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Thread: Trekking Poles vs. Ski Poles

  1. #1
    Senior Member MEB's Avatar
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    Trekking Poles vs. Ski Poles

    Well, after thinking about getting new hiking poles for about a year I finally went out and bought some last week. The ones that have since been retired were actually a collapsible ski pole and they worked well for the use they received. So, in my search for a new trekking pole I wanted something bomb-proof, reliable and easy to use. I have spent quite a bit of time looking at the regular trekking poles and they all seem to have the three tier design, which to me means double the aggravation....instead of having just one piece to twist in place there are now two! Seriously, did they purposely design them this way to frustrate people? I have been on so many hikes where this twisting-inner cam design fails to catch...it happened with my ski poles occasionally but it seems to happen on a regular basis for those who have the trekking poles. Another trend I've noticed with the trekking poles is that they seem to break very easily. Two of the people I hiked with on Sunday ended up with broken poles during the day.

    So, to make a long story short I ended up buying a pair of Black Diamond Flint-lock ski poles. Why? Well, they were only $50 which is about half the price I was planning on spending. They are a two piece pole but they lock together by flipping a lever which is on the outside...no twisting! Plus, if the lock mechanism breaks I will know because I can see it...no more guessing if the twist is going to hold or not. I adjusted them to my length at the store and put all my weight on them and there was no flexing or bowing on the bottom half! They also can act as an avalanche probe by screwing the two bottom pieces together.

    There are a couple of drawbacks. First they are not as compact so they stick out from the top of the pack. Second, they do not have any kind of shock absorber. Lastly, I think they are a bit heavier than the trekking poles.

    I've only used them twice so time will tell if they live up to my expectations. So, if your in the market for replacing your hiking poles I would suggest taking a look at these.

    -MEB

  2. #2
    Member Shewolf's Avatar
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    About 4 years ago, I purchased a pair of REI Traverse trekking poles with the shock-absorbing feature. I have yet to have a problem with them not "locking" after adjusting them for a high. Though at first, I found having to adjust two sections of the pole a pain, I don't have an issue with that now. The poles have travelled far and wide (Alaska, California, New York and points in between) and still work like champs. With two BAD knees, they get a workout on hikes throughout the year. I had to purchase a pair of snow baskets for them when I moved up here though...
    Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he's owned by a dog...

  3. #3
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MEB
    I have spent quite a bit of time looking at the regular trekking poles and they all seem to have the three tier design, which to me means double the aggravation....instead of having just one piece to twist in place there are now two! Seriously, did they purposely design them this way to frustrate people? I have been on so many hikes where this twisting-inner cam design fails to catch...it happened with my ski poles occasionally but it seems to happen on a regular basis for those who have the trekking poles.
    I have 2 and 3 section poles and generally prefer the 3 section poles in situations where I might want to carry them on my pack or in luggage. Otherwise, I default to 3-section for trekking and 2-section for skiing. The only change that I make for off vs on snow use is to remove/change the baskets.

    In my experience, all it takes to keep the twist-lock mechanism working is a bit of maintence. Clean the insides of the tubes occasionally (particularly if you have been sticking the poles in water or deep mud). Also lubricate the screw threads in the locking mechanism with a tiny dab of silicone grease. (Don't get any on the outside of the expansion nut...) My poles virtually never slip.

    Another trend I've noticed with the trekking poles is that they seem to break very easily. Two of the people I hiked with on Sunday ended up with broken poles during the day.
    Perhaps a result of the current obsession with light-weight gear? Or how carefully people use them? Luck? I started with bamboo ski poles 30 years ago and have moved on to aluminum ski and trekking poles. Never broken any of them.

    So, to make a long story short I ended up buying a pair of Black Diamond Flint-lock ski poles.
    I hope you meant flick-lock (or only use them in season ).

    They also can act as an avalanche probe by screwing the two bottom pieces together.
    I have seen reports stating that the convertable poles do not work nearly as well as real avalanche probes. Never tried convertables myself.

    There are a couple of drawbacks. First they are not as compact so they stick out from the top of the pack. Second, they do not have any kind of shock absorber. Lastly, I think they are a bit heavier than the trekking poles.
    Re length: see my earlier comment.
    My 3-section poles have shock absorbers. Don't need them, don't like them--turned them off. (Some people seem to like them--YMMV.)

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 12-13-2005 at 11:09 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dugan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    In my experience, all it takes to keep the twist-lock mechanism working is a bit of maintence. Clean the insides of the tubes occasionally (particularly if you have been sticking the poles in water or deep mud). Also lubricate the screw threads in the locking mechanism with a tiny dab of silicone grease.
    Doug
    How do do you clean the insides of the tubes?

  5. #5
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    I love my BD Flicklock Expedition poles. I like the three-tier design these have, as they do compact and fit into a pack. Ski poles won't have the shock absorber, and will usually be a bit stiffer and heavier. I like the locking mechanism, too. I never had much luck with the twist lock Leki-style.

