Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review

Straightforward, reliable and lightweight adjustable, collapsible aluminum trekking poles.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Fizan Compact trekking poles are completely conventional in design, but flawless in performance. These 3-section adjustable, collapsible poles are comfortable, sturdy, easy to adjust and reliable. Those virtues and their low price make these an excellent value.

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by Danny Milks |

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 1

Introduction

The 3-section adjustable, collapsible aluminum trekking pole is overwhelmingly the most popular style on the market today. However, most of these poles weigh half a pound or more. Sure, it is possible to find a lighter pole that lacks the ability to collapse, adjust, or both. However, what about the hiker that wants all of these features without a big weight penalty?

Enter Fizan, an Italian company that has been making aluminum poles since 1947. Fizan have simplified and refined the standard trekking pole design to create the Compact - what they say is the world’s lightest three-section adjustable, collapsible pole. At a claimed 158 grams (5.6 oz) per pole, they might be right.

So, is this the trekking pole for the ultralight backpacker who wants to have their cake and eat it too?

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 2
We first came across the Fizan Compact poles at ISPO 2011. Unassuming in design yet surprisingly light, we made sure not to leave the show without a pair for real world testing.

Description

Specifications and Features
Manufacturer Fizan www.fizan.it
Year / Model 2011 Compact
Style Three-section, collapsible, adjustable trekking poles
Shaft Material Aluminum alloy 7001
Tips Carbide
Grips and Straps EVA grip with neoprene strap
Adjustable Length 58-132 cm (22.8-52 in)
Weight Per Pole Manufacturer: 158 g (5.6 oz)
Measured: 167.5 g (5.9 oz, including 5-g (0.2-oz) basket and 12-g (0.5-oz) strap
Features Compact adjustable, collapsible aluminum poles; Flexy Locking System;
press-fit style removable 50-mm basket; adjustable, removable padded
neoprene strap; EVA grip; available in green, black, or orange.
MSRP ~80 USD, shipped from the UK. Otherwise, 55£ in UK or 60€ in Europe.

Fizan Compact are three-section, adjustable and collapsible trekking poles that weight 158 grams (5.6 oz) per pole, according to the manufacturer. Pole height is adjustable from 58 to 132 centimeters (22.8-52 in). This means that they can extend long enough for nearly all hikers and compact short enough to easily stow away on or in a backpack. The poles are made of lightweight 7001 aluminum alloy. The Flexy Locking System is an internal barrel adjuster comprised of a delrin expander and aluminum pin. Each pole has an EVA grip, neoprene strap, 50-mm removable basket and carbide tip.

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 3
One pole pulled apart to illustrate the three sections. The lower shaft has no markings except the words “Superlight” and “Stop”, with a line denoting the maximum height. The middle shaft has markings every 5 cm, from 100 to 130 cm, plus the “Stop” line at 132 cm. Note the lack of plastic grip for adjusting the pole height, which is often found on other three-section poles.

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 4
The aluminum walls of the poles are drawn super thin to shave weight (left). The Flexy Lock System is simple and lightweight. The two delrin expanders are nearly identical, except the red one is slightly larger to match the larger diameter of the upper shaft (right).

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 5
The basic grips are symmetrical and made of EVA foam. The neoprene straps are lightly padded, adjustable, and removable. The grips and straps are very similar to those found on several other trekking poles on the market.

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 6
The Compact look like many other three-section collapsible poles and only hint at their ultralight status with two small markings: “Superlight” on the lower shaft and “158 grams” on the upper shaft.

Performance

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 7
Kristin using the Compact poles on a light and fast day hike near Chamonix, France.

Kristin and I tested the Fizan poles on numerous hikes throughout the Italian and French Alps during the first half of 2011. We used the poles on and off trail, over dirt, rock fields, streams, and snow.

