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Alpkit CarbonLite

in Trekking Poles

Average Rating
3.43 / 5 (7 reviews)


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Rob Reit
( rreit )
Alpkit CarbonLite on 06/28/2007 18:21:40 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

The good:
The weight is as advertised on their web site. The price is right @ about $80 per pair with shipping to the US. They're very stiff, fairly easy to adjust by twisting the pole sections to tighten/loosen them, have clear markings on the poles for the various heights, have comfortable grips (though I wish they were a bit larger for my x-large hands), the straps are comfortable, they have very low mass towards the bottom of the poles, and I think they look cool.

The not-so-good:
Even when I torque the sections as tight as I can get them, these poles still slip sometimes. I would estimate that a single pole slips at somewhere between 80-140 lbs. load on one of them. When they slip, it's slow and gradual - at least they don't just bottom out with a thud. The grips could be angled which would make them a bit more comfortable/ergonomic/efficient.

Durability:
Not sure about this one. I haven't really abused them enough, but they've put up with my 240 lbs. well enough so far.

Conclusion:
These poles have potential and I think they're still a good deal at this price; however the occasional slippage and lack of an angle grip won't let them get past a 4 in my book. I would actually give them 3.5 stars if I could.

Update:
I wanted to add a couple of additional thoughts:


  • These poles absorb shock very well. When these poles hit a hard rock ground, I can see them vibrating which absorbs the shock, and I don't really feel the vibration & shock in the grips or straps. I'm very happy with the shock absorption of these poles. :-)
  • I haven't had any problems with the grips coming off or slipping yet, but it seems this problem is bound to show up after reading other reviews on this site. Maybe I've avoided it so far because I keep most of the force on the straps rather than the grips. The BPL review mentioned that there would be new one-piece grips on these poles, but based on the next reviewer's comments, and examining my own poles, Alp is still using 2-piece grips. :-(
  • Like the next reviewer, I can get the poles pretty solidly locked if I twist the locks as hard as I possibly can, but then unlocking the poles becomes extremely difficult. I've compromised by tightening them as much as I can while still being able to unlock them, but then I still have the occasional slow slippage problem and have to re-adjust the poles occasionally. All and all, I haven't found the occasional pole slippage to be overly inconvenient. :-|
  • The straps lock in place with a small plastic friction lock welded to one end of the strap. I haven't had any problems with the straps coming undone provided the plastic lock is jammed into the grip fully. However I find the straps to be a bit too long, even with my X-large hands. If I put on winter gloves, the straps are perfect, but with bare hands, I wish there was a way to adjust the position of the plastic lock on the strap so I could adjust each end of the strap independently and so put the strap cushion exactly where I want it and still have it locked in place.

Edited by rreit on 07/07/2007 16:08:13 MDT.

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Mitchell Keil
( mitchellkeil )

Locale:
Deep in the OC
Quality Control issues prevent these trekking poles from being amoung the best on 07/02/2007 22:24:39 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

Personal Specs:
Age: 58
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 175lbs
Backpacking experience: 30+ years

I ordered these 7.75oz per pole all carbon trekking poles on a Monday and they arrived from the UK on the following Monday. They arrived without baskets which came separately 1 week later.

I was immediately impressed by the low weight for a 3 section pole and by their swing weighting. The weight of the pole is distributed so that the bulk of the weight is in the handle and upper section with little in the lower two sections. They feel well balanced in the hand and on the trail. Little effort is required to use them uphill and downhill. These poles adjust in a similar fashion to the Leki poles with a twisting motion that requires about 5 twists to fully secure the section to prevent slippage. I note the previous reviewer had this problem, and I too find that unless I tighten the twist collar very tight (more than with any other pole I have used) the collar will give under heavy weighting. But if adequately tightened, it will not give. I have vaulted over several streams with them and they have not loosened after learning this secret.

The grips come in either black foam or cork in a size that fits my size large hand fairly well. The hand strap feels comfortable although it is difficult to get it to adjust and hold the adjustment because of the design of the adjustment system. A small delrin tab at one end of the strap notches into a matching hole in the handle and the pressure of the tab against the nylon strap is supposed to hold the strap's sizing. It does not hold this adjustment very well. Several times I had to re-adjust the size of the opening because it had slipped. The grips are ergonomically designed but do not have a cant to handle the natural hand position that Leki and several others to.( I think it only fair to comment that with such a light weight it is toss up as to whether this would necessary.)


The tips of the poles are tungsten with a star shaped pattern unlike the concave cup shape of most other pole tips. I have found that this star pattern grips exceptionally well on almost any surface. Cudos for this design feature. The only drawback to the design of the tips is that replacement of the tip requires disassembling the poles and replacing the entire 3rd section. Although this is fairly easy to do it is certainly different and a bit more of a hassle than replacing the tips of other poles.

