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Reader Reviews

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in Trekking Poles

Average Rating
3.76 / 5 (21 reviews)

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Stephen Cain
( Hoosierdaddy )

Western Washington
REI Peak UL (Non-shock) on 08/03/2005 21:02:03 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

These things are INCREDIBLE! For a number of years I have used LEKI Super-Makalu poles and really liked them....until now! The REI Peak UL poles are made of carbon fiber and only weigh 6.2 ounces each! I was skeptical of their durability until I used them recently on a 10-day trek in the rugged Bailey Range in Olympic National Park. I abused the heck out of these poles and even fell on top of one once, without so much as a scrape or ding on them! (I wasn't so lucky) I doubt that the Leki poles would have survived. I really liked the 3-section feature because I was able to use them for tarp support with variable height adjustments. They even have a simple, little compass on the top of the handle that actually came in handy for quickie navigation.

I will have to say that before purchasing them, I had "heard" of potential problems with the plastic Duolock section locking device and while perusing the poles at my local REI store, I tested out 4-5 different sets of poles before finding a pair that locked each and every time. It hasn't failed me yet!

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Roger B
( rogerb )

Here and there
Everything a trekking pole should be on 08/24/2005 16:17:58 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I purchased these poles before users started raising concerns about locking of poles. Whilst I have had the occasional "unlocking" problem this has been less than 2% of the time so for me these are the best poles I have ever used. They are light, compact and robust, they are so much better than my previous poles and even my wife was convinced to "upgrade" to these poles.

paul johnson
( pj )

LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
REI Peak UL poles on 08/24/2005 17:44:27 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Not my first choice in a trekking pole when lighter poles exist - unless I were going on a plane. However, they are very good trekking poles. Relatively light weight. At this point seem strong enough. I haven't "babied" them. Don't use them much due to the other fine (though non-adjusting) CF poles which weigh less than half what these weigh. Plenty of stiffness if this is a requirement for someone. I'll give these a 4 rating, deducting 1/2 a point for their weight when cp. to three diff. prs of non-adjusting CF poles - one of these poles is heavier than one pair of any of the other three non-adjusting poles, and deducting another 1/2 point for the the one joint which regularly requires disassembly and re-adjusting in order to be able to be tightened w/o any slipping. Would be a lower score, but their main virtue over lighter weight non-adjusting poles is airline travel - IMHO. No bonus for adjustability as far as pitching tarps/tarptents as there exist very workable, simple sol'ns for using non-adjusting poles for this purpose.

Edited by pj on 08/25/2005 02:10:57 MDT.

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Mike Storesund
( mikes )
REI Peak UL CF Poles on 08/25/2005 08:52:40 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I bought these to replace my older / heavier poles. I prefer collapsible poles so I can adjust the height with my tarps and my SMD Lunar Solo.
I did the research before buying and was concerned about the reported problems with the duo lock devices.
By adjusting them to a tightness just able to get back inside, I have not had any problem with slippage in over 100 miles along the Continential Divide and surrounding areas.
I was exposed to some high winds and thought one of the poles may snap under pressure, but after close examination the following morning I could not see any evidence of stress and it is still performing well.
I am extremely happy with these poles and give them a 5.

Edited by mikes on 08/25/2005 08:54:19 MDT.

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Alfred Sidman
( sidmanac )

Pacific Northwest
My most used poles, still a four because of the joint. on 10/18/2006 12:21:06 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I can compare these to my collapsible aluminum poles and my uberlight Gossamer Gear fixed-length Lightreks. Nowadays, the aluminums only come out for mountaineering when I'm burying them in snow as deadmen for tent tie-down or less critical running pro, and hacking them out again with an ice ax.

I usually take the REI UL 3-section carbon poles over the lighter Gossamer Gear fixed poles, because it is much more convenient to collapse them to pack height in brush or in a vehicle. With light or ultralight set-ups, I don't use poles all the time because they slow me down and knee strain is less. I use them for some rough terrain, when I'm tired, to share with my significant other, for tarp poles, and theoretical splints. Even in the open, strapping the long fixed-length Lightreks on the pack results in their catching the wind and tugging a bit. This is about the only place in my set-up where functionality trumps an opportunity to shave a few ounces, which means the convenience is significant.

As others have noted, the UL's twist lock slips periodically, and efforts to twist it just right have sometimes resulted in my pulling out the entire assembly, leaving hollow carbon pole with raw-cut edge. Mildly inconvenient, but pops back in. Could glue it. The problem becomes more frequent and bothersome in snow, when the shaft is slippery and when burrying the basket and torquing at push-off loosens the joint. To varying degrees, this is true for all collapsibles I've used and watched. Non-technical snow travel is the one situation where I sometimes carry the fixed Lightreks.

REI's UL carbon fiber poles are the most versatile I have, yet still earn a four because of the joint.

Edited by sidmanac on 10/18/2006 12:31:11 MDT.

