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Cascade Mountain Tech Cork Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles Review

manufactured by:
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
50.00

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On March 10, 2017
Last modified:March 9, 2017

Summary:

Cascade Mountain Tech's Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are three-section, carbon fiber trekking poles that weigh just 15.4 ounces per pair. Priced at less than half of what Black Diamond or Leki carbon fiber poles cost, they're an exceptional value if you're looking for a lever-lock (also called quick-lock or flick-lock) style trekking pole for hiking and backpacking

Cascade Mountain Tech's Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are ultralight three section flick-lock poles priced under $50.
Cascade Mountain Tech’s Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are ultralight three section flick-lock poles priced under $50.

Cascade Mountain Tech’s Cork Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are three-section, carbon fiber trekking poles that weigh just 15.4 ounces per pair. Priced at less than half of what Black Diamond or Leki carbon fiber poles cost, they’re an exceptional value if you’re looking for a lever-lock (also called quick-lock or flick-lock) style trekking pole for hiking and backpacking. These are fully featured, durable, and adjustable trekking poles with adjustable length retainer straps, cork handles, extended grips, and titanium carbide tips. Handle-to-tip length ranges from 54.5″ / 138 cm when fully extended and collapses down to 26″/ 66 cm. Leki-compatible snow baskets, rubber feet, and curved pavement feet are included.

Let’s take a closer look at these trekking poles:

Cork handles are less slippery and more comfortable
Cork handles are less slippery and more comfortable.

Cork Grips

The poles have cork grips which are less sweaty than rubber or foam covered ones and weight less. Extended foam grips below the cork mean you can choke up on the poles when hiking up slopes without having the adjust the length. The adjustable length straps are threaded through the pole handles and have extra padding at the bend for greater comfort. They do slip if you apply heavy pressure to them (reported by a friend), but I haven’t had any issues with them slipping myself.

Lever-lock Adjustment

These adjustable poles lock in place using a lever lock, quick-lock system that is adjustable without tools. Lever locking systems are much more reliable than twist lock adjusters and are virtually maintenance free. Simply resize the poles to the length you require (the length is marked in both inches and centimeters on the pole shafts) and lock them in place by closing the levers. If the locks loosen with use, you can tighten them manually by twisting the tension screw on the back of the lock.

Reliable lever locks keep the poles set at the proper length without slipping
Reliable lever locks keep the poles set at the proper length without slipping.

Carbon Fiber Shafts

Trekking poles with carbon fiber shafts are lighter weight than aluminum poles, reducing fatigue on long hikes. They’re also stiffer and bend less so you lose less energy when you push-off them climbing up hill and they provide better stability when descending. While you can buy super- ultralight carbon fiber poles that weigh half of what these Cascade Mountain Tech poles weigh, they cost 4 times as much and are more prone to breakage because they’re so thin. Though heavier, the Cascade Mountain Tech poles have thick diameter shafts, making them far less likely to break.

Cascade Mountain Tech's Carbon Fiber Poles are also good for cross-country and backcountry skiing
Cascade Mountain Tech’s Cork Carbon Fiber Poles are also good for cross-country and backcountry skiing (shown above).

Carbide tips and accessories

The Cascade Mountain Tech poles have carbide tips for extra durability and provide a high friction “bite” when they contact the ground. The poles tips are Leki-compatible, meaning that you can mix and match components like the included snow baskets and rubber tips with poles from other manufacturers, as long as they too are Leki-compatible. This is a nice feature if you have bits and bobs from multiple pairs of poles and keep them around as spares so you don’t have to throw them out when you replace poles. It’s the kind of thing I appreciate because I occasionally lose a snow basket or wear down a tip and like the fact that I can replace the components without having to discard the poles and buy a new set.

Recommendation

Cascade Mountain Tech’s Cork Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are a fantastic value if you’re looking for a high quality and durable pair of trekking poles with a lever lock adjustment system. There’s nothing second rate about these poles. So if you’ve been wanting to switch to carbon fiber poles but have been put off by the cost, or you’re looking for a first set of poles to try, these are great poles at a great price.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product with his own funds.

