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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Big Agnes Causeway Helinox poles > Test Report by Shane Williams

Big Agnes Causeway Helinox Trekking Poles
Test Series by Shane Williams
Initial Report: July 03, 2011
Field Report: September, 2011
Long Term Report: November, 2011

Initial Report

Tester Information:

Name: Shane Williams
Email: sherpa[dot]colorado[at]
Age: 37
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)


As a child I lived in the last house on a dead end street. Just beyond my house was a wilderness area. I started hiking and exploring there, and I've never stopped. I started backpacking in the South Eastern Appalachian Mountains, including portions of the Appalachian Trail. Today I primarily hike in the Colorado Rockies. My pack weight is approximately 30 lbs (13.61 kg) to 50 lbs (22.68 kg). I often carrying more gear than necessary hoping that I wonít need it. I enjoy weekend excursions into the High Country with friends and lower elevation day trips with my family.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Big Agnes
Model: GL145SA
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: 134.95 US $
Max Length: 57.1 in (145 cm)
Collapsed Length: 25.5 in (65 cm)
Specified Weight: 16.4 oz (232 g) per pair
(Product Specifications)
(Product Technology)

Product Features:

  • Made by DAC, the leading manufacturer of tent poles, Helinoxģ poles incorporate many of the same advanced features
  • Groove Lock- Internal grooves on the shaft create a positive mechanical engagement for absolute security without exposed buttons or levers.
  • Anytime, anywhere, any load. Available with or without shock absorbers.
  • Helinox poles are engineered with DAC's proprietary aluminum alloy, TH72M, which provides superior strength to weight characteristics.TH72M aluminum alloy is exclusive to Helinox trekking poles which results is incredibly lightweight poles.
  • DAC Green Anodizing involves no nitric or phosphoric acid and greatly reduces water consumption by using recycled water for rinsing.

Product Overview:

The Big Agnes Causeway Helinox Trekking Poles have been designed as a 3 section trekking pole. The upper section consists of an aluminum alloy shaft and foam handles constructed of non-hypoallergenic Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA). The length of the upper section is 21 ĺ in (55 cm) from the tip of the handle to the bottom of the first groove lock. The handle is comprised of 2 sections the first being the handle with an ergonomic grip which is 5 Ĺ in (13.97 cm). Below that an additional foam section extends down another 8 Ĺ in (21.59 cm). This lower section has an embossed crisscross pattern to aid in gripping. The top of the handle has a single piece webbing wrist strap that has reinforced padding sewn into the webbing. Between the bottom of the crisscross foam handle and bottom of the first section the aluminum alloy shaft is exposed with a blue coloring. The Helinox logo, the website and the model number is stylishly printed in silver.

(Upper Handle Section)
(Upper Shaft)

The center section is 17 15/16 in (45.56 cm) in length and has equally placed ďGroovesĒ at 1.97 in (5 cm) intervals. Each interval has the metric length printed to make it easy to gauge the desired setting. In addition to the length notation, the section between 45.28 in (115 cm) and 43.31 in (110 cm) has an icon along with the letters SA to signify that this model features Shock Absorbers. All printing of the center section is black lettering on a silver base. Additional printing is also found between 43.31 in 110 cm and 41.34 in (105 cm) denotes these trekking poles to feature the ďGroove Lock SystemĒ. This section also has printed the metrics for max length, collapsed length and weight.

(Center Section)

The lower section is 17 1/8 in (43.50 cm) in length and also has the first 5.91 in (15 cm) marked in 1.97 in (5 cm) intervals. Below these markings one side is adorned with the Helinox logo and the other side has phrase ďGroove Lock SystemĒ. As the lower section extends down it tapers to a point. A basket is positioned 2 Ĺ in (6.35 cm) above the tip and offers flotation in mud, sand or snow. The basket is removable and has a notch that can be used to break the basket loose. The tip is constructed to endure some of the most rugged terrain known to man. The tungsten carbide tip rates an impressive 9 on the Mohs scale, so itís constructed to last. The Causeway also comes with a rubber stoppers to cover the tip should the need arise to use them on a surface that doesnít require rigorous traction.

