2007 Alpkit Carbonlite Trekking Poles REVIEW
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Oct 9, 2007 at 7:28 pm #1225383Benjamin SmithBPL Member
@bugbombLocale: South Texas
Companion forum thread to:Oct 9, 2007 at 9:08 pm #1405020
Do they ship to the US? I didn't find anything on their website saying yea or nay. I'll email them tomorrow though.
Looks like a pretty nice pole at a nice price.Oct 10, 2007 at 4:47 am #1405045David CavanaughBPL Member
Yes they do. I got a set in May and have been extremely happy with themOct 10, 2007 at 6:48 am #1405052
Thanks! Sounds like I'll have some poles to compare to my wife's REI carbonsOct 10, 2007 at 10:50 am #1405071
I have extensively reviewed these treking poles in the Reader Reviews section. I would not rate these as Recommended for several reasons.
**Quality Control is not an especially hard point with Alpkit. As I indicated in my review, Alpkit sent me poles which, after less than 50 miles of fairly easy use in both the San Gabriels and in Yosemite, suffered from a significant manufacturing failure.
** One urethane grip separated from the pole and the other separated both from the pole and the plastic sheath that holds the urethane. I included pictures of this in my review. They sent me replacement grips in cork (which I had requested)and so far these have held up well.
**I also noted that the nylon stitching on the straps is done in such a way as to allow loose threads to irritate the backs of my hands. the plastic bit that secures the strap with pressure within the grip to prevent it from slipping often fails to hold the strap sizing and has to be readjusted often on the trail.
**The asterisk shaped non-carbide tip, which at first seemed a most innovative design feature for providing highly tenacious grip on most surfaces, has proved to be quick wearing after only 150 miles of use. The design may be innovative, but the material out of which the tip is made proves to be too soft for the job. The tips now fail to grip most hard (read rock)surfaces if there is any angle to the plant.
**I have continued to find that there appears to be a subtle vibration in the shaft of one pole which shows up when I plant it on very hard rock surfaces. The vibration is not transmitted to my hand by is one that I can clearly hear. Even twist tightening the shaft sections as much as I can, the vibration continues.
**The promised changes in the manufacture of these poles first indicated in the initial BPL review, have failed to materialize, notably the promise to change the way the grips are constructed and adhered to the pole shaft.
Overall, these relatively inexpensive all carbon trekking poles are fairly good at the job of providing balance and thrust for hiking at a modest weight, but because of the lack of Quality Control, I would hestitate to purchase them again.Oct 10, 2007 at 11:16 am #1405074dave hollinMember
@backpackbrewerLocale: Deepest darkest Wales, boyo
have you tried contacting the lads at Alpkit about the issues? They are really hot on customer care and I have had excellent service from them in the past for many purchasesOct 10, 2007 at 11:20 am #1405075Kenneth KnightBPL Member
@kenknightLocale: SE Michigan
Michael, are you sure you were reviewing the current model?
I've not seen the same issues you are noting above though those are issues that were noted in the first generation of these poles. As far as I am aware the tips are tungsten carbide, the grips on mine are a single piece.
I've not noticed the "sibutle vibration" you speak of and I've used the poles on soft and hard surfaces. However, this is a somewhat subjective issue.
I did have the lock prong break but as I note in the review that could have been a transportation caused failure and even if it happened on a very hard fall the lock still works quite well.
** Ken **Oct 10, 2007 at 2:09 pm #1405097
Yes, I have contacted Alpkit and they were quick to respond to the manufacturing defect, as I said in both my review and above. But the part sent to me less than a month ago was indeed a two piece grip and my originals, purchased in July of this year, were also two piece grips. The poles used in the above review were purchased before mine. So, I believe my comments stand: Quality Control is not their strong suit, since they obviously deliver different versions of their poles after converting to the "improved" version.
Their Website does not indicate that these poles have carbide tips. It uses the term "Tungsten tip". I have had several different trekking poles over the years and have made my own carbon fiber poles. carbide does not wear down significantly even after 1000 miles. These asterisk shaped tips show clear signs of extreme wear on their points after 150 miles and as I said above, these tips slip if you have any angle on them when planting on rock surfaces.
