Forum Index » GEAR » How important is the weight of trekking poles?


Display Avatars Sort By:
David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
How important is the weight of trekking poles? on 03/27/2011 15:03:59 MDT Print View

I started using trekking poles about 8 or 9 years ago because of knee problems. Since then, my pack weight has dropped a lot--from something close to 20# base weight, to ~11 or 12# today. Thing is, I'm still using the same poles: a pair of adjustable Black Diamonds that weigh 22 oz/pair. I realize this is pretty heavy, but the poles are always in my hands (not on my back). I can't say I've ever really noticed the weight, in the sense that the poles felt like a burden, or something I was relieved to put down.

I'd like to replace them at some point, but have never had the chance to try really lightweight poles, like GG or TiGoat. If you've switched from heavy to light poles, how would you characterize the difference? Is it as dramatic as going from boots to trail runners? Is the premium price for the lightest poles worth it? Is there something in the sub $100 range that feels light enough (for the price)?

k web
(kbweb) - F

Locale: Tacoma, WA
How important is the weight of trekking poles on 03/27/2011 15:18:35 MDT Print View

I have gone from heavy (Leki antishock)to lighter (REI Peak UL) poles and noticed a difference right away. Not that my shoulers ever got tired from heavier poles, or my legs from my old boots, but the weight savings is noticable. The Peak UL poles have been good to me both while hiking and mountaineering. Mine are 13.0ozs not the stated 15.4ozs.

I will be switching to the GG LT4S this summer.

Ty Reidenbaugh
(The_Will) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: How important is the weight of trekking poles? on 03/27/2011 16:02:37 MDT Print View

Regarding cost, the REI Peak UL retail for around $120. I've seen them at REI garage sales for $3.

Mike Hensel
(mike220) - M

Locale: Northwest
How important is the weight of trekking poles?" on 03/27/2011 16:10:42 MDT Print View

If you do not use your trecking poles all of the time, for what ever reason, then they would be stowed on your pack.

You may notice the difference in pack weight, if it is significant enough over time.

chris kersten
(xanadu) - F

Locale: here
poles on 03/27/2011 16:19:35 MDT Print View

I went from black diamonds to the LT3's and was shocked at the change. I never noticed the weight before but now I am hooked. My first trip using the light poles, I dropped them about 4 or 5 times because they are so light that you hold them much more relaxed. This weekend, I did not drop a pole once except when I fell down and let go of the pole to avoid breakage. I also noticed that I carry them more under my arms and only use them when needed. That is why I never use wrist straps.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: How important is the weight of trekking poles? on 03/27/2011 17:05:50 MDT Print View

If you're not having any ergonomic issues or otherwise with your current poles it might be difficult to quantify any differences. Having said that, there is a noticeable difference when holding them - especially if you have both pairs on hand to compare. I have a set of BD carbon poles, as well as Ti Goats. My wife has the REI Peak UL carbon poles.

All three are light. The AGP's are almost "not there" they're so light. I do like BD's lock system vs. twist lock... but it adds weight. The locks on the REI drive us nuts at times (i.e. they're not engaging and refuse to after minutes of fiddling). Occasionally I've had the same issue with GG LT4's, but it's easily correctable with those and thus not an issue for me. So far I have not had the AGP's do this (but if/when it happens it's easily correctable such as with the LT4's).

I only mention the above since the REI Peak UL is probably the only "UL" pole in the price range you mentioned. I have seen them new for $89 recently. There is also a junior version which costs less, weighs a couple ounces less, and might work for you depending on the length you need.

If you're going to spend $100 on poles, you should consider spending a little more and getting a really nice UL pole such as the Ti Goat or Gossamer Gear offering.

Edited by JacobD on 03/27/2011 17:07:58 MDT.

Douglas Ray
(dirtbagclimber)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Lightweight trekking poles on 03/27/2011 18:16:45 MDT Print View

I noticed the weight quite a bit when hiking fast on a smooth section of trail between my 11oz poles and my 4oz poles. On complex terrain where I am "placing" the poles more than swinging them it's not as noticeable.

