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Cascade Mountain Tech 3K Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles Cork Grip

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Cascade Mountain Tech 3K Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles Cork Grip rigid trekking pole

The best of the inexpensive pole lineup from Cascade Mountain Tech.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Less rattle than others from CMT
  • 3k CF should be stronger than standard CF
  • Cork handle
  • Secure flick lock mechanism
  • Easy tightening of locking mechanism
  • Decent life of tip
  • Snowbaskets and rubber tip covers included
  • Replacement parts available from CMT

Cons

  • Heavier than some
  • Ridges in handle can be uncomfortable
  • Get dinged up in rocky conditions which may lessen lifespan
  • Still have some annoying rattle/vibration

Many years ago, while in the North Cascades, I sprained my ankle. It was 7 steep miles back to the car. My wife had trekking poles and loaned them to me so I could "crutch" down the mountain. With the help of the poles, I survived and have been using poles ever since.

I have pairs from Komperdell, Leki, Black Diamond, and three different versions from Cascade Moutain Tech: the aluminum, standard carbon fiber (CF), and the 3k carbon fiber version.

 The 3k is the lightest of the three at 8 ounces per (plus 1 ounce of duct tape I added).

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3k CF Pole
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Standard carbon fiber version at 8.7 oz

 

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Aluminum version at 10.55 oz

The difference in weight is mostly negligible, but the 3k version does feel a bit lighter in the hand. And it is slightly stiffer than the standard CF version and about equal in stiffness to the aluminum version.

The biggest advantage of the 3k CF is its strength compared to cheaper CF. CF comes in different grades. 3K CF has higher elongation to failure and a better strength compared to 6K, 9K or 12K. Cascade Mountain Tech does not indicate which grade their standard poles are made from. So, it's hard to compare exactly.

I've put several hundred miles on the 3k version so far and have not had any issues. But, the finish on the lowest shaft is getting quite scraped up. These scratches when deep enough will weaken the CF. Luckily CMT does sell replacement shafts, something I appreciate as I have worn out tips on other poles and had to simply throw them away.  

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Scratches on lower section
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Using the 3k poles and a sign to prop myself up in Grand Teton National Park. And yes the sign was bent before I leaned on it!

The most notable difference is the rattle and shock of the 3k compared to the other models. The aluminum model has substantial shock that reverberates up the pole and makes a "twoooing" noise on hard ground. It's easy to demonstrate the shock and noise by simply hitting the pole on the ground. The aluminum version transfers a lot of shock up to handle and after many a mile, particularly on hard ground, you can feel that shock in your hands.

The 3k model absorbs the most amount of shock as you can hear in the video. The 3k version is on par with the shock from other expensive (Leki, Komperdell, and Black Diamond) poles. But the aluminum version, in my opinion, is not acceptable and I would not use them for long distance or hard ground. I only use the aluminum version for hiking in snow where the surface is softer and when post holing the potential to break a pole is higher. 

The cork handle on all versions is about the same. They are mostly comfortable, but there is a ridge between the cork and the plastic cap. This can be a bit uncomfortable on longer days. I tend to adjust my grip throughout the day and/or wear gloves either for sun or cold protection which makes the issue not noticeable. The hole where the pin slides through to hold the strap in can also be rough and could use a cover.

The cork unfortunately does appear to be a thin veneer and I do worry about its longevity, but with a little over two years use, I have only noticed a few nicks and some discoloration. The straps are very basic, but they tighten and loosen well and don't seem to irritate me in any way.

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A few nicks and dings in the cork. The ridge between cork and plastic is the biggest gripe of the grip. Also that hole with the pin in it is a little rough.

 

The tips and thread on the lowest shaft are holding up quite well. I don't imagine needing to replace the tips any time soon. And I have yet to lose a snow basket. Although, I do tend to use my cheaper aluminum version in the snow. 

The flick locks hold the poles in place and I have yet to have them slip when in use. I do like the tool-less tightening bolt mechanism on the locks as they are easily adjustable. 

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Tips holding up well

Overall, the 3k version is enough of an upgrade over the standard CF version that it justifies the small price difference, particularly when on sale. CMT is still what I consider a lower tier pole being both heavier and less comfortable than my more expensive poles. But, for the price, they are quite acceptable and should give years of service when treated properly. If CMT could smooth out the handle and reduce the vibration further, these would be a 5-star pole.

Background

Been using trekking poles for over 10 years and tried numerous brands.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $40

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Specs

Price MSRP: $54.99
Current Retail: $54.99
Reviewers Paid: $40.00
Shaft Material 3K Carbon Fiber
Grip Material Cork
Locking Mechanism Quick Lock
Single Pole Weight 8 oz (without rubber tips)
Pole Extension Lengths 26 to 54 in
Disassembled Measurements Upper 20.75", Middle 20", Lower 21.25"
Tip Material Tungsten carbide
Product Details from Cascade Mountain Tech »

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