Clearly, that we have dramatically different experiences should tell any objective observer that there is something wrong with the product. If I were planning to buy a pair of Carbon Fiber poles I would think twice before purchasing these. I would rate them as inferior to most standard trekking poles such as the Lekis, Black Diamonds and Komperdells. While they are light and fairly rigid and collapse to a smaller size than most, my comments on quality control would weigh against purchasing these poles again.
I would spend the extra money and buy either the fixed length poles that have been so highly recommended in BPL reviews or one of the other adjustable carbon poles that can be returned if they prove unsatisfactory after some extended use. REI's policy on returns would lead me to look at the Komperdell line of carbon poles before I would buy a pair from England again.
Oh, and Kenneth, the grips on the pictured poles above are not one piece. They are in fact two pieces. The urethane or cork is glued to a plastic sheath that includes the pommel. then that assembly is glued in turn to the pole. Look at my pictures and you will clearly see that this is the case with both your poles and mine.Oct 10, 2007 at 7:19 pm #1405126Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Maybe someone can clear up a puzzle for me. Every twist lock pole (Leki, Komperdell, Exped, Grivel etc) I have tried has failed on occasion by telescoping shorter. Loving hiking off-trail in the Rockies, I cannot trust these poles on the scree slopes downhill, and use either the Black Diamond or the push button lock types (Leki for Campmor, or Treks) for this activity even though they are heavier. Haven't tried to build a carbon push button pole, as the material would probably fail at the button. BPL appears to be right in promoting the one piece carbon poles for the above reasons, even though they are less convenient to transport. Having designed and built my packs, tents and bags to be super light, I have some amount of engineering savvy, and am puzzled how other folks feel they can rely on the twist locks. Maybe someone can shed some light on this. Thanks. SamOct 10, 2007 at 9:08 pm #1405138
Because mine never fail drastically. If I put a lot of weight on it and for some reason it does get shorter it does so a little at a time. I just stop and let it back out and tighten it up again. This is rare though. I've only tightened them up mid day a couple times all summer and I end up shortening and lengthening them every time they go in the car so that's good enough for me.
I like them in scree and talus out here in CO. Scree skiing! :)Oct 10, 2007 at 10:00 pm #1405141Brett .Member
Sorry to hijack this thread but maybe I can spare some of you some headaches; I also spent a lot of time fussing and researching twist-lock poles. Recently I switched to Flick-lock Black Diamonds and don't worry about it anymore. Adjustments for up/down hill literallyl take 5 seconds with no twisting.Oct 10, 2007 at 10:25 pm #1405142
Being the trekking pole editor, I've used many, many types of poles. I'm also really, really hard on poles- I've broken something like 7 of them and I've sure made some slip. I tend to jump off small cliffs, particularly when snowshoeing or while reviewing poles. But truthfully, I've found most of the newer twist lock poles to be very reliable. Sometimes with a very hard landing, I'll get some slippage, but it's no big deal. I've had flick locks and their Komperdell counterparts slip too with a really tough landing.
I think the deal with slipping twist lock poles is that you're going to get more slippage if dirt or dust enters the mechanism. I rarely adjust poles once they are to the right length, except for travelling. And when I get some slippage, I'll take then apart and rough the surfaces up with sandpaper (or sand or rocks in the field), rinse them off, and reinsert. No more issues.
There are some that have had bad luck with twist locks but I haven't and most of our reviewers at BPL haven't either. Might be bad luck or it might be some other factors such as grime, lack of maintenence, or undertightening (I tend to overtighten). I'm not really sure.
But you can't deny the simplicity and reliability of the flick lock systems- they're great. But they're heavy too- especially the Black Diamond models. At the end of the day, though, I'll go for a 2 section pole over a 3 section (50% less mechanisms to fail) and a fixed pole over the rest. Fixed poles tend to absorb shock better becuase of more uniform flex and they eliminate nearly all maintenence issues.
That said, I've been using a Komperdell C3 for many, many trail miles now and these poles have yet to slip. That includes scree fields, scambles, the whole bit. My first gen Alpkits never slipped either- and that includes a Rainier climb with a long, rocky approach. Still, I know what you're saying about trust. That's why my fixies are usually in my hands.
