most of my hikes will be up and down some type of elevation or loose gravel. It makes sense to try some out in a store, but I'm not generally picky with gear. Even with footwear or packs I generally adapt to things easily where some of my friends go through tons before they find one they like.

    I'd expect even the more expensive brands to break if I fall and put my weight on them bracing myself. I just don't want something described in some of the buyer reviews where they just fell apart or broke easily. It is hard to know if the budget poles are really hit or miss or if some people just do stupid things and give poor reviews.
     
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  5. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    PS some guy named Darwin on Youtube suggested Cnoc Vertex Carbon Cork polls. Some reviewers said they broke as well.
     
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  6. Red Wing

    Red Wing Supporter Supporter

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    Carbon will splinter or break vs. Bending like an aluminum trekking pole.
     
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  7. martin9700

    martin9700 Tracker

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    I've been using the Cascade Aluminum myself, wasn't sure if I wanted poles or a staff so went with these. Cheap ($22) and pretty durable. Good place to start to see if you even like them. I have only been using one and brace my weight on it going up and down some pretty steep hills with no problems so far.
     
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  8. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Supporter Bushclass I

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    Shug's Review.
     
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  9. Crusher0032

    Crusher0032 Appalachian Arthfael

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    I highly recommend the Cascade aluminum poles with cork handles, and have lots of miles on mine. I would also recommend adjustable poles, for more than just using them with a tent. Shorten them for uphill climbs, lengthen them for downhill descents. Now that I've used them, I can't imagine not using trekking poles, or even going back to my trusty walking staff I made and carried for years. They made a huge difference in comfort for me.

    To help confuse you further, my wife has a set of Coleman aluminum poles that have a spring function you can turn off and on which she likes more than standard poles. She says they help keep some of the pressure off of her hands, but like me will not hike without poles. Coleman is slowly coming back, at least with some of their products. She only has 60-70 miles on them, but issues so far.
     
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  10. xrayit

    xrayit Supporter Supporter

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    IMG_3619.jpeg

    Bought a set of LEKI Micro Vario Ti COR-TEC Trekking Poles last year and really enjoy them, I like that they break down to a smaller package for storage and can be deployed fast with no adjustment.

    If they need a length adjustment that can be accomplished easily as well. Plenty of space in my HPG Tara when the poles are folded and stored.


    41WjzV5mfqL._SL1000_.jpg

     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
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  11. 41magfan

    41magfan Scout

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    As it is with most things, you generally get what you pay for. The features that bring a premium are light weight, quick and predictable adjust-ability, and the various materials, i.e. CF, aluminum, Titanium, etc.

    Take your time and consider all the features that are available before narrowing down your final choices. The grip shape and what its made of is highly subjective, so coon-finger as many as you can before you buy.
     
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  12. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    Just like any gear, buying cheap stuff is usually a waste of money. It craps out, then you have go buy the more expensive gear anyway. Re trekking poles... my wife had a cheap pair, the twist lock kind. They didn't last very long. On one of them the twist lock mechanism (ha ha) made of plastic, just fell apart. It was unfixable, so it went to the dump. The other one got bent when she tried to grab it at the top and the middle and pull herself up a steep slope. It went to the dump also. It looks like Shug's flick lock poles are much better.
    One technique that Shug talked about was going down hill and keeping the poles below yourself. I do that on really step places where I may have to jump down off a rock to a lower place, but normally I keep my stick uphill from myself. That comes from my years as a downhill skier. When skiing, if you put your weight on your down hill pole, you're going to fall. When hiking, if you put your stick or poles downhill and put your weight on them, if it slips off a rock, there's almost nothing left to keep you from falling face first downhill. If you put some weight on your uphill pole and dig the uphill edges of your boots (or skis) into the surface of the hill, I think it's a lot safer. Most falls happen because some loose rock, gravel, leaves, snow, etc slips out from under your foot, and down you go onto your butt. For skiing or hiking, the uphill pole technique, combined with using your uphill edges keeps you from falling backwards toward the hill, but if you do fall you fall on your butt rather than downhill onto your face.

    I don't want to derail or hijack your thread, but I'll just say we've gone to using a single hiking staff (ours are made of yucca), instead of the telescoping metal ones. Much sturdier, and no heavier. We use a rubber cane tip on the end because it's quieter (better for seeing wildlife) and it doesn't slip off rocks as easily as a metal point does. Just my 2 cents worth...
     
  13. HeadyBrew

    HeadyBrew Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I’ve been running a pair of Leki aluminum poles. Don’t recall the specific model. Cork handles (comfy), speed locks (dependable, not the twist locks). Comfortable to use for many miles, light, pack small to stow away when I don’t want them, which is rare.

