Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW

The lightest poles on the market, now with stiffer shafts and more contoured grips. Are the shafts stiff and durable enough for serious trail usage?

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by Doug Johnson | 2006-09-06 03:00:00-06

Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW

Introduction

The original Lightrek poles were super light but also super-flexible, especially in the longer lengths. The new Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles feature stiffer, more durable shafts and new molded grips. At only 2.8 ounces per pole (125 cm length), they are still the lightest poles on the market.

What’s Good

  • At 2.8 ounces per pole, they are the lightest trekking poles available
  • New, thicker shafts are significantly stiffer and more durable
  • Molded EVA grips are comfortable and offer multiple hand positions
  • Reasonably priced at $96

What’s Not So Good

  • Not stiff enough for heavyweight hikers or heavy packs
  • Sharp objects such as metal snow shovels or sharp talus are the shafts’ weakness
  • Some hikers will miss the straps (I didn’t)
  • Shaft are not covered by warranty; replacement shafts cost $30

Specifications

  Year/Model

2006 Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles

  Style

Fixed length

  Shaft Material

Layered Carbon/Glass Fiber in an epoxy resin

  Tips

Carbide flextip

  Grips

Molded EVA foam, wrist loops optional

  Grip Size

Medium-Large

  Weight Per Pole
(without baskets)

2.8 oz (80 g) measured weight - 125 cm length; manufacturer’s specification: 2.6 oz (74 g) 115 cm length

  Pole Length

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

  Baskets Included?

Yes - diameter: 2 in (13 cm), weight: 0.3 oz (9 g)

  Basket Type

Screw-on/Leki

  MSRP

$96

Performance

The Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles have gone through some changes since the originals came out. While the original poles were super light and shock-absorbing, they were also very flexible and not very durable, resulting in several broken shafts during field testing (see original Lightrek Review here). The new generation Gossamer Lightrek poles have some important updates but only gain 0.5 ounces per pole, keeping them the lightest poles on the market.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW - 1
The Lightrek shafts are much stiffer and more durable than the first-generation shafts and only weigh 0.5 ounces more…well worth it.

The most important update of the Lightrek poles is their shafts. The shafts are not pure carbon fiber - instead, they are constructed of three layers of carbon fiber and one layer of glass in an epoxy resin. The shafts are custom made for Gossamer Gear and are basically beefed-up versions of the original shafts. The new shafts are significantly stiffer and more durable than the original models.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW - 2
The new EVA “Kork-O-Lon” grips give the look of cork but the lightweight comfort of EVA foam. Note the loops at the base of the grips for attaching wrist loops.

The other important update of the Lightrek poles are the molded EVA “Kork-O-Lon” grips that are found only on Gossamer Gear and Bozeman Mountain Works poles. The grips are medium sized and comfortable for a wide range of hand sizes. They give the look of cork with the feel and light weight of EVA foam.

The Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles are very simple, including the grips, carbon/glass shafts, and carbide flextips. Small loops at the base of the grips allow wrist loops to be attached (but none are provided). Small 2-inch baskets are included with the poles, which will also accept a wide variety of available Leki baskets.

Lightrek poles are not collapsible and they must be ordered to the size of the user. I’ve found that it’s easiest to find your size by experimenting with adjustable length poles to find your best all-around length and purchasing fixed-length poles of that length. The length is measured from the top of the handle to the bottom of the tip.

Shelters that require trekking poles will work best with fixed-length trekking poles that are the exact required size. However, problems can be easily avoided by placing shorter poles on rocks or placing longer poles in depressions or at an angle or making stop points by wrapping small sections of duct tape around the shafts at the correct height.

Compatibility With Trekking Pole Shelters

Shelter type and pole length required Usable with this shelter?
Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic (42 in/107 cm) Depends on length
Tarptent Virga 2 / Squall 2 and Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo / Europa (45 in/114 cm) Depends on length
Golite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm) Depends on length
MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm) Only with extra support

At only 2.8 ounces for a 125 millimeter length, the Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles virtually disappear in your hands. During all-day use, I experience very little hand or arm fatigue and quick placements are effortless and automatic. The Lightrek poles are a joy to use.

