What Type of Pole are You Looking For?

By William Nee
This article originally appeared in our Jan/Feb 2014 issue.

Hiking_pole photo_doublepage

Photo: Claus Rolff

By William Nee
This article originally appeared in our Jan/Feb 2014 issue.

Which pole system you’ll want to get largely depends on your needs and the types of runs you tend to do. Are you a large or small athlete? Will you be doing a multi-day stage race, in which you want to strategically minimise the weight of your pack by as much as possible, and thus need lightweight poles? Will you be using your poles for shorter mountain races or VK’s (Vertical kilometre races) in which you’ll want to maximise power on ascents? Will you need to take them out and put them back in your pack many times during a run? Or will you be using them in long ultras, in which a pole’s ability to serve as a crutch while going downhill may come in handy?



Mountain King Trail Blaze [THE LIGHTEST]
mountainking.co.uk HKD 1,010
5 sizes: 115-135 cm | 125 g (120 cm)
 Of all the poles tested, these poles were the lightest and most compact when folded up. With a grip system that is perhaps the most sweat-proof, these poles would be a good choice for summer runs and short excursions. However, some testers found that with a relatively narrow pole diameter, these poles exhibited excessive vibration upon pole planting. Thus, they may be more suitable to lightweight athletes, or runners looking for the lightest poles.

Sinano Trail Running
sinano.co.jp HKD 1,188
3 sizes: 110-120 cm | 173 g (120 cm)
These light-weight aluminum alloy poles with comfortable foam grips are some of the most popular in Japan, and they are starting to make waves in other Asian markets as well. As the poles can fold into four sections, along with the Mountain King Trail Blaze, they are the most compact of the poles reviewed. These poles provide high quality for the value, but pulling the string out to straighten the poles may take a certain degree of effort.

Exped Lite 135 SA
exped.com HKD 1,590
1 size: 105-135 cm | 230 g
With a relatively wide diameter, a shock absorbing system, and comfortable straps, these poles were one of the most firm and sturdy in the review. With an ability to extend all the way to 135 cm, they would also be good for tall runners.



Raidlight Trail Carbon
raidlight.com HKD 1,476
2 sizes: 110, 123 cm | 165 g (123 cm)
These sturdy poles fold out quickly with an easy-to-use string system. The handle is comfortable, with smartly-designed pole straps that fit like gloves, which give you the ability to make more efficient use of the arms, lats and pecs on steep ascents.

Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Pole [THE BEST UNFOLDING SYSTEM]
blackdiamondequipment.com HKD 1,399
4 sizes: 100-130 cm | 145 g (120 cm)
With a unique, quick unfolding system, these poles literally take only a second to get from folded-in-pieces to straightened out and ready to use. Given the poles’ sturdiness and relative light weight, they were one of the most versatile pole systems tested in this review. The only downsides were that the release button (that you need to press to de-straighten the poles) does need repair after long-term use, due to accumulated sweat.

Komperdell C3 Carbon Powerlock
komperdell.com HKD 1,040
2 sizes: 105-140 cm | 210 g (120 cm)
With comfortable, shock-absorbing foam grips and padded straps, these durable carbon poles are lightweight and adjustable. And since they are adjustable, they could be good for people who want different pole lengths when ascending versus descending, or they could be good for people who share their poles with their partner of a different height.

Komperdell Carbon Ultralite Vario 4
komperdell.com HKD 1,980
2 sizes: 105-145 cm | 169 g
These poles, which are folded into three pieces, and then be further extended and adjusted. With their light-weight and compactibility, they would make for an excellent choice for trekking and multi-day use.


  • To Pole or Not to Pole (Printed/Digital Edition: May/Jun 2015 )

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