The poles easily adjusted with a twist of the shafts, just like any conventional pole with a twist-lock mechanism. With the upper shaft in the right hand, twist the lower shaft away from you, disengaging the expanders. Adjust the pole position to the new desired height, and twist the lower shaft towards you to lock. Despite the minimalistic and uber-simple adjusting system, the Compact poles never slipped once. I can’t say this of all barrel adjuster poles that I have used. For example, I have owned two generations of the Komperdell Carbon Duo Lock poles and both pairs slipped occasionally. Fizan says that their internal expanders have a holding power of 220 pounds (100 kg).

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 8
The poles never slipped, even when I was rock hopping with a loaded backpack in the Alps.

The remaining features are reliable if unexceptional. The foam grips and neoprene straps are similar to those found on many other poles. Using these was familiar and comfortable. The poles are identical. Some people find asymmetrical grips to be more comfortable, but I prefer the ease of use of symmetrical grips - I do not have to take the time to figure out which pole goes in which hand. Additionally, Kristin and I like symmetrical grips as we often hike with only one pole each and can therefore share one pair of poles. The 50-mm press-fit basket is easy to remove, or exchange for an additionally available 85-mm trekking or larger powder basket. The carbide tips grip well and are long lasting. A plastic tip covering is provided, which helps protect your gear when you pack the poles away. These plastic tips provide better traction on rocks, but can wear through relatively quickly when used for hiking.

The Compact poles have an extremely solid feel to them, despite the light swing weight. We did not worry about the poles buckling under our weight. The poles did not vibrate or rattle when used on rocks. During our testing period, nothing wore out, came lose, or needed repair. The poles are well crafted, sturdy and reliable.

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 9
We measured the poles' stiffness with the standard BPL method: we placed a pole across a 110-cm (43.3-in) gap between two chairs, hung a 25-pound (11.34-kg) shopping bag in the middle, and measured the deflection from horizontal. The Compact pole bent 5.1 centimeters (2 in), which would give them a mid-stiffness rating. This pole deflected around 2 cm (0.8 in) more than a conventional aluminum pole, which typically weighs a few ounces more. However, the Compacts bent 2.5 cm (2 in) less than Black Diamond’s new Ultra Distance pole, which are lighter, collapsible, and non-adjustable. The Compacts are roughly as stiff as Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4, which weigh 2.2 ounces (62 grams) less..

Comparisons

The Fizan Compacts are the lightest in their class (three-section adjustable, collapsible poles). The nearest competitor is the Exped Alpine Lite, which is made of aluminum and is 24 grams (0.9 oz) heavier. The other poles in this field are all made of carbon fiber, a material which is prone to slippage and suffers catastrophic failure. This may a factor that has led to the discontinuation of several carbon fiber poles, such as Komperdell C3 Duo Lock (aka REI Peak UL Carbon), Brasher Provolution, and a few models from Leki. Carbon fiber does dampen fatigue-causing vibration.

Comparison Chart: 3-Section, Adjustable, Collapsible Poles
Pole Make & Model Pole Weight  g (oz) Length (cm) Cost
Alpkit Carbonlite 200 (7.1) 60-131 $96***
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork 246 (8.7) 62.5-130 $140
Exped Alpine Lite 182 (6.5) 56-125 $110
Fizan Compact 158 (5.6) 58-132 ~$80**
Komperdell C3 Carbon Duolock* 173 (6.1) 68-145 $150
Leki Carbonlite Aergon Speedlock 180 (6.3) 67-135 $180
Trekmates Carbon Ultralite Walking Stick 220 (7.8) 69-135 $113***
*Discontinued; was distributed in the US as REI Peak UL Carbon.

**While not distributed in the US, they can be shipped from the UK for $80. The poles cost about 60€ in Europe and 55£ in the UK.

***Sold in UK, prices based on exchange rate as of 6/16/2011. Price does not include shipping to the US.

There are a few other trekking pole models to consider that are even lighter than the Fizan Compact poles. However, to save weight they lose the ability to either adjust or collapse.

