Tuesday, 8 September 2009

MYOG, Lightweight Trekking Poles

My normal trekking pole are old Highlander Mountaineer ones which have been reliable and not too heavy at 558g pair but obviously I'd like something lighter. Surprisingly you can spend quite a bit for poles that are only fractionally lighter and the lightest I've found were Leki Thermolite at 430g pair, Alpkit Carbonlite at 400g pair and Khola Evo X-lite at 360-380g pair. The cheapest are the Alpkit poles at £60. It seemed quite expensive to save around 150g but I was tempted by the Khola Evo X-Lite, unfortunately I can't find a supplier.

The other alternative are the very light poles made from what appear to be tent pole sections such as Raidlight At 280g pair they're really light but still expensive.

I had some damaged poles from a large family type tent and decided to try and make a set of lightweight poles. The poles were 13mm and I managed to salvage 6 sections that weren't damaged. I cut them down to length and used a length of 2mm guyline with a short length of paracord to hold them together, a set of tips/baskets from an old set of Lidl trekking poles were added and I used a roll of handlebar tape for the grips. To make the grips thick enough I used 2 layers of tape. I haven't come up with a suitable wrist strap yet and The handles still need some refining but so far they seem ok. Unfortunately they aren't much lighter than the Khola Exo X-Lite poles as they weigh 348g pair without straps but they haven't cost anything so I suppose I should be happy enough. I'll try them out and see how they perform. As they are it saves 200g over my Highlander poles.


  1. Now this is a MYOG post that realy hits home! I've been toying with doing just this. My dilema is that by preference I don't walk with poles. However, in view of future plans, it's highly likely that I'll find myself in areas with some potentialy scary river crossings, so although they would spend most of the time on my pack, I'd like to have poles with me. I hate the idea of strapping half a kilo on my back to cover a a few 10's of meters of ground on a multiday trip. If I take poles they'll have to be lightweight.

    I'd figured that raidlights etc, should be reporducible in the shed but hadn't got around to it. You got there first. Good for me, since you can do the testing and I'll reap the rewards ;-)

    Two possibilities for loosing weight: I guess the cycle tape is not insignificant in weight? How about foam grips (also available at cycle shops)? Also, if you have a kite shop near by, check out their wares. They are A1 suppliers of carbon tubing and the fixings (connectors and stops etc) that go with them (they also generaly stock top notch guy chord). I guess you could knock up carbon poles without too much effort/expense.

  2. The handles were a problem to be honest, I tried wrapping a length of double sided carpet tape around the pole and spiral wrapping them with 40mm strips of closed cell foam but it didn't feel nice, the handlebar tape is the foam type, not too heavy but still a bit small diameter and would benefit from 3 layers but of course that adds weight although I suppose they're only 35g per pole heavier than the Raidlight ones. I considered foam grips but it's difficult to get something to suit a shaft 13mm dia, same for cork fishing rod grips. I have an idea for straps (more weight unfortunately) but I need 40mm webbing which I don't have. I thought I could fold over a 30-35mm piece and stitch up both sides to form a pocket then thread a plastic buckle onto the webbing to make the adjustable loop, the pocket would slip over the end of the pole.

    I wonder if I could use 11mm poles? I e-mailed Hampton Works to see how much 6 x 11mm dia x 45mm L sections with spigots would cost.

    I'll have to see if there are any kite stores locally but failing that I'll look for something online. It seems carbon golf club shafts are popular in the US but they don't fold up and I couldn't find a supplier anyway.

    I'll update if I come up with anything.