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REVISED: Application to Test Black Diamond Terra CF Trekking Poles

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  • edwardripleyduggan
    A small point. but I forgot to add a crucial point referred to in the text to the list! Application to test the Black Diamond Terra CF Trekking Poles I have
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2005
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      A small point. but I forgot to add a crucial point referred to in the
      text to the list!


      Application to test the Black Diamond Terra CF Trekking Poles

      I have read and understood the current requirements in the Survival Guide
      (version v. 1202 as of 09/10/04) and I agree to comply with all these
      requirements as a tester. I also have a signed tester agreement on file.

      Edward Ripley-Duggan
      51 years old
      Male
      6 ft 1 inches tall (1.85 meters)
      215 lb (98 kg)
      erd <at> wilsey.net
      Catskill Region, New York State

      Reviewer Background
      I enjoy walking in all its manifold forms, from a simple stroll in the
      woods to multi-day backpack excursions. Though by no means an extreme
      ultralight enthusiast, from spring to fall my preference is to carry a
      packweight of 12 lb (5.5 kg), more or less. In recent years, I've
      rapidly moved to a philosophy of "lighter is better," within the
      constraints of budget and common sense.

      Testing locations and conditions.

      Catskills, Adirondacks, possibly the White Mountains and the
      mid-Hudson valley region, from late winter to late summer/early
      autumn. Depending on when the poles arrive, I could expect to be out
      and about in temperatures down to 0 F (-18 C) in what little remains
      of the winter. Upper temperatures during the testing period could run
      as high as 90 F (32 C), during the summer portion of the test period.

      Similar poles used over the years

      Lekis, too numerous to count
      MSR Overland Carbon poles
      Inexpensive Black Diamond FlickLock poles

      Introduction

      I suppose poles and staves have been around for as long as there have
      been walkers. While it's hard to conduct Robin Hood style derring-do
      with a pair of adjustable poles, they certainly win hands-down over a
      quarterstaff when it comes to convenience and low weight! My first
      exposure to trekking poles (I had used poles previously for
      cross-country skiing and snowshoeing) occured when a friend loaned me
      her Komperdells for a few minutes, some eight years ago. I was
      immediately hooked. The improvement in stability, the ability to use
      them to accelerate pace by using a bit of upper body force, the extra
      control when hopping down from low boulders and ledges: all of this
      made it immediately clear that here was a tool I needed.

      Since that time I've experimented with poles from a number of
      manufacturers, and I have developed a reasonably thorough
      understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. I do find them an
      impediment on any kind of steep scramble where full balance is
      required. I am sometimes annoyed when they concertina unexpectedly (I
      maintain all my poles scrupulously, but it does happen, though rarely)
      or freeze to an inconvenient length in the middle of a winter hike.
      But these are small quibbles, and my fifty-year-old knees say that
      poles are a blessing!

      What is my ideal pole? They must be light (naturally) and have
      comfortable hand-grips that are somewhat absorbent and don't become
      sweaty. Straps should adjust quickly and easily, and should be
      comfortable against the hand when in a cross-country ski hold (which I
      usually use on ascents and flats). A nice knob on the end of the pole
      is convenient for down-climbing (I usually don't use wrist loops on
      descents, for safety reasons). The poles should fold down to a
      conveniently small size, so that I can strap them to my pack when I am
      climbing (and also so they don't hang up on trees when bushwhacking).
      Swing weight is important (for smoothness of movement), as are details
      such as interchangeable baskets (all my poles see summer and winter
      use). Baskets should be as rigid as possible, so that the end of the
      poles is less likely to be caught between rocks. They should stay
      locked at the length I have chosen, and (ideally) never, ever should
      they suddenly collapse under load. They should be durable and should
      not oxidize too much internally, and the locking mechanisms should be
      easily adjusted and replaced. And so the list goes on.

      In fact, good hiking poles are a triumph of good engineering and
      ergonomic design, and are far more complex artifacts than they at
      first appear. A malfunctioning pole can just about spoil a hike, and
      if one is backpacking and using poles for shelter support (as I do in
      summer), a broken pole can be awkward. The Terra CF has some features
      that I find interesting and commonsensical. I particularly like the
      extended grip on the shaft, which looks as if it will save some bother
      when side-hilling and in other situations where a rapid alteration in
      pole length is needed. I also like the look of the top knob for
      descents—it appears to conform well to the cup of the hand. And the
      light weight is nice! And so, I'll move on to…