DougOct 11, 2007 at 5:01 am #1405153John S.BPL Member
I've never owned anything but Black Diamond since 2002, and wouldn't buy twist lock poles.
Any flick lock pole can slip if the screw in the mechanism isn't tight enough.
As to weight, I'd imagine the three section black diamond aluminum poles weigh the same as all other three section aluminum poles, somewhere around 20 oz per pair. There is no mysterious increased weight with black diamond poles.Oct 11, 2007 at 6:35 am #1405163
Actually, there's nothing mysterious about it- the lightest Black Diamond poles weigh 8.75 ounces a piece which is not among the lightest poles on the market.
Several poles by other manufacturers are substancially lighter such as models by Komperdell (or REI), Leki, Alpkit, Life Link, MSR, or Titanium Goat. Many of these were reviewed last year:
20 ounces per pair is quite heavy for trekking poles. The Komperdell C3 Women weighs 11.2 ounces per pair and the Titanium Goat Adjustable Goat poles weight a reported 6.4 ounces per pair (we have yet to test those).
Dropping several ounces from your poles makes a big difference on the trail- I've found it to be similar to trading boots for trail running shoes. The review summary explains this in greater detail.
DougOct 11, 2007 at 3:57 pm #1405227darren stephensMember
@darren5576Locale: Down Under
Firstly, I bought a set of these for my wife because I thought she might like them and they seem well made and I have had no problems with them. Also I have found Alpkit helpful.
Secondly and a little off the subject, why use them at all. It seems in the US it’s a mark of a hiker to use poles. Over here in Aus they are rare. I gave these a go but walking through acacia scrub and bladey grass along ridgelines they were a pain and I found myself having to worry more about the poles than anything else. It seems a little funny reading about "serious Ultralighters" and how they endure cold wet nights sleeping on the bare ground under a cuben fibre handkerchief, making sacrifices in all aspects of hiking to get a 4.9999 pound pack and still they use poles. With such a light load we replace packs with lightweight items with out hipbelts etc, Hiking boots with runners but the poles are still there. I can picture ultra light utopia would be hiking barefoot and naked living purely on air, marching through the bush with a set of trekking poles.
Don’t get me wrong, i'm not saying anyone shouldn’t use them, every one should do what ever makes them enjoy there time in the bush. It’s just that the emphasis on them seems a little off line with the rest of the ultra light philosophy.
Oh, and one more thing, i’m not a serious ultra light hiker. I’m Australian; I’m not serious about anything..Oct 11, 2007 at 4:25 pm #1405228Kenneth KnightBPL Member
@kenknightLocale: SE Michigan
Using poles or not is one of those rather sujective decisions. Some will argue that they gratly improve ones balance and make hiking easier by helping spread some pressure away from knees; some would argue the other way. I know people who go light and ultra light who ue poles and who don't. Both groups seem to get on quite well.
I do personally have some dobuts that going as light as you can with poles for off-trail hiking is necessarily the way to go. Some of the lightest and thinnest poles just don't seem to have the omph to help me shove pirckly plants aside when I'm pushing through a Michigan forest. But for my personal style I do think poles are very handy especially ond escents.
While trekking pole usage has certainly risen in the US I think I still see more people not using them than using them. A notable exception can be made for through hikers doing long ditance trails, but that's a small group of people when you actually get down to it.
** Ken **Oct 11, 2007 at 4:35 pm #1405231
And put another one on the 'barbie will ya.
Enjoyed your comments on poles. Truth is that poles can sometimes get in the way. Hiking through brush or high grass or narrow trails with lots of obstructions or growing things along the edges of the trail comes to mind. These are times when I simply carry my poles. I think someone included some recent research in a post that indicated that poles can actually increase your caloric expenditure. For most of us, they are used for improved balance and as has been said "it's like 4 wheel drive for the feet." They are also very helpful crossing streams.
All this being said, I don't think I would ever think about going on a trek without them. But I have learned to use them judiciously. Perhaps a better motto for most of us would be moderation in all things — even ultralight. We might benefit from not taking it all so seriously — sorta like the Aussies!
