LTR: Mountainsmith - Carbonlite Trekking Pole - Kurt Papke
- View SourceMy LTR for the poles is here:
pasted text below:
Long Term Report
Terrain/ trail type
June 14-16, 2013 Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona Carr Canyon
(19 km) Steep canyon
Sunny, 50-80 F
June 21-22, 2013 Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona AZT
(31 km) Sky island canyon and ridgelines Sunny, 55-85 F
(13-29 C) 5600-8500 ft
July 5-7, 2013
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness north of Mammoth, Arizona
Creek running through canyon + slot canyon
Sunny, 70-100 F
July 26-28, 2013
Huachuca Mtns near Sierra Vista, Arizona Crest Trail
Sky island canyons and ridgelines Sunny/rain mix, 55-80 F
I have had good intentions of backpacking the Huachuca Mountains for
some time, and finally made it there for a 3-day/2 night trip. The
first night was car-camping at a National Forest campground just a few
steps from the trailhead, night two camp was on top of a ridgeline.
This was a solo trip, so the only photos I have of the poles in action
are the same old "holding up the front porch of my tarp" shots.
I did start to notice some wear and tear on the cork handles. I began
to feel bits of cork come off on some of the sharper edged areas:
This seems to be mostly a cosmetic issue at this time, but I'll be
keeping my eye on this to see if things get worse.
Arizona National Scenic Trail - Huachuca Mountains Passage
Same mountains as the prior weekend, but starting from the Arizona
Trail (AZT) trailhead on the west side of the range. I car camped
near the trailhead on Friday night, and hiked up into the Huachucas on
Saturday. When I was approaching the summit, one of my pole straps
had slipped a bit and I wanted to tighten it up. I yanked on the
strap to loosen it, and the whole retention mechanism came flying out.
I heard something land in the woods, but I didn't know what it was,
and there was no way to find that needle in a haystack. I completed
the hike without using the strap on that pole.
When I returned home I inspected the retention system, comparing the
intact survivor with the casualty:
Not good - the pin is obviously missing from the pole on the left.
This test completes at the end of July, and I am doing my last
hardcore backpacking trip the weekend of July 4, and it really wasn't
so bad using the poles without the strap, so I elected to not contact
customer support to replace the lost parts.
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness
It's been four years since I had been to Aravaipa Canyon, and I wanted
to explore more than I did last time so I got a permit for a 3-day
trip. The poles got a fair amount of punishment sloshing through the
The Carbonlite poles and I are in the lower right corner of the
picture, and the incredible geology of the canyon is front and center!
The poles worked fine in spite of having just one strap. I
alternated hands with the strapless pole to reduce fatigue. The good
news is I was not plagued by any thumb blisters like I experienced on
prior trips - apparently they are caused by the straps.
The other issue I had is the bottom section of the both poles refused
to collapse at the end of the hike. They had spent a lot of time in
and out of the water, as I was constantly trudging through the creek
for three days. When I tried extending/collapsing the sections a few
days later it seemed like the twist-lock mechanism was sticking, and
there was still clearly water in the shaft. Apparently they get a
little reluctant when wet.
I returned the the Huachuca Mountains looking for a respite from the
hot and humid Tucson monsoon season, only to run into rainstorms. I
didn't get in a lot of mileage in, but I did get a break from the
heat. This was the only time I used the poles in muddy conditions -
the trails were soaked from rain turning the red dust into a gooey
mess in places. The poles did great biting into the slippery
surfaces, including saving me from one nasty fall.
I had no problems extending the poles at the beginning of the hike nor
retracting them at the end. The problems I ran into at the end of the
Aravaipa trip must have been due to water buildup and maybe some sand.
I haven't experienced anything since my Field Report to change any of
my summary points there. I will add that I was disappointed in the
deterioration of the cork handles, the breakage of the strap
adjustment mechanism, and the stickiness of the shaft locks when wet.
I am unusually adept at breaking things, so it may just have been my
rough handling of the gear, but it seems like durability is not a key
strength of the design.
My bottom line after using these poles for 4 months is they are a
reasonably-priced pole that will hold up to moderate use, ideal for
the casual hiker. They do have a lot of features for the cost: I
would not expect cork handles and shock absorbers at this price point,
so if I were a beginner buying buying my first set of poles they would
be ideal to try out these features without spending a huge amount of
Many thanks to Mountainsmith and BackpackGearTest.org for the
opportunity to test this product.
- View SourceHi Kurt, sounds like you tested the poles to the max! I have no edits but I think it would be valuable information if you contacted customer service about the missing pin that holds the strap and added how they respond. But I also understand that you may be like me and fell reluctant to "bother" them when you feel you were just rough on the poles and probably rougher than most folks would be. Anyways, something to think about if you decide to do an addendum to the report.
--- In email@example.com, Kurt Papke <kwpapke@...> wrote:
> My LTR for the poles is here:
> or: http://tinyurl.com/ly6ayr6