Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4
Insanely light, exceptionally comfortable, crazy expensive…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $175 plus shipping
Insanely light, exceptionally comfortable, crazy expensive trekking poles that needs lots of TLC, and that I found too fragile for klutzes in mountainous terrain.
- Wicked light
- Comfortable, ergonomic handles
- Adjustable across a wide range
- Expensive to purchase
- Requires routine maintenance
- Repair parts expensive
- Carbon fiber snaps under heavy stress
- Do not collapse small enough to fit inside pack
When I began looking at reducing the overall weight I’d be humping while hiking the Appalachian Trail, I started hearing about new, lighter hiking poles. My old Black Diamond poles weighed 18 ozs, and they seemed a good candidate for lightening.
Besides using them to help propel me up mountains, slow me down when going down them, and providing balance in stream crossings, I planned on having them hold up my tent. So, whatever I chose would have to be adjustable from about 115cm where I like to cruise, to at least 130 cm to work with my tent.
BD came out with a new line called Distance trekking poles that fold up like avalanche poles. They come in both fixed lengths, and in an adjustable version using a flick-lock. The weighed from 15.2 to 16oz a pair, depending on length, and list at $119.95. Which seemed like a lot to pay to save 2 ozs ... But more importantly, the one length they had that extended far enough to support my tent (120-140cm), did not collapse enough to support me in the manner to which I have become accustomed.
Enter GG LT4s - Then someone in a hiking forum professed his loved for his GossamerGear's Lightrek 4 adjustable carbon fiber trekking poles. Adjustable from 90cm to 140cm, and weighing only 7.2 oz a pair - That's right, I said a pair! Less than half the weight of my good ole BDs! Online reviews were all positive, and implied that they are as rock solid as the BD flick locks.
And in a bonus for me, the wrist straps are attached to the top of the poles with screws, and when taken off, an optional camera adapter can be screwed in. I could leave a few ounces of camera support at home!
My Experience - One downside is that they only collapse to about 33” making them too long to fit inside my pack. Another is that they are really spendy, and shipping is spendy. The price quoted on their page is for a single pole ... Once I worked thru the five stages of grief I go through with any such purchase, I ordered a pair from their website, along with the optional camera adapter. They arrived a few days later, unscathed in a heavy-duty cardboard tube.
My first reaction was how beautiful they are in their simplicity. Matte black shafts, uncluttered by locking mechanisms, tan ergonomic handles, and robust looking tips. Then I was blown away by their weight. Or rather, their lack thereof. I found the poles adjusted easily, requiring only a couple of twists to lock them securely. The "Kork-o-lon" grips were very comfortable.
I hiked 114 miles thru Georgia and into North Carolina on the AT with these poles, and had no problems. They held securely, adjusted easily, and held my tent up perfectly.
I went home with an injury, and started again southbound from Maine. My second day in the 100-Mile Wilderness, I sunk up to my knee in a deep mud puddle, along with one of my poles. I lost my balance, fell forward, and snapped the lower section right where it met the upper section. A phone call to GG from a mountaintop had another lower section waiting for me in Monson, for $45 plus shipping.
Meanwhile, with about 230 miles on them, the other pole started getting hard to adjust. Then nearly impossible. The rubber expander had begun to deteriorate, and was getting sticky. I was ultimately unable to adjust the pole. Emails to GG resulted in them sending me a rebuilt lower pole section from their “hiker box” in exchange for the old section. Plus shipping.
A few days later, I was descending Wildcat Mountain in the rain. I slipped on exposed rockface and fell on my butt. One of the poles was behind a rock, and snapped on my way down. This time an upper section ...
In 434 miles I had to replace three sections - two of which requiring me to whip out a credit card. To be fair, they were some tough, mountainous miles. But, it occurred to me that the "Light" in "Lightrek" is as much a reference to the type of hiking for which they are designed, as to their weight.
Well, at least that’s what I preferred to think, rather than, you know, the possibility that I was just too dam hard on 'em ...
At that point, I shipped those parts home, and bought a set of Lekis at a local outfitter to get me thru the Presidentials and points south…
A High Maintenance Relationship - These poles need regular maintenance. Separate the poles when not in use, clean them regularly. Still, replacing a worn out tip means purchasing a "Replacement Tip Section" which includes the whole bottom section of the pole for $45. Replacing both would be $90 plus shipping… Replacing expanders … The life-cycle cost of these could be astounding. I had them for a year, and they cost me $331.
Bottom Line: I replaced that broken upper section, and I'll use the LT4s for hiking in less than hairy, wet, mountainous conditions.
You cannot count on these poles to lock everytime.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $160
You cannot count on these poles to lock everytime.
- LOVE the light weight
- Great hand grips
- Not dependable to lock.
- Very expensive for something that you cannot count on.
I bought these poles spring of 2011. From the beginning I had trouble getting them to lock. Being I use them for my tent support I found it most frustrating.
Sometimes it would only take twisting them for a few seconds or a minute, other times I would work on it up to 10 minutes. At that time it finally worked or I just gave up. I could get one to lock but not the other one, or both.
Sometimes if I wetted the inside lock rubber washer it would catch. Several times I had to hike with one pole or none because of them not locking. I have had to look for branches to set my tent up with. Being many other people have also had this same problem I don't understand why they don't fix the problem at Gossamer Gear.
This is the collapsible version of the Gossamer Gear…
Price Paid: $160
This is the collapsible version of the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 poles and aside from the weight -- the 4's weigh a half oz. more than the 3's -- there isn't a lot of difference between the two. Both are made of ultralight graphite fiber composite.
These poles are so light that you'll never get over how light they are. What sets one collapsible pole apart from another is grip comfort, strength, ease of adjustment and weight.
When it comes to weight, other collapsible poles don't come close to these. They weigh 3.4 oz. each! The amazing thing is, this doesn't appear to come as a result of a compromise with strength. I put a lot of weight on them especially on steep, rocky descents and they take it.
As far as comfort goes, they're winners. The soft grips keep discomfort and fatigue to a minimum. When I'm descending, I usually have the top of the grip against my palm the way I'd use a cane to support my weight. The wide soft top distributes the load across my hand for maximum comfort.
The adjustment locking is of the twist-to-tighten variety. I much prefer a lever lock for speed and reliability, but at Gossamer Gear, weight gets priority and the levers add weight. That said, I've found that once locked, they stay locked so it hasn't been a problem. I don't use my poles to hold up a tent so I'm not adjusting them twice a day, just at the beginning and end of the trip. The first time I used these poles, one pole wouldn't lock. I slipped the bottom section out and tightened the adjuster about a quarter turn, expanding it enough to grab the top section. I haven't experienced a recurrence.
After hiking over 8,000 miles in the last decade I…
After hiking over 8,000 miles in the last decade I have come to appreciate product quality and ingenuity. Gossamer Gear’s Lightrek 4 Trekking poles give me everything I need from poles (balance, support, ease) but with the added benefit of not weighing a lot.
They are so light that when I am not using them, say to grab a snack or read my map, I just tuck them under my arm and forget about them. Or if I'm in a town or on asphalt, I break them down and put them in my pack. It’s nice not to have the extra weight of heavier poles. And yet, I still use them to catch me when I trip, to leapfrog over streams, for balance as I tear down steep mountains and for support as I head up them.
One of my favorite design features are the comfortable soft handles that are shaped so that I can keep switching my grip to four different positions. It keeps my wrists from getting sore. The poles have become an extension of my body as I hike, I forget about them, yet would miss them if they were gone.