Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review

With all-new, tapered and oversized carbon fiber shafts, the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 is significantly stiffer than previous models. As reigning “lightest trekking pole” champ, how does this affect the pole’s overall weight?

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

At 2.8 ounces per pole (125 centimeter length), the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 poles are the lightest trekking poles on the market. While previous Lightrek poles have been a bit too flexible for some, the new carbon fiber shafts are both oversized and tapered, increasing stiffness over 40%. In addition, the tips on the Lightrek 3 now work perfectly with Leki-style baskets, making them very versatile poles. The end result is a trekking pole that is ultralight, reasonably stiff, and very high performing on the trail.

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by Doug Johnson |

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review

Introduction

The previous generation 2006 Gossamer Gear Lightrek pole was a staff favorite and received the highest rating among fourteen poles reviewed in our 2006 Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole Review Summary and Gear Guide. They were comfortable to use, had excellent grips, and were incredibly light. However, the Gossamer Gear poles did have some drawbacks - they were more flexible than other poles and had a bad habit of losing baskets on the trail.

The new Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 poles address both of these concerns and have some major improvements over the previous model. The poles feature all-new shafts that are made of tapered carbon fiber that are both larger in diameter and significantly stiffer than the previous models. They use the same excellent grips but a better Leki-style tip is used. The best news about all of this is that the weight remains exactly the same as the previous Lightrek (2.8 ounces in a 125-centimeter length), making these poles the lightest on the market once again.

What's Good

  • Much stiffer than previous Lightrek poles and comparable to other poles on the market.
  • Excellent vibration damping and a comfortable amount of shock absorbing flex.
  • The lightest poles on the market at 2.8 ounces (79 grams) in a 125-centimeter length.
  • Molded EVA "Kork-o-lon" grips are comfortable and offer multiple hand positions.
  • Use common Leki-style screw-on baskets.

What's Not So Good

  • $130 is more expensive than previous Lightrek models (but comparable to other carbon trekking poles).
  • Not as stiff as some other trekking poles.

Specifications

  Year/Model

2008 Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Poles

  Style

Fixed-length

  Shaft Material

Carbon fiber

  Tips

Carbide Flex Tip

  Grips

Molded EVA foam; wrist loops optional

  Grip Size

Medium-large

  Weight
Per Pole (without baskets)

2.8 oz (79 g) measured weight, 125 cm length;
manufacturer’s specification: 2.5 oz (71 g)

  Pole Length

Fixed: 41-53 in (105-135 cm)

  Baskets Included? - Yes

2.1 inch baskets weighing 0.4 oz (11 g) each

  Basket Type

Leki-style screw on

  MSRP

$130

Performance

The Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 are fixed length trekking poles. Since the first generation Lightrek, Gossamer Gear has held the title of “lightest trekking pole”, and at 2.8 ounces in the 125-centimeter length, the Lightrek 3 continues this tradition. While previous Lightrek poles were too flexible for some users and tended to be on the fragile side, the new Lightrek poles tackle this and other issues, all while retaining their ultralight weight.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review - 1
The all-new Lightrek 3 shafts are tapered from 1.4 centimeters to 1.1 centimeters and are significantly stiffer than previous models.

The major news in the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 are the all new shafts. While the last generation Lightrek poles had a straight shaft diameter of 1.0 centimeter, the Lightrek 3 shafts taper from 1.4 to 1.1 centimeter, an increase of nearly 30% in the thickest portion of the shaft. The result is a pole that is significantly stiffer (see results below) while keeping “swing weight” lower at the tip end of the pole. All Lightrek 3 shafts are now produced in the United States.

Also new to the Lightrek 3 poles are carbide tips that accept Leki-style screw on baskets. While the previous model also used screw-on baskets, the baskets tended to come loose while hiking and were easily lost. The new tips eliminate this problem by placing a non-threaded area above the screw-on portion of the tip. This allows the baskets to rotate without unscrewing and after several months of testing, I haven’t lost a basket yet. The poles come with small two-inch trekking baskets which are highly recommended when hiking in rocks or long boardwalks. The poles are compatible with a variety of widely available Leki baskets; I've used the large Leki snow baskets on many occasions with no issues.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review - 2
While the excellent EVA “Kork-o-lon” grips remain unchanged from the previous model, a new carbide tip is used that works much better with Leki-style baskets.

