Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Review
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles are 3-piece lightweight, 7001 aluminum trekking poles that adjust with a twist-lock mechanism. Fizan claims that they’re the lightest aluminum trekking poles in the world, with a weight of just 158 grams per pole. The Compact poles have carbide tips and come with three different sized plastic baskets, including rubber tips. The handgrips are black EVA foam and have an adjustable, but unpadded hand strap.
They’re an excellent value if having the lightest weight hiking gear is important to you but you don’t want to pay extra for ultralight carbon fiber trekking poles. However, they have a streamlined feature set though without all the bells and whistles you find on more expensive poles, so it’s important to know what you’re getting when you buy them.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 158 grams (173 grams actual, with straps, without baskets on the section hiker digital scale)
- Max length: 132 cm (132 cm actual)
- Collapsed length: 58 cm (60 cm actual)
- Longest section length, disassembled: 50.5 cm
- Grips: EVA foam with adjustable hand strap
The Fizan Compact poles are a bit heavier than the manufacturer claims, weighing 173 grams without baskets. I doubt that it makes any difference performance-wise though. While the assembled poles are 60 cm (not the 58 cm claimed) in length when collapsed, if you take apart the three sections, the longest section is 50.5 cm in length, handy to know when packing for travel.
The 132 cm length of the Compact poles is a standard length compared to other Black Diamond or Leki poles which typically fall into the 130 cm – 140 cm range. Fizan includes a handy sizing guide for fitting nordic walking poles or hiking trekking poles based on hand height when your arm is bent at 90 degrees, so you can check to see what length pole you require.
Pole length information is also useful to know if you use trekking poles to set up a tent or tarp. If your poles aren’t long enough, which is typical when using a mid type shelter, you can buy trekking poles extenders, called pole jacks, from companies such as Ruta Locura.
When sizing the Compact poles, it’s important to know that the length of the Compact pole is painted on the side of the center segment, but not on the bottom segment. To expand the pole to the desired length, you pull out the bottom segment up to the mark labeled ‘Stop” and tighten it. Then move to the center segment and adjust it to the length you require, labeled from 100 cm up to 132 cm. The scale (see above) between the tick marks changes however as the poles get longer, which is kind of counterintuitive. Something to be aware of, but you can ignore once you’ve dialed in the length setting you prefer.
Hand Grips and Straps
The Compact poles have EVA foam grips, but they are quite short so you can’t choke up or down on them if you need to adjust the pole length when hiking up or down an incline. The handgrips themselves are also sized for people with smaller hands. I don’t have terribly large hands (although they ARE larger than Donald’s) and the Fizan Compact grips are noticeably small when I grip them.
For purposes of comparison, here are the Fizan Compact hand grips compared to Exped’s Compact 135 cm – 3 piece compact trekking pole (top) and a Gossamer Gear trekking pole grip (middle) that I have kicking around from a broken pole. The Fizan grip is the smallest of the bunch.
The Fizan Compact poles also come with unpadded hand straps. To adjust, you simply pull them to the length that’s comfortable and put your hand into the strap from the bottom. The pressure of your hand locks the strap in place so it won’t slip.
The Fizan Compact poles have carbide tips and come with three different sized plastic baskets, including snow baskets. To install the baskets, push them firmly down the body of the carbide tip, with the pole collapsed and the handle braced against the floor. A surprising amount of force is required. To remove a basket, reverse the process.
I change my baskets seasonally, using the smallest size basket for most of the year and the widest snow basket in winter, to provide flotation on snow. The middle size provided by Fizan is also useful for mud-season, I found out. But none of the baskets provided by Fizan are threaded inside and rely on tightness to stay on. This can lead to lost snow baskets in winter when snow fights back. I’ve lost snow baskets this way on other poles, but your mileage may vary.
Twist Lock Adjustment Mechanism
The Fizan Compact poles use a twist-lock adjustment system to maintain their length. Out of the box, they work great, but that’s to be expected. You don’t need to use a lot of force to twist the segments together and they hold very well under weight. Fizan doesn’t provide any additional ferrules (ribbed plastic rings) to help you grip the poles in order to save weight, although these are often helpful when you have wet hands or the segments are frozen together.
The plastic expanders at the top of each pole segment expand when you twist the segments together and hold the desired length. However, plastic expanders on trekking poles with a twist-lock mechanism invariably fatigue and lose their elasticity over time, resulting in slippage between the segments. The slippage can be exacerbated if dust, dirt, or moisture gets tracked onto the expander or inside the area of the pole that it grips. For the longest life, it helps to separate poles with twist locks after each use so they can dry and to periodically wipe the plastic expander with a damp towel to keep it clean. Most people don’t perform this level of maintenance, but it is one way to make them last.
One strategy for coping with failed expanders is to replace them or the complete pole segment, but I’m not sure that’s an option with the Fizan Compact Poles unless MassDrop offers to provide ongoing customer support for them. I don’t believe that Fizan sells direct, so you’d need to find a reseller who could provide you with spare parts.
I’ve never owned a pair of twist-lock poles where the plastic expanders haven’t failed (usually after a year) and it’s why I usually recommend that people use trekking poles with lever lock, folding, or push-button length adjustment mechanisms instead.
How do the Fizan Compact trekking poles perform on hikes? It takes a little while to get used to them because they weigh so little. But once you’ve adjusted, it’s easy to forget that you’re walking with any poles at all because these are so lightweight! It really just takes just a simple flick of the wrist to snap them forward and in position for your next step.
The Compact poles also provide a nice solid plant. They don’t vibrate even though they’re multi-section poles. There’s good feedback back up the pole to your hand when the tip is stuck between rocks, including enough flex so you know to let go to avoid bending or snapping the pole. Those mid-sized baskets are also great for mud season and help prevent rock entrapment without becoming ungainly to use.
I’ve always heard great things about Fizan’s aluminum trekking poles and I have to concur. The Fizan Compact trekking poles are quite refined and an excellent value for such an exceptionally lightweight pair of trekking poles. While they are twist-lock poles and probably have a limited lifespan compared to lever lock, pin-based, and folding pole adjustment systems, I’d be willing to bet you could get a year’s worth of hard use from them with proper cleaning and maintenance.
While there are lighter weight carbon fiber trekking poles available from Gossamer Gear, I’d caution you about spending a lot of money on them because they’re so fragile and so easy to break in my experience (some people have a gentle touch, I don’t, or maybe it’s New Hampshire hiking). In that respect, buying a superlight pair of aluminum poles that weigh just over 6 ounces seems to be a much more durable investment and prudent use of money.
Just be aware that the Fizan Compact Trekking Poles are streamlined in order to keep their weight and cost so low, with smaller grips, low tech straps, no ferrules, limited replacement parts, and none of the bells and whistles you find on other commodity or more expensive, fully-featured poles. Being ultralight backpack trekking poles, you’d expect that, but it’s worth emphasizing nonetheless.
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