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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > REI Summit Trekking Poles > Owner Review by Chad E. Fike

REI SUMMIT TREKKING POLES
BY CHAD EMERSON FIKE
OWNER REVIEW
November 13, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Chad Emerson Fike
EMAIL: chadfike"at"hotmail"dot"com
AGE: 35
LOCATION: Oakland, Maryland USA
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I have gone camping, usually very close to home, since my teens but only started seriously backpacking around age 30. I do mostly weekend trips and often take dayhikes. My backpacking experience has been mostly in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. Each trip has been a learning experience about techniques and equipment. I try to balance weight, durability, and cost with my gear choices.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
(Poles are marked "Made in Austria By Komperdell")
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Manufacturer's Website: www.rei.com
2004 MSRP: US $60.00
2007 MSRP: US $59.00
2004 Listed Weight: 20 oz (567 g)
2007 Listed Weight: 20.6 oz (584 g)
Measured Weight (2 poles & 2 baskets): 19.5 oz (553 g)
2004 & 2007 Listed Maximum Length: 55 in (140 cm)
Measured Maximum Length: 56 in (142 cm)
2004 & 2007 Listed Minimum Length: 25 in (64 cm)
Measured Minimum Length: 25.75 in (65 cm)

REI Summit Poles

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

My REI Summit Trekking Poles were purchased in March 2004. Comparing the information on my original receipt and hangtag with the information currently on the REI website reveals that the Marine Blue poles currently shown have different graphics than my red poles, but most of the other details still seem similar. Both poles have 7075 (the new poles say "7075-T6") Aluminum Alloy Shafts. The poles still come with rubber trekking baskets and rubber tip protectors. My baskets are about 2.5 in (6.4 cm) in diameter. The poles are still advertised as extending and compacting from 25 to 55 in (64 to 140 cm). The website says the poles are "Made in Austria exclusively for REI" and my poles are marked "Made in Austria by Komperdell". The "soft rubber hand grips" and "padded, buckle-free straps" pictured on the website look very similar to the rubber grips and straps of webbing about 1-3/8 in (3.5 cm) wide on my poles. The bottom 4 in (10 cm) section of each pole is made of what appears to be hard black plastic or nylon with a metal tip.

Each pole has two telescoping sections. These sections are marked at intervals spaced 2.5 cm (1 in) apart. The first interval on both the lower and upper section is marked "105". The marks continue in increments of 5 (i.e. "105", "110", "115"...) up to the "140" mark. Setting each section of pole at the same mark is intended to result in a total pole length equal to that number. For instance, setting each section to the "130" indicator should result in a total pole length of 130 cm (51 in). [My measurements revealed the length at this setting to be closer to 132 cm (52 in)]. At first I was a little confused as to why these increments of 5 were actually only 2.5 cm (1 in) apart instead of 5 cm (2 in) . I then realized that the number represented by the mark is contingent on both sections being moved 2.5 cm (1 in) which adds up to a total change in pole length equal to 5 cm (2 in). After the "140" mark each section is marked "STOP" to warn the user not to pull the poles apart.

Extending or collapsing the poles requires grasping the main body of the pole with one hand and grasping the next lower section with the other hand. The poles are marked "close" and "open" with corresponding arrows. Twisting the upper section counterclockwise while holding the next lower section in place loosens the poles and allows the section below to extend or collapse. Once at the desired length, twisting the upper section clockwise while holding the lower section in place tightens the poles. The process can be repeated to extend or compact the bottom section of pole.

