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Cheap Carbon Fiber Poles From Costco.
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John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Cheap Carbon Fiber Poles From Costco. on 12/26/2013 15:12:48 MST Print View

Anyone try these? They are similar to my Black Diamond Carbon Fiber Cork poles, one of which I lost, which is the reason I bought the Costco knockoffs for $29.99. They have adjustable flick locks like the BD poles, and they are hand adjustable to the point where they don't slip, at least at home. Don't know it they will hold up to field use, but I'm about to find out. Here is Andrew Skurka's take on the poles, but keep in mind that they now have flick locks instead of twist locks.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Cheap CF poles on 12/26/2013 19:23:38 MST Print View

Wasn't able to source the flick-locks on Google. Perhaps you can provide more info.
Did look at the Amazon reviews for the twist-locks - not so good.
Also, the weight on the twist-locks was above 8 oz with the strap and the basket - even more with a decent rubber tip I use. This puts the weight in the same range as some of the much higher quality BDs.

Aluminum is one thing, CF quite another, when shopping for quality.
The amount of CF junk coming from China is considerable.
And quality is a key for trekking poles. Unless you are OK with one whittled from a branch if need be.

For SUL CF poles that at least have some hope of providing quality, you could try the Locus poles. But unless you are a long distance trekker, there are a number of poles on these pages in the 8-9 oz range that cost more, but will be much less likely to let you down. For example, I bought some Gabels from Costco when they were carrying those for under $50. Made in Italy. Despite accounts to the contrary on these forums, the twist-locks on the Gabels let me down, killing a day until I got ahold of something else.

Will try some Locus poles this Spring, but if they fail, will go back to and stay put with BD flick-locks. There is a thread here on MYOG about the really cheap ALU flick-lock poles sold in Walmart - probably the best bet if you are on a tight budget. But I'd still baby them a bit, even though the alloy is more reliable than CF.

Edited by scfhome on 12/26/2013 19:27:18 MST.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
Cheap Carbon Fiber Poles From Costco on 12/27/2013 01:09:12 MST Print View

These poles do not have twist locks. I have had bad luck with twist locks from high end companies such as Leki, Komperdell and Fizan and I would not have bought the poles from Costco if they would have had twist locks, I would not buy any poles with twist locks because I don't trust them not to slip.

If you have any solid information about the quality of the Cascade brand carbon fiber poles from Costco I would like to hear it. I am not interested in speculation about the supposed poor quality of Chinese carbon fiber. The Chinese are capable of making high quality products and I would not be surprised if the Black Diamond carbon fiber poles are Chinese. A lot of the high end stuff at REI is made in China.

I have the poles in front of me and they appear to be well made. I adjusted the "Quicklocks" on the Costco poles and put as much pressure as my skinny little 195lb. body could muster and they don't slip. Now will they slip six months from now, I don't know, only time will tell.

Joe A
(dirtbaghiker) - M
costco on 12/27/2013 20:35:32 MST Print View

Good thing about Costco is you can return anything anytime for a full refund, no questions asked. I had a patio umbrella which stopped working and I broke it in half..brought it back to costco in 2 pieces, 5 years later, and they took it back no questions asked and gave me my $225 cash back.

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
Costco on 12/28/2013 10:49:33 MST Print View

I used a pair of Cascade Mtn. poles from Costco on a two week hike this past summer. Although the terrain was rough, my inexperience using hiking sticks was probably even more abusing but they survived without damage. These were the "twist-locks" but the quality was sufficient to withstand the significant daily pounding and stress they suffered. If the quality of the flip- locks match....

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Cheap CF on 12/30/2013 19:34:29 MST Print View

John C,
Re: These poles do not have twist locks.

That was clear in your OP. But without being able to source the newer models with flicklocks, the older twist-lock models provided the only info available on the strength of the CF.

Re: I am not interested in speculation about the supposed poor quality of Chinese carbon fiber.

