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#21244 - 02/04/12 05:25 PM Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
I've only had one set of trekking poles. An aluminum BD set that have been pretty good to me. I bought them several years ago, and sadly lost one last summer while on my way down a traffic jam on the cables at Half Dome. I bought a carbon cork BD pole so that I'd have two, and I really liked it too. But I lost it on a cross country jaunt through the west fork of Bear Creek a couple of weeks ago.

I'm just going to buy a new pair of poles. Any of you guys have a preference on aluminum versus carbon?
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#21245 - 02/04/12 08:22 PM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: GandC]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
I have a pair of carbon fiber poles from REI that I really like -- they're lighter (and more expensive) than the aluminum.

Your losing a pole here and there is a problem. Do you use the straps? I don't think I ever use my poles without them. ...and on the Half Dome cables, I think mine would be tucked away in my day pack.

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#21249 - 02/05/12 06:24 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: GandC]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Don't own any carbon fiber trekking poles, but the golf clubs are nearly indestructable. They don't snap over your knee in a fit of rage like the aluminum ones do . . . smile

Actually, I'm probably going to be looking for new poles this year, and may try the carbon ones. The Black Diamonds I've used the last 4 years have been great, and could probably go another 4 - if not for the marmot-chewed grips and straps.

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#21255 - 02/05/12 08:45 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: GandC]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I'm not sure what can be said about either besides weight. Although I am leaning more towards aluminum because it will bend rather than break. I had a pair of Black Diamond Alpine Cork poles this last summer and although a tip broke off around a month in they held up well until about 90 days on the trail where I looked down and found that the whole pole had broken off near the bottom. I don't even know when it happened. It was a strange enough twist that the same day it broke I happened to lose it in a tricky ford.

This year I have an aluminum set of poles I am going to try. Hopefully they will hold up.
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#21260 - 02/05/12 11:49 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: Steve C]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I have a pair of carbon fiber poles from REI that I really like -- they're lighter (and more expensive) than the aluminum.

Your losing a pole here and there is a problem. Do you use the straps? I don't think I ever use my poles without them. ...and on the Half Dome cables, I think mine would be tucked away in my day pack.


I'm not losing them when I'm using them. It's when they're attached to my pack. On HD a lady snagged the strap that held them as she freaked out in the cable traffic jam and tore past us. The other got snagged when we were literally crawling through manzanita and creosote on a ridgeline. It never had a chance, looking back.

The bend/break issue is an interesting thought.
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One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#21269 - 02/06/12 06:19 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: GandC]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1025
Loc: Madison, WI
I have both types of poles - REI/Komperdell Carbon fiber and Black Diamond aluminum.

I use the carbon Fiber in summer exclusively, never use the wrist straps unless I am crossing a stream or to pick up a pole from the ground with the tip of the other pole poking through the loop. I don't want to break my wrists for no reason, and I don't buy into the benefits of the straps, given I have enough miles on my poles to know for a fact that I don't need them for normal walking.

My aluminum BD Expedition poles are better for skiing and they come with the flip locks I prefer over the annoying twist lock on the carbon poles, which makes them the go-to poles for my MSR Twin Sisters tent. They are twioce as heavy, though, and on summer trips with tents that don't rely on my hiking poles, I will always bring the lighter poles. Got 4 muir trails on the REI carbon poles and just this winter replaced the tips on them, ready for more. My kids use the same poles and we replaced a few tips on those as well.

If I were to get a new set of summer poles, I'd get something in carbon fiber with flip locks, if it exists.
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#21273 - 02/06/12 09:17 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: Fishmonger]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Fishmonger


If I were to get a new set of summer poles, I'd get something in carbon fiber with flip locks, if it exists.


Oh yea, it exists. It's what I've been looking at, as a matter of fact, but it ain't cheap. That's why I thought I'd get you guys' take on poles to see if it'd be worth it. I'm thinking that if I can just keep from losing them, it probably would be.
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One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#21274 - 02/06/12 10:22 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: GandC]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1025
Loc: Madison, WI
here you go - carbon, flip lock, decent price:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150751879418&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:US:1123

only drawback - two piece dsign, so they don't collapse down very small, and he lost one of the snow baskets. I'd bid on them if I didn't already have far too much duplicate gear in my basement grin
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#21275 - 02/06/12 10:52 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: Fishmonger]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
The clamping mechanism on those looks nice! My CF twist-to-tighten poles occasionally loosen on hikes. (I need to take them apart and clean everything up -- I think that would help.)

