Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW

The Goat Poles rock for simplicity, stiffness, and light weight - but there are a few flaws that need attention.

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by Will Rietveld | 2006-09-06 03:00:00-06

Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW

Introduction

Titanium Goat’s carbon fiber Goat Poles are available in either a fixed length (reviewed here) or in a two-piece collapsible “Take Down” version. What’s unique about these poles is they are made of larger diameter (14 millimeter) wrapped carbon fiber tubing which makes them very stiff and quite strong. These are minimalist carbon poles, weighing only 3.1 ounces per pole. I really grew to like their simplicity, stiffness, light weight, balance, and performance. With a few minor fixes the Goat Poles could be one of the best ultralight trekking poles available.

What’s Good

  • One of the lightest available, only 3.1 ounces per pole
  • Wide range of lengths available
  • Very stiff and strong
  • A great value at $100 a pair

What’s Not So Good

  • Noisy
  • Fixed length limits packability and use as shelter poles
  • Grips slip on shafts
  • Baskets fit loosely and are easily lost
  • Blunt tips and small carbide points cause slippage on rock

Specifications

  Year/Model

2006 Titanium Goat Goat Poles

  Style

Fixed length

  Shaft Material

0.56 in (14 mm) diameter Carbon fiber tubing

  Tips

Custom machined aluminum alloy with carbide points

  Grips

EVA foam

  Grip Size

Medium (4.5 in/11 cm)

  Weight Per Pole

Measured weight 3.1 oz (88 g) each without baskets, 3.25 oz (92 g) with provided trekking baskets; manufacturer’s specification 3.1 oz (88 g) each (120 cm length) without baskets, 3.4 oz (96 g) with baskets

  Pole Lengths Available

41 to 53 in (105-135 cm) in 5 cm increments, 51 in (130 cm) length tested

  Baskets Included?

Yes - diameter 1.5 in (4 cm), weight 0.15 oz (4.3 g)

  Basket Type

Press fit Black Diamond

  MSRP

$100

Performance

At only 3.1 ounces per pole (without baskets), the Titanium Goat Poles are one of the lightest trekking poles available (the Gossamer Gear Lightrek Poles are slightly lighter). However, the extra weight is put to a good purpose - these poles are made of 14 millimeter diameter carbon fiber tubing (compared to 10 millimeter tubing used in the Lightrek), making them stiffer and stronger. The tubes are made using a wrapping technique where the wall is built up by wrapping layers of fabric around a straight core.

Titanium Goat Trekking Poles REVIEW - 1
The grips on the Goat Poles (left) are rounded EVA foam, are not contoured for the fingers, and do not have a strap. The tips (center) are machined aluminum alloy with a small carbide point. They fit Black Diamond baskets. The shaft (right) is 14 millimeter wrapped carbon fiber tubing.

I want to make it clear that these are fixed length poles, so it is not possible to adjust their length for uphills, downhills, and sidehills. No problem - I normally don’t adjust poles very much even when I have that feature. Also, the poles do not have straps on the grips, and the grips are not anatomically shaped. I got along fine without straps on the grips, but adding some removable lightweight cords would give the poles more versatility. After some experience with the Goat Poles, I appreciated their simplicity and light weight, and did not miss the extra weight and complexity of sectional poles.

I tested the poles’ stiffness both at home and in the field. At home they bent only about 1 inch with 25 pounds of lateral force, about the same as stiff aluminum alloy poles. In the field, I vaulted over streams and put my full weight on them dropping off of ledges, and they barely bent.

Titanium Goat Trekking Poles REVIEW - 2
The larger diameter carbon tubing used in the Goat Poles makes them very stiff, equivalent to a heavier-duty aluminum alloy pole.

That said, the Goat Poles were no match for the US Postal Service - the first set of poles arrived cleanly broken into four pieces! That’s not a fair test of their maximum strength, because they probably got caught sideways in a conveyer, but it does show that it’s possible to break these poles with excessive leverage. Their likely demise would be breaking a tip off in a crevice or stepping on a pole bridged across some rocks. I caught the tips on many occasions, but reacted quickly to avoid potential breakage. Overall, the Goat Poles easily handled my normal on- and off-trail abuse in all types of terrain and conditions.

The poles’ balance point is almost exactly in the center of the shaft. The shafts are so light that I could lift them with a couple of fingers as I walked along.

While their fixed length was fine on the trail, there are other situations when it would be nice to adjust their length - like stowing them for travel, attaching them to your pack, or using them with a shelter. Their usefulness for shelter support depends on the pole length. As you can see in the following table, different shelters require different pole lengths, so fixed length poles are a limitation (although 45-47 inch poles work well for many shelters). I found that the 51-inch (130 cm) poles I tested will work for several popular shelters even though they are taller than the manufacturers’ recommended length. It helps to angle the base of the pole toward the inside of the shelter. This gives a taut pitch when the shelter is dry, and you can straighten the pole to tighten the shelter when it is damp or wet.

