Trekking poles have come a long way recently. Komperdell has developed a suite of carbon fiber poles that fill a variety of niches. The C3 Duolock Women trekking pole (also marketed as the REI Peak UL Compact for $130) is targeted at people who can get by with a more compact grip and a pole that doesn’t extend quite as far. Although marketed as a women’s model, many men will find this pole worth a closer look. At 5.8 ounces per pole these are the lightest three-section, collapsible poles we have tested. At $149.99, they are priced in the mid-range for carbon fiber trekking poles but the combination of features they embody is considerable.
- 5.8 ounces per pole, making them the lightest three-section poles tested
- Secure locking system
- Stiff and absorb vibration very well
- Comfortable grips and straps
What’s Not So Good
- The smooth shaft and Duolock locking mechanism are sometimes hard to tighten when the pole is wet
|2006 Komperdell C3 Duolock Women|
|Tungsten/Carbide Flex Tip|
|EVA foam with wide neoprene strap|
Weight Per Pole
|5.6 oz (158 g) measured weight; manufacturer’s specification 5.9 oz (166 g)|
|25-49 in (60-125 cm)|
|Yes – diameter: 2.0 in (5 cm), weight: 0.2 oz (6 g)|
Key to any trekking pole is its locking mechanism. I found that the Komperdell C3 Duolock mechanism was quite good. Over the testing period I had two slips and both were near the end of a day and under extreme conditions where I effectively slipped off a ledge in an uncontrolled fashion and placed my entire weight on the pole. In more controlled conditions, where I deliberately eased my entire weight on a pole as I stepped down, the pole remained secure.
The plastic sleeves at the end of each section are smooth, which makes tightening the locks a bit more difficult when the sleeve and pole section are wet. This was more of a concern with the lower lock since the surrounding pole segments are also quite smooth but the topmost pole segment has a non-smooth surface that makes gaining a grip much easier. Roughening one of the lower pole segments in a similar fashion near the locking sleeve would solve this problem.
The locking mechanism will let you secure the pole quite well, but it is tough to tighten when the pole is wet. A roughened surface on either the plastic sleeve or pole segment near the sleeve would eliminate this slight annoyance.
The Komperdell C3 Duolock Women trekking poles weigh 5.8 ounces per pole. This makes them the lightest three-section, collapsible poles we’ve tested. The balance point for these poles is in the upper third of their body making them easy to swing while walking. The only time pole movement becomes tougher is when you must swing them through dense undergrowth where their light weight is insufficient to help force them through the foliage. However, their lightness also makes them easy to flip high and over brush so this is hardly an issue.
The poles reduce to a mere 24 inches (60 cm) in length and so are easy to transport. With a maximum length of 125 centimeters these poles should be suitable even for quite tall hikers though they are not compatible with all shelters because of their shorter overall length.
For those who want a slightly longer pole, the Komperdell C3 Duolock Men has slightly thicker grips, extends to a full 145 centimeters and weighs only 0.3 ounces more.
Compatibility With Trekking Pole Shelters
|Sample shelter type and pole length required||Usable with this shelter?|
|Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic (42 in/107 cm)||Yes|
|Tarptent Virga 2 / Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo / Europa (45 in/114 cm)||Yes|
|Golite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm)||Yes|
|MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm)||No|
The Komperdell C3 Duolock Women poles are stiff and do a wonderful job of absorbing vibrations when you cross rock or slam a pole down onto hard ground. I never noticed any vibration of the shafts while walking. Even when I placed my entire weight on the pole I felt virtually no deflection. The only time I ever felt pressure on my hands, wrists, or arms, was during descents when I placed excess stress on my wrist because I had not tightened the straps enough to permit them to carry the load.
The poles held up durably during their testing. I took no special pains to be gentle with them, which meant I stepped on them, placed my entire weight upon them, got them caught between rocks, and stuck in the mud. The poles have yet to show any sign of wear. I am not worried about them suddenly breaking on me.
The neoprene straps are easy to adjust to fit your hands. I found the broad straps comfortable and never a hindrance when I elected to just hold the pole grip. The grips are made of EVA foam and are easy to hold even when wet.
The EVA foam grips are comfortable when dry or wet. The ridges on the back of the grip may irritate your fingers if, like me, you tend to hold the pole using just the grip.
The Komperdell C3 Duolock Women poles use Komperdell baskets. These require a bit more effort to install and remove than Leki baskets, for example. Once the basket is on it is quite secure. Removing a basket requires a fair bit of pressure be applied to release the locking nubs before you twist the basket and pull it off (rather like removing a child safety cap on a medicine bottle). Komperdell sells a plethora of baskets to cover all needs. The C3 Doulock poles come with Summer Baskets which will be suitable for most three-season use.
The C3 Duolock poles use Komperdell baskets. Komperdell makes a wide assortment of baskets to cover all needs. The poles come with the Summer basket which will be sufficient for most three-season use.
The Komperdell C3 Duolock Women trekking poles are the lightest three-section carbon fiber poles we tested (5.8 oz per pole). They have worked exceedingly well for me both as hiking staff and shelter support. They collapse down quite small, making them easy to transport and to stow.
Recommendations for Improvement
- A roughened surface on the locking sleeve and/or the pole segment near the sleeve would make tightening the lower lock much easier. These poles are incredibly slick when wet, making length adjustments difficult.