MOUNTAINSMITH PYRITE TREKKING POLES
September 11, 2013
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
|Manufacturer: Mountainsmith LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.mountainsmith.com
MSRP: US $49.95
Listed Weight: 1 lb 11 oz (0.75 kg) * Metric conversion on retail hang tag - should be 0.77 kg)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 12 oz (0.79 g)
Listed Sizes: Compressed: 26" (66 cm) and Extended: 54" (134 cm)
Color Available and Reviewed: Red
Other Details (from the manufacturer's retail hang tag)
• Three telescoping aluminum sections
• Anti shock absorption system
• Quick-Twist locking mechanism
• Easily removable narrow profile baskets
• Rubber boot tips
• Rubber molded handle
• Carbide Tips
• Adjustable wrist strap
• Materials: 7075 Aluminum w/TPU handle
• Snow basket compatible
• Max Load: Up to 160 lbs
• Made in China
|Picture Courtesy of Mountainsmith
FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE
The Mountainsmith Pyrite Trekking Poles have been used on every one of my hikes and backpacks ever since I got them last autumn. My previously acquired trekking poles have been languishing in our barn for all these last 11 months. From treks in our backyard playground of Cooper Mountains and the bordering Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property to the Tenmile Range in Breckenridge, Wasatch Mountains in Utah and various other trails in Colorado's Rocky Mountains region, I've been able to enjoy more carefree hiking in the wilderness with these poles..
Temperatures have spanned four seasons now since receiving these trekking poles, with lows as low as 20 F (7 C) and highs as high as 100 F (38 C). I've used the poles numerous times while snowshoeing (See my picture on the Nightmare on Baldy Mine Tour Loop Trail) as well as on bare, hard trails, both dirt-packed and rocks from pea-sized scree to slabs of granite. While we haven't done a lot of trekking in rain storms, I have been grateful to have them in some light but steady rainfalls. My overnight pack weight averaged about 25 lb (11.3 kg) while my day pack weight rarely was more than 10-12 lb (4.5-5.4 kg). All-in-all, I'd say I have about 100 hours of use on the poles.
The first order of business when evaluating new trekking poles is how do I adjust them? Opening and closing should be intuitive and be of the no-fuss, no muss variety.
To adjust for my proper length, as with my previous trekking poles, the Pyrites twist loose and then telescope outwardly. Once positioned for the length I want, tightening the lock is accomplished by simply turning one of the three pole sections I am working on counter-clockwise until it stops. Then I move along to the next section and do the same. When adjusted properly, I don't have to worry about the poles collapsing when using minimal force.
If on the trail, I have need to adjust the Pyrites to account for the varied terrain, I can do so easily. I often lengthen one pole when traversing uneven slopes (such as narrow switchbacks) with the longer pole aiding my balance on the downward side of the trail and the shorter pole countering on the upward side of the trail. While I can't do it one handed, I can change the length and walk at the same time. I can just as easily adjust the Pyrites with mittens/gloves on.
Using the wrist straps properly with my hands through them from the bottom (straps hanging down the poles) and securing the straps under my hands while grasping the grip of the poles is second nature to me and generally comfortable. The act of holding the loop against the grip relaxes my hand and results in less fatigue of my hand. This works fine except when it is very hot and my hands are sweating. Then the combination of sweat (I don't "glow" like some females - I sweat!) and the stiffness of the straps, make gripping the poles less than ideal. When my palms turn to one big sweat gland, I simply ignore the wrist straps completely.
Because the straps in this position are not wrapped around my wrists, I can easily drop the Pyrites from my hands by simply releasing my grip on the poles. This is very desirable when I need to shed the poles quickly to deal with an immediate task that requires two (or even one) hands.
Though the grips do not have any cushioning on them, they don't overly fatigue my hands. I have had other poles that caused my hands to ache after a full day on the trail. The Pyrites don't cause any cramping at all even after a day of pounding hard rock.
Of note is the Pyrite Trekking Poles' anti-shock feature. Here in southern Colorado, I hike mostly on very hard ground or flat out rock be it semi-groomed trails or bushwhacking right off our ranch which borders the Cooper Mountain range. Without any sort of anti-shock mechanism, I frequently can feel a definite jarring sensation when pounding down the trail. This results in an undesirable situation as my hands and arms as well as my shoulders absorbing the jolts and getting stiff and sore in the process. The Pyrites' anti-shock mechanism helps to slightly compress the poles when they strike hard surfaces, making for a much more comfortable backpack or hike and a more restful night devoid of aching hands, shoulders, knees and toes - ok, I just added the "knees and toes" part so I could sing just now.
The tips of the Pyrites have just the slightest indentations in the middle so as to be concave which makes them less apt to slide on sheer rock and so have been a great help to me - the klutz - making me feel more secure. I feel I can trust the Pyrites to support my weight and keep me stable in less-than-stable conditions. Even on hard-crusted snow or ice, as long as there was even the tiniest bit of texture, the Pyrites gripped well.
As I have indicated on many occasions, I am not the most graceful hiker in the world and I have a genetic condition that renders me majorly handicapped with bad peripheral vision plus bad depth perception. So I really depend on my poles to keep me on my feet and on the straight and narrow even more than the average hiker. I often really lean on my poles and they better never fail me by bending or breaking. (See my picture on Huron Peak - I really worked out the Pyrites there!) The Pyrites never let me down, literally!
There is some noticeable wear and tear on the poles after being so used, thrown in the rooftop car carrier and jostled for weeks at a time and hanging in the barn for almost a year now. The surfaces of the poles are rather scratched but the function of the Pyrites is still as solid as they were when they were shiny new. And, despite Colorado's notorious UV rays, the paint color has not faded from its new out-of-the-box bright red. I like to think the Pyrites are "experienced" rather than old. Or is that me I'm thinking about?
|April 2013. Nightmare on Baldy Mine Trail
|Cooper Mountain range in Fall 2012
|Huron Peak, CO - July 2013. I really needed good poles
1.) Compress and open easily.
2.) Anti-shock absorption system keeps my hands and arms from becoming fatigues.
3.) Are very sturdy and haven't bent even after saving me from imminent face plants!
4.) Have held up well despite rather rough treatment.
1.) Initially, one of the poles had a problem with the bottom third section "slipping".
2.) The wrist strap is not so comfortable when it's hot and I'm sweating.
When I picked up the Mountainsmith Pyrite Trekking Poles last September at the Mountainsmith Press Day in Boulder, Colorado I was immediately impressed with the sturdiness of the poles. I previously had been using another manufacturer's much more expensive poles and was happy with them. However, I'm always excited to try out something new so I decided to give the poles a go. After almost a solid a year of field trials, I'm very happy I did so. The Pyrites work great for all my hiking needs, especially when on rough terrain. I was very surprised when I started writing this review to search out and find these poles are priced very reasonably which makes my recommendation of them even heartier.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
Solid construction, comfortable and reliable on the trail and a good price! What's not to like?
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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