The multi-position EVA “Kork-o-lon” grips remain unchanged from the previous Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles. This is good news because these grips offer three usable hand positions, adding comfort during extended uphills or steep downhills. They have a nice cork-like feel and don’t get slippery in wet or snowy conditions. I’ve now used Kork-o-lon grips on three different sets of poles and they remain my personal favorites.

While some may miss the security of a wrist strap, they really are not necessary with a pole this light. A light hand pressure is all that’s needed to keep the poles in your hands in technical situations, and the Kork-o-lon grips allow for quick hand placement changes when climbing or descending. Further, not having the poles attached to your hands can save the shafts from possible breakage when leveraging them between rocks or in the grooves between wood slats. For times when you can’t afford to drop a pole, such as high angle snow crossings, small loops at the base of the grips allow wrist loops to be attached to the poles. Tent guylines make excellent improvised loops in these situations.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review - 3
The multi-position Kork-o-lon grips allow you to change position based on comfort or conditions. I never missed straps when using these ultralight poles.

One disadvantage of fixed-length poles is that they are not quite as versatile when used with shelters that require trekking poles. Angling the poles, digging small holes to set them in, or setting poles on rocks to extend the length can often help to overcome this issue.

Compatibility with Trekking Pole Shelters Usable with this shelter?
Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic (42 in/107 cm) Depends on pole length
Tarptent Virga 2
Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo e
Refuge
Refuge X (45 in/114 cm)
Depends on pole length
Golite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm) Depends on pole length
MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm) Not without an extension

At only 2.8 ounces in the 125-centimeter length, the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 is the lightest trekking pole on the market. A pole this light is a pleasure to use, making for quick placements and significantly less fatigue at the end of a long day. They are, quite simply, a joy to hike with.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review - 4
At just 2.8 ounces per pole (125-centimeter length), the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 are the lightest poles on the market.

Older Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles were known for their excellent shock-absorbing flexibility but they were also less stiff than most other poles on the market. With the new over-sized and tapered shafts, stiffness of the Lightrek poles has increased significantly. Using our new 2008 Backpacking Light Pole Stiffness Test, the Lightrek 3 poles were supported in a fixed rig at a 100-centimeter length with a twenty-five-pound load suspended from the center of one pole. Pole deflection is then measured using calipers. While the previous generation Lightrek 2 poles deflected over 9.0 centimeters and exceeded the maximum deflection of the testing system, the Lightrek 3 poles deflected a much more moderate 5.1 centimeters, an increase in stiffness of more than 40%. While this deflection is still more than some other poles we’ve tested, they are now comparable to most trekking poles on the market and have a confidence-inspiring, non-“noodly” feel - impressive for a pole this light.

Pole make and model Amount of deflection (cm) Pole weight (no baskets) oz (g)
LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik 1.1 9.7 (275)
Bozeman Mountain Works Stix Pro (no longer available) 2.1 3.2 (90)
Pacerpole 2-section aluminum/carbon hybrid 2.5 10.9 (308)
Komperdell Featherlight/Bozeman Mountain Works Stix prototype 2.6 4.8 (136)
Komperdell Nature Stick Carbon 2.7 5.3 (151)
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 5.1 2.8 (79)
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 2 (discontinued) >9.0 2.8 (79)

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review - 5
Using the 2008 BackpackingLight Pole Stiffness Test, a pack is loaded with twenty-five pounds of water and positioned at the center of pole supported at a 110-centimeter length. Deflection was then measured and found to be 5.1 centimeters.

On the trail, the Lightrek 3 poles have a very comfortable balance of stiffness and flexibility. They feel reasonably stiff when pushing off, adding efficiency during high mileage days and inspiring confidence during tricky descents. They are also very comfortable on the trail, flexing somewhat when absorbing harsh impacts. This balance between rigidity and flexibility was very functional.

In addition to being stiffer than previous models, I also found these poles to be much more durable. Despite many months of serious use, ranging from snowshoeing to off-trail scrambling to trips carrying 50+ pound loads of a child and gear, the Lightrek 3 poles had zero durability issues. I was very hard on them and never felt the need to treat them gently (except when avoiding placements between rocks or wood slats - a real danger zone for trekking poles). These are poles I feel I can really count on.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review - 6
Whether jumping off rocks with a fifty-pound pack (including my son, Henry) or climbing steep hills in the snow (my brother, Greg, on Rainier), the Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles proved both confidence-inspiring and durable.