Benjamin Tomsky
( btomsky )

San Francisco Bay Area
Problems with DuoLocks on 10/21/2006 09:06:23 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

After going through three pairs of the Peak ULs in two hiking seasons, twice the lock breaking and once the shaft itself breaking, I concluded that REI had exchanged them enough for me, and I should try something else. The two DueoLock breaks were under normal use. One time it just exploded in the shaft and I had to stuff the shaft full of twigs to keep the pole functional and continue my thru hike. The other time the locking mechanism disconnected from its intended permanent connection to the lower shaft and became impossible to tighten. I fixed the second one by JB Welding the lock back into place and still use the poles when I need to fly. When they aren't broken, I do find the locks to slip occasionally, which is rather annoying.

The shaft broke while I was off trail, under "normal" bushwhacking conditions, so that seemed too fragile to me.

Given all the above, I decided to move to a sturdy one-piece pole. Based upon reviews, I got the Life-Link AT Superlight. So far, so good.

( dealtoyo )

Mt Hood
Peak UL's not at the top for me on 11/04/2006 16:12:37 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 1 / 5

The first pair I purchased had a printing probelm with the height markings on one section of one pole that I did not notice until I got home. I returned them to REI for a second pair.
The second pair always needed to be readjusted and retightened because they kept slipping(or maybe I just kept getting taller). Also when I changed baskets to go snowshoeing the tip that held the basket came completly off. Back to REI for another exchange, however this time when I went to get another pair all of the poles had a bad finish on them. The finish on all of the poles was blistered.
That's when I decided that the third time was not a charm and asked for a refund.

Tom Kirchner
( ouzel )

Pacific Northwest/Sierra
The best pole I've ever used on 11/04/2006 17:58:06 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've been using the Peak UL carbon fiber poles(womens' non antishock 3 section model-11.2 oz/pr) ever since they came on the market and have been ecstatic about their performance. Like some other posters , I had to return my first set but hit paydirt the 2nd time around and haven't looked back. They have stood up to some serious off trail abuse with no ill effects other than looking pretty scruffy by now and you can't beat the weight for a collapsable pole. At 24 inches, collapsed, they sit below the top of my Mountainsmith Ghost in brushy situations. For that reason alone, I wouldn't use a single section pole, no matter how light it is. Anyway, at the end of a long day I haven't experienced any particular arm fatigue with them, so it's pretty much a moot point for me. I've pretty much eliminated the loosening problem by really reefing down on them when I am tightening them and checking them periodically, especially before negotiating tenuous terrain. So far, so good. One minor annoyance: the tip on one pole has worked loose and popped off the pole a couple of times. Solution: twist it back on and tap it firmly on a rock. Haven't had the problem in recent memory. Still, on that basis I'd give it a 4.75 if we had a decimal system.

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Aaron Wallace
( basilbop )
Quirky, but solid once initial problems addressed... on 11/04/2006 18:29:51 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

These poles suffered (and maybe still do) from some quality control issues, but once fixed are solid and reliable--and can be an excellent bargain if you take advantage of these problems...

First, the insides of the poles are too slippery to grip the duo-lock mechanism reliably. When new, the fix is to slide the poles almost apart, then tighten them--the locks will grip at the ends of the poles. Then, don't loosen them too much--there should always be a "drag" on the sections when adjusting them. After awhile, the poles seem to "break in" and this becomes less and less necessary.

Second, many poles had glue problems--either with the tips or where the locking or shock mechanisms are inserted into the pole. The fix is easy--clean out the contact areas with alcohol--both surfaces--then use epoxy to glue the pieces back together. (In a pinch, "superglue" can work if the surfaces mate well...)

I suspect that both these problems are related--perhaps some residue remains on the inside of the poles after they are made, preventing the glue from sticking and the locks from locking. Once this residue is gone, they function as designed.

Now, why would you buy a pole with these problems? Once the initial defects are fixed, the poles are solid and reliable, and if you got them new, they have REI's implicit lifetime warranty anyway. For those looking for a deal, there's another option: due to REI's generous policy, a number of these poles are returned, and they can be purchased by members at one of the REI "garage sales" for a fraction of the new price--usually $20-$40/pair. Many of these returns are in as-new condition--they just never locked, or they came apart immediately. On the other hand, products purchased at the REI "garage sales" don't qualify for the lifetime return privileges (they put X's on the products using an alcohol-soluble ink so they know they were returned already...)

Robert Stanek
( rstanek )

Southeast, Atlanta, GA
Unbelievably low swing-weight on 12/24/2006 19:06:52 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I love these poles for their incredible durability and low swing-weight. The UL compacts can fit inside a 22" carry-on bag, and still work for my 5"10" height.

I too have experienced the frustration of a slipping lock when setting them up initially. After a couple of frustrating minutes, all is well, and never think about it again. (the one and only reason they get a 4).

The trade-off is well worth the weight savings.