      Testing issues

      1. Carbon fiber is a slightly problematic material for trekking poles.
      I should mention here that I have owned a pair of poles made
      completely from carbon fiber, but ultimately found them profoundly
      disappointing. This was in part because of manufacturing and design
      issues, but also because of the failure mode peculiar to CF. This
      material has an extraordinary strength to weight ratio, but it does
      not resist shearing forces that well. The fibers embedded in the resin
      substrate can break under sudden load, leaving an invisible defect
      that can cause the effected pole to shatter perhaps weeks later undera
      a nominal light load. This has happened to me, but with the lower
      section of a pole; sensibly, Black Diamond has opted for aluminum for
      that portion. Therefore, I certainly don't anticipate problems, but I
      will be extremely vigilant to observe (in so far as is possible) any
      evidence of pole failure.

      2. Another property of carbon fiber is that it has a slick surface.
      This can cause real problems locking the poles to length (again based
      on experience with another product). I will be very interested to see
      if the FlickLock design avoids this difficulty.

      3. Interestingly, a third issue with CF can be the converse—I have
      found that on occasion poles can lock so securely that budging them is
      a real headache. Is that issue avoided here?

      4. Is the maximum length (5 cm less than many poles, apparently)
      adequate for the various tents I have that use hiking poles? Can the
      pole be extended beyond its suggested length in low-load applications
      such as tent supports? How well do the handles fit into the pole
      pockets in such tents?

      5. What is the Binary Adjustment System and how does it work? How does
      it combine with the FlickLocks? Does the new FlickLock lever indeed
      allow for easier adjustment? Do the pole sections move smoothly when
      unlocked under all conditions?

      6. How comfortable are the extended shaft grips? Is the diameter large
      enough to give me a secure grasp on side-hills and the like?

      7. Do the wrist-straps adjust easily and stay at the correct length?
      Are they well-lined to avoid chafing?

      8. On hot days, how comfortable to grasp is the handle? Does it get
      slick with sweat or remain tactilely pleasant?

      9. How well formed to my hand is the Ergo top knob? Does it indeed
      work well for descents, giving me a secure grip?

      10. Do the poles swing well (a function of weight distribution)? Is
      the ergonomic angling appropriate? Does the carbon fiber section help
      absorb pole shock?

      11. No mention is made of the material of the flexi-tips. Carbide?
      Plain steel? Do the tips grip rock well? Does the flexibility prevent
      stress to the CF section?

      12. What baskets come with the poles? Are other baskets types
      available? Extra sets? How easily maintained are the poles and are
      spare parts easily purchased? As I've indicated, poles can be
      surprisingly delicate sometimes, and I try to maintain mine
      scrupulously. Do these poles need to be disassembled after hiking to
      allow the interiors to dry? This is one of these things one *should*
      do but which I tend to forget!

      13. What is the minimum length to which the poles collapse? When
      collapsed, do the project above the top of my pack/s?

      14. How well do the poles (both CF and aluminum sections) fair
      cosmetically; do they resist scratching and marking (which, over tine,
      can effect the peformance of the locking mechanism of a pole).

      I will (assuming success in application, and early enough delivery) be
      using the poles for snowshoesing as well as trekking.

      Above are some of the issues I'll be investigating if I am selected to
      review this pole. The list is by no means comprehensive. I have
      examined my testing commitments and I'm far from overload—-reports are
      spread out in a comfortable manner chronologically.

      My tests may be viewed at:

      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/tester_reviews/erduggan

      Completed series:

      Black Diamond Zenix
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Lighting/Headlamps%20-%20LED/Black%20Dia\
      mond%20Zenix/Edward%20Ripley-Duggan/

      MSR Missing Link tent
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Shelters/Tents/MSR%20Missing%20Link/Edwa\
      rd%20Ripley-Duggan/


      SnowClaw shovel
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Snow%20Gear/Axes%20and%20Shovels/Sn
      owClaw%20Aluminum%20Pro-Series/

      Tests in progress

      GoLite Wizard jacket
      LTR due May 3

      Dahlgren Backpacking Socks
      LTR due April 26

      MSR Ascent snowshoe
      LTR due 28 June

      Princeton Tec EOS
      LTR due 8 July

      Granite Gear Winterizer
      IR up, remaining dates not set

      Tilley Endurables TH4
      Not yet received (expected momentarily)

      Applications in process
      None

      +++++++

      Current BGT involvement other than tests

      Tests monitored
      Exponent Flex 5 System with Batt Pak
      Granite Gear Aptitude Gloves

      Applicants mentored
      Jonathan Kline

      OR Editor

      Asst. Moderator, BGT Recruitment list
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