trekking poles

11:10 a.m. on January 14, 2014 (EST)
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I have been using trekking poles off and on depending on the terrain and length of my hikes. up until my last pair I got cheap "W***mart type of pole none last very long (I bent one set on the first trip). I have gone through about four sets bending them when using them to break a fall or loose footing on rocks. My current poles have lasted about two years now and are also cheap ones. I got them in a ranger station camp store for about $15 because I forgot my poles one day and at $15 each these were the most expensive poles I ever bought!

Due to the fact until this last set I was death to poles I was hesitant to spend $80 and up fearing I would bend them on my first trip.

I understand that the higher end are lighter. I was wondering is there other things that makes the more expensive higher end poles worth the cost. Are  they  as much or more durable then cheap poles?

2:06 p.m. on January 14, 2014 (EST)
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Hi Phil,

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/trekking-poles/

Above is a link to many reviews of different brands of trekking poles.  

It is usually a safe assumption to assume that you get a better product with the more $$ you spend with respect to quality outdoor gear.  In other words you usually get what you pay for.  One of the things I do is research exactly what I am looking for and narrow it down to a specific product with good reviews and then I go on the hunt for the lowest price.  

I think when you buy quality trekking poles they often come with a limited warranty.  If you buy from backcountry.com they are essentially guaranteed for life.  They are very good about taking things back anytime with no questions asked.   

More expensive aluminum poles will almost certainly be more durable than cheap poles and they will also come with a warranty.  I am not sure about carbon fiber though.  I know a lot of manufacturers are putting out ultra light carbon poles but I have no experience with them and their durability.

Good luck and I am sure if you get into the $80-100 range for trekking poles you will find a pair that will last a long time and certainly won't bend on you the first trip or hopefully any trip for that matter.  If they do, return them for another product.   

3:31 p.m. on January 14, 2014 (EST)
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My wife and I both use LEKI brand trekking poles and love them. Both of ours (different models) have the anti-shock feature because we often hike on hard terrain and I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis in my wrists so I personally find the anti-shock system to be a real benefit.

I tried other poles, much of it is personal preference, but I really appreciate the quick release/reset strap mechanism that allows me to adjust the straps to the incline very easily. The poles have never failed us. The twist lock on the lower part of the shaft of our poles works very well, but my wife has had her's unlock a couple times . . . only when using a "road shoe" on the tip because she somewhat rotates her grip during her stride. Its a very minor issue and she can make entire trips without incident, but its only fair to mention it.

I think the grip designs, the strap locks and the pole locks are where you want to look at the cost differences. Most grips are straight vertical grips but I've yet to see a straight vertical grip that is as comfortable as a forward canted grip. Even if only canted 5 to 10 degrees forward, the grip will be far more comfortable to use. The locks on the strap adjustment is another area where there is quality/comfort separation between various brands. The straps should be easy to adjust 'on the fly' if your terrain changes and you need to have a longer or shorter strap. The locking mechanisms for the shafts are the next area to consider, cam locks/quick release locks are very convenient and nice for adjusting for inclines, but they are simply not as strong as the internal twist locks.

Shaft weight and shaft material is also an obvious thing to consider. Most poles are still aluminum, but not all alloys are the same strength. Aluminum poles may bend, but are difficult to break in adverse conditions, while carbon fiber poles are very light and rigid but can snap if bent (as when you catch them between larger rocks.

I like the twist lock better than the quick release/cam style lock because the internal twist locks take more weight than the cam locks. Leki claims their twist lock is stronger/takes more load weight than any other lock on the market, I won't say it does, its just their advertising claim, but its never failed me. Many of the lower priced poles have quick release/cam locks that look really flimsy compared to the various higher priced brands.

Black Diamond and Komperdell also make excellent trekking poles. Some of the worst I've seen include NIKE brand and several big-box store offerings.

I think if you look at the various brands side by side you can easily see the difference in quality between the various high priced brands and the lower priced brands. In any case, no matter how much or how little you spend, I'm sure you will find that hiking with poles is better than hiking without them.

3:35 p.m. on January 14, 2014 (EST)
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My take is that it is definitely worthwhile to spend a little more and get quality but not really worth spending a fortune to cut a few ounces more.  Durable is important to me because I use my poles constantly on most trips and having had cheap ones break in the middle of a trip I've learned it is worth paying for.

Jason's spot on about researching likely targets and then waiting til you find a good price.  I found my current Eastons on sale for half price which allowed me to get pretty good poles on my lower budget. Cheap poles rarely lasted a season but I've had these for a few years now.

4:04 p.m. on January 14, 2014 (EST)
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The only set i have owned are the BD alpine carbon cork poles. I had a 20% off coupon and $50 in ems bucks so i ended up paying like $30-40 for them. They notmally run around $115 i think. I have had them for about 4 or 5 years now and i must say that they are awesome. I have not treated them lightly and they have held up just fine. They have been caught between rocks a few times and been the brunt of many slips and falls. So i would have to say that carbon fiber poles, at least these, are much stronger than most people think.

They survived this nasty 75-100yd fall/ tumble down a quite steep trail a few winters back after one was caught in a rock while descending on snow shoes and my husky tried to charge ahead initiating the fall.


faceplant.jpg

The only thing broken in that fall was my pride, haha. I ended up face first about 3ft deep in a snow bank in a tanged mess of poles, snowshoes, and dog leash.

4:20 p.m. on January 14, 2014 (EST)
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I'll assume that the poles you were bending were aluminum?...if so I wouldn't go spending much more than 80.00 on a pair of poles because most of the difference in price for poles is the result of lightweight materials + adjusting mechanisms + cork handles + and other features such as those described by Melen's dad not stronger alloys and increased lateral strength. When it comes down to it there isn't a great deal of difference in the strength of the materials used from one pole manufacturer to another...the differences are mostly the result of poor construction and design...neither of which appear to be what is troubling you.

Personally I would suggest going old-school with some fixed poles...they tend to be stronger for the weight and they have no mechanisms to fail...but then I tend to like things as simple as possible and find feature-rich gear burdensome. My DIY carbon poles with cork handles are fixed...cost roughly 60.00 and 1 hour to build...weigh 3.1oz each (they feel like nothing)...and I should reach the 1000 mile mark with them late this coming year (I have replaced the tips...and the handles are starting to crack...but both are easily and cheaply replaced). I did a short review of them here: https://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/151456.html#151467 if you're interested.

Honestly though...I'm not sure any aluminum or carbon trekking poles can withstand the demands you place on them (if you are bending them frequently that is). If you aren't too concerned with weight maybe you should just go for some simple walking poles...a couple lightweight poles made of fiberglass should be all but indestructible...and will last forever if you trim the ends for use with carbide tips like these https://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/151456.html#151467.

5:02 p.m. on January 16, 2014 (EST)
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Thanks all the awesome advise! The cheap poles I am currently using are aluminum ($14 each) from a Ranger Station Camp store about a year and a half. these lasted longer then any I had used before. I would like to get something lighter now with all of your help I am going to go forward.

Again thanks everyone!

2:53 p.m. on January 19, 2014 (EST)
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As others have said, you do get what you pay for up to a certain extent... a lot of that is lighter weight, comfort, better locking mechanism etc... However, if all your product failures are coming from bending the poles I would seriously reassess the way you are using them, not just for the sake of damaging poles, but to avoid any potential serious injury in the future!Perhaps be more cognizant of both foot and pole placement as to avoid relying on the poles too much.... if they give completely you may get seriously hurt. (sorry to be a downer!)

March 31, 2020
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