Aug 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm #1277557
Companion forum thread to:Aug 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm #1765587
@337guanacosLocale: Pirineos, Sierra de la Demanda
In Spain the brand McKinley sells them for 36€/pair, rebbranded as "super lite". I've been using them for a year now and they are relly good poles, the best you can buy for that price.Aug 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm #1765700
Danny, nice write up. These poles appear to hit the sweet spot. Rugged, reliable, and very light weight. And it sure doesn't hurt that they are affordable either. They may just be the next set of poles I buy.
Gen: they are about 1.5 oz. per pole heavier than the GossamerGear and TiGoat poles but half the price. Yep, pretty good value. No skin off the cottage poles though. Nice to have another choice.Aug 3, 2011 at 7:51 am #1765756
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
I think you found my next poles for me! I know what's going on my Christmas list.
ToddAug 3, 2011 at 8:44 am #1765769
Two of my friends bought very expensive ($175 American a pair) GG carbon fiber poles. Maybe they mistreated them, I don't know, but they have had a lot of trouble with them. It is nice to hear about relatively light, competitively priced poles that have withstood rigorous field testing. I wish they were more readily available in the States however.Aug 3, 2011 at 9:59 am #1765791
Great poles. I just used them on a month-long trip through the Pyrenees and they survived pretty much unscathed. However after a prolonged period of heavy rain followed by a couple of hours of intense heat, the tip (the plastic bit plus the carbide tip) detached from the lower pole section. It didn't brake off, but the glue simply let go. Maybe the combination of humidity and high heat caused this. Though with a little epoxy this is easy to fix.
When the poles are wet, the lack of any plastic rings/ferrules on the end of each pole section also makes it difficult to get a good grip on the poles when you want to adjust them.Aug 3, 2011 at 10:15 am #1765802
Did you have any occasions where grit or sand got up inside the junction between the sections? The taper of the plastic joints on my carbon pole sections seems to keep some of the grit out.
I realize BPL has gotten out of the business of selling gear, but if anyone out there has a business that could order a very large quantity of these poles, and we could get a number of folks to prepay or commit to purchasing, we wouldn't all have to pay the high shipping costs. I'd sign up for 2 sets of poles, maybe 3.
George at Anti-gravity Gear, are you listening?????Aug 3, 2011 at 10:38 am #1765811
@337guanacosLocale: Pirineos, Sierra de la Demanda
I've got Leki Powder poles for skiing, those were the poles I used before the Fizan. The amount of grit is more or less the same on both. The only complaint I've got on the Fizan is the length, I prefer longer poles for tarp setup.Aug 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm #1765843
@sewing_machineLocale: Yorkshire, England
I've been using these poles for a year after some bad experiences with non-metal poles! I can say that these are great – the only real maintenance needed is to dry them out properly when wet otherwise the metal oxidises – but they still work, don't break, collapse small, grip well – I can't say how pleased I've been with these; I don't know of a better pole.Aug 3, 2011 at 2:39 pm #1765888
I just ordered a set of these for delivery to the US through Ultralight Outdoor Gear in the UK. The price, including shipping, was only $80 and change.Aug 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm #1765948
@nicktruaxLocale: SW Montana
While I've been using these poles for over a year now, I must agree with Danny's assessment. Great poles at a great price is my take.
BUT, I promised the head of Fizan (Andrea Zaltron, firstname.lastname@example.org) that I would voice my distaste with the horrible customer service that I received from them last fall:
After numerous emails commending their poles, kindly requesting a replacement strap and eventually offering to pay for shipping myself, her replies were curt and impolite at the very least. In the end: no replacement strap. Hands down, the worst customer service I have received from a company after years of working in retail and the outdoor industry. I have a history of the emails fwiw.
In short, a great product but truly sub-par leadership/customer service. I will NEVER buy from them again. IMO, quality goods do not supersede customer service and brand reputation.