With such a solid performance increase and no increase in weight, there must be a catch somewhere; in this case, it’s the cost. With the Lightrek 3, the cost has increased from $96 to $130 - ouch! That said, improved stiffness and durability and a much more usable tip make this a worthy increase. When compared to other poles in this class, the Gossamer Gear poles are still an excellent value and a purchase that I would highly recommend.

What’s Unique

These are the lightest trekking poles on the market and they have increased in stiffness more than 40%, while having a weight increase of exactly 0%. The added stiffness and durability makes them poles that would satisfy the needs of both ultralight and traditional backpackers. They are stellar performers.

Recommendations for Improvement

All of my complaints of previous Gossamer Gear poles have been addressed with the Lightrek 3. After testing a prototype pole that had even larger shafts, I feel that Gossamer Gear has found a real sweet spot in pole performance with the Lightrek 3. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Citation

"Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review," by Doug Johnson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gg_lightrek3.html, 2008-10-07 00:00:00-06.

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Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/07/2008 15:32:21 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review

twig .
(bretthartwig) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/07/2008 17:19:55 MDT Print View

Less of an ouch at the moment as they are on sale for $110. Great poles.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
GG Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/07/2008 18:32:33 MDT Print View

I can't wait to buy a pair- 2.8 oz at 125cm that's SUL!!!

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: GG Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/07/2008 18:50:44 MDT Print View

I heard a rumor recently that GG was working on a sectional adjusting pole. Any confirmation of that effort?

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Re: GG Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/07/2008 20:07:30 MDT Print View

I haven't heard anything since Gossamer Gear's September email newsletter:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
NEW GEAR IN THE WORKS
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

1. The new Miniposa™. Due out very soon, this pack is a stripped down version of its predecessor and fills in the blank left by the discontinued G5™. It will be constructed of silnylon, will weigh around 14 oz., and will have the detachable hip belt, now standard on our packs. The Miniposa™ is for those with light loads or who take shorter trips yet want a full hip belt and a slew of features. Details and dates to come soon.

2. Adjustable Trekking poles! At last these are in the GG pipeline. Yeehaw! These revolutionary poles have to be used to be believed. I've tested them, as have others, and it's universally love at first sight. The time, engineering and technology that went into this has paid off. At a scant 6.8 oz. per pair, the shafts are
based on our current fixed poles with a beefed up spiral wound tip section for
added strength where you need it most. Fully adjustable up to 140 cm they are the bomb. We'll have more specifics in the next few weeks.
If you'd like to be notified when they are in stock, email me at grant@gossamergear.com.

3. The Gorilla™ is a new pack that will be introduced later this Fall. This is the
toughest pack we've ever made. The Gorilla™ will have the same volume as a Miniposa™, be feature rich and will include some fabrics and features we've never used before. If you do any off trail hiking, a little mountaineering/climbing, maybe some racing or just want a light but tough pack this might be the one for you.

There are several more new products in the works for this winter so stay tuned for developments.

Ryan Dunne
(donryanocero)

Locale: Humboldt
straps. on 10/07/2008 20:32:04 MDT Print View

I'm in the market for some lightweight poles, but I'm not sure if I really want poles without a strap. Right now I'm using some BD Alpine CF poles and they feel really weird without the straps.
Does anyone else agree that poles these light don't need straps? I really like the design over the BPL poles, but I'm not too sure about the lack of straps. :-P

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: straps. on 10/07/2008 21:08:45 MDT Print View

> Does anyone else agree that poles these light don't need straps?

You probably don't need them in fine warm weather - but I don't use poles then so i wouldn't really know.

But when you have thick ski gloves and overmitts on it is nice to have that extra help from a strap. Otherwise your hands get rather tired.

I don't think any of these UL CF poles were specifically designed for use in the snow, and I don't think they have been fully tested there either.

My 2c
Cheers

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: straps. on 10/07/2008 21:17:20 MDT Print View

I chopped my straps on the REI carbon poles and don't miss them...BUT...if you're hiking where you can lose them which is more often in the snow, I'd at least make a cord keeper strap for them. I drop mine now and then and it would be a shame to see it slide off down a snow slope.

Daniel Goldenberg
(dag4643)

Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: straps. on 10/07/2008 21:17:41 MDT Print View

I've stripped my REI Peak Ultralight poles, removing the baskets and the straps. They now weigh 5.2 oz each, and I don't miss the straps at all. At first I thought I'd miss them but now I actually prefer them without straps.

