Adapt All-Terrain Gear is a new startup company. Their first offering is the Bison carbon fiber pole, which weighs 3.9 ounces/pole and costs only $72. The weight is miniscule and the price is a super value, but how do these poles perform and hold up under rough field use?
- At 3.9 ounces per pole, they are some of the lightest trekking poles available
- Choice of three different EVA foam grips
- Very quiet on the trail
- A super value at $72/pair
What’s Not So Good
- Moderate stiffness may not be enough for heavyweight hikers
- Longer lengths (over 47.5 inches) have a slight wobble in the handle
- No wrist straps
- No baskets available
|2007 Adapt Gear Bison poles|
|Molded EVA foam (3 styles available)|
|3.9 oz (111 g) measured weight 47.5 in (121 cm) length; manufacturer’s specification 3.9 oz (111 g) 47.5 in (121 cm) length|
|37-50 in (94-127 cm), user specified|
|None presently available|
The Adapt Gear Bison poles taking a rest in the southern Utah backcountry.
The Adapt Gear Bison poles are the frugal ultralighter’s delight in that what you see is what you get - a shaft, grip, and tip. They’re simple, light, strong and cheap, with no wrist strap or basket.
So how strong and durable are they, and how do they perform in the field? I will get to that a little later in the review, but first let’s take a closer look at the Bison poles.
The Bison poles are available with your choice of three grip styles (left). I liked the pistol grip on the right the best. The pointed tip (right) is carbide. There is a short plastic sleeve above the tip to make the shaft the same diameter as the tip.
The shaft tapers from about 9/16 inch at the grip to 5/16 inch at the tip. The taper gives the poles a fair amount of flex. I performed a stiffness test by bridging a pole between two chairs and suspending a backpack weighing 25 pounds from the middle of the pole, then measuring the amount they bent from horizontal. They bent 3.5 inches, which is quite a bit compared to 2 inches of measured flex for the Life-Link Superlight, 1 inch measured by Carol Crooker for the Komperdell Featherlight Carbon, and 1.5 inches for many aluminum alloy poles.
Because of their taper, the Adapt Bison poles are not as stiff as many carbon poles. I measured 3.5 inches of flex with a 25 pound backpack applied (left). When I really lean on them in the field (right), they have a distinct bend but they are still quite stiff.
I used the Bison poles a total of 27 days in my testing and encountered all sorts of terrain including packed snow, solid rock, sand, scree and brush - you name it. I am very pleased with their performance. Yes, they are a little more flexible than other carbon fiber poles, but they are not limp or fragile by any means. Even when I put all my weight on them, as when stepping off of ledges or jumping over streams, I had no concern about breaking the poles.
The surefire way to break a pole is to get it wedged in a crack and then lean on it. I wedged the Bison poles in cracks many times and often accidentally put some leverage on them and they survived just fine. They won’t break easily, though all trekking poles will break if you put enough leverage on them (and the lack of baskets makes this more likely). People who weigh more or carry a heavy pack may want to get a stiffer pole with less taper near the tips to avoid any breakage problems.
My constant hiking companion (Photo by Janet Reichl)
The longer length Bison poles (more than 47.5 inches) have a sleeve and shaft extension within the grip, which unfortunately gave them a slight wobble. The first poles I tested had this arrangement, and it didn’t bother me and didn’t fail. Adapt Gear is working to develop a more solid extension, which should be in place when this review is published. Shorter poles do not require the extension and will not have this problem.
The Bison poles do not have any wrist cord or strap. While some hikers prefer straps, I personally don’t miss them at all. A wrist strap can lead to pole breakage when a pole gets wedged or the hiker takes a fall. For a carbon fiber pole of miniscule weight I don’t see a need for a wrist strap, except in some scrambling situations where if you drop a pole, you lose it.
The suitability of a fixed-length trekking pole as a shelter support depends on the pole length and shelter design. Most single wall shelters and tarps require a pole from 42-49 inches, although most shelters can be pitched higher if you insert the pole before staking out the shelter. Effective pole length can also be adjusted by either putting a rock under the handle to raise it or (more commonly) digging a hole or angling the pole to lower it.
These poles are also noticeably quiet on the trail. Unlike the Titanium Goat poles I recently reviewed, whose hollow tubes resonated with every step, the Bison poles give a quiet “chunk” as the tips hit the dirt, no “clank”. One thing I did miss at times is a small trekking basket to keep the poles from sinking very far into sand. Actually trekking baskets are a mixed bag because they tend to fill up with mud and get heavy, requiring constant bumping to clean them out. That aside, the lack of basket options definitely limits their use in snow.
Overall, I found the Adapt Gear Bison poles to be a solid performer and adequately stiff and strong to take hard use in the field.
The Adapt Gear Bison pole is a “Best Buy” among carbon fiber trekking poles. It’s light, strong, durable, and costs only $72 per pair.
Recommendations for Improvement
- Offer a lightweight wrist cord for users who want it
- Offer trekking and snow baskets