Trekking poles are a favorite commodity among thru-hikers, backpackers, and mountain/ ultra runners. They ease the burden on your knees, become your tent pole, and at times will even unlock your car door through the the cracked window when you lock your keys inside.
I started using trekking poles initially for running and hiking steep mountains and then discovered that they are equally at home backpacking. Nearly every thru-hiker I know carries a pair. With the increasing growth of the ultralight market, many companies continue to come out with new, lighter varieties of poles. Enter Mountainsmith. In their lightest pole to date, the Andesite Trekking Poles can rival any carbon pole out there.
Mountainsmith’s Andesite Trekking Poles enter the lightweight market at just 11.2oz per pair, making them only slightly heavier than Black Diamond’s longest Carbon Z Poles. Whether backpacking or running, these are light enough to forget you’re carrying them.
When I took them out for the first time a friend wasn’t shy to ask to try them. “So light!” she exclaimed. The carbon tubes are slightly larger and seemingly more durable than the Black Diamond variety and I have yet to break these.
Additionally, the Andesite poles can accommodate lots of lengths — no need to measure and fret if you’re between sizes. The extendable, telescoping length allows them to easily adapt to the terrain and the user. You could buy one pair that would satisfy the tallest and shortest in your household. Also, since many ultralight backpackers use tarps or mids as shelters, it’s easy to get that extra headroom with a 140cm maximum extension.
Comfort is also one of these poles’ strengths. The soft, EVA foam handles are comfortable and grippy even when wet. The webbing straps are also very soft. They can be tightened at the handle or loosened to make room for gloves. Normally I cut pole straps off but these aren’t even noticeable and I haven’t wanted to cut them.
Now for the downfalls. First is the length when they are fully collapsed—they are still quite long. I like to be able to stash my poles in my pack on technical terrain or when I get to town. These are a bit too long and stick up above my pack — in one instance they got caught in some bushes. And forget about using them with a running pack; they are simply too long to stow. Maybe if they telescoped in a second spot they could be more compact. Hence, why I’ve taken a liking to Z-Poles—they’ll fit in a running pack, a backpack, and on a bicycle.
Second, is the telescoping locking mechanism. Occasionally this seems to get loose and the poles collapse, thus requiring them to be tightened every so often throughout the day. This could also be user error on my part—not doing it tight enough initially—but after a few times I began to wonder.
If Mountainsmith could offer the Andesite Trekking Poles in a more compact version with secure locking, they could easily contend with any other ultralight pole on the market!
And finally cost. These are by far the most affordable lightweight trekking poles out there, ringing in at $99.95. Black Diamond’s Z-Poles are $169.95 and Leki’s (a European company showing up in the hands of lots of athletes) lightest poles are anywhere upwards of $199.
Long story short, if you’re looking for a cost-effective, lightweight pole, Mountainsmith’s Andesite Trekking Poles could be for you, if you don’t mind that they are less compact.
- One pair goes from 81.2 cm collapsed to 140cm fully extended
- EVA foam handles
- Soft, adjustable webbing straps
- Lightweight (11.2 oz)
- Durable carbide tips (and rubber ones in case you’re in delicate areas)
- Length when collapsed
- Locking mechanism