Santa came a little early this year and gave me a pair of Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Carbon Fiber hiking poles.
These are really nice poles and they match my backpacking and hiking needs perfectly. I used to own another pair of fixed length carbon fiber poles from Komperdell, but I like the Lightrek 4′s much better because they’re lighter, they have better grips, they don’t have hand straps and they are adjustable for pitching a tent or tarp. They also aren’t as brittle as my old Komperdell’s, which used to vibrate up the shaft when the tip hit rock.
My new pair of Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4′s will be replacing an existing pair of Black Diamond Trail hiking poles that I’ve been using for the past two years. I’m on my second pair of these after snapping one while climbing Camel’s Hump in Vermont over the summer and accidentally dropping the other off a bridge at the end of a 50 mile section hike.
The Black Diamonds (left, above) have been reliable, but have some inconveniences that I’ve just put up with. I’ll still keep them around for snowshoeing, but I’ll be switching to the Lightrek 4′s full time (right, above) for day hiking and backpacking use.
As you can see, there are no hand straps on the Lightrek’s. This is by design and helps keep their weight down to just 6.8 oz. per pair. They are adjustable to 140 cm in length (longer than most mainstream poles), and come with EVA molded grips that have a slight give if your squeeze them. The pole tips are made out of carbon fiber and they accept Leki replacement baskets (two trekking baskets are included with each set.)
The lack of hand straps is not an issue at all. I think a lot of hikers bear down too hard on their straps and that this style of hiking is inefficient: It’s also a great way to snap a pole. Instead, I try to use my poles as lateral stabilizers or probes with about the same force that a visually impaired person might use a white walking cane. You only need to touch the ground gently to stabilize your center of gravity.
When I received the Lightreks I was a little concerned about the robustness of the adjustment locking system. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve hiked with that have adjustable poles that won’t stay locked, unless they are Black Diamonds.
So far, I haven’t has any problems with the Lightreks maintaining their length properly which is a huge relief. In fact the internal mechanism seems quite simple, and requires just one or two turns to lock into place.
In fact, this evening I did some more testing of the Lightrek 4 locking mechanism to see if it would slip under extreme pressure. A few twists to the right, and the locks won’t budge despite some very vigorous downward pressure. There is no need to be too gentle with these poles: they are rock solid and will easily support your weight or a tarp/tent when used as part of your shelter system.
Gossamer Gear regularly sells the Lightrek 4′s for $160 a pair. If you prefer fixed length poles, check out GG’s Lightrek 3 Carbon Fiber poles.
Disclosure: Gossamer Gear provided SectionHiker.com with a complementary pair of trekking poles for product testing.
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