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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Mountainsmith Carbonlite Pro 2013 > Test Report by Frances Penn

MOUNTAINSMITH CARBONITE PRO TREKKING POLES 2013
TEST SERIES BY FRANCES PENN
LONG-TERM REPORT
July 30, 2013

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Frances Penn
EMAIL: oldhikergirl AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 57
LOCATION: Santa Ana, California
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 130 lb (59.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for six years mostly on long weekends in Southern California with two or more 5-day trips per year in the Sierras. My total daypack weight, including food and water, is usually 15 lb (7 kg) and my total backpack weight, including food and water, is usually 26-30 lb (12-14 kg) depending on the need for a bear canister. I have recently converted to a tarp, bivy and quilt sleeping system instead of a tent. I have experienced all night rain, hail, heavy winds, camping in snow once, but mostly fair weather.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Mountainsmith
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.mountainsmith.com
MSRP: US $69.95
Listed Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz (0.54 kg) for the pair excluding rubber tips and baskets
Measured Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz (0.54 kg) for the pair excluding rubber tips and baskets
Color tested: Slate
Colors available: Slate
Listed Compact Measurement: 26" (66 cm)
Listed Extended Measurement: 54" (137 cm)
Measured Compact Measurement: 27" (69 cm)
Measured Extended Measurement: 57" (145 cm)
Pattern on poles: The poles are black with silver diamond accents with the Mountainsmith name and logo and Carbonlite Pro in the middle of the diamond design

The Carbonlite Pro trekking poles are lightweight at a little over a pound (0.54 kg) for both poles. The poles are constructed with a blend of carbon fiber and aircraft grade 7075 aluminum with durable carbide tips. The poles feature ergonomic molded cork grips and adjustable neoprene wrist straps that are widest around the back of the hand. The poles include an anti-shock absorption system and a quick twist locking mechanism to adjust the length of the middle and bottom pole sections.

The poles include replaceable rubber tips and removable hiking baskets with a 2-pin lock attachment that slide on the poles then twist to lock. Snow baskets are sold separately on the Mountainsmith website.

IMAGE 1
poles with removable tips and baskets




INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The poles arrived wrapped in plastic with a spacer to prevent scratches. The baskets were tied to the wrist straps and the boot tips were on the poles. The finish on the poles was free from defects.

On the initial adjustment, I noticed the bottom section contained no length markings, only the STOP marking. I extended the bottom portion halfway to the stop mark. The middle section had markings indicating 47 to 57 inches (119 to 145 cm). For my height, I extended the middle section to the 53 inch (135 cm) marking. The adjustable sections twisted easily to unlock. Both sections slid to the desired length easily and then twisted to lock. I had to twist the adjustable sections three times clockwise to lock them but only twice counterclockwise to unlock them.

The neoprene portion of the adjustable strap feels comfortable wrapped around the back of my hand. It turned out the adjusted length made the end tabs rest on the neoprene portion of the strap. The wrist straps were easy to adjust by pulling on the strap or the end tab. During my initial stroll around the neighborhood, the poles felt comfortable in my hands. The end tab stayed on the neoprene portion of the wrist strap. The cork grips have a slight protrusion that fits between my forefinger and middle finger. My hands did not slide on the grips.

IMAGE 2
my grip



IMAGE 3
end tab resting on neoprene portion of wrist strap


READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The package insert contained the specifications and features with no instructions on proper operation of the poles. The insert also contained a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

SUMMARY

I can't wait to get these poles out on the trail and put them to the test. During hot weather, my hands get sweaty so I will be watching how the neoprene on the wrist straps and the cork grips handle this condition. These poles feel as comfortable as the poles I am currently using so I should have no difficulty adjusting to them.

Please check back in two months for my Field Report. Thanks to Mountainsmith and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these lightweight trekking poles.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #1:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 6,000 ft (1800 M)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: sandy desert terrain off trail
Temperatures: 40 to 60 F (4 - 15 C)
Weather: slightly cloudy and windy
Total Trip Mileage: 16 miles

Trip #2:
Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 5,000 ft (1,500 M)
Trip Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Trail Conditions: sandy desert trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 40 to 60 F (4 - 15 C)
Weather: winter desert weather, few clouds, a little wind, with cold nights
Total Trip Mileage: 43 miles

Trip #3:
Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 5,000 ft (1,500 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: sandy desert partial use trail and partial off trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 50 to 85 F (10 - 29 C)
Weather: partly cloudy with increasing wind the first day, total clouds the second day
Total Trip Mileage: 13 miles

Trip #4:
Location: Cedar Glen campground in the Baldy area, California USA
Elevation: 6,000 ft (1800 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt trail with some steep rocky sections
Temps: 50 to 85 F (10 - 29 C)
Weather: cloudy with light drizzles and fog the first night, a sunny morning that turned cooler and windy by the end of the second day
Total Trip Mileage: 13 miles

On the Joshua Tree trips, I wore my lightweight fingerless hiking gloves. The pole strap end tabs adjusted themselves to the end so each tab was against the end of the corresponding pole handle and out of the way. This configuration was comfortable all day and did not interfere with my operation of the poles. The neoprene portion of the strap felt comfortable around the back of my hand while wearing the gloves. When going downhill from the peak, it was easy to change my grip from the traditional grip to the top of the poles and back again without any adjustment needed to the strap. Both grip positions felt secure with the straps over the back of my hands.

