I bought a pair of fixed length, carbon fiber hiking poles from Backpackinglight.com (USA) last week. They were on sale for $53.99, which is a great deal for an ultralight pole and proof that BPL’s new email marketing campaigns work.
They come with optional snow baskets and removable hand straps with cushioned, pistol-style hand grips. I used them on a 3 day section hike last weekend and they remind me a lot of an old pair of Komperdell carbon fiber nordic walking poles that I used to use for backpacking before I lost them.
I bought the Stix in a 120 cm length. I normally hike with adjustable poles set between 115 and 125 cm, so this is a compromise length for me.
As soon as the Stix arrived, I immediately removed the hand straps. I was going to just cut them off like I do with all the other poles I buy, but my wife convinced me to remove the strap mechanism properly. Now the bits are stored in a drawer for safekeeping. I doubt they’ll ever see the light of day again. Then I weighed the poles. Maybe I should have waited before removing the straps. Anyway, a pair of naked poles weigh 7.6 oz total without any baskets. Perfectly respectable.
The Stix are very robust and thicker than my adjustable Gossamer Gear Lightrek4’s or my wife’s Titanium Goat AGP’s, which are also carbon fiber poles. The have very little vibration when you walk with them which is to be expected with this material. They swing easily forward with a flick of the wrist although a little more sluggishly than my GG’s or my wife’s AGPs.
On the first evening of my trip last weekend, I set up my tarp using my Stix. Honestly, they were too long and the width of my tarp was narrower than I would have liked. It rained that night and I could have used more surface area coverage to keep my gear comfortably dry. Adjustable poles would have been shorter and better, and I’ve concluded that you probably want them if you’re going to use a tarp or a tarp tent for camping and you plan on using your hiking poles as shelter supports. That is, unless you’re short in stature and the math all works out perfectly for you.
Still the nice thing about fixed length poles is that they don’t have a locking mechanism and will never slip in length. If you are using adjustable aluminum poles today and want to make a cost effective shift to carbon fiber poles, the Stix are a great choice, even when they’re not on sale. Using poles that are a pound lighter than what you own today will greatly reduce your arm fatigue and the mental work you need to expend on making good pole plants.
If you’ve never tried carbon fiber hiking poles, this may sound like incredibly esoteric stuff. Try them. They make a huge difference.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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