When traversing snow, I must do some sort of plant and twist motion, because my up-slope pole loosens regularly.

Unfortunately, the ones on ebay only collapse to 47". So I'd still take my poles over those.

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#21277 - 02/06/12 11:47 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: Steve C]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
I do know that I'd stick with Black Diamond for the flick lock design. I've yet to have one of those fail me in any capacity. Awesome and easy to use. A good combo.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#21279 - 02/06/12 01:45 PM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: GandC]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Whoa! I just checked what was available in new poles, and the 9 oz per pair Black Diamond Z-Poles look tempting. Only 9 ounces for the pair... That would be nice to carry all day!

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#21283 - 02/06/12 02:16 PM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: Steve C]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
I swear by both the carbon and the BD flick-locks. I was given a pair of Leki's with their version and immediately found them lacking: they wouldn't stay locked when I leaned down to step from boulders, causing the poles to collapse.

The flick-locks are also a must if you are in snow of ANY sort. The twisting style does not stay locked at all, especially with snow baskets.

I've already bent more than a few aluminum poles to make me never go back.


-L
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#21428 - 02/13/12 07:58 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: MooseTracks]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 578
Loc: Manchester, NH
After a few years of using BD's Trail Compact poles (one of their more basic models) I decided to "upgrade" to a carbon fiber pair with cork handles, so I bought the BD's Alpine Cork Carbon, and just for grins, I weighed them, fully expecting the spiffy cork/carbon variety to weigh several ounces less. I was in for a surprise - they weighed exactly the same - 1.175 pounds.

Over the years I've worn-out lots of poles - Komperdells (I think most of the REI house brands are made by Komperdell), Leki, and BD. I even wore out a pair Walmart poles - once you put a decent tip on them, like a BD pair for $5, they're not half-bad. Leki's are good quality, like BD's, and they have an iron-clad warranty repair/replacement policy, much better than BD's. What I don't like about Leki is their tips and internal expander mechanism are vastly overpriced. Fortunately, BD tips and baskets are interchangeable with Leki's. My biggest gripe with Komperdells is their baskets - they fall off easily. However, if you invest $10 in BD tips and baskets, the Komperdells work well, if not quite as study as others.


Overall, the BD's tend to slip a bit less (sorry, but they all can slip as even the screws on the flick-lock mechanism loosen/tighten over time). I prefer the BD's overall, especially their padded wrist strap, but after it frays/begins to fall apart it gets dicey.

Other suppliers are using a flick-lock mechanism. I saw some at Walmart recently as well.

If you're in the market for them now, look at Sunnysports. They're having an excellent sale on the BD's.

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#21430 - 02/13/12 09:38 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: KevinR]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1025
Loc: Madison, WI
Originally Posted By: KevinR
My biggest gripe with Komperdells is their baskets - they fall off easily.


They must have more than one basket design - on our Komperdell/REI carbon poles it is near impossible to remove the baskets once you put them on. We did 200 miles on and off snow with three such pairs and never had an issue with baskets falling off. We left them on for non-snow sections because they were so hard to remove.

Good to know that tips from other brands work - it's always difficult to find such parts.
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#21432 - 02/13/12 11:04 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: Fishmonger]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 578
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: Fishmonger
Originally Posted By: KevinR
My biggest gripe with Komperdells is their baskets - they fall off easily.


They must have more than one basket design - on our Komperdell/REI carbon poles it is near impossible to remove the baskets once you put them on. We did 200 miles on and off snow with three such pairs and never had an issue with baskets falling off. We left them on for non-snow sections because they were so hard to remove.

Good to know that tips from other brands work - it's always difficult to find such parts.


That's good to know about their baskets. It used to be they had a little post sticking out, and you gave the basket a quarter turn to lock it in place. It worked for awhile, but eventually it would loosen up and fall off, and once that happened it was only a matter of time before you'd lose one. I used to put nylon wire ties on to hold them in place. Eventually, it was the reason I swore off Komperdells. After you bought a couple of pairs of baskets you might as well have bought Lekis. But, then Black Diamond came on the market with a better locking mechanism.

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#21450 - 02/14/12 03:11 AM Re: Trekking Poles: Carbon vs. Aluminum [Re: KevinR]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1025
Loc: Madison, WI
Originally Posted By: KevinR


That's good to know about their baskets. It used to be they had a little post sticking out, and you gave the basket a quarter turn to lock it in place.


same system we have on the REI poles, however, they are almost impossible to into the locked position, and even harder to release. Maybe a matter of plastic density or molding differences.
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