    They weren’t cheap. They’re also the only ones I have direct personal experience with because they haven’t had a single issue or failure in the 5-6 years that I’ve been using them so I haven’t had to replace them.

    You said you’re in mountain country? So I assume there’s skiing in your area? If so, see if you can find a used old ski pole or two for a few bucks or free. Same idea, just not adjustable. Use it for a trip. If you find them useful then pony up for a good pair.
     
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  14. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I have only been using trekking poles for about a month, so am no kind of expert. But man, I'm loving them and wishing I had taken them up a long time ago.

    I got the Black Diamond Carbon Cork Alpine, which -- as you say -- are darned pricey.

    But check these out:

    Cascade Mountain Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles Cork Grip

    https://cascademountaintech.com/products/carbon-fiber-quick-lock-trekking-pole-cork-grip

    https://www.amazon.com/Cascade-Moun...ber+Quick+Lock+Trekking+Poles+Cork+Grip&psc=1

    I became aware of them from this YouTube video. Darwin has done a ton of backpacking, has a ton of videos, and seems to know what he's talking about:



    The part about the trekking poles starts at about 9:50.

    If my wife starts hiking with me, this is probably what we'll get for her.
     
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  15. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue Graybeard Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Poles, plural. What do you do with the poles when you need to blow your nose or take a pic or use binoculars?

    Like @gila_dog I like a wooden stick. The price is right and they can last a lifetime or more. No moving parts either.

    Somebody educate me please...
     
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  16. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    Ken,

    As I said above, I'm a total trekking pole noobie; I've been an old-school leather boots and hickory hiking stick kinda guy since forever. But here's what I've learned in the past month:
    1. This is the main thing: they make a big difference in my speed, efficiency, and stability... a big jump over just a hiking staff
    2. They give me a number of additional options for pitching a tarp
    3. (Little thing) Now that I've taken up tenkara, I need a wading staff... but don't want to buy a wading staff... but don't have to if I use one of these poles
    4. (Little thing) Since I have long hair, I always have a couple hair scrunchies... you can make a jim dandy self-supporting mono-pod for your smartphone camera with a trekking pole and a hair scrunchie.
    For those times you mentioned, just let them dangle from your wrists.
     
  17. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    He is actually the guy who got me started looking for poles when I stumbled upon one of his videos last night. I may buy a pair of the Cascade poles just to try them out. There is a 5 oz weight difference between the carbon and aluminum, but the latter seem to be stronger from the reviews.
     
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  18. Crusher0032

    Crusher0032 Appalachian Arthfael

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    These are the poles I use, and am completely happy with them. Haven't had any issue with them at all. The flip locks work well, handles are great, and they don't slip.
     
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  19. 41magfan

    41magfan Scout

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  20. ouroboros

    ouroboros Tracker

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    I've been using a set of Komperdell trekking poles for some years now. They've held up fine and the locks have not failed me. Done plenty of longer hikes (12 miles or so) with a backpack up and down elevation and rocky terrain.

    I forget the exact model, but they have cork handles, twist locks and aluminum shafts.

    I can be something of a "gram weenie" when it comes to certain pieces of gear, but when it comes to other things, I don't mind weight... as far as these poles go, I do not find them to be heavy at all even if they may be a few oz heavier than some of the $150+ CF poles or higher end aluminum poles.

    No problems at all with them! REI carries them for around $45-65 I believe.
     
  21. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Scout

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    I'm frugal (read CHEAP) and don't do a ton of hiking. Mostly snowshoeing actually when the conditions are right. I bought a $5 pair of ski poles at a yard sale. :rolleyes:
     
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  22. HeadyBrew

    HeadyBrew Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Ain’t nothing wrong with that. A buddy did the same and they worked fine for him for quite a while.

    Only thing you lose is the adjustability that true trekking poles usually offer. Wrap a section below the handles in grip tape or other and then just choke up on them when you need shorter for hiking up a hill.
     
  23. xrayit

    xrayit Supporter Supporter

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    I use them to support my Tarp (porch mode) when using the hammock and my Tarptent. The wrist straps do help but having two poles does sometimes create problems when two hands are needed. I switched to HPG packs this year and the thing I miss most that the Osprey packs had, is the ability to stow trekking poles quickly. Osprey has a feature with straps that allows for quick and simple temporary trekking pole storage that is easily accessed while walking. Not perfect and requires some effort but does work with a little fore thought.

    Stock pic off the web

    Talon44_S17_Detai_Stowonthego.jpg
     
  24. HeadyBrew

    HeadyBrew Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    What do you do with your staff in that situation? Im not a bino guy, but I assume they work best with both hands when stopped for best focus. Just set the poles against a tree.

