MOUNTAINSMITH PINNACLE TREKKING POLES
BY NATHAN KETTNER
March 12, 2008
kettnernw "at" yahoo "dot" com
Colorado Springs, Colorado
6' 1" (1.85 m)
175 lb (79.40 kg)
I'm a medium weight backpacker and generally hike a moderate pace and mostly in mountainous terrain.
I almost always use a tent (lightweight when backpacking, wall tent when hunting). I'm a weekend backpacker and make lots of day trips and single nights out, plus a few week-long backpack trips. All of my outings have been in the beautiful and rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.mountainsmith.com/index.asp
MSRP: 19.95 US$
Listed Weight: 13.5 oz (383 g)
Measured Weight: 10.75 oz (305 g)
Listed measurements: 26 to 54" (66 to 137 cm)
Actual measurements: 26 1/2 to 53 5/8" (67 to 136 cm)
I used these poles on a 2 day overnight hike in Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado and 6-day backpack trip in Teton Wilderness in Wyoming, plus several day trips and a 2 day snowshoe trip in Colorado.
Most of the hiking was on rocky terrain, single-track trails with occasional off-trail treks. The weather conditions were warm summer weather with some rain and occasional snowpack at higher elevations, except during the snowshoe trip where it was almost entirely snowpacked.
During the Teton trip the poles were nearly submerged during several river crossings/fords.
These poles performed well under all circumstances that I used them.
These poles are sold individually, which was important when comparing prices to other poles which may be sold only in pairs. The poles come with adjustable wrist straps, removable baskets, and end covers. The end covers are intended, per the manufacturer, to be used in town or on smooth flat surfaces such as pavement where I don't need the carbide point to stick into the ground for traction. The baskets are rather small compared to the baskets on standard downhill ski poles, but are somewhat useful for snow-covered terrain when I don't want the pole to sink deeply into soft snow. A small cardboard instruction manual comes with the pole that has some detail, but was not necessary for me for a rather simple product.
For the type and frequency of hiking and backpacking that I do, these poles have performed very well even though they are some of the cheapest available. I would recommend them to anyone. My personal preference is to remove the wrist straps because I've never used them - it's not like downhill skiing where I might be afraid of losing a pole if it's not strapped to my body. Also, the point covers are mostly useless because if I'm walking on smooth pavement I'm not likely to need/want the poles. There are lighter and stronger poles available, but I think Mountainsmith has produced a simple design that serves the purpose very well for a reasonable price.
Length - Adjusting the length is easy and uses a standard twisting motion to loosen or tighten them. The poles actually consist of three telescoping sections, so to get the full length of the poles I have to twist at two different points. Having two adjustments makes getting the poles (when I'm using two of them) adjusted to the same length a little more difficult, but the advantages are that they can be compressed more for storage, which comes in handy when packing everything into a car for transport or into a closet for storage. The upper section definitively clicks into place so I can tell when it is tight enough, which is a great feature that I appreciate. The lower section, however, just has to be tightened until I feel it is sufficient. I never had any problems with the sections coming loose while I was using the poles. Lastly, the middle section has length measurements, with ¼" (6 mm) increments (see pic below) which allowed me to see how long the pole was once I was comfortable and I could then set the poles to that length for the next trip.
Recoil - The pole has a spring inside the upper section that acts as a cushion when downward pressure is applied. The result is less jolting to my arms and shoulders, which is especially nice after I've been carrying a 30 lb (14 kg) pack all day. It seems like a fairly minor feature, but I don't think I will ever buy another hiking pole that doesn't have some spring to it.
Grip - The handles are contoured and fairly soft. The soft handles were a major selling point for me because I like to change my grip fairly often to avoid chafing on certain points of my hand. Some other poles that I've used have very hard handles which limit me to a fixed position/grip for my hand and I inevitably end up with blisters on my hands.
THINGS I LIKE
Price - These are some of the least expensive poles I could find.
Length Adjustment - The length adjusts easily and the measurement markers are handy.
Recoil - The spring provides just enough cushion to reduce impact to my joints.
Grip - The grips are soft enough to allow different hand positions and reduce hand fatigue.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
My only criticism is the size of the baskets. Larger baskets would be really useful for the snowshoeing trip I took them on where the soft snow was several feet/meters deep.
I emailed Mountainsmith (via their contacts link on their homepage) and asked about replacement carbide tips. They responded within one day and informed me that Leki replacement tips will fit their poles.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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