These poles are certainly compact for a full length pole. The pole can be extended to almost 59 inches and shrinks down to 26 inches. This is an emminently packable set of poles.

Flexibility is superb! I find that these poles are fairly stiff yet flex just enough to absorb the vibration of a hard plant onto granite. They actually have less bend when weighted than my super Lekis. I never once felt fatigue from vibration even though I have used them on mostly hard rock hikes in the Sierras and San Gabriels.

Now for the Bad Stuff:
Quality control was not working when they shipped me my poles. I am going to assume that out of the many poles they have shipped, mine just slipped through the cracks somehow. I have put about 120 miles on them and in that time, first the left hand grip came completely off when I planted the pole tip into some soft earth. And then later in the same hike the black foam separated from the plastic sheath on the other pole that slides down onto the top of the carbon pole and forms the pommel. I spent a very uncomfortable further 25 miles minding the plant of one pole while constantly pushing the foam grip of the other back up onto the plastic sleeve.
( I have attached a photo of poles to show this deffect.)
Alpkit has been quick to respond and has offered to send me two replacement top sections for my return of the defective parts. I will amend this review when I have performed this replacement task and I will provide a further ammendment when I have used these poles for another 100 miles or so.

Summary:
Great, lightweight poles that handle trail vibration well and which do not tire you out. Stiff with a great tip that bites well under any condition. Quality Control makes these a problematic purchase since there are no resellers in the US. But they appear to want to correct any problem forthwith. We'll See!
July 18,2007 Update:
Just received the new upper sections from Kevin at Alpkit. Asked him to send the cork ones and not the foam ones. Easy to swap out -- took all of 10 minutes. Now I will test them weekend after next in the Sierras and hope they hold up.

One further comment about these poles. I note that in the BPL review of these poles in 2006, Doug Johnson stated that because of this sort of problem that I had with mine which he also had, that Alpkit was replacing the two piece grip structure with a single piece grip. Obviously, Alpkit decided not to. Seems to be an endemic problem.
Alpkit Carbonlite Trekking Poles

UPDATE: September 10, 2007

Took these repaired sticks out for a 30 miles spin in the Emigrant Wilderness over 4 days. They performed reasonably with the new top sections. I had them send me the cork version instead of the foam ones as replacement and the cork absorbed sweat well and held up to a very, very rocky trail. Normally I wear gloves when I hike and this time I did not. What I noticed most was that the stitching on the soft neoprene lining of the straps irritated my hands a lot. I examined the stitching carefully and discovered that the manner in which AlpKit stitched this was so that the stitch appears smooth on the outside of the strap. I assume for cosmetic purposes. but the inside surface that contacts my skin had all the tieoffs and rough thread ends. This makes for a prickly surface against which your skins rubs continuously. Quite uncomfortable.

I also noticed that the star shaped points have experienced more wear than I would have expected,especially compared to Leki tips. I found that slightly angled plants on granite rock surfaces frequently slipped off the surface of the rock. This would not have occurred with Leki tips and did not occur earlier with the Alpkit tips.

What I thought was a superior design element earlier, I now view as an flawed design for long term durability.

Consequently, I am downgrading my review to a 2.
UPDATE May 2008:
I am updating my review of these poles because further comment is necessary. I recently replaced the tips of the poles with Leki tips because the Alpkit original tips have shown severe wear and deconstruction, including a complete wearing away of the basket retainer ring on one pole. (See photos below.) I have put about 375 miles on these poles and the star shaped "carbide" tips have worn almost smooth. They regularly slip when planted and have actually come loose from the plastic in which they are embedded. One of the poles has gotten very difficult to adjust between the top section and the second section. I have taken them apart several times to make sure there is no dust or dirt lodged in the mechanism. (There wasn't)So, I am at a loss to understand the problem.

Aside from being exceptionally light and very strong for Carbon Fiber poles, these poles have little to recommend themselves. My rating of 2 stands. I would not recommend anyone purchasing these poles unless they wish toimmediately replace the tips with Leki ones which are far more durable.paired tips showing wear on retainer ringsSeparated metal tip from plastic collarTip wear

Edited by mitchellkeil on 05/09/2008 15:56:11 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Leki Trail - Men's priced at: $47.97 - $99.99
Leki Baskets priced at: $6.00 - $9.99
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Gordon Green
( nodrog )

Locale:
UK
Much improved! on 06/09/2008 09:07:24 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I got a pair of CarbonLite's last year and they have not given me any quality problems with regard to slipping etc.,
I snapped one bottom section and had this replaced for £10. I've just renewed both bottom sections, as they were well hammered. Alpkit's service (in the UK) is superb.
Alpkit continually update and improve their gear and new Carbonlite poles are soon to come out. Superb value for money. Highly recommended.