(Carbide Tip)

The groove lock system is comprised internal gear mechanism that tightens as the section of the pole is turned counter clockwise. There are two groove locks per pole, one between the upper and middle section and another between the middle and lower sections. Both groove locks function identically. From the outside, the groove lock looks sleek and unassuming.

(Groove Lock External)
(Groove Lock Internal)

Initial Impressions:

The Big Agnes Causeway Trekking Poles are stylish and have a solid feel to their construction. While they do seem a little heavy, they are equipped with shock absorbers to help cushion a load. The wrist straps are simple to adjust and have added padding. The groove lock system is interesting. I look forward to seeing how the twist adjustments work in the field. Iím a little skeptical about the locking systems ability to stay fastened on long arduous hikes, hopefully Iím wrong. Upon receiving the Big Agnes Causeway Trekking Poles, I found them to be in mint condition without scratches, scrapes, dents, or defects.

Field Report: October 7th, 2011

Field Conditions:

Location: Sunshine Peak and Redcloud Peak
Elevation: 14035 ft (4278 m)
Distance: 10 miles (16.10 km)
Terrain: Established Trail/Skree

Location: Handies Peak
Elevation: 14048 ft (4282 m)
Distance: 6 miles (9.66 km)
Terrain: Established Trail/Rock hopping

Location: Challenger Peak and Kit Carson Peak
Elevation: 14165 ft (4317 m)
Distance: 14 miles (22.54 km)
Terrain: Established Trail/Rock hopping/Scree

Location: Queens Canyon
Elevation: 6800 ft (2073 m)
Distance: 2 miles (3.22 km)
Terrain: Established Trail

Field Report:

During this series of testing Iíve thoroughly enjoyed using Big Agnesís Causeway Trekking poles. From gentle paths along running streams to descending brutal scree gullies, they have proven to be versatile and well-constructed. As I began hiking with these poles I was immediately impressed with their weight and balance. Getting the right strength to weight ratio can be a tricky basic to master, but these poles felt very comfortable as soon as I placed my hand around the ergonomic handle grips. The padded wrist straps, which are as easy to adjust as the Groove locking system, are also a very nice feature. When using the wrist straps to allow the poles to swing forward, I found that forearm and hand fatigue was minimized. On several occasions I used these poles for extended periods of time ranging from 2 to 10 hours and in spite of the prolonged duration they didnít feel cumbersome or weighty.

The longest duration during this test series was during the ascent of Sunshine and Redcloud peaks in the San Juan Mountain range of Southern Colorado. This was a 10 mile tour hike with 4400 ft (1341 m) in elevation gain. The overall terrain was fairly tame with a well-worn path for the majority of the hike. One of the most interesting points for these poles were a 1000 ft (305 m) vertical decent off of a ridge, of which 800 ft (244 m) or so was filled with loose rock and deep scree. If ever trekking poles pay off itís in terrain such as this. Several times while descending I lost my balance and was able to recover with aid of these poles. Typically recovering wasnít a gentle placement of the pole but an all-out load bearing placement which was 175 lbs (79 kg) of body weight plus 30 lbs (13.61 kg) of pack weight and any additional weight generated from the gravitational momentum of traveling downhill. Even in those conditions these poles fared well. I did have a couple of instances during that hike where the bottom or middle section groove locking system slipped causing the pole to retract slightly. This wasnít a full blown collapse, but a definite slippage due to the groove locking system loosening over time.

During my ascent of Challenger and Kit Carson peaks in the Sangre De Cristo Range, also in Southern Colorado, I found myself in a similar scree gully that was full of loose rock except I was ascending. The terrain was such that it was necessary to have a single hand free to have an additional point of contact on the rock while moving through steep rock outcroppings, so I only utilized a single pole. It was at this point that I really began to love the elongated handle grip. When my free hand wasnít planted on the rock, I was able to use the lower portion of the handle grip as leverage. Once the ridgeline was gained the terrain changed from scree to large boulders, which is one of my favorite terrains to hike on. During this section the carbide tips performed excellently as the poles were used to bring balance and provide bracing when I slightly lost my balance. The carbide tips didnít slip and provided great contact with the rock, even when it was flat and slick granite.

