REI Peak UL AirShock
Price Paid: $128
I bought these poles and they are the first I have ever used. I like them a great deal. At the same time I bought these (and for the same backpacking trip) my brother bought the non-shock absorbed pair that is exactly the same as these without the absorbers. During this trip I was able to try my brother's and compare them to mine.
I like the absorbed version better but I expect it’s a matter of personal opinion. I have few complaints about these. I can’t believe I have been packing all these years and never used trekking poles. I will never backpack without a set again.
The only complaint I have is that these poles have a lock out feature that allows you to turn the absorber on or off. For some reason one of the poles kept turning the absorber off. It was very annoying having to turn it on again while hiking. Later on in the trip I found that if I switched hands with the poles they would no longer lock out. I think this has to do with the way my hand twists while walking and the twisting motion is what was activating the lock out. All and all I like these a great deal and am happy with my purchase.
Price Paid: $149
I incorrectly sumbitted these comments on the UL poles without air shocks. It makes no difference, these are great poles. It's my second set. My first set busted an internal bushing after 3 trips.
The guy at the return desk said I was torquing them too tight. He gave me an example of what he considered sufficient (in a warm store without gloves and pounding sleet), but it appeared way too light to withstand a constant probing. It was a torque similar to what a small child might exert.
That weekend, with new poles in hand, I tried the gentle torque to secure the upper section in place, and indeed they slipped, right away. I decided to tighten them what felt secure. I sure as heck didn't want them slipping on my descent on a "most difficult" trail.
I buy gear and use it. I never buy stuff for a fashion statement in the store, or on some suburban walking path. I put gear throught the rigors of Oregon's Cascades and Wallowa Mtn.s several times weekly. It needs to consistently work well under crappy conditions.
It was my impression the defect on the initial pair was not me twisting them too tight, however, it appeared the epoxy used to secure the plastic nut bushing to the graphite was insufficient to permit proper tightening.
I believe they should withstand an average person's torque since they'll likely be used in winter conditions, with gloves -- a situation not lending to an "exact" or gentle feel.
Anyway, these poles work fine, so far. I'm torquing them to what feels like an "average" person's torque. Don't gorilla grip 'em tight, cause the internal bushing may fail.
Too, I noticed if you click the upper lock mechanism to the "locked" position (disabling the air shock) they eventually turn on their own to the "air" position. In other words, don't buy these thinking you'll use the non-air cushion position, because the constant pushing on the trail surface turns them back to cushion position. That's ok for me since I want the cusion option, every time. REI's marketing engineers should change them to air only.
If they fail again, I'll take them back, pronto. REI has the very best return policy, and it allows the customer to return merchandise without hesitation, if dissatisfied. If one spends $150 on a pair of sticks, he or she should be very pleased with them.
Price Paid: $149
I have the same concerns as one of the other reviewers. I took these on an 80-mile trip through the Wallowas in Oregon and found three problems with these poles. The first is that on a long day they eventually come loose and slip. The second is they change settings from no shock to anti-shock or the other way around. This depends on how you use them, uphill or downhill. The third problem is tightening them when you adjust them. They are the most picky poles I have ever used. If you loosen them just a tiny bit too much then you can't tighten them again without pulling them all the way out and adjusting them, then carefully putting them back together and tighening them as you slip them back together.
I love the light weight but not the performance. I expect these poles to stay on the settings I choose. I took them back to REI and got a new pair. I think I'll have the same problems though.
If you are a casual hiker then these are good poles. If you hike many miles then I think you will be unhappy with these poles.
It is looking like I'll have to take this second pair back to REI. This time I'll get another model.
Price Paid: $161.52
I have the same concerns as one of the other reviewers. I took these on a 35-mile trip through Cascade Pass, Sahale Glacier Camp, Horseshoe Basin, Basin Creek, and Trapper Lake and found two problems with these poles.
The 1st is they change settings from no shock to anti-shock or the other way around. This depends on how you use them, uphill or downhill.
The second problem is tightening them when you adjust them. They are the most picky poles I have ever used. If you loosen them just a tiny bit too much then you can't tighten them again without pulling them all the way out and adjusting them, then carefully putting them back together and tighening them as you slip them back together.
These would be perfect poles if they would stay on anti-shock when you set them on anti-shock, and stay on lock-out when you set them on lock-out. As far as adjusting them, it's a bit annoying, but it still works.
For $161.52 (with tax) they shouldn't have these problems. So I give it 3 stars.
I returned them for another pair, but from what I've read and experienced, they too may be going back. Hopefully the next pair will be flawless, I'd like that!
Price Paid: $149
I also broke an internal bushing within my first few trips. I'd advise anyone who hikes in rugged country (such as the Wyoming Wind Rivers) to think about choosing a pole without the shock joints (i.e. something a little tougher).
Also, I was always messing with the locks. Loved the weight and the shocks when I had them working right, though.
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