FIELD CONDITIONS

Great Basin NP
Wheeler Peak, Nevada
These poles have accompanied me on many miles of hiking and backpacking trips. The majority of trips have taken place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains of western Maryland and West Virginia in elevations ranging from around 2500 to 4800 ft (762 to 1463 m). I have also used the poles on trips to Glacier National Park in Montana, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Great Basin National Park in Nevada and in the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho. Elevations on these hikes ranged from around 5000 ft to the summit of Wheeler Peak in Nevada at 13,063 ft (1524 to 3982 m). Over the years the poles have been exposed to a variety of conditions. They have been used on everything from cold hikes on snow and ice in temperatures near 0 F (-18 C) to hikes on mud and rock and temperatures around 90 F (32 C). Other than using the poles once or twice as support poles for a tarp, I use the poles almost exclusively as trekking poles, not for supporting shelters.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The poles have proven to be very durable. Several scratches, especially on the bottom sections, show the effect of numerous hikes over rocky terrain. The bottom rubber section of each pole also has many nicks and scratches but it is still solid. The metal tip is worn but never seems to slip. I have not had a problem with pole slippage even when used on ice or when planted on slippery rocks during stream crossings. Several times the poles have momentarily caught between rocks but only once did a pole bend noticeably. I was able to straighten this slight bend in the bottom section by hand. Now, years after the incident, it takes close inspection to discern which pole was ever bent. Since I usually extend the poles to the same height, the corresponding numbers on each pole at this height are almost worn off. Neither the grips nor the webbing straps show any unusual wear. Overall, the poles show evidence of their use, but seem to have held up well.

The closest the poles ever came to failing was, as if often the case, a result of my own stupidity. I had collapsed the poles and stowed them in my pack for a scramble over some large rocks. Once back on the main trail I attempted to amuse my hiking partner by reaching behind my back and pulling the poles out samauri-style. He was more amused by the fact that I pulled the pole in half than by my "swordsmanship". This exposed the small threaded piece of plastic that apparently tightens the pole section in place. After sliding the pole back together it took a while to "catch" and finally tighten again. Since then I have refrained from ninja moves and have not had any similar problems.

I have occasionally used the accessory trekking baskets for hiking in snow. The bottom of each pole has two small protrusions that fit into two grooves in the basket. It can be rather hard to twist the basket into place, but they seem very secure once attached. The rubber tips seemed like a nice accessory to shield the metal tips from poking things when stowed in a pack or to provide grip on hard surfaces. Unfortunately, since the rubber ends simply pushed onto the tips of the poles and did not really have any mechanism of attachment, I lost them soon after getting the poles

The grips are composed of hard rubber with little cushion. Sometimes on a long hike my hands will start to become a little sore from rubbing against the poles. I have never had a blister, just some tender spots. I used to be jealous of the softer cushioned grips on my wife's different brand of trekking poles. However after hiking a hot, dusty trail this summer my wife's grips became coated with a layer of sweaty grit that was hard to wipe off. Since the hard rubber of my poles did not absorb sweat, the same grit did not attach itself to my handles. This hard rubber does seem rather cold in the winter. The webbing straps on the poles are durable but not particularly comfortable. I would like to try a more padded strap.

I have not really performed much maintenance on the poles. When returning from a hike in wet or damp conditions I like to leave the poles extended until they are dry. If the pole sections are dirty I will wipe them with a cloth to keep dirt from accumulating inside. I do not pull the poles apart past the "stop" marks. Other than this minor upkeep, the poles have been maintenance free.

My main complaint with the poles is that there is a slight amount of slippage over the course of a hike. Even with the slippage I have never felt the poles were not stable. Several times I have stumbled and put a large amount of weight on the poles and never noticed them collapsing, even a small amount. Instead, the slippage seems to be minor and accumulate slowly, requiring me to readjust the poles once or twice over the course of a day. Perhaps I am simply not tightening the poles enough.

SUMMARY

These were the first, and only, trekking poles I have ever purchased. Since I had never used trekking poles before I wanted a bargain pole to try out. Over 3.5 years later I feel I made a wise choice. The poles show signs of use but have proven durable over miles of trail. After looking at other poles I know there are lighter models around, but the poles do not feel heavy and weight has never been an issue in the field. A slight amount of slippage is annoying over a hike, but the stability of the poles has never been compromised. Overall I find the REI Summit Trekking Poles to be a durable bargain.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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