James Loy
( jimbluz - M )

Pacific NW
Great lightweight poles but carry duct tape. on 12/29/2006 18:53:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I used these poles for a summer and fall with no problems, and find them quite strong, more than expected. I did, however experience a lock failure this winter while snowshoeing. No matter where I tried to tighten them, they would not lock. Luckily, after packing them up a series of steep switchbacks, I tried them again and for some reason, they then tightened for the descent. I've had 2 pair of their lesser cousins, the Summits, but find the locks also fail prematurely. A good duct tape job helps but I will not depend on REI trekking poles again for steep trails, especially in icy conditions when you really need them. Luckily, for Christmas, my wife gave me a pair of stout (but a bit on the heavy side) Black Diamond poles featuring their "Flicklock" system.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Black Diamond Trail - Women's priced at: $45.95 - $119.95
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Craig Shelley
( craig_shelley )

Rocky Mountains
Poor Reliability on 12/31/2006 09:21:49 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I had a pair of these since they first became available. The lock mechanism can be very difficult to lock. The lock mechanism becomes unattached from the pole (happened with one of mine and recently with a friends pole that purchased them against my recommendation). The lock mechanism breaks easily. The poles work poorly in a sandy/desert environment where the slight amount of grit interferes with the twist lock.

I like the lightweight but that is all.

joseph daluz
( jfdiberian )

Columbia River Gorge
Beware, they're fragile on 03/28/2007 10:17:51 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I carried a pair for 7 days on the PCT before they broke. That was the second pair that broke. Nice and light though.

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Chad Mason
( porch13 )

Nice & Light on 04/02/2007 13:20:54 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I've had these since they first became available and the only problem I've had was the tip fell off of one pole. The whole darn plastic piece. It looked as if it didn't have enough glue on there or something. I took it back to REI and they replaced it in short order.

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Patricia Combee
( Trailfrog )

Northeast/Southeast your call
Nice and light, dependable on 04/04/2007 17:35:52 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

The REI ULs are pretty light and compact. A little tricky to adjust the length on, but I have no slippage once adjusted and I have put all my weight on them a few times and really needed them to hold solid and they did. I have no problems with the tips, grips or shafts. All in all, I would definitely buy another pair should I need to

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John Adams
( scsjohn )

Great poles for backpacking on 05/19/2007 14:05:03 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I picked up a pair of these at a scratch-n-dent sale are REI and I really have enjoyed them. Light and sturdy.

I have not had any slipping in the winter or summer.

Solid poles at a great price.

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Steve Martell
( Steve )

Eastern Washington
REI Peak UL (Non-shock) on 09/09/2007 09:49:08 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I would have given these a 5 if it wasn't for the sometime-tricky adjusting locks. Took these poles on a CX trip (King Lake, northwest of Leavenworth, WA)

I actually expected to break one or both of these poles as the route up & down was difficult. I'm somewhat bruised put poles are fine.

PS For stronger poles don't get the short (compact) ones. Longer poles that are shortened internally give you more pole 'crossover' at the joints. This makes for a much stronger pole.

Edited by Steve on 01/11/2009 10:40:27 MST.

Dan M
( r4gl7q )

Light and strong on 01/01/2008 09:37:59 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I love these poles. When I purchased them, I was worried if they would be too fragile hiking on rocky trails, where I invariably get the tips caught and put quite a bit of stress on the poles before getting them out. They've held up very well.

I always need to pull the pole sections out nearly all of the way to begin tighening them. Otherwise, the poles just turn and turn. I consider this a minor inconvenience.

REI support has been great. I wore the carbide tips completely off. REI replaced for free.

I notice that REI now carries a shock absorbing version. My previous poles had shock absorbers. I did like that feature. So, if I ever trash these poles to the extent I need new ones, I'll probably switch to the spring loaded ones.

Ronald Cordell
( roncordell )

San Francisco Bay Area
Really good adjustable poles on 01/02/2008 07:04:27 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

These are the first trekking poles that I've ever used - I always used to go without any kind of trekking pole or support of any kind. I bought these when I got my SMD Lunar Solo, and I specifically wanted adjustable poles. I realize there are non-adjustable poles that are much lighter, but I've found these to work extremely well from around 0degF in snow to 100degF and 100% humidity in the summer, taking a readjustment every day when used for tent or tarp poles. I've had the fasteners be a pain a couple of times, and that's why I'm giving them a 4 instead of a 5, and also because of my lack of experience with other poles. The poles are very rugged - I've had them jammed in rocks and snow when I've taken a slip more than once and never a problem. They've saved my bacon plenty of times and keep on working.

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Bob Summers
( SM498 )

San Francisco Bay Area
Light but don't Lock Up Well on 01/02/2008 12:04:27 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I've been using these poles for about a year. I really like them except that they can be hard to lock up.

Sometimes, it takes a few tries to use the "pull them almost apart then tighten a little" trick to get the internal nut to grab the inside of the pole.

What I did recently seems to have helped quite a bit. I disassembled the poles and put a smear of silicone seam sealer on part of the locking nut. If you can see the difference in sheen where the seam sealer is, it's enough. The idea is to increase the grab between the nut and the inside of the pole. Let the silicone cure before reassembling the poles!

I also wedged a tiny sliver of something compressible into the gap between the two half-nuts. I don't remember what I used; a piece of cured seam sealer? a piece of foam?

Now it is much easier to get my poles to lock.

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