The new Gossamer gear poles will be quite a bit lighter than my poles, so I'm sure they will be fine without straps.

Dan

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: straps. on 10/07/2008 21:21:13 MDT Print View

I've never used poles this light, but I have stopped using the straps on my Leki poles. I actually prefer using them this way because I'm generally using the poles for balance or just to keep my hands busy, not for sharing the load with my legs. Even when I use them to power up a hill, I don't feel like I need the straps. I also don't grip the poles much tighter than I did when I used the straps. Another advantage is not having to worry as much if the tip gets lodged in a crack, I just let go and the situation is avoided. I also prefer not to have the poles swinging from my wrists when I grab a water bottle or look at a map.

A slightly shorter version of all that would be that I don't miss straps even with a 1 lbs pair of poles. YMMV.

FWIW, I may hold out for the adjustable version. I would love a pair of lighter poles, especially since my current poles have a bent section that I straightened out and is just begging to give out soon. I really like having adjustable poles for pitching my tarp though and am unsure about making the switch to a fixed length pole.

Adam

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Straps on 10/07/2008 21:55:32 MDT Print View

I like straps for two reasons: Steep trails on the edge of a canyon or ravine and a fast moving stream crossing. I think it is better to have them-then not. My 3 cents

Ryan Dunne
(donryanocero)

Locale: Humboldt
straps on 10/07/2008 22:12:09 MDT Print View

I wonder If i could just drill through the handle and loop some 550 cord in with a knot on the other end. seems like the perfect strap to me. :-P

Or for that matter just score away a ring at the top of the pole and tie some around with a tight knot... hm!

The keeper straps would probably be more than enough though.

These poles seem pretty awesome to me, and I see that they're on sale! MWAHAHAHAHAHAAA!

Edited by donryanocero on 10/07/2008 22:13:43 MDT.

John Quinn
(inspector8598) - M

Locale: Northeast
Straps on 10/08/2008 05:19:19 MDT Print View

Ryan, I've owned the Lightrek3 trekking poles for the past 6 months and have found that they are well worth the investment. In regards to straps, I find them to be essential for stream crossings, balance, etc. What I have done for straps was to make "keeper" cord straps. I took a 18" piece of 3/32" diameter cord and tied it together at the ends with a square knot. I than tied it to the loop below the handle on the pole with a larks head knot. I than slid a "tiny" cord lock onto the strap for loop adjustment. The cord and the cord locks can be purchased from Zpacks. The total additional weight for both poles was 0.1 oz. This method seems to work really well for me. I hope this helps.

greg degler
(gregdegler) - F

Locale: West
LiteTrek3 on 10/08/2008 10:47:16 MDT Print View

Short Story: I 100% agree with everything presented in Doug Johnson's BPL review.
Details: I have used a pair of LiteTrek 2's for 2 years. Love them 110%, except for the basket/tip interface which is mentioned in Doug's review.
Special Note: I simply don't understand the debate about adjustable length poles, grips with or without straps, etc. Two years ago, after some deep enduring thought, it hit me: JUST TRY THEM, and KEEP the "old" adjustable "heavy" poles with the wrist straps for those occasions when they are worth the penalty of weighing over TWICE as much. Guess what: I have never used the old Makalu Titanium poles even ONCE since trying the LiteTrek 2. As mentioned in the BPL review, the few complaints have been addressed, making the LiteTrek 3 a very desireable piece of gear.
I Remain,
TheThriftstoreMountaineer

Edited by gregdegler on 10/08/2008 10:52:18 MDT.

Kathleen B
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Straps and collapsible on 10/08/2008 13:44:33 MDT Print View

I never use the straps on my Lekis, so like others here, I recently just cut them off so they'd stop being in my way.

I use poles all the time (old-lady knees), so I have use for collapsible poles when I need to switch over to my ice axe. They're easier to attach to my pack and don't catch on branches when collapsed.

Christopher Mills
(Hiker816) - MLife

Locale: Denver
Straps on 10/08/2008 14:25:01 MDT Print View

I put a lot of weight on my poles, and I can't imagine not using straps. Of course, I haven't tried going without straps for very long, and I haven't yet really used SUL carbon poles, but it seems to me that the weight of the poles would have no bearing given the way I use the straps. For me, the straps distribute the pressure of my weight when I am bearing down on the poles. Otherwise I'd have to grip the pole grip with enough pressure to create enough friction to keep my hands from slipping down when putting weight on the poles. I think that'd get really tiring after a while.

