Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hiking Poles

On my AT thru hike I got persuaded by the REI sales-person to buy the most expensive Leki poles in the store. I remember vaguely she did offer several alternative models, all from Leki, but I decided I'd pay a bit extra, and go for the best. (I think that is my general mind set, and it probably cost me a lot of money during my recent gear frenzy as well.)

After deciding I want the Super Makalu model, apparently the didn't have a pair in stock, but the other store near Union Square had one, so I had to go over there on the following morning, and finally bought the pair. I remember I walked back up manhattan with the poles in my hand, wondering if I'd even know how to use them properly.

Well, they worked really good on my thru-hike. No complaints at all. I even enjoyed the excellent Leki service at trail days '02, when they replaced most of the poles' sections, and used them on all my hikes ever since (I even enjoy taking them to short day hikes, despite the fact I might look like a dork, because it reminds me of the good days I had on the AT).

After buying the Tarptent Rainbow I started using the poles for setting it up as a freestanding tent, this way using

Several years ago I managed to get the lower section of the left pole a bit bent. The pole still worked well enough, and the only problem was that I couldn't get it fully collapsed. I didn't want to try and bend him back by myself, fearing it might weaken it, and was content using it the way it is. I still happily used it on my hikes in Corsica (GR20) and around the Mont-Blanc in Europe (TMB), so I guess it held up nicely. After finishing my recent TMB hike, I found a big outfitter in Chamonix that was handling Leki, so I took my bent pole over there, trying to score some warranty service, or a replacement. They just took my pole and bent it back to shape, so I guess I could have done it myself year ago. Oh well.

All this time, however, I always knew the poles were very reliable, but a bit heavy. I just needed the right excuse to purchase a newer, lighter pair. I always had my eyes on the Gossamer Gear LT4S Trekking Poles, though at $190, they are expensive. When I finally made my mind to try the PCT on 2014, I checked out their site, and saw they were out of stock. An email to their support crew reassured me that they are getting back in stock shortly, and indeed they appeared again early in October (Or maybe a bit before). Just at that moment I heard about the Locus Gear CP3 Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole, which offer a flick lock mechanism, and are only slightly heavier. They are much cheaper, and offer a much more reasonable option for shipping to Israel (I think that it turned out about 550 NIS including shipment to Israel with the CP3, compared to 750 NIS for the LT4S shipped to an address in the US).

So yeah, I didn't know which poles I should order. I guess the reasonable thing to do was to go with the cheaper, just-as-good option, and be done with it. But I was rather set on my LT4S (I also did read some comparisons on BackpackingLight between the two models, and people said that for long distance hiking they would rather have the LT4S). I emailed a couple of trail angels from San Diego (Scout and Frodo), way before the beginning of the 2014 preparation season, and asked them if I can ship the poles to their place, until I finally get there before my hike, and they agreed. So at least that settled the crazy shipping costs Gossamer Gear were quoting for sending the poles to Israel (another $70+, I think).

Just yesterday I got notified by the fedex site that the shipment has arrived to Scout and Frodo in SD. So I guess I have to fly over to the USA now, if only to collect my hiking poles...