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28 comments

  1. Would you still prefer the pacerpoles if you weren’t focusing on the price? Gearing up to get new poles for my birthday at the end of the month.

  2. Thank you for the review, Philip! I just got these. I seem to remember reading on BPL that the tips could also be replaced with Black Diamond tips… No personal experience, just throwing out another possible option to folks.

  3. I don’t care for the flick locks. Years ago, I had a some that slipped several times, so I tightened them up slightly. I did this a couple times. The plastic had cracked at the pin when I closed them, apparently. The last time the lock came off in my hand. Using screw type holders was even worse. In two cases, they jammed up solid and would NOT unscrew (I believe they were spinning inside because we had actually moved the shaft around 180 degrees.) I eventually got them to free up when I got home by dumping boiling water on the aluminum. and quickly unscrewing. Went to single piece staffs and never had a problem. I can bend over plant the staff and hop down three feet or so with no problem over rocks and boulders.

  4. Are there any advantages to the black diamond or other name brand flick lock poles ? At half the price, what are you giving up ?

    • Primarily advertising. This company advertises their product by listing it on amazon and selling direct. They can make a very competitive product because they sell at retail direct to consumers and don’t do any marketing. They do have excellent customer support by the way, so they’re not some junky Chinese mfg.

      What do you give up product wise. Very little actually. There really isn’t much to a trekking pole. The shafts are thicker than less expensive poles, but I prefer them that way. You will too if when you start snapping thin carbon fiber poles. I used to average 30 hours of hiking with Gossamer Gear LT4s before they’d snap..

      Expensive does not mean better quality.

      • You can also occasionally find them at Costco for even cheaper, around $25 is what I recall reading elsewhere. My local Costco never has them so I went the Amazon route.

        Additionally, I found where some people had replaced the plastic nut to tighten the flick-locks with an all metal nut to replace the plastic one after it cracked.

      • They didn’t have them at my local Costco, which is a smaller store, but they did have them at another Costco nearby. 30 bucks. I’m taking them out this weekend.

  5. Do you find the rubber tips help on rock? Last weekend, I spent a couple of days on the AT in Maryland. Unfortunately, I’d gotten in the habit of leaving the rubber tips off during my local (Michigan) hikes, and found that the carbide tips mostly skitter off rock surfaces when you put any weight on them. Since most of the uphills and downhills were fairly rocky, the poles ended up as dead weight at a time when they would have been most useful.

    • Never had that problem myself. The rubber tips are intended for nordic walking on city sidewalks.

    • I’ve put a couple hundred miles on my Cascade Mountain poles and I use the rubber tips. Most of my hiking is in the PNW, and lately on the PCT and I do find that the rubber tips have much better grip in rocky surfaces. I’m going to need another pair of tips very soon.

  6. I can attest to Philip’s comment on Cascade Mountain Tech’s excellent customer service. On separate occasions, they have sent me replacement trekking baskets and a lower section that had splintered at no charge. As per Andrew Skurka’s blog, I replaced the plastic ferrules, but instead of using #10-32 nylon locking nuts, I was able to procure some thumb nuts. The thumb nuts allow adjustability in the field whereas with the nylon locking nuts, one would probably need to pack a wrench or nut driver to be able to loosen and tighten them. I purchased thumb nuts with an M5 x 0.8 thread instead of #10-32, since I believe the threads on the flick-lock mechanism are metric. #10-32 thumb nuts are more readily available, but I found that they do not go on as easily as the M5 x 0.8 ones.

  7. I own these poles and had a fairly negative experience with them. They lasted great during my first ten mile hike — the pole shafts seem really sturdy, the locks held well, and I liked the cork grips. The second time I took them out, however, the glue holding one of the pole tips loosened and the tip came off. It’s tight enough that I was able to push it back on for it to hold on flat trail but if it ever got caught between rocks, it’d pop right back off (subsequently holding less tightly each time). My pair also has a rogue piece of plastic or something in the lower flick-lock that scratches and gouges the lower shaft each time I resize it. I removed the lower shaft and sanded out the inside of the lock, but it did not help. Never having carbon fiber poles before, I’m not sure if this is just cosmetic or if it’s actually diminishing the integrity of the lower shaft, but I don’t want to find out while out on the trail. The scratches are pretty deep and the lower pole shaft looks really roughed up now, despite only having 20 miles on them. They’ll work as loaner poles for now, and I might see what customer service can do for me, but the quality just wasn’t there on my particular pair. The reviews are pretty unanimously great, so mine are almost certainly an anomaly, but I felt it important to share. I’m leaving on an AT thru this year and didn’t want to chance my hike so I picked up a pair of BD Trail Ergo poles which I feel much more comfortable about their durability.

