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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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Fair enough on 08/10/2011 02:54:55 MDT Print View

Sticks: "When lumbering along with a pack, I use them!"

Nobody here in BPL _lumbers_ along with a pack. They skip along the trail, light as a feather. (sputter, sputter, nevermind)

Back in the very old days, before trekking poles were very common, I was on my first trek in Nepal. I was in good condition, so I didn't need to prepare much to trek for 25 days... or so I thought. This group of mostly Americans got over there and started going up and down the steep trails, which were not zigzagged. As a result, after about two days of this, some people were getting very sore knees. One lady was in complete tears because of the knee pain. The Sherpa guide wasn't stupid, and he had seen this before, so he taught everybody how to "walk like a Sherpa."

The typical impatient American tries to take a long complete stride when going downhill. As a result of the knee being extended so fully, when the heel strikes it transmits the impact force directly through the knee joint. About two days of that, and you are in pain. However, muscles don't get abused the same way. You need to get the impact out of the joint and into the muscle. So...

1. You walk slightly bowlegged with your toes angled slightly outward. That is simply for better balance.
2. You shorten your stride for distance, and you quicken your stride to make up the difference.
3. You lower your center of gravity slightly by flexing your knees. With your knees flexed this way, it puts the impact strain on your quadriceps muscles in the thigh, and not so much on the joint. Muscles will get tired, but they will recover quicker.

The whole trick of this is to learn to recognize when you are going into a steep descent, and then to apply this method variably just to the extent necessary to protect your knees. If you do it too deeply or too often, then it looks funny and feels funny. Practice getting in and out of the method automatically. It works. Oh, and that lady did it successfully for the rest of the 25 days and survived the trek without poles.

--B.G.--

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Low Gear on 08/10/2011 03:18:17 MDT Print View

Bob, short quick strides here ;) Tight and compact motion. I was forced to figure this out ages ago. In fact, decades ago, the running world figured out that for any distance over a quarter mile, this is more efficient. Overnight, runners shortened their strides. I am not inclined to agree that everything that applies to running (for example this barefoot stuff) applies to walking. However, stride length observations might reasonably carry over. Such quickness makes poles a nuisance! They ARE good for probing Sierra sun cups!

Yes, I know what your are referring to, it makes me cringe in pain to watch.

Do you not use sticks...ever? As in don't own any? I do like them for snowshoeing.

PS. Speaking of lumbering along, a BPL member IM'd me that he met a BPL staff member traveling solo on the JMT a few years ago. Said he was collapsing under an 80+ litre pack. (I don't know what reminded me of that!) Ever since, I take it all with a grain of salt ;)

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/10/2011 13:48:08 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Low Gear on 08/10/2011 04:34:38 MDT Print View

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that a certain percentage of BPL members were once runners or joggers, at least back in their younger days. It is because of that early foundation that some of us are even able to move at all due to our advanced age. Younger days though, hmmm, that was back during the Harding Administration, I believe. We used to run from cave to cave to avoid the saber-toothed tigers.

When I was out on one section of the JMT a few days ago, I had no trekking poles. It just isn't normal for me to use anything like that outside of cross-country ski season. I used one for one season right after knee reconstruction, and I used a pair for one expedition, but normally I don't feel the need. Now, the other day I ran into something new, and that was a messy stream crossing. At first, my intention was to cross with bare wet feet and with shoes and socks dry. After a few of those chopping up my toes and ankles, and with the delay hassles of shoes and socks off and on and off again and on again, I quickly realized that changing to a stay-wet strategy was the way. Still, the crotch-deep cold water current was really fast, and I was elbow-deep trying to keep myself from being swept away. Plus, it wasn't me so much that I wanted to stay above water, but I had a few grand worth of camera gear hanging in a shoulder bag, and I had absolutely no intention of trying to dry that kind of stuff over a smoky campfire.