Adjustable But Not Collapsible
Pole Make & Model Pole Weight w/out straps, g (oz) Length (cm) Cost
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 99 (3.5) 90-140 $160
Titanium Goat Adjustable 96 (3.4) 76-130 $130

Collapsible But Not Adjustable
Pole Make & Model Pole Weight g (oz) Fixed Length (cm) Cost
Black Diamond Ultra Distance 138 (4.9) 100, 110, 120, or 130 $150
CAMP Xenon 4 142 (5.0) 120 or 135 $70

For more information, please see these related BPL articles:

Look for an upcoming review of the CAMP Xenon 4 poles, as first reported at Winter Outdoor Retailer 2011.

Assessment

Fizan Compact Poles Review - 10

The Fizan Compact are great all-around trekking poles. Throughout months of use, we did not have any issues with them. They are sturdy, reliable, and comfortable. They do not slip. Height adjustment is easy and consistent. They perform as well as, or better than, any other similarly designed poles, yet the Compact poles are lighter. Finally, the low price makes these poles an excellent value. Even without US distribution, the poles can be delivered to the US from UK-based companies for $80, including shipping and taxes. The poles are distributed in the UK, throughout continental Europe and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Compact poles are ideal for the backpacker who wants all of the basic features - adjustable and collapsible pole, removable basket, removable adjustable padded strap, comfortable grip, and sturdy construction - yet in a lightweight and low-cost package. However, not all hikers want this full set of features, and for them a few lighter options are available.

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review," by Danny Milks. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/fizan_compact_poles_review.html, 2011-08-02 00:10:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review on 08/02/2011 13:14:14 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review

Khader Ahmad
(337guanacos) - F

Locale: Pirineos, Sierra de la Demanda
rebranded Fizan compact on 08/02/2011 16:48:34 MDT Print View

In Spain the brand McKinley sells them for 36€/pair, rebbranded as "super lite". I've been using them for a year now and they are relly good poles, the best you can buy for that price.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Very informative on 08/02/2011 21:24:46 MDT Print View

Danny, nice write up. These poles appear to hit the sweet spot. Rugged, reliable, and very light weight. And it sure doesn't hurt that they are affordable either. They may just be the next set of poles I buy.

Gen: they are about 1.5 oz. per pole heavier than the GossamerGear and TiGoat poles but half the price. Yep, pretty good value. No skin off the cottage poles though. Nice to have another choice.

Edited by WarrenGreer on 08/02/2011 21:33:30 MDT.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review on 08/03/2011 08:51:13 MDT Print View

Danny,

I think you found my next poles for me! I know what's going on my Christmas list.

Thanks,
Todd

John Coyle
(Bigsac)

Locale: NorCal
Fizan on 08/03/2011 09:44:18 MDT Print View

Two of my friends bought very expensive ($175 American a pair) GG carbon fiber poles. Maybe they mistreated them, I don't know, but they have had a lot of trouble with them. It is nice to hear about relatively light, competitively priced poles that have withstood rigorous field testing. I wish they were more readily available in the States however.

Y T
(YvT) - F
short review on 08/03/2011 10:59:11 MDT Print View

Great poles. I just used them on a month-long trip through the Pyrenees and they survived pretty much unscathed. However after a prolonged period of heavy rain followed by a couple of hours of intense heat, the tip (the plastic bit plus the carbide tip) detached from the lower pole section. It didn't brake off, but the glue simply let go. Maybe the combination of humidity and high heat caused this. Though with a little epoxy this is easy to fix.

When the poles are wet, the lack of any plastic rings/ferrules on the end of each pole section also makes it difficult to get a good grip on the poles when you want to adjust them.

Maxine Weyant
(Maxine) - MLife
Consider a bulk order, and does grit get in the joints on 08/03/2011 11:15:09 MDT Print View

Did you have any occasions where grit or sand got up inside the junction between the sections? The taper of the plastic joints on my carbon pole sections seems to keep some of the grit out.


I realize BPL has gotten out of the business of selling gear, but if anyone out there has a business that could order a very large quantity of these poles, and we could get a number of folks to prepay or commit to purchasing, we wouldn't all have to pay the high shipping costs. I'd sign up for 2 sets of poles, maybe 3.

