- Convenient for air-travel;
- Easily stow-able on the outside of a backpack, for extended talus scrambles; and,
- Adjustable, and therefore can fit different family members, can be used for different outdoor activities (e.g. hiking vs snowshoeing), and can support shelters with fixed shapes like the Sierra Designs High Route Tent even if the shelter height is different than your preferred pole length.
But there is one more important reason, too: They are commercially available, and can be purchased at any outdoor retail store and even Costco.
But the truth is that for some applications I would MUCH prefer to have fixed-length poles, notably for thru-hikes and for local backpacking trips with minimal scrambles. Fixed-length poles are more finicky, but they will be lighter, less expensive, and stronger than telescopic poles made of the same shafts, grips, and tips.
I have long been searching for fixed-length poles that are commercially available and that I would want to use for backpacking. The only model I know of are the Gossamer Gear LT3C, but I’ve always been scared off by the skinny shafts. I’ve looked at ski poles, too, but they normally have unfriendly rubber or plastic grips (without extension grips) and non-replaceable tips.
Enter the Black Diamond Vapor Carbon 1 Poles.
- Extremely stiff shafts, thicker overall than those on the Alpine Carbon Corks;
- Foam grips with foam extensions, for choking up on the pole in steep and uneven terrain; and,
- Replaceable carbide tips.
They weigh just 11 ounces (310 grams) per pair, and will be even lighter after removing the wrist straps and snow baskets. A 5-oz pole is a joy to use even compared to a 7- or 8-oz model.
If the Vapor Carbon had cork grips, I would consider them “perfect,” but foam is ultimately okay. The $150 price tag is tough to swallow, too, although less expensive than BD’s premium models like the Alpine Carbon Corks and foldable Distance Carbon Z.
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