    If I’m blowing my nose on the trail, it’s usually “snot rocket” style without missing a step. Raise one hand, cover one nostril, clear out the troublemaker. Repeat as needed. No need to be classy in the woods, the birds and squirrels don’t care. ;)
     
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  25. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Scout

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    Not only an explanation on how to deal with the poles, but a tutorial on the "snot rocket" to boot! Only at BCUSA!!!
     
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  26. HeadyBrew

    HeadyBrew Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Haha!!

    I should add the disclaimer that it’s ONLY for woods use and around fellow males. My wife absolutely loathes if she catches me doing it, even in a private setting.
     
  27. petey091

    petey091 Scout

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    I have used Cascade Mountain carbon fiber treking poles for years. I have used them in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the mountain of New Mexico and section hiking on the AT in PA, MD and VA. I cracked a section by over tightening it. CM sells the sections for less than ten bucks each and when I wear the tip out I just order a new bottom section. It works for me.
     
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  28. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I call that “using my East Texas hanky”.
     
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  29. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    In your opinion is the 3-4 oz difference enough to pay the extra $20 and buy the carbon poles over the aluminum?
     
  30. Birdman

    Birdman Guide

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    Depends on what you consider bending. 7075(and the likes) aluminum is very rigid and cracks quite easily when bent. I've had better experience with carbon holding up when being flexed vs aluminum. Either way, they both can fail just as easily.

    The few poles I've had fail, wasnt the pole itself. It was the clamp where the poles slide together.
    I now use Black diamond carbon Z poles. Been on them 3 years now with no problems.
     
  31. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Bent the two lower sections of my one of my Black Diamond Trailback poles on the Mau-Har trail the last time I was there. Unlike the promise they didn't have parts in stock. After a month or two without parts coming in stock I decided to buy a set of Cascade Mountain Tech Poles for $17 off Amazon. I went with the Aluminum with Cork handles. Compared to the BD poles the locks feel like crap but hold just as well, the finish feels cheep but who cares, the tube sections are larger in diameter and hopefully stronger but the poles are just as light, and the handles are way more comfortable. They sort of have a tendency to rattle a bit if you smack the tip just right which I think is due to the piece that's supposed to prevent that from being basically the same diameter as the pole section it connects to. So they aren't as refined in some areas but for a set of poles that cost less than the replacement parts would have they are more comfortable in use and held up just fine through my 16.5 mile loop and 4000k of elevation gain this past weekend. Any pole can break, at least in this case they are cheap and apparently parts are available separately, but I won't hold my breath for that promise again.
     
  32. JGB

    JGB NO SIGNAL Supporter

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    Cascade Mountain carbon fiber, Cork grips all the way.
     
  33. Morrow7x

    Morrow7x Supporter Supporter

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    Nevada Blue- I can't seem to 'quote' tonight, but you are right. Sometimes poles are just a pain in the rear. I take a lot of snapshots and it's a hassle. If I need to leash the dogs it's a hassle. If I want to take a leak it's a hassle, they catch in brush and it's a hassle, gotta stow them for scrambling which is a hassle, noisy as hell on rocky trails...

    But-

    Poles are a great tool for certain hikes. If I think a hike will likely result in truly deep trouble if I turn an ankle, or a dunking if I anticipate the dreaded log crossing or ford I use them. They make lighter boots with a multi-day pack possible for me. My knees feel noticeably better after a steep hike using poles. They seem to function better than a single staff for me in all these situations. Sometimes I use a staff for 'desert-ish' hiking with more of an easier dirt surface. Real or imagined, I think 'something' is good to have to make a vibration, warning rattlesnakes of my approach.

    While I've drifted back to using nothing for most day hikes, I do use aluminum Black Diamonds with cork grips and flip-locks which I think are considered kind of 'mid-priced' units. My staff is a rake handle which I think is considered a 'low-priced' piece of equipment... :D

    Always a tradeoff, as with any gear. ;)
     
  34. Red Wing

    Red Wing Supporter Supporter

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    Just my experience of my aluminum pole bending and saving a healthy slide into a large river. My carbon poles have flex but am confident would've snapped based on how much my aluminum pole bent..

    Just offering some field experience
     
  35. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    You can use one, or two. They can be stashed the on you pack easily which is convenient and the main reason I switched. The handles are more ergonomic which is nice for longer treks. They are lighter which means less fatigue over time and easier use. Using the straps properly you can brake to save your knees on the decents, this is a personal problem for me especially on multiday hikes where my right knee tends to start bothering me. And on the accents they can help propel you up hill letting your arms take some of the load off your legs, which was nice this Sunday starting the morning off with a 2k climb up a mountain side.

