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Review: Ultimate Direction FK Trekking Poles || Dreamy performance but inherent limitations

By Andrew Skurka / October 22, 2018 /

For two weeks last summer I used the Ultimate Direction FK Trekking Poles while guiding trips on the Pfiffner Traverse in Rocky Mountain National Park. The FK Poles were new for spring 2018 and are part of an adventure-oriented collection that also includes the FK Tarp, FK Bivy, and FK Gaiters. FK is short for “fastest known,” as…

Reader Q || Poles for ultra trail running: recommendations, sizing, & carrying

By Andrew Skurka / February 26, 2018 /

From reader Matt. P of Knoxville: The value of poles in an ultra depends on: Individual fitness, Course length, and Amount of vertical climbing. Essentially, the more hiking you expect to do, the more valuable they will be. Participants in the middle and back of the pack will hike more than the front-runners, but some…

Preview: Ultimate Direction FK Poles || 4-oz fixed-length carbon

By Andrew Skurka / August 12, 2017 /

All things being equal, fixed-length trekking poles will be lighter, stronger, and less expensive than telescoping or foldable models like the Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles or Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles. Yet there is currently only one off-the-shelf fixed-length pole that is suitable for backpacking: the Black Diamond Vapor Carbon 1 Pole.…

Why & when: Removal of trekking pole straps & baskets

By Andrew Skurka / May 31, 2017 /

Trekking poles like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork (long-term review) and Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles (long-term review) come stock with nylon hand straps and plastic trekking baskets. But on 3-season backpacking trips, I leave the trailhead with both features removed. Purpose The hand straps are rooted in Nordic skiing. By looping one’s…

High water: Gear & skills for hazardous creek fords

By Andrew Skurka / March 17, 2017 /

Unbridged creek crossings are the greatest hazards in the early-season. High water volume (due to snowmelt) and steep gradients (due to mountain topography) is a dangerous combination. In comparison, other early-season conditions like sun cups, postholing, intense bugs and even hard snowfields seem like a mere annoyance or inconvenience. Let’s discuss how to safely manage…

Lust: Black Diamond Vapor Carbon 1 Poles

By Andrew Skurka / January 14, 2017 /

I generally recommend telescopic poles like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork (long-term review) and Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock (long-term review) because they are: 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.…

Trekking pole replacement tips: Buyer’s guide & instructions

By Andrew Skurka / November 22, 2016 /

With extensive use, trekking pole tips must eventually be replaced. This post includes a shopping guide for replacement tips and DIY instructions to do it easily. In my experience, hiking pole tip longevity is correlated with distance and ground surface. The more hiking you do and the rockier the ground, the more quickly they wear…

Long-term gear reviews: Product insights after a 100-day Appalachian Trail thru-hike

By Garrett Workman / September 26, 2016 /

Intro by Skurka. After his recent 100-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Garrett contacted me with some gear reviews, some about products I have written about previously. I thought his insights were valuable, due to his extensive use and to his unbiased viewpoint, and asked his permission to share them. If you have questions for Garrett, leave a comment.…

Long-term Review: Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles | Two design flaws + solutions

By Andrew Skurka / November 11, 2015 /

This summer I used the Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Trekking Poles (short-term review) on two significant outings, in addition to some local day-hikes: a 10-day thru-hike of the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, and an 8-day yo-yo of Wyoming’s Wind River Range, including a northbound thru-hike of the Wind River High Route. The cumulative…

Review: Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Trekking Poles | Shockingly awesome performance for $30

By Andrew Skurka / July 21, 2015 /

Update, November 11 2015:  Also read my long-term review. Two months ago at the local Costco I bought Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles. They are also available from Amazon (go here) with Prime shipping. At a minimum, I thought they would be useful for visiting family and friends. At best, I hoped…