There's at least one thing that kite builders and lightweight backpackers have in common: They want their stuff to be strong and light. So when I decided to build (more like assemble) my own lightweight poles I looked here for ideas. I chose a pair of 1/2" OD (outside diameter) carbon fiber tubes at $13.26 each. I could have gone with a lighter, smaller diameter tube but I was willing to pay a small weight penalty for more strength. Also, the 1/2" dimension was perfect for what goes on either end as you will see below. I have not even cut the tubes down because the 48" length seems about right for me. Perhaps a tad long but I plan to grip them a little low on level ground and use the full length for descents.

Now that I had my shafts it was time to look for tips and grips. Let's start from the bottom up.

I found these tips at REI. About $9.00/pr. With their 1/2" ID (inside diameter) they slipped on to my tube ends perfectly. But being rubber I question their durability. And they don't accept baskets. So my backup plan is a pair of off the shelf Leki Pole tips. They don't just slip over the tubes so I'll need a ferrule. But at this point they are still plan "B". I plan to use the rubber tips for about 25 miles' worth of day hikes and then assess their future. Also, it seems to me that the broader footprint of the rubber tips would be less damaging to the trail than the pointy carbide tips.

On to the grips. I looked around quite a bit and found these at Cabela's. Cost was about $2.00 each. The EVA foam feels exactly like the grips on my store bought REI poles. And since they're intended for fishing poles they're made to provide a firm grip while wet.

They slipped onto the shafts with ease.

Keep in mind that this is a work in progress. I have yet to add straps. The Ti Goat and Gossamer Gear poles are strapless. Some say they work great without. I find myself transferring lots of weight to the straps on my existing poles and I can't imagine going without them, but I want to keep an open mind so I'll go strapless for a while. If I do find that straps are needed I have a few ideas for adding removable ones. Again, this is a work in progress. I'll post more as they evolve.

Total Cost: About $39.00 in parts plus shipping.

Weight: 3.4 ounces each. The carbide tips weigh the same as the rubber tips.

Flexion: Hardly any. I can lean on them with my full weight (175 lbs) and they barely budge.

Assembly time: Less than 5 minutes.

Durability: ???? We'll see. I do not expect long term daily use from these poles. I made them mainly for my JMT thruhike this summer.

Packability: Not a good pole for planes, trains and automobiles. But I didn't intend them to be.

As a shelter pole: They work on my Lunar Solo and Gatewood cape. Not as well as adjustable poles but they will never collapse on me.

To be continued........