The concern expressed was based on many hours of break testing carbon fiber shafts, not upon speculation. Some of what poses for CF is more fragile than I could ever have believed possible, and yes, a great deal of it comes from China. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the cheapest poles will be made of the cheapest CF, indeed if CF is even what it is.
To obtain the benefit of CF for shafts used in light tent and trek poles, it is necessary to wind the filaments on a mandrel so that several layers are formed going in different directions. It's not reasonable to suppose that is what's being done for such cheap shafts. It is reasonable to suppose they are made from pultruded carbon fiber, which will split or break the shaft under stress. This is reflected in the Amazon reviews mentioned in the earlier post.

Re: A lot of the high end stuff at REI is made in China.

No doubt China is just a capable as other places in manufacturing goods of high quality. That was not the point. The point was that a lot of junk comes from there, also. A lot of our gear, including trekking poles, can cause us serious harm if it fails. Taking it back to Costco for a refund is of little solace in that event. Also note that a splintered pultruded carbon shaft can do a lot worse number on you than a bent or broken aluminum one.

Re: I adjusted the "Quicklocks" on the Costco poles and put as much pressure as my skinny little 195lb. body could muster and they don't slip.

Hope it's not stating the obvious, that the post was not addressed to the quality of the locks, as I've no better idea than you about that. I'm a big fan of the cam type locks also, and like many, won't use anything else now after way too many twist-lock failures.

One other comment: In seeking to rely on ever lighter and lighter materials, I think BPL fans should recognize that just because a material does not fail in initial use does not mean it will hold up. We see this regularly on these threads with everything from coated nylon and cuben fiber to tent and trek poles. Posters have angrily debated the merits of fabrics even after reliable HH test results have been posted.
Perhaps on the theory that the best defense is a good offense, there was even a recent thread [debunk]ing HH tests. Not sure what's going on here: whether its because folks want to believe they've found the golden fleece and are blind to reason, or whether there's some mischief on the threads from promoters, or what. It may make no difference, as the result's the same. We end up buying junk that can hurt us or expose us to serious harm. I think we can do better than that, and BPL can help us to do so.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Cheap CF on 12/30/2013 21:10:55 MST Print View

you do know that most carbon fiber products are made in china, taiwan etc.. so just because it is from china doesn't mean it is crap. Costco gets by with lower prices because of huge volume. Costco has 450 stores in the US alone. compare that to REI's 132 stores.

but have NO clue about what is what so you're just guessing in the dark. For all you know the costco poles could be made at the same factory as Black Diamond and different stickers put on.

you just sound paranoid.

Mind your language please and keep it civil.
Roger Caffin
Online Community Moderator
Backpacking Light

Edited by rcaffin on 12/30/2013 22:27:31 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
NM on 12/30/2013 21:58:26 MST Print View

NM, none of my business. Carry on.

Edited by Bolster on 12/30/2013 22:03:16 MST.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Cheap CF on 01/01/2014 22:22:19 MST Print View

John, Jake and others,
Maybe I should have elaborated more on the break tests. Hate long posts, it was long enough as it was, and BPL fans have probably heard enough about that already. Info about the tests has been posted several times on this forum, but suffice to say over 50 CF shafts were break-tested, some repeatedly. Some were marketed for use as tent poles, some for arrows, and some for kites and other applications.

What struck me was that around a quarter of the shafts had little more strength than a cheap plastic rod used in a disposable product. Most of the shafts were a little stronger, but nothing I would want to use to hold up my tent in a storm. A very few of the shafts were outstanding, equivalent or better in break strength to the Easton 'Nanolite' 344 shafts used by TarpTent and others. These were Easton's own Carbon FX tent pole, and two filament wound carbon arrow shafts, one from Victory and one from Gold Tip, both weighing significantly less than the Easton FX, and compared to the weaker ones, requiring over two times the amount of force, measured in pounds, to achieve the break.

What also struck me most was the very broad spectrum of strength, from weakest to strongest, of shafts all sold as made of Carbon Fiber, and appearing much the same. This was a bit analogous to the very broad range of water resistance in coatings used on tarps and tent flies that has been documented on these forums by Richard Nisley and others. Which is why I often comment that attempts to generalize about the waterproofness of silnylon, or the strength of carbon shafts are meaningless. It all depends on how the material was made and the quality of the materials and manufacture.