George at Anti-gravity Gear, are you listening?????

Khader Ahmad
(337guanacos) - F

Locale: Pirineos, Sierra de la Demanda
re: grit on 08/03/2011 11:38:11 MDT Print View

I've got Leki Powder poles for skiing, those were the poles I used before the Fizan. The amount of grit is more or less the same on both. The only complaint I've got on the Fizan is the length, I prefer longer poles for tarp setup.

Peter Atkinson
(sewing_machine) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire, England
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles on 08/03/2011 13:12:20 MDT Print View

I've been using these poles for a year after some bad experiences with non-metal poles! I can say that these are great - the only real maintenance needed is to dry them out properly when wet otherwise the metal oxidises - but they still work, don't break, collapse small, grip well - I can't say how pleased I've been with these; I don't know of a better pole.

Hans Erickson
(hanserickson)
US availability through UK retailer on 08/03/2011 15:39:33 MDT Print View

I just ordered a set of these for delivery to the US through Ultralight Outdoor Gear in the UK. The price, including shipping, was only $80 and change.

http://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk/fizan_compact_trekking_poles.html

Edited by hanserickson on 08/03/2011 17:29:25 MDT.

Nicholas Truax
(nicktruax) - F

Locale: Montanada
Fizan poles and customer service on 08/03/2011 17:53:07 MDT Print View

While I've been using these poles for over a year now, I must agree with Danny's assessment. Great poles at a great price is my take.


BUT, I promised the head of Fizan (Andrea Zaltron, info@fizan.it) that I would voice my distaste with the horrible customer service that I received from them last fall:

After numerous emails commending their poles, kindly requesting a replacement strap and eventually offering to pay for shipping myself, her replies were curt and impolite at the very least. In the end: no replacement strap. Hands down, the worst customer service I have received from a company after years of working in retail and the outdoor industry. I have a history of the emails fwiw.

In short, a great product but truly sub-par leadership/customer service. I will NEVER buy from them again. IMO, quality goods do not supersede customer service and brand reputation.

Buyer, please beware.

Joery Truyen
(Joery)

Locale: Europe
Fizan poles after a lot of heavy use on 08/04/2011 12:56:37 MDT Print View

Bought these poles somewhat more than a year ago and have used them a lot by now, mostly on rough terrain (off-trail, over boulder fields etc) where you have to put a lot of pressure on the poles sometimes. I agree that these poles are probably the best UL adjustible & collapsible poles on the market. But I'm afraid mine are already worn-out by now. The problem with mine was that after a lot of use the aluminium teared at the end of the shaft where the flexy lock system is located. The locking system then shifts from the aluminium and might get stuck in the pole. I glued the locking system again to the section and could continue hiking with the poles again for some time until another section of the pole teared... now I have three teared sections and one expander stuck in the pole which I can't get out again. So watch out for this issue when the poles get older. Mine also started to slip at the end. Probably these issues won't appear as fast when you don't do a lot of serious off-trail hiking. I think they can be too short for tall hikers too. But besides from this, these are really great poles and I loved to hike with them.

Craig Price
(skeets) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Fizan poles as wading staff on 08/05/2011 00:24:03 MDT Print View

I bought a pair as they were on special to use as wading staffs that I didn't need to take care of, one for my young son, and I've been using the other when I wasn't using my specialist Simms wading staff. I got them because they were really cheap on special, collapsed down to one third, and I wanted something more robust than my TiGoat carbon poles for a wading staff when fishing rocky streams here in Aus (didn't want to have to be careful about gouging the staff like I do with the carbon ones). I also sprayed the shafts matte black for stealth with a $2 can of paint.

They are actually very light, and extremely robust. I've been surprised that they are still taking all my abuse and misuse without a qualm. I've been using mine about without a care on the way to many a river, and, because I didn't care about it, I have often used it to cut a path through blackberries etc. Surprisingly, it is as still as good new, just a little scratched. Collapsing and locking mechanism has never given me a problem either, despite not taking any care with the rod.

