Homer's Travels: A New Set Of Poles

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A New Set Of Poles

I finally make a decision about poles.  I decided to buy them before I go and I decided to keep them inexpensive.  With that decided, last week I ordered Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles.

The poles arrived yesterday (only four days after I ordered them).  They are very inexpensive at $39.99 including shipping.  Being carbon fiber, they are very light at only 420g (14.8oz) for the pair.  They come with a complete assortment of rubber tips (rubber and boot) and baskets (mud and snow).  They have cork (or faux cork) lined extended handles with comfortable neoprene straps.  They have built in shock absorbers that can be turned off.

I took them out to Hitchcock Nature Reserve on Tuesday to try them out.  I chose this location because the elevation changes and steep grades that would give the poles, and myself, a good workout.  To make it more challenging I wore a full pack.  To make it even more interesting I did this hike in 80°- 90° F (26.7° - 32.2° C) temps.  The poles performed well.  The one thing I had to get used to is how light the poles are.  At first this made them feel "cheap" but after putting a lot of weight on them on some steep hills I have to say they performed remarkably well.  The cork felt good on my hands and helped wick away sweat.  The straps were a lot more comfortable than the narrow straps on my old poles.

There were a few not so great things about the poles which is to be expected for inexpensive poles.  The section locking method is the twist lock type (same as my old poles).  I think I would prefer the flip-lock type even though I've never used them before.  Some of the reviews of my new poles have warned about slippage.  I did not experience any slippage but I really tightened the twist locks just in case.

The anti-shock feature, which I have turned off for now, can make the poles a bit noisy.  The anti-shock mechanism is a spring in one the the pole sections.  Even with the feature turned off the spring still sproings each time the pole hits the ground.  This isn't much of a problem really but I wish it were a little quieter.

The rubber tips are push on instead of the threaded type that my older poles had.  I'm a bit concerned that the tips may fall off.  GV, who carried poles on the Camino last time, says she never had any problem with her press-on rubber tips.  That is good news ... though I saw more than one sad, lonely rubber tip alongside the Camino last time.

The one thing about carbon fiber poles is how they fail.  Aluminum poles, like my old ones, bend.  When this happens you can straighten them back out and make the poles usable (though my old poles will not collapse after they got bent).  Carbon fiber poles do not bend.  They flex ... until they break.  If a section breaks, they can not be repaired except by ordering a new pole section, therefore no field repairs.  Hopefully this will not happen to me any time soon.

All of these issues are minor and I'm happy with my new poles.  And I was happy with my rather short, 4.53 mile (7.3 km) hike.  Sadly my new poles could do nothing about ticks.  I found seven on me before I got back to the car and another two in the car on the way home.  I wore shorts this time, something I rarely do when I hike.  Next time it will be long pants, no matter how hot ... and lots of DEET.


  1. BLEEEEEEEEECH! Ticks!!!!!

    those poles sound great! Once again, smart to take 'em for a test run!

    1. Miss Mc: My feelings exactly - both about ticks and the poles.

  2. Glad to hear the new poles are working out. I never liked the cork grips myself, so I'm glad they're working for you. Just a suggestion: see if you can get and carry a spare expander kit. Although it's unlikely you'll break the carbon fiber, I've seen the expanders that lock the sections break on many a trail (splitting, cracking, etc.). Relatively good insurance for a couple extra ounces (if that)...

    1. GH: They don't sell the expanders. You would have to buy the whole section ($8.00 a section). That's what you get when you buy cheap poles. I will probably buy more expensive poles for the AT.