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Bozeman Mountain Works Stix X1's: Six-Ounce Trekking Poles for Ultralight Backpackers


Bozeman Mountain Works Stix X1's: Six-Ounce Trekking Poles for Ultralight Backpackers

5.4 oz (per set) carbon fiber trekking poles.

The Stix X1 Trekking Poles released in 2003 have now been discontinued. Click the following link to see the updated version:

Stix Pro Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

How to Measure

In keeping with industry standards, measurements indicate the distance between the very top of the grip to the bottom of the basket, if a basket were to be placed on the pole tip. Keep in mind that there is an additional 4.9 cm of distance between the bottom of the basket to the base (not the tip) of the carbide tip, and the carbide tip itself, when new, is about 0.5 cm. Consequently, a "120 cm" pole specification actually indicates a pole that is 120 + 4.9 + 0.5 = 125.4 cm from the very top of the grip to very end of the carbide tip.

Description

Bozeman Mountain Works is releasing its first beta model of carbon trekking poles in its Stix series, with more to come this fall.

The Stix X1 series are one-piece, built-to-custom length trekking poles that weigh a remarkable 5.4 ounces per set (120 cm length). Add or subtract approximately 40g per meter of shaft length to calculate weights of longer or shorter pole sets.

Shafts. The shafts are thin-walled, double-scrimmed, tapered carbon fiber tubing, and were designed and built by one of the world's premier developers of custom ski racing poles. Poles using these shafts retail for $280 to $390, and we are fortunate enough to acquire the same shafts in a quantity that allows us to bring the price down. We have tested more than a dozen different carbon fiber tube technologies and these shafts have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any carbon fiber tubing on the market.

These are not whippy little willow sticks. The carbon fiber shafts make full-strength poles that are both stiffer and stronger (in terms of bending resistance) than any aluminum or carbon trekking pole on the market, at a weight that comes in at nearly one third the weight of the next lightest competitor.

Comment on Single Piece Shafts. The Stix X1 is a single piece pole. Thus, it is nonadjustable. For people who use their poles primarily for trail walking, they are entirely suitable. If you use poles for setting up shelters, they are terrific when used as tarp poles (although some strategic pieces of duct tape "rings" added along the shaft at ideal heights might be advisable if you want your tarp pitched lower than your pole length; the duct tape rings act as guyline stops). If your shelter requires a height for "optimum pitching" that is longer than your pole length then you are out of luck and better off with an adjustable pole (like the 2-piece Stix X2 or the 3-piece Stix X3, currently in development - but on a Microsoft-style product release schedule!).

Grips. Standard grips are very dense, very light EVA foam. These are our Cigar grip, available in small (for smaller hands, generally) or large (for larger hands). The Cigar grip provides the lightest option and is generally more comfortable over long trail distances than molded grips. Molded grips are available as an option, but increase weight (by about 3 oz per pole) and price. Molded grips might be better suited if you use the poles for climbing more than balance; however, the Cigar grips are certainly adequate, all-purpose performers. Cork Nordic grips are also available (and come with straps). They add about two ounces per pair (the photo at right shows a 120 cm set with cork grips that weighs 7.7 oz) and are a nice comfortable grip, well suited for both small and large hands alike. We recommend Nordic grips over molded grips for trail hiking.

Small Cigar grips are 4.5 inches long and are 4.0 inches in circumference at their thickest point. Small grips are generally preferred by women under 5'10" and small to medium-built men under 5'8".

Large Cigar grips are 6 inches long and 4.375" in circumference at their thickest point. Large grips are generally preferred by women over 5'10" or medium-to-large built men or men over 5'10". Large grips add only a few tenths of an ounce to the pole weight.

Grips are capped with an attractive nickel-plated end cap that does not abrade your skin if using the grip end of the pole in the palm of your hand.

Straps. These poles do not have straps for the Cigar grips so that we can bring you the absolute lightest weight grip possible. Straps are available on molded and nordic grips.

Tips. Our tips are the lightest molded plastic pole tips on the market, with a tungsten carbide insert. They accept most popular baskets on the market.

Shaft Breakage. As with any carbon fiber trekking pole, there is a risk of shaft breakage at the tip if the tip gets lodged in a crevice and body weight is leveraged against it. If that happens, you are out of luck. See warranty information below about shaft breakage. Keep this in mind: we've had 14 sets of Stix X1's used and abused by testers during the past year, with NO shaft breakages.

Warranty. This is a beta release product. We do not warranty against shaft breakage if the break is in the lower 16" of the pole. We will be more than happy to repair the poles if there is a manufacturing defect in the grips or tips, or provide you with replacement parts if you wear out the grips or tips.

Photos

EVA foam grips are capped with a nonabrasive nickel-plated end cap that provides a comfortable platform when palming the pole end (a common technique on ascents).


Comparison of Leki Ultralight Ti and Stix X1 EVA grips. Note that there is little, if any compromise in shaft diameter. Stix X1 carbon fiber shafts are truly have one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any trekking or ski pole found on the market. The Leki pole pictured here defines the standard of lightness in the trekking pole market and weighs 8.1 ounces. The Stix X1 pictured next to it, by comparison, weighs 2.7 ounces (67% lighter).


The Stix X1 (right) uses molded plastic tips with tungsten carbide inserts for durability, and really, aren't anything special - with the exception that we searched out the manufacturer of the lightest breakaway tips on the market that could accept baskets, and still be easily replaced. You can order our tips or replace them with heavier ones from Leki and other manufacturers.

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STIX TREKKING POLES ARE SOLD OUT UNTIL FALL 2004.


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