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Extendable trekking poles have gone from guaranteeing a good laugh at the expense of the user to being all the rage in recent years. They work by taking the strain off the ankle, knee and hip joints and transferring some of it to the wrists instead. They are also particularly good for helping you keep your balance in difficult terrain such as deep snow, river crossings and Galloway bogs. They are much better used in pairs than singly, but we will split some of our most popular pairs of poles into singles.
For climbers, the best sort are three part poles which can be easily stored in your rucksack when not in use (top tip: if storing poles on the side of the sack with wand pockets and compression straps, store them both on the same side. This guarantees that you'll only get them caught under a roof 50% of the time, instead of 100% if you store one on each side!)
There are four main types of pole joint/adjustment systems.
The first are external as epitomised by the Black Diamond FlickLock system. The advantage of this method is that the poles can be adjusted without removing gloves and that once the tension is set, it shouldn't (in theory) need readjusting.
The second is the internal expansion system as used in Leki and many other makes. These are neater, but can be more awkward to adjust with gloves on, a problem if it is really cold.
Thirdly there are some pole joints that adjust or set with a spring loaded peg that pops through a hole. These are simple and cheap to make but it can be irritating lining up the peg with the hole.
Finally there are poles that put together like a tent pole or avalanche probe. These are a fairly recent innovation and result in more compact poles when they are collapsed so they are more likely to fit inside a rucksack. However they are not as adjustable as the other methods, if indeed they are adjustable at all.
Poles are currently made either of aluminium or of carbon fibre. The latter are lighter but do not seem to be as strong or as durable and we would only recommend them for use where saving weight is essential.
Carbon Fibre Poles: The ultimate in light weight but much more easily damaged. Buy these only if weight saving is essential and do not expect them to survive and awkward fall of be as robust as their aluminium counterparts.
Superb ultra light carbon fibre trekking poles that work like tent poles/avalanche probes in how they assemble. Very lightweight EVA grip as well, meaning that these come in at well under 300g/pair. Available in three lengths, 110cm, 120cm, 130cm.
An ultra-compact, very lightweight carbon fibre pole with an excellent cork handle and foam coated upper pole for contouring. Both low-profile Trekking Baskets and Powder Baskets are supplied. Now updated with BD's excellent new Flicklock design and interchangeable tips. Extends to 130cm. Compacts to 62.5 cm. Weight Per Pair: 490g.
Lightweight Aluminium Poles: Very light weight but more easily damaged.
Lightweight durable aluminium trekking poles that work like tent poles/avalanche probes in how they assemble. Ideal for everything from serious treks to short hill walks, the length adjustment will be found very useful when contouring around a hillside. This updated version now has BD's excellent new Flicklock design. Two adjustable lengths: 105cm -125cm and 120cm -140cm. ca 450g/pair.
Lightweight durable aluminium trekking poles that work like tent poles/avalanche probes in how they assemble. Ideal for everything from serious treks to short hill walks, the length adjustment will be found very useful when contouring around a hillside. Two adjustable lengths: 105cm -125cm and 120cm -140cm. ca 450g/pair.
Standard Aluminium Poles: More sturdy but slightly heavier poles.
Excellent robust poles for expedition and ski-touring use. Black Diamond's innovative and brilliantly updated "Flicklock" system, which is easier to use than ever now, means telescopic walking and ski-ing poles that don't freeze up on you and are easily adjusted with gloves on. This new version also has a special hardened section on the handle to enable you to pull up you heel lifts more easily.
The ultimate all year round super compact pole from light walks to heavy winter use and snowshoeing to ski mountaineering. They are available in two lengths, 105cm - 125cm which collapse to 40 cm and 120cm - 140cm which collapse to 42cm.
A folding Z-Pole four-season aluminium pole with a large snow basket that collapses to an ultra-compact package for easy storage. Although these poles are about the same weight as BD's Expedition poles they collapse to far shorter lengths. Available in two adjustable lengths 105cm - 125cm, collapses to 38cm and 115cm - 135cm, collapses to 40cm. ca 595g/pair.
An easy-to-use flicklock system 3-section standard diameter pole for year-round use. Price includes both Trekking Baskets and Powder Baskets. Available in two lengths.
Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact's progressive four-stage shock makes for more comfortable pole use by absorbing light strikes and heavy hits without rebounding or bottoming out. A dual-density grip, foam extension and padded strap ensure all-day comfort. Price includes both Trekking Baskets and Powder Baskets. Available in two lengths.
A trekking/ski-touring pole that has a retractable blade in the handle and functions as an ice axe for emergency arrest when this is extracted and locked into place.
Needle Sports 56 Main Street, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5JS, UK
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