LIFE-LINK GUIDE ULTRA LIGHT POLES
BY HEESOO CHUNG
December 04, 2007
chunghe2 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Lenoir City, TN
5' 11" (1.80 m)
170 lb (77.10 kg)
I started backpacking 14 years ago with the Boy Scouts. My backpack is currently on the lighter side (12 lbs / 5.4 kg base weight) with the occasional luxury item thrown in (ex. a whole chocolate cake). I have done week long trips in Colorado and Montana using traditional methods (20 lbs / 9.1 kg base weight). I have also done trips with a SUL pack (5 lbs / 2.3 kg base weight).
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Manufacturer's Website: www.life-link.com
Listed Weight: 14 oz (397 g) per pair
Measured Weight: 16.5 oz (468 g) per pair
Measured Extended Length: 48" (122 cm)
Measured Packed Length: 30" (76 cm)
The Life-Link Guide Ultra Light is a two piece adjustable hiking pole that has an aluminum upper section and a lower section made of carbon fiber. The grip is made of foam and comes with a removable wrist strap.
These poles have been with me for the last four years. This includes trips to the Hoh Rain Forest, Arapaho National Forest, Bandelier Wilderness, the Smoky Mountains, and many other locations. I have used them on nicely groomed trails in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, on the rocky and rooted Appalachian Trail, in mud, packed snow, powder, sand and scree. The weather conditions have included bright summer days, windy snowshoe trips above treeline, and rainy week long mud-fests. The temperature has ranged from approximately 10 F to 95 F (-12 C to 35 C). The elevation has ranged from sea level to just over 14,000 ft (4267 meters).
The Guide Ultra Light is easily adjustable and has an agreeable swing weight. The grip and strap are comfortable and does not get saturated with sweat or get stinky. However, my preference would be a thinner strap.
The carbon fiber lowers are much more durable than expected. The poles feel quite solid and dampen vibrations well. The poles are not excessively noisy. They do not produce any odd clacks, boings, or wumps.
Around the first thousand miles (1610 km) of use, one of the tips got caught in a rock and broke. According to the manufacturers website, the carbide flex tip is designed to break before the more expensive carbon fiber section. The replacement tips cost $10 for a pair and were easy to replace.
Around two thousand miles (3220 km) of use, I was scrambling down some slick boulders when I got the bottom 18 inches (46 cm) caught in a crevice. The carbon fiber lower broke cleanly at the point of failure. The aluminum upper section bent in such a way that the carbon fiber section no longer slid into the upper section.
Unlike some other hiking poles, the Guide Ultra Light's locking mechanism is not easily removed. To clean the pole, one must insert the grip into a pot of boiling water. After a couple minutes, the heat will loosen up the grips so that they can be pulled off the pole. Once the grips are off, the locking mechanism can be removed and cleaned. Unless one hikes with a Boy Scout Troop with an eight quart pot (7.6 L), these poles are not easily field cleaned.
The benefit of having such a design is that if one has the optional probe extender, the two carbon fiber lower sections can be converted into an avalanche probe. I have not tried this in a snow field, but in the comfort of my home, it takes me about a minute longer to assemble than a dedicated probe.
I have had the locking mechanism fail several times. In all instances, I had all my weight on one pole and that pole slowly began collapsing. The sliding of the locking mechanism was very slow and never resulted in a loss of balance. There were also times when the upper and lower sections would get stuck while I was trying to adjust the length. A gentle tap usually freed the sections. Cleaning the locking mechanism and the interior of the aluminum upper section usually fixed both problems.
After I broke the carbon fiber lower section, and when cleaning the locking mechanism did not fix the sliding issues, I contacted Life-Link customer support. They promptly sent out a replacement pole for a small fee and sent replacement locking mechanisms under warranty.
These poles are strong and reliable but cleaning the locking mechanism is a hassle.
THINGS I LIKE
Durable Two Section Design
Good Customer Service
Ease of Use
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Difficult to field clean
Strap is thick and bulky
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
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