Since I seem to break my adjustable poles on a regular basis I don't think I'll be buying the more expendsive ones any time soon.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
How important is the weight of trekking poles? on 03/27/2011 18:21:39 MDT Print View

I went from 18 oz. poles to 13 oz. and definitely noticed the difference! (I got tired of waiting months and months for the GG adjustable poles with straps and found a pair of Leki Carbonlites on sale for quite a bit less money.)

The difference is especially noticeable at the end of a day's hiking!

Edited by hikinggranny on 03/27/2011 18:22:51 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Big Difference on 03/27/2011 18:26:30 MDT Print View

Switched from REI UL to GG Lt4 and it really changed the way I use poles. They are light enough that I can throw both in one hand and use them while eating or drinking. I can also carry them by the handles horizontal without the weight being a burden.

Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: How important is the weight of trekking poles? on 03/27/2011 18:31:20 MDT Print View

"but the poles are always in my hands (not on my back)."

This is exactly why I'd categorize the weight of trekking poles as MORE important than the weight of an item in your backpack. The pack is, by and large, moving forward with your body, and only reciprocating up and down slightly, that is to say that little energy is being wasted accelerating it up and down.

Compare that to a trekking pole which is being lifted, rotated, and then stuck back down into the ground, pivoted...etc, wash rinse repeat. Each time you pick up and plant the pole, you're imparting energy to the pole and then releasing that energy into the ground, more or less. That is not to say there isn't a distinct advantage physiologically to having them, as they take weight off of your legs/hips, but there is a definite energy expenditure moving/planting the poles. The more they weigh, the more energy you're imparting to them, and therefore the more energy you're wasting.

This coincides somewhat closely with the reasoning behind the "one pound on your feet is similar to 5 pounds on your back" argument. Components or body parts (or any combination thereof) that you're constantly speeding up and slowing down are your primary source of energy usage. Lightening body parts isn't nearly as easy as lightening a pair of shoes or trekking poles.

Apologies for the long-winded response, but my opinion is that pole weight is definitely a non-trivial issue.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"How important is the weight of trekking poles?" on 03/27/2011 18:43:49 MDT Print View

Well, the difference between the 15oz ones I was using to the 4.75oz ones I now use was significant. Greater than the difference between light, midheight trail boots and trail runners. Anything in your hands can cause a lot of exertion. The 7oz difference on your feet does not feel the same as that extra weight in your hands. One way to defeat this is to use the straps more, and only finger tip pressure to lift and position the staff with each step.
I did away with the hand grips entirely, after several years. The strap is used "ski" style, twisted once or twice to lenghen the staff, or, my hand resting on top.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
light poles on 03/27/2011 19:28:05 MDT Print View

"Is it as dramatic as going from boots to trail runners?"


Yes. 100% yes.

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
How important is the weight of trekking poles on 03/28/2011 08:40:45 MDT Print View

Actually I think the weight is not quite the important concept here.
The overall weight is what is being carried by your hand and brought forward but the tip is accelerated to quite significant speeds in swinging the pole forwards. So heavy handles such as carbon pacer poles will not be nearly as bad as their actual weight suggests.
part of the effort is weight and part moment of inertia of the swung tip. If someone could lighten the tip the weight improvement might appear insignificant but the wrist effort to accelerate the tip on its 120mm radius arc might well be noticeable. Less inertia and momentum would give quicker acceleration giving more time for better placement. Strap a small weight to your pole near the tip to see the opposite of what I mean.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Ski pole to trekking poles on 03/28/2011 08:52:17 MDT Print View

