Next question brough up here is Pacer Poles. I've been testing these in various forms for about two years now so I may have some worthwhile qualitative (experintial) data.
First, PacerPole offers some interesting claims but doesn't offer any true scienfic research and I don't think any of their claims are false. The PacerPole design is very comfortable and effecient design. I use a PacerPole that is about 8cm shorter than a standard pole and using the technique, you raise your hands less highly into the air, puttin more energy into forward propulsion. It is a very fluid movement and the most natural position I've found in a trekking pole (and I've used most all of them).
That said, there are some downsides that detract from effeciency, namely weight. An aluminum PacerPole weights in at 11.1oz and the yet to be relased aluminum/carbon fiber model weighs 10.3oz. While it's true that most of this weight is in the grip, it still weighs significantly more than many other poles on the market including the Gossamer Gear Lightrek (sub 3oz), the Bozeman Mountain Works STIX Pro (3.1 oz), Komperdell C3 (sub 6 oz), etc. While the hand position may be more effecient, my experience is that it isn't enough to offset the weight difference.
Further, in practice, the difference in hand position between a PacerPole and a standard pole is mainly one of height from the ground. Take the image on this page, for example, (http://www.pacerpole.com/pacerpole-user-guide-basic-guide_1.html) and imagine extending the arm about 10cm higher; this is essentially what you do when using "trekking poles" for propulsion. Now the wrist may be slightly more cocked, but not much.
I've often taking multiple poles out on group trips and traded around. The consensus is always that the PacerPoles are SO comfortable and definitely preferred over poles in a similar weight range. However, when putting a truly ultralight pole (less than 7 oz) in a hiker's hand, they instantly prefer the lighter pole and feel that they are much less tiring to use.
So here's my take:
If you're considering PacerPoles or similar weight Leki Makalu poles, I'd take the PacerPoles every time. But if I had the choice of an ultralight pole, I'd take that over the PacerPoles- you lift a pole far so many times over the period of the day that less weight must have the effeciency advantage.
The ultimate would be a 5-6oz PacerPole, but I don't think this is possible when the grips weigh 4.6 oz on their own.
Doug Johnson, Trekking Systems Editor