So, I suddenly realized the value of trekking poles or something. Not having poles along, I retreated into the forest and selected a good piece of fallen branch. It didn't need to be big and heavy, but just enough that I could hold it above water level and it probed the sharp bottom rocks and kept me upright. When there were no streams, I just stuck it in my pack's pocket. Finally, once across Muir Pass, I was doing some boot skiing with the stick as my rudder. It wasn't elegant, but I got down the hill in one piece. Once I was down past the last snow, I recycled that stick back into the forest. I did have a chest-tall camera tripod with me, so I suppose that I could have ruddered my away along with it, instead.

I did get a single 3-section collapsible metal pole and tried it out in cold water. Guess what! It collapsed! It turns out that the cold water affected the metal thermal expansion at the joints, so it slipped. Either I need to heat the stream water before my pole hits it [impractical] or else I need to tighten up the section fittings [likely].

Such is life on the trail.

--B.G.--

Danny Milks
(dannymilks) - MLife

Locale: Sierras
Straps on 08/10/2011 17:31:46 MDT Print View

Hi Hartley - I used to use the straps all the time. However, two things happened that got me out of that habit.

First, I got into backcountry skiing. I stopped using the straps there because of the risk of breaking my thumb/hand if my pole got stuck on a branch while descending, or worse, getting caught in an avalanche.

Second, I broke a trekking pole once while hiking. The pole punched through a layer of hard snow, I fell forward with my wrist still in the strap, and my full weight pushed against the pole and snapped it in half. If I hadn't be wearing a strap, my hand would have slipped away, I would have fallen the same amount (no injury) but the pole would have survived.

So now, the only time I use the wrist straps are when I need that extra arm support of hiking quickly or going uphill.

However, that is just my preference. I certainly agree that straps can be helpful, and comfortable straps can make a big difference. The Fizan Compact straps are definitely comfortable.

Thanks to you and Bob for adding your advice on how to save your knees through better technique and pole usage.

The story about the BPL staffer loaded with an 80L pack should also be taken with a grain of salt in the sense that we testers sometimes take extra gear to test out, or load up a pack to push verify its carrying capacity.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Break Away straps on 08/10/2011 20:24:41 MDT Print View

Yes, no straps for tree skiing! I agree. I want a solid pole plant in a narrow chute though! I've always used breakaway straps for skiing. Perhaps, there are hiking sticks with this feature.

Overall, I think hiking sticks are a lot more dangerous than most people realize. And I am quite ambivalent about using them my self. I would never use them on scrambling terrain/boulders/etc. Amazing how often you see this! I don't bother with them for day hiking and most certainly not for running (however, several years ago I encountered groups of runners using sticks in the TMB race -- no , I wasn't racing!) Sometimes, I let myself get away with sticks when carrying a pack for days at a time. I do think they encourage sloppy walking.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/10/2011 20:28:34 MDT.

Cas Berentsen
(P9QX) - MLife
may get slippery on 08/15/2011 16:51:26 MDT Print View

I've been using these poles now more than a year and I'm very pleased with them.

Only the handgrips are rather slim and they get rather slippery in hot weather.

Edited by P9QX on 08/15/2011 16:53:34 MDT.

WV Hiker
(vdeal)

Locale: West Virginia
BPL out of gear business? on 08/16/2011 11:54:35 MDT Print View

"I realize BPL has gotten out of the business of selling gear"

Was this announced? I now see that there is no gear in the Store. What happened?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: BPL out of gear business? on 08/16/2011 11:58:41 MDT Print View

Read this thread
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=49780

WV Hiker
(vdeal)

Locale: West Virginia
Thread on 08/16/2011 12:00:00 MDT Print View

Anna,

That thread comes up an non-existant.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Thread on 08/16/2011 12:17:27 MDT Print View

interesting I just tried it again to make sure and it works for me

WV Hiker
(vdeal)

Locale: West Virginia
Thread on 08/16/2011 12:18:44 MDT Print View

Which forum was it in and what was the title? I'll try to find it that way.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Thread on 08/16/2011 12:23:17 MDT Print View

You are not getting it because it is in a thread for Life Time Members Only,sorry.Try this one it is a little different but you will get the idea
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=50021

Edited by annapurna on 08/16/2011 12:25:03 MDT.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: OK, what does collapsible mean? on 08/17/2011 10:07:35 MDT Print View

"I believe that my use of "collapsible" and "adjustable" are inline with BPL definitions."



