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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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Gossamer Gear Lightrek 3 Trekking Pole Review


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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.