You are right about much if not most of these products coming from the Far East. That has much to do with tax and trade policy in the US and who has the most influence in these areas. It is no secret that great amounts of manufacturing in the US have become increasingly outsourced to the Far East.

However, that has little to do with my point, which was that I've personally observed that a lot of the carbon fiber shafts coming from China are of inferior quality; that is, junk - a simple, descriptive four letter, but non profane word, I am free to express, and don't intend to let anyone intimidate or bully me from expressing.

It is true that mega-businesses can obtain materials at lower costs, and sell products at lower prices; but at one-third or one fourth the price of the BD product?
And did you look at the incidence of breakage reported early on in the Amazon reviews of the Costco poles, and mentioned in my earlier post on this thread?

IMO, and having observed an abundance of the cheaper carbon fiber on the market, this is not very likely, and that it is much more likely the much cheaper product is made of cheaper materials. That opinion derives from my experience over a lifetime, and will not be abandoned because it is characterized as paranoid, without a clue or guessing in the dark, etc. Most of life's decisions must be made based on probabilities, not certainties, and must be made in gray and uncertain areas.

A final point: There was some suggestion, maybe-maybe not, that my picking on China was based on prejudice. It is difficult to prove a negative, but I will say anyway that it is not so. As alluded to above, there are powerful economic reasons why the world economy has come to function the way it does, and they have nothing to do with the value of the life of each and every one of us.

Edited by scfhome on 01/01/2014 22:23:21 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
use on 01/02/2014 02:45:39 MST Print View

has anyone here actually used em?


Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: use on 01/02/2014 08:10:40 MST Print View

Sam, posting a long ramble about tent poles doesn't really help your argument with hiking poles does it. but since you've never used these poles and just seem to be intent on trashing stuff from China you don't seem to have a dog in the fight eh?

arguing tax stuff from a state with no sales tax and gets a lot of business from surrounding states coming in to buy things without tax. ie motorcycle and liquor stores just over the border. hmmm

i'm not seeing any reviews for broken poles. i'm seeing some reviews of noobs who thought the sections were supposed to be "glued together but these slipped" among many good reviews

Eric, I believe that Skurka's wife uses the Cost-co poles that he wrote about.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Costco poles on 01/02/2014 08:52:04 MST Print View

I have used them and experienced no problems with the twist lock or flicklock. The metal tips have worn very quickly and most likely wouldn't last more than a few weeks on granite. My Leki poles have nearly 2k miles on them and the tips still look good.

My son's scout troop uses a combination of the Costco carbon fiber and the Walmart aluminum and both have held up fairly well, with the exception of well worn tips.

They have had a few failures of shafts but a significant factor has been abuse of the pole either from bushwacking, prying up rocks, or using as a sword.

For the price no complaints.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Twist lock on 01/03/2014 05:06:28 MST Print View

I won't pretend that I have any science or tests behinds comments other than use. I also suspect that the price reflects a blend of lower quality materials and efficiencies/ lower margins (based on the general statement that a lower cost can be driven by lower input costs - which may or may not reflect quality, and/or increased efficiency in production).

I bought a pair of the twist lock poles last year - and used them myself on trips until this November so around 8 times or so. I admit I have replaced them with Easton flip lock cf poles I got on clearance as I like the flip lock and found that I had to periodically tighten the cascade poles. But it was also due to handing the cascade poles to my scout son who used them on our last trip.

Overall the only complaint I've had was with the twist lock which in my experience was only with the right hand pole (I think this is right - it was only one hand regardless of the pole I used) which I believe was the result of a tendency I must have to rotate my hand when pushing that over time loosens that hands pole. This is typical for the lock design I think however.

Otherwise they been just fine - light and strong enough for my uses. I don't use them for my shelter and have not done long multiple day trips with them. I have planted them a few times but never really torqued them. Still they have served well against two noobies handling them pretty well.