So: budget priced, robust, zero maintenance, strong, packs effectively, reasonably light - what else could you want?

Craig

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
OK, what does collapsible mean? on 08/08/2011 09:32:42 MDT Print View

My LT4's telescope down to fit in my duffel bag or stow comfortably on or in my pack. That certainly meets the dictionary definition of collapsible. I think it even meets the loosely stated BPL criterion. If you're going to deviate from broadly accepted definitions, you should clearly state your own definition to avoid confusion.

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
Re: OK, what does collapsible mean? on 08/08/2011 22:36:18 MDT Print View

Keith - I believe that my use of "collapsible" and "adjustable" are inline with BPL definitions. In Will Rietveld's review of the GG Lightrek 4, he describes them solely as adjustable. Will also reviewed BD's new Ultra Distance poles. In his Assessment, he wrote:

Value-wise, the Ultra Distance poles cost almost the same as the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 poles (US$150 versus US$160), so the bottom line depends on which feature you value most. If collapsibility is more important, get the Ultra Distance poles; if adjustability is more important, get the Lightrek 4 poles.

Furthermore, Gossamer Gear's website does not refer to their poles as collapsible.

You can adjust the GG LT4 to a more travel-friendly length of 90cm and the Titanium Goat Adjustable gets even smaller. But neither pole can collapse to as short a length as the Fizan Compact (58cm).

Edited by dannymilks on 08/08/2011 22:39:20 MDT.

Hartley F
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Straps? on 08/08/2011 22:59:22 MDT Print View

The people in the pictures are not using the straps and there is little comment on the straps.

I just got a pair of BD ultra distance and the straps are the best designed of any I have tried. Easy in, easy out, easy to adjust and contoured to create the most comfortable stable platform I've experienced. They are soft comfortable with bare hands. The poles break down/assemble instantly and they don't "shorten" as you go.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/09/2011 02:19:20 MDT.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review on 08/08/2011 23:10:42 MDT Print View

Excellent write-up - thanks Danny! I may have to check out a pair since my TiGoat AGP's are too long to fit in my luggage when I travel.

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
Re: Straps? on 08/09/2011 23:06:37 MDT Print View

Hi Hartley - The straps aren't particularly highlighted in our review because they are pretty standard in design. The straps are similar to what you'd find on many other brands of trekking poles, such as those from REI. They are padded, adjustable and fairly comfortable.

Black Diamond's Ultra Distance poles are hand specific, and so those straps (and hand grips) are more form fitting, and therefore, more comfortable.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North; UK
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review on 08/10/2011 00:24:30 MDT Print View

I've used mine for perhaps 50 days of hiking thus far. They are nice poles and easy to carry just in one hand when not using them.

They lack the spring and resilience of say Leki Ti Makalu's which I notice on long rocky descents. They also dint relatively easy, so a policy of 'drop poles when you stop' can hurt them. I am pretty hard on my gear.

Hartley F
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Fair enough on 08/10/2011 02:03:15 MDT Print View

Thanks Danny:

I can't imagine using (or testing) poles without the straps like the people in the photos. Their hands must get tired. How much weight can you put on them without a "platform". (In all fairness, I skied before I adopted hiking sticks.) I prefer not to use sticks as they slow me down -- my feet are quicker than my hands, When lumbering along with a pack, I use them!

The BD straps are brilliant. I ordered a pair from backcountry.com to see what they were all about. The straps were the first thing I noticed. However, the sticks are not "weighted" well -- they don't have a nice swing. I suspect this is the price to be paid for shaving weight! Far from a hiking stick expert, for me the advantage when carrying a pack is largely about rhythm and balance, not about saving my knees -- in fact I haven't figured out how one with use them to ease knee strain. For hiking sticks, I have previously used various Leki models as I could obtain them favorably. Inevitably one or the other of the pair ends up shorter. I have never had a real incident but that's scary to have your sticks shorten like that! Makes you back off.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/10/2011 02:12:42 MDT.