    As for what to do with them while doing something else.

    20181020_161003_HDR.jpg

    I usually lean them on a tree, rock or just toss them on the ground. At the end of the day they are just aluminum tubes with carbide tips and cantilever clamps. Nothing much to go wrong till you bend or snap one. I made the switch after not wanting to toss my nice wooden staff aside but at the same time being tired of carrying it. As a bonus they are my poles for two of my tents now as well.
     
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  36. petey091

    petey091 Scout

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    For me yes. It's not the weight of any one item that causes a load to become heavy. But , when you start saying that its only a couple of ounces then you get what I would call pound creep. A couple of ounces here and there quickly add up. I try to keep my dry weight between 12 to 15 pounds.
     
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  37. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    I bought a pair of the Black Diamond Ergo Cork poles on Ebay for $65 shipped with the 10% off coupon. The seller doesn't have the best reviews, but it's protected and the listing says new with tags, so if there is an issue I'm protected. For the money I thought it was worth the shot. If they don't work I will try the Cascade.
     
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  38. bkduckworth

    bkduckworth Tracker

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    Do to an old knee injury (acl tear) I’ve used trekking poles for about 17 years. Used a cheaper set of three section aluminum komperdell twist lock poles for most of that time, but always had trouble with the joints slipping or getting stripped out.

    I recently upgraded to a set of Paria carbon cork poles. They break down smaller than my old three section poles, are lighter, and still adjustable. We’ll see how they hold up, but I put 23 miles on them last weekend and they never slipped once. For $60.00 I would definitely recommend them.

    As for why I use them, in addition to providing stability for my knee, they’re the poles for my shelter. I’ll admit that they are a bit dorky compared to a wooden hiking staff, but I could really care less.

    Brandon
     

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  39. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    As others have stated, the flic loc are generally more fail safe than twist loc, though I did have a cheaper flic Loc version (Wally World Ozark Trail) and the flic loc on those was less than stellar.
     
  40. darodalaf

    darodalaf Guide

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    I have been using trekking poles since the mid 90s (started with a pair of old ski poles after seeing some harcore Swiss hikers in my local mountains). These are my opinions only.

    -Don't bother with carbon unless you are hiking 10-30 miles per day for months on end and the stress of 3-4 extra ounces on your wrists and forearms will make the difference. Alternatively, even if you don't use them regularly, and you just want to burn money on some chic poles, go ahead. Otherwise, aluminum is a fine alternative and costs about 30-50% of their carbon equivalents.

    -Get flick-locks (flip-locks, flic-loks, whatever the brand calls them). Thay are far more reliable against accidently collapsing under you, and mechanically simple to adjust, fix, tighten, etc. Twist locking poles I would not touch with a 140cm trekking pole.

    - Virtually all trekking poles are adjustable except for the break-down corded type. Some of these corded types have one flick-lock section which makes them usable like an adjustable pole, but the ones that don't will be anywhere between nearly useless and entirely useless for certain applications like tarp setups which, for me, are a big part of why I use trekking poles. Also, the break down type seems to have a reasonably high failure rate according to many reviews I have watched. That may or may not have to do with their break-down design.

    - If you have knees and feet, and you don't want to use a walker when you hit 70, get trekking poles. If you live in the plains or soybean country, maybe they are overkill, but if you ever hike down hills, you want them. If you do 2,500' descents over 5 miles, with 18-24" "steps", you neeeeeed them.


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  41. actiondiver

    actiondiver Tracker

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    I went Leki after getting my wife a set for her safety/comfort. I was too cheap and tough to get a pair for myself at first.

    I’ll say this about reviews. Take them with a grain of salt. I used to work for a place that put their own brand of rip off designed stuff from China.

    People by it 100:1 to the real deal at 1/4 the cost. Purchase price from China was about 1/11 the cost of buying the real deal to sell.

    It was assumed the average buyer would not use it enough to break so a great warranty was offered and despite about 20% being returned for exchange, the reviews were great.

    Made me jaded about reviews and the shady side of business and the way people sell themselves out by buying junk.
     
  42. Natch

    Natch Scout

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    I'm shocked, but the poles came in and are authentic Black Diamond poles. Sometimes you get lucky on Ebay :) I'm still going to buy the Cascade set for $20 on Amazon to beat on.
     
  43. grey mouse

    grey mouse Scout

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    My wife and I like black Diamons poles. Hers has the shock system while mine have cork handles. I like cork for sweaty hands and the twist type locks tend to release if you have the mud/snow attachments on due to my boots kicking them. That's how the wife got hers for free and I got a new pair ;)
     

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