Cheers!Oct 11, 2007 at 8:41 pm #1405261
Good comments above…and here's another.
Poles can be used in two ways: trekking style and nordic walking style.
Trekking- used primarily for balance, crossings, technical terrain
Nordic Walking- used primarily for propulsion. They are planted behind the feet and use to push off, much like a cross country skier.
Being an American, I'm overly intense. :-) When my pack is sub 4 pounds, I'm usually going for stupid mileage (30-50 miles). Poles help me cover ground more effeciently and utilize different muscle groups to spread the load.
I love Australians- the best partiers in the world!!!
DougOct 14, 2007 at 6:53 pm #1405465darren stephensMember
@darren5576Locale: Down Under
Good to see you all still have a sense of humour. We all need to remember our gear is just there to help us enjoy ourselves, what ever we use. As long as were having fun nothing else really matters.
DarrenOct 15, 2007 at 6:29 am #1405489James PittsMember
@jjpittsLocale: Midwest US
I have owned and used these on and off for something like three years now. They are very nice poles and the price is outstanding, even with shipping to the US.
It is critical manage moisture that will get inside them. Break them down after a hike so they can really dry out. The hardware inside the pole rusts very easily. After each trip I break them down, clean them out, and oil the metal parts.
The tips are difficult to remove but if you soak them in boiling water for a while they twist out with a pair of pliers. I broke a tip a while ago and replaced them with some Komperdell tips I picked up at REI. Good as new.
They look good too!Oct 15, 2007 at 10:04 am #1405507
Let me get this straight. You removed the Alkit tips themselves and replaced them with Komperdells? Could you be specific about your proceedure. I understood that the third section of the pole was an integrated whole and had to be replaced. If, in fact, one can remove the actual tip and replace it with a better tip such as a Leki, I would really like to know how to do so. I would not wait for a break, I would replace it now since I feel that the tips are not up to the quality or technical specs of Leki or Komperdell.
I wait with baited breath on your answer.
MitchellOct 15, 2007 at 10:50 am #1405515ed hyattBPL Member
@edhyattLocale: The North, Scotland
I would change mine too (even though I have just bought replacements); if you can do this it opens up possibilities – we sent my girlfriends (well my) Alpkits back to the UK when the tips died two-weeks into the GR5 (Alps) this summer and she bought some Leki's. Being able to swap out the tips rather than mail-order others would have been great.Oct 16, 2007 at 9:11 am #1405669ed hyattBPL Member
@edhyattLocale: The North, Scotland
Coincidentally Alpkit have recently posted this http://www.alpkit.com/support/stickies/note/can-i-change-my-trekking-pole-tip/ on their support pages; essentially the text is:
Can I change my trekking pole tip?
Yes, but the method is a little involved. If you want to replace the whole of the plastic lower tip section this is done either buy using a a hot air blower (paint stripper type thing) or placing the whole tip into boiling water then just twist carefully with a set of pliers and the plastic section come of fairly easily. The new section is glued in place using Araldite.
If it just the metal section then pull with a set of pliers and again glue in (after cleaning) the new tip with Araldite. If you prefer not to mess around you can purchase the complete lower section.Oct 16, 2007 at 11:12 am #1405688
Thanks Ed for the tip. I'm off to REI to get Leki replacement tips. Bondo would probably work well for this repair as it did when I made my own poles. That or any other two part adhesive.Oct 30, 2007 at 3:25 pm #1407215dave hollinMember
@backpackbrewerLocale: Deepest darkest Wales, boyo
I own a set of lightweight Black Diamonds and they are great but recently have moved away from 2 trekking poles to one hiking staff made from wood. After a bit of playing around I found that a 4 foot whittled branch birch, Ash or hazel is really comfortable for walking with and doubles as a snooker cue for the odd moment when you find a table to play on ;-)
ok so wood isnt mega light but it isnt mega heavy either and if you are worried about length/ just put a brass screw insert in it to create two halves
by the way I'm Welsh so i like a good singsong, have fun with sheep and eat coal for breakfast boyo!
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