For the price I can't complain a bit about the performance or value. The addition of a flip lock would make them even more appealing I think.

It becomes a balance of cost and performance I think - accepting some measure of higher possibilities of failure based on your needs and isn't an all or nothing proposition. If you're tackling a through hike and relying on your poles for hiking and shelter then perhaps you'd want an Easton or Leki or BD set of poles - no guarantee against failure but you are probably buying some assurance/insurance of a lower probability of failure due to extra quality control and probably better materials of some degree. Whether it's worth it to you is a personal value choice.

Depending on your uses and terrain (I hike in the south east) ymmv of course.

Edited by PGAsby on 01/03/2014 05:09:14 MST.

(JRinGeorgia) - F
observation on 01/03/2014 10:04:40 MST Print View

Phillip, an observation: possibly you are twisting both poles as you use them, but the left hand always twists the locks in a tighter direction and the right hand, which would twist the opposite direction, twists in a looser direction?

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
JR on 01/03/2014 11:35:13 MST Print View

Agree I think I rotate both hands slightly but only one loosens the poles!

Regardless that tendency has made a flip lock a better solution for me at least - tightening periodically isn't a huge issue unless the point it is necessary comes right when you're really needing to put some weight on one...

Anyway - particularly for a noobie - they are a good way to see if poles are for you. I definitely rely on them as a middle aged but pretty fit guy - downhill in particular they really save your knees.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles from Costco on 01/05/2014 09:57:18 MST Print View

This is from what Amazon dubbed the most helpful critical review:

"OK for short trips, but break easily., November 28, 2012
"By DaFireMedic
"This review is from: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles (Misc.)
These poles are lightweight (just over 7 oz each on my scale) and comfortable in the hand. They come with a variety of tips, although I only used the carbide tips. I liked everything about them (especially the price) except for the reliability, which is kind of important for trekking poles. I tried them on several hikes in my local mountains and was reasonably pleased with them as they felt good and worked fine with only a minor repair needed when one of the locking mechanisms came out of the pole and was easily fixed in the field. I felt comfortable enough with them to buy my sons a set as well for a multi-day hike in the Sierras. I've been using trekking poles for years and I wasn't hard on these at all, and while my 14 and 11 yr olds are harder on them than I am, they've been using trekking poles for a while also and know not to abuse them. All 6 of the poles ended up breaking at some point during the trip, with either the lower shaft breaking at about the midpoint or the locking mechanisms failing. I did end up finishing the hike with mine using duct tape to keep the poles together, but my sons could not and carried the pieces the rest of the way with them. I guess you really do get what you pay for. That being said, I was pleased with the comfort of the cork handles, and the poles look and feel nice so long as they hold up. I really want to like these poles, and if they could make the locking mechanisms a little more reliable, I'd probably buy another set.

"Edit from March 2013: Unlike the more expensive poles, the carbide tips on these are not replaceable by screwing them off. I have since wore through my remaining carbide tips and had to remove the old ends and glue on new ends with replaceable carbide tips. It wasn't easy getting the old ones off without damaging the poles, but I now have carbide tips that are replaceable. These are still the best trekking poles you can get in this price range and I give Cascade a lot of credit for getting these to market at such a low price. I just won't trust them for longer hikes in remote areas until they prove themselves to be a little stronger at the adjustment points than my first sets were."

Sorry I seem intent on trashing stuff from China. From my perspective, it is a matter of fact, and from your perspective, a matter of intent. The relationship between CF tubes that are around 3/8" dia. and those that run up to around 5/8" dia. seems obvious enough to me, in terms of recognizing the very wide variance in quality of carbon fiber tubes used in sporting goods, and given that increasing the dia. and wall thickness is of little help if the material is brittle, as is the case with low quality pultruded CF rods and tubes, and even with some of the ones that claim to be manufactured with a multiple layered construction.

