Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro Trekking Poles 2013
Test Series by Erin Foudy
|Name: Erin Foudy
Height: 5'11'' (1.8 m)
Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
Email address: erinfoudyATyahooDOTcom
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona, USA
I started backpacking while working for the National Park Service ten
years ago. I have been a backcountry ranger/law enforcement ranger and
served on search and rescue crews. I typically take two or more
camping trips a month, year round. I appreciate light weight, but am
not obsessed by it. I often carry a 30 lb (14 kg) pack and stay out
from three to nine days at a time. I also enjoy day trips with only
water on my back. I take trips to Colorado and Montana in the
summertime and enjoy the outdoors there as well.
Product Information and Specifications:
|Year of Manufacture:
| 1 lb 2 oz (.54 kg) per pair
| 1 lb 3 oz (.60 kg) per pair
| 7075 Aluminum
|Listed Smallest Measurment:
|26 in (66 cm)
|Listed Largest Measurement:
|54 in (137 cm)
|27.5 in (70 cm)
|57 in (145 cm)
Product Description/Initial Impressions:
The Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro Trekking Poles are the top of the line
of trekking poles from Mountainsmith. The aluminum poles open in
three telescoping sections locking and unlocking with a Quick-twist
locking mechanism. The bottom section has only one measurement
marking that says STOP. The middle section has measurement
markings from 47 in to 57 in (119 cm to 145 cm). I did not find
information on the website, or in the literature accompanying the
poles, that told me if the lower section is supposed to be extended all
the way to the word STOP or not, so I just went ahead and set the
section a little below the indicator. I set the middle section at
about 50 in (127 cm) and leaned on one pole. I noticed the
springy feeling of the Anti-Shock absorption system right away. I
bounced a little on the pole with two hands to see how much give there
was. The pole moved up and down a lot more than I expected and
felt like it could really take the brunt of my weight.
I loosened the adjustable wrist strap and slid my hand in. The
strap adjusts to a larger loop by simply pulling my hand away from the
pole while in the strap. Tightening the strap is also easy, I
just pull on the plastic tab with my opposite hand. The strap has
a thick section that sits on the back of my hand comfortably holding it
The poles feature a molded cork handle that feels firm to the
touch. The molding separates my index and middle fingers and
arches nicely into the palm of my hand. The cork doesn't feel as
grippy as rubber which makes me wonder how well I will be holding on in
the rain. I'm hoping that the design of the molding, along with
the support of the wrist strap can work to keep my hand well connected.
The poles are constructed of a carbon-wrapped 7075 aluminum. The
Mountainsmith logo, as well as the words Carbonlite Pro, are printed on
the upper section of the poles in the middle of the grey and white
decals. The rest of the aluminum is painted black with the
exception of the markings on the middle section and the word STOP
on the lower section which are both in a silver color.
There are rubber boot tips at the bottom of the poles that seem to
supply a lot of grip to the ground. They are connected to the
poles by a hard plastic piece that connects to the aluminum. The
poles come with narrow profile baskets that Mountainsmith says are
easily removable. It took me a little bit, but I finally realized
that with a slight twist and a little pull I could take off the boot
tips and slide on the profile baskets with ease. There are two
little plastic teeth that fit into the corresponding spot in the middle
of the profile baskets.
It wasn't until I looked at a video on the Mountainsmith website that I
learned I could take the top section of the poles apart and adjust the
spring of the Anti-shock system. A small nut can be tightened,
which pushes down the spring and changes how much weight the poles will
absorb. The middle and bottom section can also be completely
separated by disconnecting the joint between them. The bottom
section does not seem to have a spring, but there is still a nut that
can be adjusted. The video also tells me that I should set the
lower part of the poles right at the STOP marking. It also
mentions that to measure the proper height of the poles, my elbows
should be positioned at a 90 degree angle.
I am excited to get these poles out on the trail! This is the
first pair of trekking poles I have ever used even though I have been
interested in them for years. The poles feel sturdy and strong
and I hope they help ease the load on my back and knees when I am
1. Sturdy feeling
2. Shock absorption feels like it may be great!
3. Comfortable wrist strap and molded handle
1. None at this time!
I used the trekking poles on multiple trips over this testing
period. I took them on a couple overnight trips and a lot of day
I used them on one overnight trip to the Rincon Mountains East of Tucson,
Arizona where I hiked over 12 mi (19 km). The temperature ranged from 65
F to 90 F (18 C to 32 C) and the elevation ranged from 6,000 ft to 7,700 ft (1,829 m to 2,134 m).
I also used them on an overnight trip to the Catalina Mountains North
of Tucson, Arizona. I hiked from over 9,000 ft (2,743 m) down to 6,500 ft
(1,981 m) and then back up to camp. The temperature was a cool 58 F (14 C) at the
top and a warmer 85 F (29 C) at the lower elevation.
I have taken the poles on countless day hikes into the Tucson Mountains
West of Tucson, Arizona as well as the two previously mentioned
mountain ranges. Elevation has ranged from 2,700 ft (823 m) up to more
than 9,000 ft (2,743 m) and temperatures from 60 F to 95 F (16 C to 35 C).
Performance in the Field:
The poles have worked great for me as of this point. They have
taken some stress off of my weak knees as I hiked downhill and that has
been a great relief. They feel sturdy and only slightly bend when
I put most of my body weight on them. I can't say they have been
quite as comfortable on the uphills. In fact, they have become
kind of a burden going up steep inclines. I feel like I need to
shorten the length of the poles in order to accommodate the intense
grade in the trail. I have resorted to simply carrying them while
I have also noticed that in the heat of Arizona, my hands sweat and
slip off the grips. This caught me off guard once on Wasson Peak
in the Tucson Mountains and I almost tumbled off the edge of a
switchback. I became so worried about it happening again that I
stopped using the poles all together resulting in the serious knee pain
that evening. I suppose I could remedy this problem by wearing
some gloves for grip, but again the Arizona heat wouldn't make this
into a comfortable situation for me. I have never had any issues
with this slipping unless my hands were sweating severely. For the
most part the grip worked great and I had no troubles.
Overall, I like the poles quite a lot. The help that they give my
knees coming down the steep trails makes it more than worth it to carry
them on the way up.
1. Great help for my aching knees while going down.
2. Sturdy construction
1. My hands can slip off the handle when extra sweaty.
Thank you to Mountainsmith and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test these poles!
Read more reviews of Mountainsmith gear
Read more gear reviews by Erin Foudy