Ya, ya, we hear you, never-gonna-use-trekking-poles people. “I don’t need trekking poles,” you’ll shout at the trailhead, grinning enthusiastically while snapping a branch in half over your thigh to make your own walking stick. “Besides, there are plenty of free branches all over the place out here,” you’ll say through clenched teeth, the pain radiating through your thigh clearly apparent.
Can’t say I blame you. I once resisted trekking poles because I thought they were pointless, made loud clicking noises, and also kinda dorky, but mostly I didn’t want to spend $150 on fancy sticks.
I still don’t want to spend that. You probably don’t want to either. Which is great, because these Cascade Mountain Tech collapsible trekking poles are made with carbon fiber, are plenty lightweight, are available with sturdy lever-locks and a cork handle, and are only $45.
For less than it costs to fill my car with gas, the poles come with straps, two sets of snow baskets, a little rubber foot thing, rubber tips for hard surfaces, and tungsten carbide tips. You can also get a slightly cheaper pair of these poles with twist-locks, but considering they’re already so inexpensive, spring for the much stronger lever-locks.
I have used these poles on numerous backpacking trips over the years, and on plenty of long-distance snowshoe hikes (with the included snow baskets), with absolutely no problems. They’re excellent for saving your knees with a 30-pound toddler strapped into your baby carrier. I’ve wedged them in rocks to keep myself from falling, accidentally skied over one, and banged them on countless granite blocks with no issues at all. They’re the real deal. Considering their price point, I fully expected to shatter a pole, have a lock fail at an inopportune moment, or break off one of the tips. Nope. Shaft vibration was on par with any other carbon fiber poles I’ve used too.
A friend of mine who uses a set of poles that cost nearly four times as much as the Cascade Mountain Techs was so impressed with mine she bought her husband a pair for Christmas.
The only real weak point is probably the plastic nut that tightens down the lever lock. It’s impossible to turn it with sweaty fingers, so I have to use a multitool’s pliers if I want to adjust the length on the trail. Other than that, I can’t imagine that anything that didn’t fail already will fail anytime soon. And even if it does, they’ve already been well worth the money.
My only significant gripe is they don’t collapse as small as foldable poles. But those poles usually cost $200, which is a much, much bigger gripe.
Weight: 8 oz. per pole (including wrist strap)
Adjustable length: 28 – 53 inches
Available with twist lock or lever lock
EVA foam / EVA foam + cork handle
$45 • BUY
OTHER CARBON FIBER TREKKING POLE OPTIONS
If you simply must have the Cadillac of trekking poles, and don’t mind spending $190, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trekking Poles are about as good as it gets.
Of course, you could spend even more for some of the lightest trekking poles on the market. The LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Black Series Trekking Poles weigh about 7 ounces each, though that comes at a price. $250
A nice pole that’s light, strong, collapsible, and on sale, is the Komperdell C3 Carbon Pro. Normally well over $200, the REI Outlet has them now for $170.