Compatibility With Trekking Pole Shelters

Shelter type and pole length requiredUsable with this shelter?
Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic (42 in/107 cm)Depends on shaft length, requires about 100-110 cm poles
Tarptent Virga 2 / Squall 2 (45 in/114 cm)Taller poles work using an A-frame configuration, pitches taller than the manufacturer recommendation
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo / Europa (45 in/114 cm)Depends on shaft length, requires about 115-120 cm poles
GoLite Trig 2 (48 in/123 cm)Depends on shaft length, requires about 120-130 cm poles
MSR Missing Link (54 in/137 cm) Depends on shaft length, requires about 130-135 cm poles
Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape (45 in/114 cm)Taller poles work well; pitches taller than the manufacturer recommendation

Shelters I was able to test the poles with were the Tarptent Virga 2 and the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape. With the Virga 2, the 51-inch Goat Poles I tested worked in an A-frame configuration, which made tent entry easier and raised the tent up higher than normal for more headroom. However the poles’ blunt tips did not fit the tent’s grommets very well. Although Six Moon Designs recommends a pole length of 45 inches for the Gatewood Cape, I liked the pitch much better with a taller pole, and a 51-inch Goat Pole worked perfectly. I used one pole as the center pole and the other to extend the vestibule so it acts like a beak.

Titanium Goat Trekking Poles REVIEW - 3
The Goat Poles used to support the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape. The taller poles worked very well for the Cape, giving it more headroom and extending the front out to create a beak.

While the Goat Poles are a delight to use because of their simplicity, stiffness, and light weight, there are a few notable flaws:

  • The grips had a tendency to slide down the shafts. This happened when I applied strong downward pressure on the grips, especially when doing stream crossings. On some crossings where I did a “leap of faith,” the grips slid down 4-6 inches, throwing me off-balance. I had to slide the grips back in place several times a day, which was a nuisance. They are a press fit, so it was easy to twist and push the grips back to the top of the shafts. A touch of adhesive on the shafts would easily solve the problem.
  • The press fit baskets fit loosely on the machined aluminum tips. I corrected the problem by adding some tape so the baskets would fit tighter.
  • The poles are noisy. The large diameter hollow shafts are open at the top of the grips, allowing them to amplify noise like a horn, pointed directly toward your ears.
  • The tips slip on rock and ice when I push off at a low angle. Because the aluminum alloy tip assembly is rather wide and blunt, with small carbide points (see photo below), the tips have a tendency to deflect on a hard surface at a low angle.

Titanium Goat Trekking Poles REVIEW - 4
Goat Pole issues. The foam grips slide down on the shafts (left), especially when you don’t want them to, like stream crossings. The trekking baskets provided (top right) fit loosely on the tip assembly, and can easily be lost. Finally, the machined tip assembly is blunt on the end and has a small carbide point (left pole in bottom right photo), which cause it to deflect on a hard surface.

Assessment

The Titanium Goat fixed length carbon fiber poles are a perfect match with the ultralight philosophy; they are elegant in their simplicity - simple, lightweight, adequately durable, and they perform well. It requires a little time to get accustomed to minimalist trekking poles, but once you adjust to them you realize that you don’t really need the weight-adding features.

Fixed length poles do have their limitations for stowage and shelter use, but it is certainly possible to match the length of the poles you purchase to the shelter(s) you use. With a few minor tweaks (some you can do yourself), the Goat Poles are one of the lightest and best performing ultralight trekking poles available. They are also a great value at $100 per pair.

Titanium Goat Trekking Poles REVIEW - 5
Goat Poles and Colorado Columbines. In spite of the poles’ flaws, which are easily corrected, they are still my favorite ultralight trekking poles.

What’s Unique

The Titanium Goat carbon fiber poles have a larger diameter shaft then other lightweight carbon poles, which makes them stiffer and stronger.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Titanium Goat Poles are minimalist poles, and I commend their simplicity and light weight. Following are suggestions to overcome a few minor flaws:

  • Revise the tip assembly so the baskets fit tighter and the tips are more pointed so they don’t deflect
  • Offer optional snow baskets to increase versatility
  • Plug the top of the shafts to reduce noise
  • Lightly glue the grips to the shafts so they don’t slip
  • Provide removable lightweight cords on the grips to increase versatility

Citation

"Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/titanium_goat_trekking_poles_review.html, 2006-09-06 03:00:00-06.

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Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW
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Cat Jasins
(CatJasins) - MLife
Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW on 09/06/2006 01:54:41 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW

Bernard Shaw
(be_here_now@earthlink.net) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
I love these poles! on 09/06/2006 08:04:25 MDT Print View

Good, factual and fair review, as usual! I use one Goat Pole as my tarp and hiking pole doing the JMT with them, over high water, ice & snow, dangerous spots on passes etc. Really fabulous in every way.

I have the two piece version, which I unqualifyably recommend. Yes I made and glued a small round piece of foam on the top of the grip to keep it from sliding, and to soften to top of the grip, it works perfectly. And, yes, I glued the small basket to keep from losing it. I did not find that the blunt end slipped on rocks, but then again, I don't really depend on my pole for that type of thing, so this may be a fair point, no pun intended.

The two piece version also has a sheath of plastic protecting the first 6" of the shaft. I could not tell it these poles had that from the article.

5/5, really fine poles, and really fair price too.
Evan

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW on 09/06/2006 16:25:55 MDT Print View

Thanks for the second opinion, Evan. I had come to settle on the Titanium Goat poles through my own investigation and it's nice to have read the new reviews this morning that back up what I'd found. The failings mentioned by Will are easily remedied (as he points out) with a little ingenuity.

I think I would have to go with the break-down model as well since I know there are times when I simply don't want to hike with the poles. Not to mention having to take them on a train or plane.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Titanium Goat, Goat Poles Trekking Pole REVIEW on 09/07/2006 22:14:10 MDT Print View

Look forward to a review of the Goat Take Down 2-piece poles that will be coming out next week. You will also see our Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole Review Summary at that time. Enjoy!

For a clarification, the shealths you mention are called Rock Shields and were not tested in either of these reviews.

Thanks for your interest-
Doug Johnson
Section Editor- Trekking Poles