Buyer, please beware.Aug 4, 2011 at 11:56 am #1766169
Bought these poles somewhat more than a year ago and have used them a lot by now, mostly on rough terrain (off-trail, over boulder fields etc) where you have to put a lot of pressure on the poles sometimes. I agree that these poles are probably the best UL adjustible & collapsible poles on the market. But I'm afraid mine are already worn-out by now. The problem with mine was that after a lot of use the aluminium teared at the end of the shaft where the flexy lock system is located. The locking system then shifts from the aluminium and might get stuck in the pole. I glued the locking system again to the section and could continue hiking with the poles again for some time until another section of the pole teared… now I have three teared sections and one expander stuck in the pole which I can't get out again. So watch out for this issue when the poles get older. Mine also started to slip at the end. Probably these issues won't appear as fast when you don't do a lot of serious off-trail hiking. I think they can be too short for tall hikers too. But besides from this, these are really great poles and I loved to hike with them.Aug 4, 2011 at 11:24 pm #1766342
@skeetsLocale: Melbourne, Australia
I bought a pair as they were on special to use as wading staffs that I didn't need to take care of, one for my young son, and I've been using the other when I wasn't using my specialist Simms wading staff. I got them because they were really cheap on special, collapsed down to one third, and I wanted something more robust than my TiGoat carbon poles for a wading staff when fishing rocky streams here in Aus (didn't want to have to be careful about gouging the staff like I do with the carbon ones). I also sprayed the shafts matte black for stealth with a $2 can of paint.
They are actually very light, and extremely robust. I've been surprised that they are still taking all my abuse and misuse without a qualm. I've been using mine about without a care on the way to many a river, and, because I didn't care about it, I have often used it to cut a path through blackberries etc. Surprisingly, it is as still as good new, just a little scratched. Collapsing and locking mechanism has never given me a problem either, despite not taking any care with the rod.
So: budget priced, robust, zero maintenance, strong, packs effectively, reasonably light – what else could you want?
CraigAug 8, 2011 at 8:32 am #1767136
@herman666Locale: Northern Virginia
My LT4's telescope down to fit in my duffel bag or stow comfortably on or in my pack. That certainly meets the dictionary definition of collapsible. I think it even meets the loosely stated BPL criterion. If you're going to deviate from broadly accepted definitions, you should clearly state your own definition to avoid confusion.Aug 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm #1767379
Keith – I believe that my use of "collapsible" and "adjustable" are inline with BPL definitions. In Will Rietveld's review of the GG Lightrek 4, he describes them solely as adjustable. Will also reviewed BD's new Ultra Distance poles. In his Assessment, he wrote:
Value-wise, the Ultra Distance poles cost almost the same as the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 poles (US$150 versus US$160), so the bottom line depends on which feature you value most. If collapsibility is more important, get the Ultra Distance poles; if adjustability is more important, get the Lightrek 4 poles.
Furthermore, Gossamer Gear's website does not refer to their poles as collapsible.
You can adjust the GG LT4 to a more travel-friendly length of 90cm and the Titanium Goat Adjustable gets even smaller. But neither pole can collapse to as short a length as the Fizan Compact (58cm).Aug 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm #1767388
The people in the pictures are not using the straps and there is little comment on the straps.
I just got a pair of BD ultra distance and the straps are the best designed of any I have tried. Easy in, easy out, easy to adjust and contoured to create the most comfortable stable platform I've experienced. They are soft comfortable with bare hands. The poles break down/assemble instantly and they don't "shorten" as you go.Aug 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm #1767394
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
Excellent write-up – thanks Danny! I may have to check out a pair since my TiGoat AGP's are too long to fit in my luggage when I travel.Aug 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm #1767715
Hi Hartley – The straps aren't particularly highlighted in our review because they are pretty standard in design. The straps are similar to what you'd find on many other brands of trekking poles, such as those from REI. They are padded, adjustable and fairly comfortable.
