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Trekking Pole Recommendation For ...

I am not a trekking pole user in general -- tried them numerous times, don't like them, and I promise to ignore any posts trying to convince me otherwise -- I am dead sure you're completely wrong!

Now, that said, I am tarp guy. And it sure would be nice to have a viable pole for tarping above treeline.

And while I eschew walking with trekking poles, I do enjoy the benefit of the occasional walking stick when navigating certain tricky spots, such as some stream crossings. So I figure a tarp and one pole would provide a maximally useful combination (I also use an external frame pack that can act as an extra short support).

So for my pole I want it to be:

  • on the light side, but heavy enough to be stormworthy when used in a rigorous pitch and sturdy as a walking aid.
  • adjustable length (how do people even walk with fixed length poles? Is it always flat there?)
  • locking (does this need to be said?)
  • probably 5' long at least, when fully extended.
  • breaks down, or shrinks somehow.

What I'm flexible on:

  • size, when broken down. I don't really care if I'm carrying 14" or 18" or whatever segments, as long as it fits in a side pocket.
  • price -- willing to pay for what I want (can I buy just one pole?)
  • durability/comfort -- I only plan to use this trekking pole as such occasionally and for short duration. So a good grip would be nice, but I don't care much about shock absorption, for example.

One pole that has caught my eye is the Gossamer Gear LT5, but as yet I know very little about the available models out there, and what they have to offer. Any thoughts (other than the aforementioned pro-trekking pole proselytizing) or suggestions are appreciated!

This is not your father's staff. 

I made my own staff which doubles as the mast pole for my pyramid tarp.  The shaft is woven carbon fiber tubes and telescopes to allow height adjustment.  It has an excellent griping surface and works in all weather conditions.  The tip provides as steady a base as any metal tipped trekking pole.  It cost me about $100 to fabricate, whereas a pair of carbon fiber BD trekking poles retails at $179.  My pole is ~6' at full extension and lighter than any single trekking pole out on the market.  It is well balanced; when not in use it is easily carried using just the index and middle finger, held parallel to the ground.  If you swing you arms while walking it helps maintains cadence like a drum major's staff.  I hardly notice I am carrying the staff when not in use.  When used as a tarp mast pole the collect affords an exact adjustment of the mast height to obtain whatever tarp set up you are considering.  When used as a walking staff its lightness allows you to target the placement point on the ground and flick the staff like you would a spear at the target point.  It is light and precise.  Proper use is intuitive, quickly mastered, and once mastered allows you to move with speed, unimpeded and un-distracted by pole planting and gripping activity. 

DSCN0273a.jpgAbove: Note the grip area is covered with a velvet texture, rubberized shrink wrap fishing pole grip.  The knuckles on the grip are faucet o-rings under the shrink wrap, placed on 2" spacing.  Normally I need only clench with the index and middle fingers to obtain a very secure grip. The final on top of the shaft is a fishing pole butt cap.  Below: Note the grip surface extends to about my knee, affording a large range of grip positions. (Click on the images to view in higher resolution, then click on View/Download Original to view in highest resolution possible.)  The adjusting collect is visible just above the snow surface, with the pole tip about 18" below the snow surface.

DSCN0270.jpgI'll shorten the pole for going up hill, so my hat doesn't get in the way, but I'll extend it to the fullest length for a stable pole plant well ahead of me on steep downhill steps in the trail or terrain.  Since the grip has a wide range of positions, adjusting the collet is seldom required.  The tip of the staff is a hardened steel sleeve plugged with epoxy to preclude mud getting into the shaft.  An electric wire shrink wrap sleeve covers the bottom foot or so of the staff to protect the shaft from rock cuts which otherwise may weaken its strength.

I did not find the need to stash the pole away in my pack as it is well balanced and so light one hardly notices they are carrying it when not in use.  But if you wish to make it compact, this can easily be done by adding one or two additional collets, and making each pole section shorter.  

Basically fabrication is an afternoon project.  I made one cut to size the bottom tube of the shaft.  The collet and steel staff tip are secured with expoy; the staff final is a press fit, secured with a vinyl glue, and the shrink wrap sleeves are cut to size and shrunk over a stove flame.  I'll provide you a list of vendors I got my material from, some additional specs (e.g. shaft diameters), and fabrication tips, if you are interested.

As an alternative you may consider obtaining one of those 6' green plastic covered nursery tree stakes.  I used this solution for decades.  A 3/4" dia tree stake weighs about the same as a pair of steel tube trekking poles, but costs less than $10.  It does not telescope but it is balanced and still light enough to not be a distraction while carried between uses.


That sounds like a killer stick, Ed. I don't know if I'll craft my own, but I'd love to see detailed plans, if you have the time and inclination to post them.

Black Diamond carbon poles with cork grips.  CjwKCAiA1ZDiBRAXEiwAIWyNCyW_aw9KFASUcQdyTaJPed_NRMUrtzVLRgJq6jksxVUpc3ve7aPJohoCqeQQAvD_BwE

Thanks Andrew, any particular specific reasoning behind your suggestion (they do seem like a first-rate overall choice, just wondering what qualities you have in mind).

August 9, 2020
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