Peter Surna
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne
Straps on 10/08/2008 20:27:51 MDT Print View

I own Leki Ultrlight Ti's and have owned these poles (the very first thinner incarnation which snapped on me after 2 weeks solid use).

With the Leki, I always use the straps.

With these poles I never even wished for the straps.

I think their extremely light weight changes the way you use poles.

Steven Nelson
(slnsf) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Straps on 10/08/2008 22:40:31 MDT Print View

I put twine loops on my Lightrek poles. Doesn't give me the leverage of real straps but keeps the poles attached to my wrists when I want that, and lets me keep them dangling at hand when I stop to take photos. The loops weigh next to nothing.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: straps. on 10/09/2008 22:19:14 MDT Print View

Regarding the poles being fully tested in the snow...

I've used primarily strap-less poles for extensive snowshoeing and mountaineering for years. The poles I've mostly used are Lightreks and Stix 1 poles. I have found them to be excellent in this arena as well. Even with snow baskets they are so light that they are easy to hold in the hands. I'll use keeper straps on hardpack high angle climbs sometimes.

I do use straps on XC ski poles because of the full extension and release but I don't find that necessary when snowshoeing.

Doug

Glen Van Peski
(gvanpeski) - F - M

Locale: San Diego
Re: Re: GG Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/10/2008 14:10:29 MDT Print View

People who are signed up for the Gossamer Gear newsletter should be getting some good news this weekend about the availability of the new Lightrek adjustable poles.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: GG Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/10/2008 14:38:41 MDT Print View

That's good. Non adjustable poles are just a no go for me. On 95% of my trips I bet I have to strap my poles to my pack at times.

Glen Van Peski
(gvanpeski) - F - M

Locale: San Diego
FYI new Lightrek 4's available on 10/13/2008 19:21:17 MDT Print View

Since people asked, the Lightrek 4's, fully adjustable, are on the site now. If you call Grant Sible at GG, he'll knock $5 off the price on the first batch.

Paul Cronshaw
(beemancron) - F

Locale: Southwest US
Lightrek 4's on 10/19/2008 21:35:12 MDT Print View

I have been a big fan of the Lightrek 3s for the past year, using them exclusively for 500 miles on some PCT section hikes. Great support on the trail and with The One Tent.

I have been testing the Lightrek 4s for the past month. These poles have replaced my 3s. Lightweight. Robust. With only two sections, I can adjust them easily and faster than conventional four section poles.

Take advantage of GG's introductory offer and pickup a pair.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Lightrek 4's on 10/19/2008 23:29:54 MDT Print View

What's the adjustment mechanism for these poles? I can't really tell how they work from the gg website.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Lightrek 4's on 10/20/2008 09:39:22 MDT Print View

Somebody should make some carbon poles that break down like a pool cue, a simple screw on thingy.

Paul Cronshaw
(beemancron) - F

Locale: Southwest US
Re: Lightrek 4's adjustable mechanism on 10/20/2008 20:15:31 MDT Print View

Nia,

Picture a 1" rubber stopper with a bolt in the middle. A very simple, yet robust design. A couple of twists and the sections are "fused" together.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review on 10/20/2008 21:58:08 MDT Print View

I haven't paid attention to the GG poles because I have to have adjustable poles--the length I need for hiking is shorter than what is needed for my shelters. The advent of the adjustables made these look more interesting. However, in an email Grant of GG told me that they would not offer wrist straps as an option. Unfortunately, I require the straps for medical reasons. Before I retired, my 10-12 hour days at the computer led to severe and very painful carpal tunnel syndrome. I avoided surgery only by taking early retirement (I had other, more pressing reasons, for that). Since retirement, I haven't had any problems--except when I have to grip something for extended periods. With trekking poles, I put full weight on the strap, which doesn't seem to bother my wrist joints. I hardly grasp the pole grips at all. My hand is around the grip, but it is almost completely relaxed. With even the lightest strapless poles, the lack of straps would mean that I'd have to grip the pole harder just to keep it from falling out of my hand.

Claims that non-adjustable poles are better and that straps aren't necessary should therefore be tempered a bit, IMHO. Not all of us can use either feature (or, from my point of view, the lack of them).

I'm just hoping that Titanium Goat will get their poles going again so I can get similar weight poles with straps. They have been out of stock for what seems a long time.

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/20/2008 22:00:39 MDT.