Black Diamond's Ultra Distance poles are hand specific, and so those straps (and hand grips) are more form fitting, and therefore, more comfortable.Aug 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm #1767733
@edhyattLocale: The North
I've used mine for perhaps 50 days of hiking thus far. They are nice poles and easy to carry just in one hand when not using them.
They lack the spring and resilience of say Leki Ti Makalu's which I notice on long rocky descents. They also dint relatively easy, so a policy of 'drop poles when you stop' can hurt them. I am pretty hard on my gear.Aug 10, 2011 at 1:03 am #1767748
I can't imagine using (or testing) poles without the straps like the people in the photos. Their hands must get tired. How much weight can you put on them without a "platform". (In all fairness, I skied before I adopted hiking sticks.) I prefer not to use sticks as they slow me down — my feet are quicker than my hands, When lumbering along with a pack, I use them!
The BD straps are brilliant. I ordered a pair from backcountry.com to see what they were all about. The straps were the first thing I noticed. However, the sticks are not "weighted" well — they don't have a nice swing. I suspect this is the price to be paid for shaving weight! Far from a hiking stick expert, for me the advantage when carrying a pack is largely about rhythm and balance, not about saving my knees — in fact I haven't figured out how one with use them to ease knee strain. For hiking sticks, I have previously used various Leki models as I could obtain them favorably. Inevitably one or the other of the pair ends up shorter. I have never had a real incident but that's scary to have your sticks shorten like that! Makes you back off.Aug 10, 2011 at 1:54 am #1767754
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Sticks: "When lumbering along with a pack, I use them!"
Nobody here in BPL _lumbers_ along with a pack. They skip along the trail, light as a feather. (sputter, sputter, nevermind)
Back in the very old days, before trekking poles were very common, I was on my first trek in Nepal. I was in good condition, so I didn't need to prepare much to trek for 25 days… or so I thought. This group of mostly Americans got over there and started going up and down the steep trails, which were not zigzagged. As a result, after about two days of this, some people were getting very sore knees. One lady was in complete tears because of the knee pain. The Sherpa guide wasn't stupid, and he had seen this before, so he taught everybody how to "walk like a Sherpa."
The typical impatient American tries to take a long complete stride when going downhill. As a result of the knee being extended so fully, when the heel strikes it transmits the impact force directly through the knee joint. About two days of that, and you are in pain. However, muscles don't get abused the same way. You need to get the impact out of the joint and into the muscle. So…
1. You walk slightly bowlegged with your toes angled slightly outward. That is simply for better balance.
2. You shorten your stride for distance, and you quicken your stride to make up the difference.
3. You lower your center of gravity slightly by flexing your knees. With your knees flexed this way, it puts the impact strain on your quadriceps muscles in the thigh, and not so much on the joint. Muscles will get tired, but they will recover quicker.
The whole trick of this is to learn to recognize when you are going into a steep descent, and then to apply this method variably just to the extent necessary to protect your knees. If you do it too deeply or too often, then it looks funny and feels funny. Practice getting in and out of the method automatically. It works. Oh, and that lady did it successfully for the rest of the 25 days and survived the trek without poles.
–B.G.–Aug 10, 2011 at 2:18 am #1767757
Bob, short quick strides here ;) Tight and compact motion. I was forced to figure this out ages ago. In fact, decades ago, the running world figured out that for any distance over a quarter mile, this is more efficient. Overnight, runners shortened their strides. I am not inclined to agree that everything that applies to running (for example this barefoot stuff) applies to walking. However, stride length observations might reasonably carry over. Such quickness makes poles a nuisance! They ARE good for probing Sierra sun cups!
Yes, I know what your are referring to, it makes me cringe in pain to watch.
Do you not use sticks…ever? As in don't own any? I do like them for snowshoeing.
