About a year ago, I stumbled across these trekking poles as I walked into my local Costco. At only $30 dollars for lightweight carbon fiber poles, how could I say no? Sure they might not be great, but at that price point, why not test them out and see. If nothing else, I figured I could do a scathing review warning people to stay away from these poles. One thing I didn’t expect was being blown away by the poles and their performance. Check out the video embedded below for the meat of the review and I’ll leave some of the concise highlights in text form after the vid.

 

 

Though sold by Costco (…and available at Amazon here) these poles are actually made by Cascade Mountain Tech. They are 100% carbon fiber, three section, flip-lock poles that come in at 15.7 oz. (446 g) per pair.  Over the past year, I’ve been using and abusing these poles as my everyday hiking, backpacking, and high-routing poles. Here’s what I’ve found:

The Grips:

  • Cork Grips: The cork handles feel great. Unlike the plastic-like cork on the Leki Corklite poles, this cork is thicker, cushier, and grippier when your hands get sweaty. It’s a little rough around the edges but not in a way that affects the poles negatively. The cork has held up very well and darkens with use.
  • Foam Extended Grip: Super comfy and perfect for uphill dashes. I use the extended grips quite often when I need to climb a steep hill or for those lazy strolls on trails that don’t require serious trekking power.

The Straps:

  • Comfort/Durability: The straps are plenty comfortable. They have yet to chafe me or scrape me up on my longer hikes. They show no signs of serious wear yet, so I expect that they’ll last a long time as well. One downside is that the straps are not hand specific. In other words, both straps face the same way, so those of you who prefer a left handed and right handed pole (as I do) may find yourself a little disappointed with the lack of specificity. That said, I’ve been told that you can take the strap lock apart and make the straps hand specific 🙂
  • Adjustability: The straps adjust easily and don’t slip, though the mechanism used to adjust and secure the straps isn’t the most refined. It’s basically a wedge that jams into the handle to keep the straps from slipping.

The Fliplocks:

  • Slipping: The fliplocks aren’t the prettiest locks I’ve seen, but they have not slipped on me once. Can’t ask for more than that.

The Poles:

  • Durability: Unlike the thinner Black Diamond Carbon-Z poles and Gossamer Gear poles, these poles are beefy. I have roughed them up in all sorts of ways, fallen on them, trapped them in rocks while hiking, forded streams with them, used them in heavy snow, and banged them up on rocks of all sizes. They seem to be extremely durable and show no signs that they’ll ever snap crack under normal use conditions.
  • Weight: 15.7 oz (446 g) per pair or 7.9 oz (223 g) per pole with straps on.
  • Adjustability: Unlike most of your fixed length carbon fiber poles, these are actually adjustable! Perfect for pitching tarps and tarp tents.

 The Tips:

  • Durability: The tips that come on the Cascade Mountain Tech poles are sufficient for day hiking and backpacking with, but they do wear fast. Fast enough that I would warn anyone thru hiking to replace the tips before your hike with more durable Black Diamond flex tips or Leki flex tips.
  • Accessories: The poles come with all sorts of accessories in the box, most of which most hikers won’t use. The upside is that they do come with nice snow baskets that are large enough to actually be functional for snowshoe or ski trips.

 

Conclusion: These poles are by far the best value going in the trekking pole world right now. I would 100% recommend them to anyone looking for lightweight poles that are suitable for all of your backpacking pursuits. They work really well for tarp and tarp-tent pitching too. Yes, I’d even thru hike with them (after swapping the tips out.) As mentioned before, you can find them (seasonally) in your local Costco or on Amazon through this link: http://amzn.to/2CqEool

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