Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW

This fixed-length carbon fiber trekking pole is not as elegant or lightweight as our top choice Gossamer Gear Lightrek pole, but it’s a strong performer and is the value champ at only $72/pair.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

These poles are among the lightest we tested, and are a strong performer in the field. They are not the lightest poles available, or the stiffest, but they're a strong contender and an outstanding value. Poles longer than 47.5 inches have an extender sleeve in the handle, and may have a slight wobble. Heavyweight backpackers may want to go to a stiffer, more heavy-duty pole. For others, the Bison Pole is a best-buy.

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by Will Rietveld |

Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW

Introduction

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?

What’s Good

  • 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

Specifications

  Year/Model

2007 Adapt Gear Bison poles

  Style

Fixed length

  Shaft Material

Carbon fiber

  Tips

Carbide

  Grips

Molded EVA foam (3 styles available)

  Grip Size

Medium-large

  Weight
Per Pole (without baskets)

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

  Pole Length

37-50 in (94-127 cm), user specified

  Baskets Included?

None presently available

  MSRP

$72

Performance

Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW - 1
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.

At 3.9 ounces/pole, the Bison is the third lightest pole we have tested. Only the Gossamer Gear Lightrek pole (2.8 ounces/pole) and Titanium Goat poles (3.1 ounces/pole) are lighter.

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.

Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW - 2
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.

Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW - 3
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.

Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW - 4
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.

What’s Unique

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


Citation

"Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/adapt_gear_bison_trekking_pole_review.html, 2007-04-10 03:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW


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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW on 04/10/2007 20:09:35 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW

Ian Schumann
(freeradical)

Locale: Central TX
Re: Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW on 04/10/2007 23:38:12 MDT Print View

From the manufacturer(!):

Hey guys, Ian Schumann here, head of Adapt Gear. The Adapt website is a little irresponsibly still under development, although a temporary page will probably be up sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, if you're interested in more info or ordering a pair of Bison poles, please email me at: info [at] adaptgear.com . Thanks much BPL!

Ian Schumann
(freeradical)

Locale: Central TX
Re: Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW on 04/11/2007 00:31:39 MDT Print View

Scratch that, temp site is up right now, very scrappy but functional. www.adaptgear.com.

Enjoy.

Kenneth Lotts
(aa7jc) - MLife

Locale: SE AZ
Re: Adapt Gear Bison Trekking Pole REVIEW on 04/21/2007 09:43:01 MDT Print View

I have a pair of these. You should probably see my review in the reader review section before you buy a set for yourself.