PS. Speaking of lumbering along, a BPL member IM'd me that he met a BPL staff member traveling solo on the JMT a few years ago. Said he was collapsing under an 80+ litre pack. (I don't know what reminded me of that!) Ever since, I take it all with a grain of salt ;)Aug 10, 2011 at 3:34 am #1767761
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that a certain percentage of BPL members were once runners or joggers, at least back in their younger days. It is because of that early foundation that some of us are even able to move at all due to our advanced age. Younger days though, hmmm, that was back during the Harding Administration, I believe. We used to run from cave to cave to avoid the saber-toothed tigers.
When I was out on one section of the JMT a few days ago, I had no trekking poles. It just isn't normal for me to use anything like that outside of cross-country ski season. I used one for one season right after knee reconstruction, and I used a pair for one expedition, but normally I don't feel the need. Now, the other day I ran into something new, and that was a messy stream crossing. At first, my intention was to cross with bare wet feet and with shoes and socks dry. After a few of those chopping up my toes and ankles, and with the delay hassles of shoes and socks off and on and off again and on again, I quickly realized that changing to a stay-wet strategy was the way. Still, the crotch-deep cold water current was really fast, and I was elbow-deep trying to keep myself from being swept away. Plus, it wasn't me so much that I wanted to stay above water, but I had a few grand worth of camera gear hanging in a shoulder bag, and I had absolutely no intention of trying to dry that kind of stuff over a smoky campfire.
So, I suddenly realized the value of trekking poles or something. Not having poles along, I retreated into the forest and selected a good piece of fallen branch. It didn't need to be big and heavy, but just enough that I could hold it above water level and it probed the sharp bottom rocks and kept me upright. When there were no streams, I just stuck it in my pack's pocket. Finally, once across Muir Pass, I was doing some boot skiing with the stick as my rudder. It wasn't elegant, but I got down the hill in one piece. Once I was down past the last snow, I recycled that stick back into the forest. I did have a chest-tall camera tripod with me, so I suppose that I could have ruddered my away along with it, instead.
I did get a single 3-section collapsible metal pole and tried it out in cold water. Guess what! It collapsed! It turns out that the cold water affected the metal thermal expansion at the joints, so it slipped. Either I need to heat the stream water before my pole hits it [impractical] or else I need to tighten up the section fittings [likely].
Such is life on the trail.
–B.G.–Aug 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm #1767970
Hi Hartley – I used to use the straps all the time. However, two things happened that got me out of that habit.
First, I got into backcountry skiing. I stopped using the straps there because of the risk of breaking my thumb/hand if my pole got stuck on a branch while descending, or worse, getting caught in an avalanche.
Second, I broke a trekking pole once while hiking. The pole punched through a layer of hard snow, I fell forward with my wrist still in the strap, and my full weight pushed against the pole and snapped it in half. If I hadn't be wearing a strap, my hand would have slipped away, I would have fallen the same amount (no injury) but the pole would have survived.
So now, the only time I use the wrist straps are when I need that extra arm support of hiking quickly or going uphill.
However, that is just my preference. I certainly agree that straps can be helpful, and comfortable straps can make a big difference. The Fizan Compact straps are definitely comfortable.
Thanks to you and Bob for adding your advice on how to save your knees through better technique and pole usage.
The story about the BPL staffer loaded with an 80L pack should also be taken with a grain of salt in the sense that we testers sometimes take extra gear to test out, or load up a pack to push verify its carrying capacity.Aug 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm #1768034
Yes, no straps for tree skiing! I agree. I want a solid pole plant in a narrow chute though! I've always used breakaway straps for skiing. Perhaps, there are hiking sticks with this feature.
Overall, I think hiking sticks are a lot more dangerous than most people realize. And I am quite ambivalent about using them my self. I would never use them on scrambling terrain/boulders/etc. Amazing how often you see this! I don't bother with them for day hiking and most certainly not for running (however, several years ago I encountered groups of runners using sticks in the TMB race — no , I wasn't racing!) Sometimes, I let myself get away with sticks when carrying a pack for days at a time. I do think they encourage sloppy walking.
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