Easton Mountain Products have been making trekking poles since 2008 and introduced the three-piece adjustable CTR-70 trekking poles in 2010. The long-time carbon fiber tent pole maker’s effort boasts some of the category’s largest diameter carbon fiber shafts, which should equate to very strong poles. Does the equation actually pencil out, and what kind of trade-offs does this mean for weight conscious backpackers?
|Manufacturer||Easton Mountain Products|
|Model||CTR-70 Trekking Poles|
|Style||Three-section collapsible, adjustable length|
|Shaft material||Carbon fiber|
|Length extended:||52.5 in (140 cm)|
|Length collapsed:||25.5 in (65 cm)|
|Weight listed||20.5 oz (580.5 g)|
|Weight measured:||20.1 oz (570 g)|
|Incl. snow baskets||2 oz (57 g)|
The Easton Mountain Products CTR-70 trekking poles in extended and collapsed position. The included winter snow baskets are a nice touch.
The Easton Mountain Products CTR-70 Poles were the company’s first trekking poles, but had many years of their tent pole making experience behind them. It shows.
The CTR-70 poles are made of three sections of carbon fiber with a multi-directional carbon layer construction. The shafts, which are in three telescoping sections, are pretty beefy at 19 mm diameter for the upper, 17 mm for the middle, and 15 mm for the lower section. The sections have been painted and the weave of the fiber can’t be seen through it.
The lower and middle sections have adjustment marks applied in 1-inch (2.5-cm) increments which, when set to the corresponding marks, will adjust the pole from 39 to 52.5 inches (100 to 140 cm) in 2-inch (5-cm) steps. Of course, they can be set to any length in between also. A “stop” is printed 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the last mark on both sections.
The patent-pending Rock-Lock clamps are Easton’s answer to slip free pole security. Tension is set by rotating the lever in or out, and when closed uses a cam action to clamp down on the shaft sections.
Attached to the lower ends of the upper and middle pole sections are Easton’s patent-pending Rock-Lock clamps. The clamps are a low-profile toggle joint design that uses a cam action to lock the pole sections in place. To adjust the Rock-Lock, you rotate the buckle lever to the desired position (which increases or decreases the pressure put on the shaft), re-engage the toggle joint, and snap the lever closed. Once set to the desired tension, the lever can be locked and unlocked for collapsing the pole without losing locking tension. In the picture immediately above, one of the clamps is in the open position, the other is closed. The body of the Rock-Lock wraps around the shaft and itself when closed.
Left: the extended grip gives plenty of room to grasp anywhere on the top 13 inches (33 cm) of the poles. A very big, wide (and sweat inducing) Dura-Light strap can be adjusted by means of pulling the locking plug (top right) adjusting the length and popping the plug back in (bottom right).
At the top of the CTR-70 poles is an extended gripping area made of EVA foam. The upper portion of the grip is pretty good sized, maybe the largest I have had to date on my various trekking poles. The grips are not right-and-left, so it does not matter which pole you grab first. The very top of the grip is a more durable rubber-type material, which will take more abuse when palming the top of the poles on a steep descent. The extended portion of the grip is a 7.25-inch (18.4-cm) continuation of the EVA foam.
The handles have a pin running through the top, which is used to hold the Dura-Light webbing straps, which are the widest straps I have ever seen on trekking poles. The straps adjust by way of a knurled locking plug in the back of the grip. The adjustment strap runs over and back under it. Lifting the strap upwards allows the plug to be pulled out for adjustment. When the plug is pushed back in and pressure is applied downward to the strap (such as it would be in use), the strap is locked in place.
One thing I found right away is that the straps are so big and wide that, while very supportive, they made my wrist sweat like crazy. After my first trip with them I pulled them off. I weighed the straps to find that yanking them saved a full ounce (29 g) per pole!
At the business end of the CTR-70 poles is a hard nylon tip with a press-in, replaceable carbide point. The carbide is concave instead of knurled at the tip. A set of small trekking baskets came attached to the poles. While all my other trekking poles made me purchase wider snow baskets, Easton sees fit to include them. Nice!
Three-season use with the Easton poles. Clockwise from top left: Hiking in the San Gabriel River through The Narrows. Crossing a creek on the PCT. Climbing above the raging North Fork Kern River. Stormy hiking high in the Sierra Nevada near Piute Pass.
Because of a horrible work situation, I ended up getting to really put these poles to the test. I put 600 miles (966 km) of backpacking in with them. In California, I used them heavily in the Sierra Nevada where I hiked in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks along with a lot of other State Forests and Wilderness Areas. These trips saw elevations to over 13,000 feet (3,962 m) and a lot of rough rocky trails. The poles also saw a lot of river and stream crossings with trips along, and in, the Sespe and San Gabriel rivers. With record snowfall, normally placid streams were pretty challenging at times and I literally leaned heavily on the CTR-70 poles.
