Ultralight Trekking Poles

April 26, 2011

Most trekking poles weigh about 8 ounces each (roughly a pound per pair). Lightweight versions dip down into the 5-6 ounce range. But did you know that styles are available weighing less than 3 ounces?

I’m a big fan of trekking poles and use them regularly to reduce knee compression and pain on downhill descents, improve balance over uneven terrain, and make stream crossings a snap. (They do have their downsides, however. For a complete overview of their pros and cons, check out my Equipped article: Sticks and Stones—The Pros, Cons, and Proper Use of Trekking Poles.)

The vast majority of trekking poles feature two or three adjustable sections that collapse down for strapping to the side of your pack. But this standard design adds weight and material. Gossamer Gear strips out these grams with its fixed-length LT3C trekking poles ($110). Made from a single shaft of carbon fiber with strapless EVA foam grips (pictured), the poles are available in increments of 5cm, from 110cm to 130cm. Depending on the length, each pole weighs a mere 2.7 – 2.9 ounces without baskets (they add 0.4 ounce each).

Fixed-length poles are inconvenient to carry if you’re not using them, however. For less than an ounce more, Gossamer Gear offers the adjustable, two-section LT4 trekking poles (3.6 ounces each, $160), also without straps. For straps, you’ll need to get the LT4S trekking poles with straps (4.1 ounces each, $175).

Another ultralight trekking pole option are the Adjustable Goat Poles from Titanium Goat, a two-section collapsible set weighing in at a mere 3.5 ounces each (baskets, included with the $130 price, add 0.2 ounce each). Like the Gossamer Gear models, they use carbon fiber to keep the weight down.

There’s a big potential trade-off with carbon fiber, however. It saves ounces, but if it breaks, it fractures beyond repair. (Aluminum poles, on the other hand, can almost always be bent back into shape if damaged.) But the Goat Poles certainly look strong and resilient, as this picture from the Titanium Goat web site attests!

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.