In addition to these fairly long and rugged outings I also used the Causeway poles during tame family hikes where the paths were primarily gentle slopes and well-worn. In these instances the poles served more as a set of general walking stick. They also performed well in these conditions to provide additional support and stability on more gentle terrain.

Field Image: Handies Peak


Big Agnesís Causeway trekking poles are well balanced durable poles that perform well in the field. Theyíre capable of handling the tough terrain but they arenít overkill on a Sunday stroll beside a river. Whether itís the wrist straps or the Groove locking system, adjustments are quick and easy. I look forward to spending more time with them in the coming months.


  • Easy adjustments
  • Elongated ergonomic grips
  • Properly weighted and balanced


  • Minor slippage of the Groove Locking System during extended use

This concludes my Field Report. Please come back in December for my follow-up Long Term Report. A special thanks to and Big Agnes for the opportunity to be part of this test series.

Long Term Report: December 11th, 2011

Field Conditions:

During this last portion of testing Iíve continued to utilize the Big Agnes Causeway poles on overnight trips and day hiking ventures in the Colorado Rockies. This included an overnight trip to the Sawatch Mountain Range of Central Colorado and various day trips around Colorado Springs as well as jaunts in Pikes Peak National Forest just outside of Woodland Park and Divide, Colorado.

During the overnight trip to the Sawatch Mountain Range I ascended the 14ers, Mount Belford and Mount Oxford. This ascent was 11 miles (17 km) consisted of 5800 ft (1768 m) of total elevation gain. From the trail head the trail had a gentle slope and was snow covered. As I ascended Mount Belfordís North West ridge the gentle trail gave way to packed snow and rock. The terrain also became increasingly steep. In the higher elevations temperatures were around 18 F (-7 C) with approximate wind speeds of 30 MPH (48 km/h). This yielded a wind-chill between -5 F (-20 C) and 5 (-15 C). Duration above 13,000 ft (3900 m) was about 5 hours. The remaining hikes in Pikes Peak National Forest around Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, and Divide, Colorado were casual outings ranging from 2 to 4 hours. Conditions were predominantly sunny with temperatures between 40 F (4 C) and 70 F (21 C). There also wasnít a bit of moisture for these hikes.

Field Report:

As Iíve continued to use Big Agnesís Causeway trekking poles for this portion of testing Iíve continued to be impressed with their performance in the field. While the baskets, tips, and lower portions of the poles show signs of wear, they continue to function well. The ergonomic hand grips also have a few places where the foam has been minutely pitted or scratched.

As I mentioned in my Field Report, I had a couple of instances where the Groove Lock System would eventually work loose and give way. This same scenario happened during the ascent of Mount Belford and Mount Oxford. During this 13 hour ascent consisting of 11 miles and 5800 ft (1768 m) I had this happen a total of 4 times. When the Groove Lock System would fail one segment of the pole would collapse. As in the previous tests, this seemed to eventually work loose over time. Since, Iíve began checking the Groove Lock System periodically throughout the day to ensure that they havenít worked loose. This seems to work well, and hasnít been an issue when Iím diligent about being preemptive. Aside from this minor issue, these poles have performed superbly. They have been durable and sustained numerous load bearing slips and spills. I think one of the things I like most about the Causeway poles is the shock absorbing feature. While this does add an extra portion of weight to the pole, itís a nice feature to have especially on those longer hikes that contain steep descents. The springy cushioning certainly gives relief to the knees and other joints.

Field Image: Mount Belford


Iíve really enjoyed hiking with Big Agnesís Causeway Trekking Poles during this series of testing. Ergonomic hand grips, padded wrist straps, quick adjusting Groove Lock System and carbide tips make them a feature rich set of poles. Well balanced in their weight and construction, they deliver great support for the varied hiker.

This concludes my Long Term Report. A special thanks to and Big Agnes for the opportunity to be a part of this test series.

Read more reviews of Big Agnes gear
Read more gear reviews by Shane Williams

Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Big Agnes Causeway Helinox poles > Test Report by Shane Williams

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