You may think trekking poles don’t really fit in with the usual subject matter on JTT but I beg to differ. Trekking poles don’t just improve stability and endurance on the trail. They make great improvised shooting sticks and can help pack out heavy loads for hunters. I’ve been using them for almost 3 years now and, at this point, I can’t imagine hiking without them.
I have tried a few different types of trekking poles over the years and have developed a good sense for what I like and don’t like. I like some kind of lever/quick lock over twist locks. I like lightweight within reason. I like a cork grip that allows for multiple hand positions, especially when climbing. Finally, in my area, I find that good rock baskets are basically essential, especially if you go off trail. I also know that I don’t care for anti-shock poles.
So, when I was looking for a cheap pair of poles to use as loaners, I found that the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles from Cascade Mountain Tech had everything I wanted. They also received rave reviews and cost significantly less than even middle of the road poles from some of the better known manufacturers. I bought a set last year and have used them for more than 200 miles on mixed hikes and near daily walks on our trails in the spring, summer, and fall. I have been using them myself far more often than I loan them out!
What I Like:
Price – I paid about $40 from Amazon. They are also available at Costco and may cost even less there. That is about 1/3rd the price of my other poles. These still have all the features I like and have held up exceedingly well.
Weight – The weight on these poles will vary depending on whether or not you use baskets and straps. They are just over 1 pound (total for both poles) in the configuration that I use with straps and baskets. I have a general mistrust of carbon fiber outdoor gear but I can’t complain about the weight and the way these have held up.
Grips – The grips are very good. The cork section is comfortable though it doesn’t transition as smoothly to the plastic and foam parts of grip as other more expensive poles. I can feel the transitions but it has never lead to hotspots or blisters. I really appreciate how the grip extends down the pole low enough that I can just shift my hands lower on the pole rather than stopping to shorten them for steep climbs.
Tips – The carbide tips seem to have decent bite and have held up well to our local granite. The tips also seem to be able to deflect a bit without breaking which is very nice considering how rocky it can be here.
Baskets – These poles come with both snow and mud baskets. I use the mud baskets full time because they do a great job of ensuring that the poles don’t drop down into rock cracks or gaps too deeply. This makes it less likely to snap a pole on the trail (or off it).
Adjustment – I am 6′ 1″ and these poles provide plenty adjustment. Speaking of adjustment, the Quick Locks make changing the length a snap.
What I Don’t Like:
Hardware – I am a little suspect of the clear plastic nuts that are used to adjust the tension on the Quick Locks. Mine are starting to discolor a bit and I suspect that they will start cracking over time. I will likely replace them with a metal nut soon.
Straps – The straps are just decent. I use the straps to lock into the poles, like a sort of tendon that ties me into them. I don’t need a lot of padding but a little more would be nice. These straps work and they do have some wicking material sewn to them which is nice.
The bottom line is I bought these poles a loaners but I like them enough that they have basically become my main poles. I wasn’t expecting that. These are really, really nice trekking poles at an incredible price.
Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles are available at Costco very inexpensively. I didn’t have access to a Costco so I paid a bit more and bought mine on Amazon. The are available in a number of configurations including foam or cork grips, twist or quick locks, and aluminum or carbon fiber construction. I prefer cork grips with quick locks but the pole material doesn’t matter as much to me. If you want aluminum, they are EXTREMELY affordable (around $20).
Check out Cascade Mountain Tech Trekking Poles at Amazon (affiliate links):