    • Curious why you didn’t try to return them before you applied power tools to attempt to fix them. I’m sure the manufacturer would have replaced the defects. I’m had mine for close to a year with no problems.

      • Hi, Philip — Your comment to Drew jogged my memory on the correct sequence of events regarding the splintered pole that I commented on earlier. I was doing a section hike on the Long Trail and the pole broke during the descent of Camel’s Hump. I stashed it in my pack and continued on with the good pole. I was hiking southbound and my hike ended at Rt. 4. While waiting for my buddy to pick me up at the Inn at Long Trail parking lot I jabbed the good pole into the grass. When I withdrew the pole, I discovered that the pole tip was still embedded in the ground. When I arrived home, I emailed Cascade Mountain Tech and attached a photo of the pole and separated tip. They promptly sent me a replacement lower 1/3 section free of charge. My buddy had been using Cascade Mountain Tech poles, but he recently switched to Fizan poles. He gave me one of his lower 1/3 sections to replace my splintered pole. Sorry for the lengthy post, but I wanted to correct myself and also mention that based on my experience, I believe that Cascade Mountain Tech would have replaced Drew’s defective pole.

  8. How thick is the carbon fiber on these compared to the CF Pacerpoles? I want to get something with a flick lock and carbon fiber intrigues me, however, I’ve heard so many tales of people breaking carbon fiber poles.

    • I’ll compare the shaft widths when I go out later today. Both sets of poles are in my car.

      • Your hiker’s car may resemble my sign hanger’s car of the early ’70s, decked with ladders and loaded with tools to the degree that my wife could barely fit into it with me. Once, I cleaned it out a bit and a friend exclaimed, “Wow! It does have a back seat!”

  9. I bought these on a blog recommendation from Andrew Skurka and so far they have worked very well on the low miles I’ve put on them. Skurka mentioned that the tips are the only weak point because they wear out faster than other brands, but that can be replaced so it’s not a deal breaker. Thanks for the review Phillip.

  10. Cascade carbon fiber poles have an eva grip that suits me. I bought them, even though I have the REI brand women’s carbon fiber trekking poles with the eva grip, which is comfortable for my arthritic hands, as cork is too hard for my hands. I originally bought the Cascades as a backup to my REI poles. The Cascades are durable, light, comfortable. I have used them when backcountry skiing, in a pinch when my single shaft ski poles are being used by a friend. To be clear, I prefer a single shaft pole for skiing -just a lot more stability when powering through. But I also like an adjustable, flick lock for snowshoeing. When I discovered the Cascades, I was happy to see the eva grip and all the accessories. I have used the curved feet that come with the Cascade poles for Nordic walking, getting a good workout, and I have used the baskets for snowshoeing. I have compared these to the REI poles and they are comparable in quality at less than half the price. I was so happy with the Cascades that I sent a pair to my 20-something granddaughter in California for her lengthy hikes into the San Gabriel mountains and they have worked out fine for her, too.

  11. I’ve had the twist lock version of these poles since 2012. I bought them because they were cheap and light and figured they would be fine until I was ready to spend more on a “real” pair. Five years later and they are still going strong. If I ever lose them, I’ll probably try a pair of the quick lock version, since the twist lock gets lose maybe once per 10 miles, which can be a bit annoying. Otherwise, I’ve been very happy. I also had a snow basket break on a hike, but was able to replace with “Leki” branded baskets. Now, they actually sell replacement baskets on their own website. They also sell cheap replacements for each part of the pole, so you can easily repair a pole if only one component every fails.

  12. Costco has these for $30 bucks right now

    Nice review!

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