On the Cedar Glen trip, I noticed perspiration on the day hike in the warmest part of the day while we were hiking uphill in the sun. I was wearing the same lightweight fingerless hiking gloves. I loosened my grip so the poles were swinging between my thumb and forefinger joint. Within two minutes, the perspiration had evaporated and did not return. I returned my hands to the normal grip location and continued hiking.

IMAGE 1
Quail Mtn in Joshua Tree

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The poles are lightweight and feel comfortable in my hands. The straps are comfortable around the back of my hands and allow for different grip positions. The different pole height adjustments are easy to accomplish with a quick twist to release the lock, a pull or a push to make the height adjustment, and then another quick twist to lock that section into place. Once locked into place, the extended pole sections have not slipped while on the trail. This was particularly important on the trail to the Cedar Glen Campground which has some large rocks that form many of the steps on the trail. The shock absorbing feature is helpful on the descent when I lean on them to stabilize my footing among the large rock steps.

I noticed that one of the baskets was lost after we hiked through a very dense bushy trail portion on the first day of the Joshua Tree 5-day trip. I removed the other basket at the next break and have continued to use the poles without baskets. The poles feel secure during descents where I tend to lean on them a little more to save my knees while carrying a heavy pack. The shock absorbing feature appears to be working well, even though I don't notice any compression while applying pressure during the descents.

IMAGE 2
On the way to Cedar Glen in the Baldy area




SUMMARY

These poles are comfortable to operate and easy to make height and grip adjustments. They feel secure on the trail and on large rocks I have encountered on the trail and while cross country hiking. I will continue to use them for my future backpacking trips.
















LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #5:
Location: Little Jimmy Campground on the way to Baden-Powell, San Gabriel Mountains, California, USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2,100 M)
Trip Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions
Temperatures: 50 to 85 F (10-29 C)
Weather: mostly sunny
Total Trip Mileage: 18 miles

Trip #6:
Location: Cottonwood Lakes area by Mt. Langley, California USA
Elevation: 11,100 ft (3,400 M)
Trip Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some rocky portions and off trail portions
Temperatures: 40 to 60 F (4-33 C)
Weather: mostly sunny with one afternoon rain storm that produced pea sized hail for 5 hours, cool nights
Total Trip Mileage: 18 miles

Trip #7:
Location: Big Basin Redwoods State Park/Skyline to Sea Trail, California USA
Elevation: 1,700 ft (518 M)
Trip Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some steep rocky portions
Temperatures: 50 to 70 F (10-21 C)
Weather: mostly sunny with cool nights
Total Trip Mileage: 28 miles

Trip #8:
Location: Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Elevation: 8,000 ft ( 2,400 M)
Trip Duration: 7 days, 6 nights
Trail Conditions: dirt forest trail with some steep rocky portions
Temperatures: 50 to 80 F (10-26 C)
Weather: mostly sunny with two afternoon rain storms, cool nights
Total Trip Mileage: 40 miles

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Since losing one of the baskets on an earlier Joshua Tree trip, I installed the tips and they remain on the poles. The poles continue to provide good grip and stability on the trail. The shock absorbing feature continues to support my weight during descents on steep rocky trails. This feature has continued to keep me stable during off-trail descents. The grips continue to be comfortable in my hands and provide the ability to switch my grip to the top during steep descents on trail and off. The pole locks continue to work easily and stay secure during use. Since I starting using a tarp, I use one pole upside down to support the front of my tarp as pictured below.

IMAGE 1
additional use as a tarp pole

SUMMARY

These poles are comfortable to use and provide good grip and stability on the trail. They allow me to change to different grip positions and back again easily. Other than the usual scratches from wear, the poles have withstood my use with no damage to the handles or shafts. The twist lock and height adjustment mechanisms operate easily just like when they were new. I have enjoyed testing these poles. While they are a little heavier than other poles I have used, they have a lot of features for this price point. These poles have become my new poles of choice for future trips.

This test series is now concluded. Thanks to Mountainsmith and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these comfortable and versatile lightweight trekking poles.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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