I also used them quite a bit in Minnesota, much of it on snow either pulling a gear sled or carrying a pack. Most of the trips were on the North Country Trail in Itasca State Park, Paul Bunyan and Mississippi Headwaters State Forests, and Chippewa National Forest. The most memorable trip was three days backpacking in Voyageurs National Park where we were just a couple miles from the border of Canada. It got down to -31 F (-35 C) on that trip. We alternated hiking on frozen lakes and then going onto “land” to try to trace the Cruiser Trail System. There was so much snow that we hiked over the brush and downed trees, many times punching through and thrashing our poles in the hidden branches. My hiking partner lost two baskets to the brush, only being able to save one, while my Eastons never blinked. On the frozen lake, the tips bit nicely into the ice, allowing me to propel myself somewhat.
Winter use for the CTR-70 poles.Top: Climbing to find the Cruiser Trail in Voyageurs NP. Bottom left: Bootin’ it on the Halverson Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest. Bottom right: Crossing Kabetogama Lake in a frigid snow storm.
The Rock-Lock clamps work quite well. I never had them slip while they were in the closed position. I specify "closed position" because I found that since the poles are identical (not right or left), the upper lever on my right-hand pole will sometimes bounce off heavy brush into my side and catch the cargo pocket of my pants. Every once in a while it is enough to pop the lever open. If the poles were made with the Rock-Locks spun around on one pole, this would never happen.
Other than that, the Rock-Locks are great. They are fast and easy to adjust, so much easier than my twist lock poles. This is especially nice when using with a shelter like the Nemo Meta, where raising the pole after placing it inside works best. The CTR-70 poles worked great with my other pole-supported shelters too. Their length is perfect for Henry Shires’s Sublites.
Gimme Shelter, the Easton poles being used for support with a Nemo Meta 2 in Yosemite, a Henry Shires Sublite Sil in Itasca, and one of his Tyvek Sublites on the PCT at Dove Spring.
Although I had problems with the straps, the grips themselves are great. They are the best fitting grips I have used to date. I have large hands and many grips are too skinny to be comfortable. Like Goldilocks said, “these ones are just right.” I do not ever use the extended portion of the grip, but I do palm the top when descending steep areas. I found the grip quite comfortable for this application too.
The poles are very strong, and the standard BackpackingLight weight test shows it. With the pole resting on two chairs 43.3 inches (110 cm) apart, I hung a collapsible bucket with 25 pounds (11.34 kg) at the center. The pole only deflected 1.2 inches (30.5 mm), as can be seen to the right.
Durability has been very good. I really beat the crud out of these poles. Once when trying to go under a deadfall at the same time as I stepped over another one, I caught my pack and ended up taking a fall. My right pole flipped over the lower tree, hitting the ground handle down with the upper section of pole leaning on the trunk. I fell onto the pole and grimaced, expecting to hear the crunch of another pole. (I did mention not being nice to poles, right?) Instead, I literally bounced off the pole. I carefully tweaked it, testing to see if it was cracked, but could find nothing wrong.
On one very overgrown section of the North Country Trail, I used the poles to shove branches and saplings away. Sometimes they were too strong to move and ended up pushing me off the trail. The poles held up fine to this too. But they finally met their match a month ago when my brother-in-law and I bushwhacked to the top of a peak and then cut down it to intercept the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains. I slipped on a steep section of granite and slid downhill until I was stopped by a large boulder. Unfortunately, my left pole was between me and the rock, and my thigh or hip snapped the pole near the top of the lowest section.
When we were first asked to look at these poles, Easton said they would be 17 ounces (482 g) per pair. That was a lot more than I was used to for three-season, and when they came at the now properly stated higher weight, I was a bit disappointed. That is one reason I decided to wait to use them in winter where I have heavier poles anyway. I ended up really liking the poles and used them for almost every hike I took over the past 17 months. I can only compare them to my Black Diamond Alpine CF carbon fiber poles, which have been my go-to winter pole for a few years now. While the Eastons are an ounce (29 g) heavier, I find them much more comfortable and think they are a stronger pole. I know they are much thicker than my BDs. My buddy that kept getting his baskets torn off? Carbon fiber Black Diamonds.
While I will go back to a lighter pole for three-season use, I am going to see if I can buy a new section to replace the one I broke and keep these for my go-to winter poles. Anybody want some Black Diamonds?
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge and is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to the manufacturer to review this product under the terms of this agreement.