While some may miss the security of a wrist strap, they really are not necessary with a pole this light. A light grip is all that’s required to keep the poles in your hands in technical situations. Despite using the Lightrek poles for many months, there are still situations when I drop them, namely when I’ve place the tip between rocks or when falling. Not having the poles attached saves the shafts from possible breakage in these situations. 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 ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW - 3
The multi-position grips allow you to change position based on comfort or conditions. I never miss the straps on these ultralight poles.

Another benefit of not having a wrist strap is that it gives you flexibility to use all of the hand positions of the “Kork-O-Lon” grips. I found the standard position to be the most versatile and I used this in most situations. When pushing myself along in deep sand or powder snow, the flat upper part of the grip gives a solid position for pushing the pole behind you. A lower position is nice during steep climbs when a shorter pole is favorable. But using all of the hand positions, you essentially turn the fixed-length pole into a pole with 12 centimeters of adjustable length. The grips are extremely versatile.

Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW - 4
The screw-on basket system is easy to change in the field. Unfortunately, these tips lack a space above the threads (see arrow) and the baskets tend to loosen while in use.

The carbide tips of the Lightrek poles have Leki-style screw-on baskets and a wide variety of aftermarket baskets are available. The tips provide good grip on rock and the Leki-style attachment system is the way to go, allowing for easy basket changes in the field and secure attachment. Unlike other Leki-style tips, though, the Lightrek tips are threaded all the way up to stopper at the top. The space that’s usually at the top allows baskets to rotate without loosening. Unfortunately, baskets on the Lightrek poles become loose during usage and require occasional attention. This is especially a problem when using them in snow. During testing, baskets fell off on several occasions.

Carbon fiber trekking poles are known for their ability to naturally absorb trail shock and vibration. The Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles are especially good at this, bending slightly during serious hits and absorbing vibration without being overly flexible. I found the shafts to be very comfortable in conditions ranging from off-trail hiking to snowshoeing in icy conditions.

I am a very aggressive hiker, frequently jumping off of drop offs and running through difficult terrain and at 6 foot 1 inch tall and 185 pounds, I’m no lightweight either. I’m tough on poles and after breaking one of the original Lightrek poles, I really put these through the ringer. Despite my best efforts to test them to the limit in off-trail and icy snow conditions, they had no durability issues. That said, these poles are not for everyone - if you are much heavier than I am, frequently carry heavy loads, or like the feel of very rigid pole, these poles aren’t the best fit for you. But for most of the lightweight backpackers that will read this review, the new generation Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles will be a very comfortable compromise of rigidity and shock absorption.

While I experienced no durability issues with these poles, there are weaknesses. They will bend far more than aluminum poles without problems but when stressed to the limit, they will break instead of bending. A more realistic problem, though, is the shafts snapping when they are side loaded or come into contact with a sharp surface. You’ll want to avoid putting these poles into holes in a talus field or between slats on a boardwalk. By using a small amount of care in these situations, though, these poles should last for many seasons.

If breakage does occur, the poles are not covered by warranty. New shafts are available for a reasonable $30.

For $96, the Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles are a great value. They are the lightest poles on the market, very comfortable to use, and provide the basic features needed for hikes of any length.

What’s Unique

The Lightrek poles offer a winning package of light weight, balanced rigidity and flexibility, versatile grips, and durable tips. Their carbon and glass fiber shafts are also unique among trekking poles.

Recommendations for Improvement

While the Gossamer Gear Lightrek poles offer a great overall package and are a huge improvement over the first generation Lightrek poles, I would still like to see the following improvements:

  • Leki-style tips that have the space above the threads offer a much more secure basket attachment and should be used instead of these tips.
  • A stiffer shaft option would be better for bigger hikers or beginners to ultralight techniques.


Citation

"Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW," by Doug Johnson . BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gossamer_gear_lightrek_06_trekking_pole_review.html, 2006-09-06 03:00:00-06.

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Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW on 09/06/2006 02:02:29 MDT Print View

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Gossamer Gear Lightrek ‘06 Trekking Pole REVIEW