I have been hiking with poles for 25 years or so. I moved from fixed length downhill ski poles with the big plastic break away handles, to some Leki titanium trekking poles about 5-6 years ago at a little over 15oz for the pair. There was a very noticeable change in feel although I never got tired arms or wrists with the other. I do miss the ability to whack my way through brush that the downhill ski poles afforded and after some 5k miles or so, they gave up the ghost prying up a large rock where I planned to lay down for the night.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Northern Europe
How important is the weight of trekking poles?" on 03/28/2011 08:57:50 MDT Print View

I agree that pole weight impacts performance on the trail. I have a collapsible Leki set of poles and a single carbon fiber BPL Stix set as well and the weight difference is drastic (10 oz. or so). Having used both extensively, I cringe a little when I think of having to use the collapsible Leki poles for the trips I take requiring airplane travel since the carbon fiber ones are too long to take with me.

The cringe is my internal meter telling me that the weight difference is important.

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Northern Europe
Warning: REI Peak UL on 03/28/2011 09:00:02 MDT Print View

I returned a pair, my buddies have returned pairs, and just recently another friend couldn't get her pair to set and stay. The REI Peak ULs are light but their locking/setting mechanism is suspect.

Edited by evanrussia on 03/28/2011 09:02:51 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: How important is the weight of trekking poles on 03/28/2011 09:20:10 MDT Print View

Yeah, I agree. Unfortunatly, with the small weights involved and the fact that they are always in motion (accilerating, being stopped, then accilerating, again,) I think it is safe to say that weight along the entire pole is a concern, too. Lightening up to bare minimums is a reasonable thing to do.

I avoid the heavy rubber, carbide tips and simply use a small bolt instead. Carbide quickly dulls after a couple days anyway. This reduces the tip momentum by quite a bit.

Hand grips can be dropped, too, though there are people that like a more solid feel to a staff. More for level areas, the hills in the ADK's usually preclude this, often having to use my hands for scrambling up or down hills. Length changes are constant, soo, hand grips don't work that well...maybe out west.

I have used staffs for off and on for about 40 years or so. Often using "found" sticks as a substitute. Fishing, I soon found a broken fishing pole worked fine for hiking. Later I found these: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BackpackingLight/files/A-HikingStaff/

They take about 10 minutes and about $10 total materials to make, counting hardware, epoxy, string and straping. I have been known to give them away on occasion when someone asks on the trail (and I am headed out.)

Kenneth Cowan
(zeros) - F

Locale: California
Leki carbide tips & swing weight on 03/28/2011 09:26:40 MDT Print View

I forget the exact weight savings, but I cut the top ends off the leki tips I use on my MYOG carbon golf shaft poles (9.1 oz) and notice a considerable difference in ease of swing and pole planting.

The trade off, of course, is not being able to attach baskets to the poles, but for desert walking and groomed trails, they've been great, and cheap at ~$55 for two pair.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
You may want to consider strength on 03/28/2011 09:40:48 MDT Print View

I bust up carbon fiber poles like crazy as I am very hard on poles.
I am the exception though, I have a bad hip among other problems so I put too much weight on mine.

I have gone back to aluminum poles for this reason.

If you don't rely so heavily on your poles, then go for the light carbon models.

Edited by brooklynkayak on 03/29/2011 04:38:18 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Thanks on 03/28/2011 10:01:55 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the input. Now that I think about it, it seems obvious that weight swinging in the hands (and on the end of a pole) would be multiplied versus the same weight on the back. It would be interesting to calculate how much, but I suspect complicated, given that there could be rotation at shoulder, elbow and wrist.

The REI Peak ULs had looked tempting ($89 on sale, and I have a small dividend to use) but hearing a concerns about the lock mechanism puts me off. I'm thinking I may hold out until I can afford one of the lightest (like GG) or try the MYOG route.

Finally, Steven's point about strength is something I'd been thinking about. As I said, I initially started using poles for bad knees and tend to put quite a bit of pressure on them with downhills, enough so that I've had the locks slip (fortunately, BD flick-locks adjust easily). A lighter pack has really helped my knees, and I might be able to use poles less aggressively, but I'd hate to bust a set that cost $160.