Martin Rye
( rye1966 )

Locale:
UK
Not worth the money on 06/09/2008 13:44:50 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

A while back I gave these poles 5 out 5. A year on they are not used. Poor quality control is an issue. The handles slip of and the tips were fast and the baskets fall of. Under a year is not acceptable. I used them for several trips yes, but adding the days up maybe 35-40 days hard use. I rate them 1 now. Using Black Diamond poles and no problems and they cost £15.00 pounds sterling more, worth the extra. Buy cheep pay twice.

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Greg Mihalik
( greg23 - M )

Locale:
Colorado
Kudos to AntiGravity Gear on 06/09/2008 18:23:40 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

Poor packing on my part resulted in a TD 12-10 stove getting a little squashed. I straightened it out as best possible and continued to use it for 8 more days, with no discernable loss of functionality.

Replacement was quick, cheerful, and more than reasonable.

The excellent service is very much appreciated.

KEN LARSON
( KENLARSON )

Locale:
Western Michigan
WOULD PURCHASE on 06/30/2008 09:06:01 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

Damaged pole tips after 6 mo of useCarbonLite hiking/trekking pole review:
• I have been using “hiking” pole(s) since the 70’s in my hiking and mountaineering endeavors.
• Before I purchased CarbonLite trekking poles I was using first generation Leki Ti and found them satisfactory but “heavy” compared to the newer composite poles.
• Purchased CarbonLite two years ago with EVA (foam grips).
• Used CarbonLite on eight backpacking trips ranging from 4 to 20 days (Spring, Summer and Fall) in all types of terrain.
• Base Pack Weight….15.8 lbs. (Backpacking).
• Walk daily with the CarbonLite poles and 12 lbs Total Pack Weight on FLAT terrain from 1 to 4 mile. (Preventative procedure along with an 81 mg aspirin to prevent the DVT side effect that is associate with my chemotherapy meds).
• Weight of one pole recorded as 202 g/ 7.125 oz (two poles 14.25 oz)…..close to ALPKIT published data.
• Initial usage right pole did slip. I did not want to “crank” down on tightening mechanism. Emailed ALPKIT concerning this issue with a reply, “crank them down”. Have had NO issues with them to date.
• Have not used the “Rubber Feet” that came included with the original purchase to date so I cannot comment on their performance.
• Initial usage I also had a strap issue. When the left strap was “heat cut” there was nylon residue remaining that caused irritation to my wrist. Removed the residue from the strap with no problems since.
• Something for one to consider when purchasing metal vs. composite poles. I have experience with my Leki Ti an instance when the lower section of one pole I bent….straightening was no problem. Composite pole in a similar situation would have snapped with no opportunity to straighten.
• ALPKIT price, delivery (received new poles in 7 days regular shipping) and service excellent.
• While CarbonLite trekking poles do not have some of the “bells and whistles” current advertised by their competitors, the CarbonLite poles perform for the desired task for which they are designed with no problems for me. I would recommend them for purchase and use in all types of terrain and Total Pack Weights.

• Currently 30June2008, CarbonLite trekking poles are Temporarily Out Of Stock. ( http://www.alpkit.com/carbonlite/ )

ADDITIONAL REVIEW 17September2008

The CarbonLite Trekking Poles I recently purchased in MARCH 2008 have both pole tips damaged. (I have been using the poles walking with/without a pack in 40-800F temperatures now for six months.) Weekly CarbonLite Trekking Pole use accumulates for about 40 miles and I have used the poles on three backpacking trips since April 2008 that totaled 120 miles. When I upgraded from the LEKI Makalu Ultralite Titanium to the CarbonLite my thoughts were for a lighter and more durable pole. I’m afraid to say the damaged pole tips after my recent adventure on Isle Royale National Parks proved the durability of the CarbonLite to be inferior LEKI Makalu Ultralite Titanium that have more than four times of use and still going strong! I sent a email to ALPKIT Support concerning this issue with a reply that they would send new ends rather than the “lower section” cost free. (Repair documentation is posted on their website.) Time will tell if this issues returns once again!

Edited by KENLARSON on 09/23/2008 18:12:55 MDT.

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Harlan Bruce
( gbruce )

Locale:
DFW MetroPlex
price beats slipped grip on 07/24/2008 20:22:57 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I have had one of the foam grips to come loose. The plastic underneath is polyethylene or something similar; these plastics take no adhesives that are not expensive commercial special-purpose. So I scuffed the poly with sandpaper thoroughly and used a lot of 5-minute epoxy. This seemed to fix it.

These things absorb shock very well - they oscillate laterally quite a bit in absorbing the shock just like they should. No springy mechanisms needed here.

The sections do need to be tightened quite a bit to maintain grip.

The price is very good; did take a while to ship from the UK to the Dallas area, so plan in advance.

Now with the single-piece sticks offered here on BPL, the simplicity and lighter weight might win out. Just need to pick a length carefully to work both with me and my Tarptent Rainbow.

Four trips now with the Alpkits with no complaints except for the handle adhesive failure.

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