The reference to tax stuff was not intended to be an argument, but just to point out that like it or not, there is not much we as individuals can do in the short term to change the ever increasing practice in the US of outsourcing manufacturing to other countries. It has become a reality we must deal with in purchasing consumer goods. Yes, I strongly oppose it, but don't feel this is the place to have a debate about that, although it has been debated on BPL at great length, both recently and in past years. What I was trying to show is that I'm not blaming or "trashing" the countries of manufacture for a situation that exists and is caused by other economic forces. That's as far as I wanted to take it, as I come here to enjoy recreational stuff, and not to debate politics.

Since I generally backpack for periods from a week to a month in fairly remote areas, reports of failures are the kiss of death for any equipment that is essential; and to me, a reliable trekking pole is essential, because the hiking is often above timber line where a substitute from the local flora is not available. That's quite different than what I remember from a trek long ago in the Sierras where almost perfectly straight trekking pole-sized sticks seemed to be lying all over the place just begging to be used for trekking. (Although somebody did say that it was illegal to do so.) It's as simple as that for me. Sorry we disagree so strongly on this one. Thanks for your post.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Not the full Amazon picture on the Costco Cascade Mountain poles on 01/05/2014 12:16:43 MST Print View

Sam I don't have a horse in this fight - I'm only interested in knowing whether they are quality over months of use - but that review is only one review and a small part of the picture:
A) Of 40 customer reviews, there were
"5 star: 25
4 star: 10
3 star: 1
2 star: 2
1 star: 2"
That's a pretty good distribution

B) The other most helpful review: "32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Light weight, high quality, extremely low price.
By Jeff Rader on July 30, 2012
I bought a pair of these at Costco for 24.99. I was a little worried about the quality because the price was 1/4th to 1/8th of comparable poles at REI. After using these to climb a few mountains in the Columbia River Gorge I began to regret my choice to purchase a single set. These are sturdy, strong and add almost no weight to my pack when not in use. I ended up deciding to give them to my wife for the rest of the year since they are so light and I like to keep her pack as light as possible. For the time being I am using a pair of Alps Excursion 7075 (also purchased for 24.99), which appear to have been made by the same manufacturer because they are identical in all but a few areas. The Alps poles are aluminum and weigh quite a bit more. They are still light, but not nearly as light as the CF. If these return to Costco next year I am buying multiple pairs.

EDIT: I got several extra pairs directly from the manufacturer after shooting them an email. Now they have a shopping cart on their website so you can buy direct."

C) The reviews are for the twist lock versions - now there is a newer flick-lock version which could include overall improvements

(JRinGeorgia) - F
different poles at on 01/05/2014 13:42:44 MST Print View

Local Costco does not carry the Cascade Mountain poles, but carries a different set (Yukon Charlie's) that are CF with flip-locks and I do have those. Not sure how they compare to the in-store ones, but these have been great for me so far. A tad under 7 oz per pole including straps, $50.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Costcos in our area have the flick-locks on 01/05/2014 16:06:09 MST Print View

They have the Cascade Mountain flick-locks

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
Re: Cheap Carbon Fiber Poles From Costco. on 01/06/2014 14:25:18 MST Print View

Me and a friend of mine both had last-spring's costco carbon fiber poles with the twist locks. They do slip a little, and after I developed a curious habit of twisting them so that the shock part engaged/disengaged, one of them stopped being able to disengage, which was really annoying. Then my friend snapped the CF bottom of one of his poles. I borrowed his busted pole and stuck the broken bottom on mine with the goofy handle, and it works now as long as you don't extend it out to far; it's become his wife's pole, along with his other, fully functional pole, and he got a higher-end pair of BD poles for Christmas. I have a working pair again, and though I destroyed the snow-baskets snowshoeing last May, I'm pretty content with them --for the price. I have used them for multiday hiking, I have used them with a Trailstar in inclement weather, I have put them through some tough bushwhacking, I have had them wet all day in the cold and the locks still hold well enough.

My favorite part about them is the handles. If I find there's a flick-lock version at my local costco, I'll probably buy another pair.

Just my $.02.