    You can also purchase spare lengths. In the winter on ski trips, I always bring a couple of spare lengths in case I do snap one. It's only happened once -and it was before I bought the spares. It was a difficult ski out with a 2/3 section of pole.

  6. #6
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    The BD poles are nice and you can't beat the lever locking system for reliability v the twist lock... but having said that...

    I don't understand the numerous problems people have with telescoping twist-locking trekking poles. I used to have aluminum Lekis and now I have carbon fiber Komperdells. Both have 3 sections, twist lock, and anti-shock.
    I always beat up on my poles, put a lot of weight on them, and occasionally use them for vaulting over dips. I can count on one hand the number of times a section has come loose. I find that most times people don't tighten them enough or realize how much is enough. One thing I find helps is to understand the locking mechanism. If you know how to adjust the locking mechanism you can change it so the poles can be twisted tighter and with less turns of the poles.

    Anyway, my $.02, but I haven't used them for skiing yet. Will try this year.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    The other thing I'll use from time to time on trips, where I know I won't need my hands or an axe, are ski poles, one piece ski poles, either downhill or cross country. Bear in CT or Greylock via Old Adams Road & Cheshire Harbor come to mind.

    Hale & Pierce in NH would be fine too.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dugan
    How do do you clean the insides of the tubes?
    The poles can be disassembled by loosening the twist lock and pulling them apart. Then you want to swab the dirt off the insides of the outer tubes.

    If you want to get fancy, there are brushes for cleaning rifle barrels, but I just use a piece of cloth (or paper towel) and some stiff (eg coathanger) wire with a small hook on the end. Make sure you put the hook in before the cloth so you can pull the cloth out--the tubes are closed at one end.

    You could also use two pieces of stiff wire--put one with a hook in first, then push the cloth in with the second wire and pull out with the first wire.

    If you wipe or wash off the outside of a tube before collapsing a pole, it will reduce the amount of dirt that gets inside. I also dry them after use to remove any moisture that gets inside.

    Doug

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    If you want to get fancy, there are brushes for cleaning rifle barrels...
    That's a great suggestion. Those brushes are cheap (walmart) and come in "guages" to match the gun you're cleaning. I can check, but I'd guess a .410 or 20 guage brush would be the correct size for a pole. They also often come with a spray cleaning solvent that would work well in the poles.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip
    That's a great suggestion. Those brushes are cheap (walmart) and come in "guages" to match the gun you're cleaning. I can check, but I'd guess a .410 or 20 guage brush would be the correct size for a pole. They also often come with a spray cleaning solvent that would work well in the poles.
    I'd check the solvent carefully before using it--you don't want anything that contains a lubricant. The poles don't have to be super clean--you are just trying to get the grit etc out of them.

    I just dry-swabbed my poles, but if you want a sovlent, soap and water or just water should be fine. Just rinse all of the soap out (it is a lubricant...) and let the poles dry before reassembling.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 12-13-2005 at 03:08 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Jeff-B's Avatar
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    Flint locks & barrel cleaners?

    Wow,
    Are these new trekking poles considered "armed and dangerous?"

    My only problem with my Anti-Shock Komperdell pole (singular) is: I can't keep Antishock either engaged or disengaged.
    It keeps rotating back and forth and I wish it had a cam-lock device to hold secure.

    I got a pair of Komperdells which are non-antishock and these are dedicated for my snowshoeing use.

  12. #12
    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    Apparently Iím not only a natural predator to glassware (long story), but hiking poles as well. Iím currently on my forth pair, which just recently broke after the locking mechanism detached from the shaft. The last time I brought back my EMS poles for repair, the manager suggested I try Black Diamond instead. So please let me know how well they work for you.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

  13. #13
    Senior Member ADackR's Avatar
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    its crazy hearing hte stories of broken poles and the complaints with the twist locking mechanism...

    good luck with the BD flick lock pair. my wife (sara) has had them for 4 years and has always had problems with the locking... i would say that every trip we go on the things will fail and colapse on her...

    on the other hand i have had two pair of komperdell poles, one with antishock and the other without.. i have never had an issue with either of them and have used them in all seasons, summer/winter skiing/snowshoeing...

  14. #14
    Senior Member timmus's Avatar
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    I use to have BD Approach (flick-lock plus pressure-button for the lower section) until it broke after one year of use. Then I bought the new 2 sections model with Flick-Locks, but I didn't like the new handle. I changed them for cheap Komperdell (53$ CAN), and one twist-lock broke on my second hike (at 15 degree F), plus I realize the tip of one pole was all crooked after that same hike. Did I said cheap ?!! But I am kinda rough on my gear.

    I will go through those Komperdell's and then buy another pair of Black D, and get use to the new handle.

    I am sick of my trekking pole saga !

  15. #15
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Flick-Locks

    You have to make sure you have tightened them properly. Once you finger tighten the screw, take a dime and go an extra turn. There is a fine line between making them too tight to release and having them loose, but if you do it properly it's not a problem. Mine have seen hundreds of miles without a failure.

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