I've been using trekking poles for years. I like having the extra stability when I'm on uneven ground. I use one to hold up my shelter. They even kind of serve as 'feelers' when I inevitably get distracted by the scenery while walking. I like them.
However, I really don't like adjusting the length of the poles. I set the height at the trailhead and forget about it unless they slip. I've never once shortened or lengthened my poles when climbing or descending. The trails change way too frequently, here. I don't even use the straps because I find it much simpler to just choke up on the grip or palm the pommel. Also, the little squeeze with every step keeps my hands from swelling up.
I've done some searching around for fixed-length poles and all I've come up with are either trail-running poles or ski poles. And they're just about as expensive as folding or telescoping poles. I'm worried that the trail running poles might not be built strong enough to keep me from tipping if I'm tripping. The ski poles I've seen don't have extended grips and some of them are kind of heavy.
Is there an alternative out there that's relatively strong, but not too pricey, and with an extended grip?
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
You could always go the DIY route. That's what I did. For more details, see my thread "I Made Bamboo Trekking Poles" from 1/17/18 under THE LIGHTWEIGHT FORUMS > Make Your Own Gear! Sorry, I haven't figured out how to link to specific threads.
A few additional notes since I commented on that thread:
* Having used these poles on a couple of pretty steep uphill/downhill hikes now, I decided the the adjustable strap is more trouble than it's worth. If you were going to use wrist/hand straps, I'd say put them at the height you'll use most and don't make them adjustable. Since you've said you don't use the straps anyway, I recommend instead to wrap a long enough section of the pole that you can choke up and down as much as you like (see further notes below).
* The heaviest of the two poles, IIRC, was around 8 oz. Even so, they were a bit overkill. Bamboo is incredible stuff! Since then, I've made a second pair of poles for my oldest kid that were much slimmer. The heaviest of his is around 3 oz! If I were to make another pair for myself, I would want to split the difference and make them just a bit heavier and stronger than the lighter pair, but less than my original pair.
* The lighter pair that I made for my kid has a different style of handle on it. I bought some black drop fishing line, and I wrapped the handle area with that. This is a heavy coated woven line very similar to masons line. In fact, I suspect masons line would work just as well. For how to wrap a handle, look at the way thread is wrapped around fishing poles to attach eyelets. You tuck the loose ends in under the wraps so it can't unravel.
* The lighter pair still used wrist straps, but I used grosgrain ribbon instead of mule tape. It's much lighter and still plenty strong for the job. Instead of attaching it with a prussik like I did on the first pair, the wrist loops go under three turns of the handle wrap.
The journey is more important than the destination.
OMG! You just triggered the MYOG part of my brain.
It occurs to me that we have some old ski poles in the garage somewhere. If I can dig those out and cut off the hard plastic grips, I can cut them to length with my pipe cutter (which works on bike handlebars, btw) and use some handlebar tape and end caps to create the extended grips.
If I can find all this stuff in the garage at the same time, I will update here.
Even if they don't work out, I will try to find some bamboo. I suspect the ski poles will be kinda heavy, but at least they have the metal tips.
Are you a dedicated two-pole user? If not, Kelty makes a fixed-lenth hiking staff (that breaks down into 3 pieces for travel.)You can usually find them on sale somewhere for $20-30.
Back in the 80s, most people (including me) used a single staff, and moved our hands up or down it depending on trail conditions, uphill, downhill, etc. I got to where I could flick small rocks and twigs/branches off the trail with mine. Being a good suburbanite (mortgage, couple car loans, couple kids) there wasn't much gear money, so I used a "utility handle" from the hardwear store as a staff.
I suppose, if you want two poles, you could buy two staffs and use them together.
The topic might benefit from dividing into two parts: -one-piece poles -fixed length multi-section poles
One-piece are lighter and stronger than multi-section. They are also a pain to carry or travel with (poles poking two feet above the top of the pack will eventually collide with stuff).
Folding, non-adjustable poles are a compromise I can live with. I have a set of Komperdells that fold very short and compact yet are stiff and (so far) strong enough for my needs. Extend grips give me something to hold if I need shorter support. They take more space folded than telescoping poles collapsed, but are less fiddly and the joints can't slip, something every telescoping pole I've used does at some point.
Fixed length are tough to fit with certain shelters that need a specific length pole(s), but for simple tarp support are fine.
After a few weekends where life got in the way, I finally scrounged up some old, second-hand ski poles, a strip of cork bike grip tape, electrical tape and got to work.
It took a stout utility knife, to cut the plastic grips and baskets off of the poles, a hacksaw to cut them down and 15 minutes. The tape wrap isn't the best I've ever done, but it'll do.
They turned out just about a pound for the pair, but are very stiff. I haven't worked out a pommel yet, since the ends are narrower than handlebars, but if I come up with anything clever like a camera mount, I'll post. I'm gonna need a pommel so I can palm the poles on downhills, and also to muffle the noise that comes out of the end every time I tap the ground.
I've already got an early pair of the BD Distance poles, but I only got a few trips out of them before the cord inside one of them broke. I may try to fix that someday, but at this point, the joints are taped. I figure the torque on the joints will eventually rip the tape and snap the other cord.
For a pommel, how about a cork from a wine bottle? If you want a wider end, it could be a cork from champagne (or sparkling juice). To make one end of the cork narrow enough to fit in the pole, whittle it down and/or use a hole saw.
That is a very interesting idea. After I read that, I went to the kitchen and found a matching pair of wine stoppers with nice, wooden tops. Then, I sneaked down into the basement and checked the fit. They were way too big for the openings and besides, I think my wife would object. We only drink wine about once a year at the holidays, but that's when I like sleeping indoors, so...
I guess I'll have to hike into the local hardware store with one pole and find rubber bumpers that will fit over the outside.
Oh, and I weighed the poles and they come to 12oz, right now.
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