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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Swiss Gear Hiking Poles > Owner Review by Brian Hartman

SWISS GEAR Hiking Poles
BY BRIAN HARTMAN
OWNER REVIEW
August 28, 2008

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426@yahoo.com
AGE: 40
LOCATION: Noblesville, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have always been active outdoors but just started backpacking last year when my son joined scouting. So far, I have been backpacking throughout the Midwest as well as Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. I especially enjoy winter backpacking and the serenity of the wilderness under the cover of snow. My backpack and gear are older and weigh 35+ lbs (16 kg). This has limited the distances I have been able to cover and my enjoyment while hiking. My goal over the next several years is to replace my existing clothing and gear with more suitable and lighter weight alternatives.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: Wenger
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.wengerna.com
MSRP: N/A
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 15 oz (425 g) for both poles
IMAGE 1


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The Swiss Gear hiking poles are manufactured from lightweight aluminum in 3 sections and extend from 26" (66 mm) closed to 56" (142 mm) fully extended. A small card was attached to the poles and it listed the features and care instructions. It also included directions on how to adjust the height of the poles using the twist lock system. The poles can be adjusted up or down by simply twisting a section clockwise or counterclockwise to extend or lower the poles. The graduation marks on each section make it easy to match the height of both poles.
IMAGE 2
These poles also have an anti-shock design which helps absorb rough terrain by compressing the ends when additional weight is put on the poles. I did not take them apart to see how this is accomplished, but I assume it is done using a spring. The business end includes a carbide tip as well as a rubber tip and protective rubber cap. The handles are made of plastic and include nylon adjustable wrist straps. A compass, smaller than dime size is built into the top of each handle.
IMAGE 3

BACKGROUND

My decision to buy hiking poles this summer was due to an experience I had several years ago while in Yosemite. At that time, I felt I was in good physical shape but still experienced a lot of knee pain while hiking up and down the park trails. So this year, after planning another vacation out west, I decided to purchase hiking poles in an effort to make things more pleasant. I bought the Swiss Gear hiking poles at Walmart and used them for two weeks while backpacking through Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Over the course of my trip, I logged 100+ mi (160 km) in mountainous terrain with elevations ranging from 4500 ft (1372 m) to 10,300 ft (3140 m). The weather ranged from 80+ degrees F (27 C) in the valleys to 35 degrees F (1.7 C) and snow at the tops of the mountains. During the trip I hiked on dirt, mud and snow.

FIELD USE

This was my first experience with hiking poles. Before leaving on my trip, I raised and lowered them several times to get familiar with the twist lock height adjustment design. I have to admit that I was concerned that I might over-tighten and strip the locking mechanism or leave them too loose so that they collapsed during use. These concerns proved unfounded as the twist lock design worked flawlessly throughout my two weeks. I put them to the test on the first day, hiking 12 mi (19 km) and over 1400 vertical feet (425 m). During my ascent, I found myself adjusting the poles several times to find the most comfortable height that would allow me to push-off as I climbed steep areas. It would be nice if the manufacturer provided instructions on how to determine the correct pole height instead of leaving it up to experimentation. I decided that the optimal height for me was when my elbows were bent at 90 degrees while the pole tips were next to my feet. This allowed me to swing one pole uphill and then push off on that pole as I stepped forward and planted the other pole in front of me. Using the poles in this fashion increased my traction when the trail was sandy or contained loose pebbles. The carbide tips kept the poles from slipping and the were the best fit for this terrain. I did not try the rubber tips while hiking.
IMAGE 4
The real test was hiking back down the trail, as my last excursion left my knees extremely sore. I readjusted the poles so that they were several inches longer and began my descent. My reason for extending the poles while going downhill was that I wanted to plant them in front of me to lessen the impact on my knees as I stepped forward. Two hours later I stopped to evaluate my progress. I was making great time and had no knee pain whatsoever. The poles were allowing me to move quicker and were absorbing the impact of my footsteps. While stopped I took a few minutes to evaluate the compasses which were built into the pole handles. They provided general directions but were slow to react to direction changesand since I had brought along a dedicated compass I did not pay much attention to them afterward. I completed my hike and felt great. The next 10 days of hiking simply reaffirmed my initial feelings. My only complaint was that the nylon wrist straps irritated my wrists and caused some chafing. This was a minor annoyance that could probably be solved by wrapping a piece of cloth around the straps, although I never tried this myself.

SUMMARY

These poles worked very well for both uphill and downhill hiking. The pole height was easy to adjust and stayed exactly where I set it. Their weight was not a concern for me and I never felt like I was being bogged down or hampered by their weight. They appeared strong when I purchased them and remained so throughout my trip. They provided relief for my knees on steep terrain and much needed balance while hiking over loose rocks with my heavy backpack. I appreciated my new found surefootedness while traversing streams and crossing mountainside snow fields. As a testament to their effectiveness, I went through the entire two weeks with no sore knees and no falls. At the end of my trip they had no dings, no dents, a few scratches, but overall they were no worse for wear. Overall these poles worked very well for me. For the price I paid, they were a great buy.

THINGS I LIKE

sturdy design
molded hand grip
multiple tips are provided to use on different terrain
adjustable height with graduation marks
low price

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

After several days of hiking, I had chafing on my wrists from the wrist straps
There were no instructions regarding what the correct pole height should be

SIGNATURE

Brian Hartman
bhart1426@yahoo.com

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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