Where are the BPL definitions whereof you speak? By the way, I wasn't questioning your definitions, I was questioning your not stating them. Whenever you depart from the standard English definition of a word, you should state your definition. Otherwise your prose is difficult to understand.

Edited by herman666 on 08/17/2011 10:08:29 MDT.

Lee Lally
(adverb)
My Fizans on 03/20/2013 09:15:41 MDT Print View

Just an update to this thread. For 2 seasons I have been using these Walmart Trekking poles based on some reviews I read, and my initial budget.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Outdoor-Products-Single-Camlock-Trekking-Pole/20753456

After reading the review here on BPL I made the jump to the Fizan Compact poles expecting to shave some major weight. I can report to you now, after receiving the Fizans, to save your money unless you just have it burning a hole in you pocket. They are only 3 oz lighter than the Walmart poles between the 2 of them, and a full 8-10 inches shorter. That 8-10 is a major factor as I use my poles often with my tarp and for many other things. The Fizans are very nice, and I will probably take them on zero chance of rain trips, but most of the time I will be sticking with Walmart poles.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
Wal Mart Poles? on 05/29/2013 17:37:11 MDT Print View

Can you comment on the quality of those wal mart poles in terms of:

Do they slip at all when tightened and can you adjust those lever locks if they are not tight enough?

Can they take your weight in a fall?

How comfortable are the grips?

And what about your opinion of the comfort of the straps?

Personally I'd find it hard to match the overall quality and feeling of the Fizan poles. After 2 seasons with them, they never slip, the handles are really comfortable, the straps are literally THE MOST comfortable I've ever had on poles, and they are lighter than the walmart poles. Sure, maybe for some it isn't worth an extra $40, but for me, it is. Especially when spread over years of use...

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Fizan Compact Poles for Backcountry Skiing on 05/09/2014 00:07:15 MDT Print View

I've got about sixty days skiing with the Fizans. I put a pair of Life Link baskets on them. Super-light and great swing weight. Their sections do not slip; however, the bottom of a middle section fractured recently. The vendor, Ultralight Outdoor Gear (in the UK), immediately sent me a replacement section, no charge. Could not ask for better customer service.

The manufacturer's rep blamed the failure on over-tightening. Perhaps. I tried conscientiously to tighten just enough to prevent slipping. In the instructions that came with the poles we are warned not to over-tighten them so that the plastic expansion plugs inside will not be damaged. The plugs were undamaged.

So, be careful about tightening the sections.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
fizan on 05/09/2014 17:52:46 MDT Print View

Ive bought 3 pr of the Fizans.

One middle section did crack where it was tightened. Never slipped, crack didnt run to edge, but cracked none the less, would split open as you tightened it. I ordered another pair and have spare parts now.

Recently my son was hiking too fast downhill in NC over wet rocks, his right pole went down into a crack between rocks pretty deep, about a 18", and his feet slid out from underneath him and landed on his butt/pack bottom. He completely broke a middle section in two pieces on the fall. Not bent, not cracked, severed into two pieces.

Any lightwt pole would have broken on this fall I think.Especially carbon. He was unhurt.

But,my opinion is the poles are fairly brittle aluminum, hardened to be stiff while so thin. I still like mine, until I find another 11oz pair of aluminum poles, Ill stick with them. They dont slip, I have had no problems at all with slippage.

Edited by livingontheroad on 05/09/2014 17:53:36 MDT.