View Full Version : trekking poles

03-16-2006, 04:41 PM
From a previous thread on this topic I came to the conclusion that most of you who use trekking poles prefer the ones that aren't anti-shock. Based on that I'm in the process of purchasing a pair of adjustable length poles without the anti-shock feature.
The poles I am looking at have a choice of two different tip styles. Can anyone tell me their thoughts as to which tips are better and why...steel tips or "flexible carbide tips?"
Your thoughts are appreciated.

03-16-2006, 05:51 PM

They have a great comparison section. I got the Life Link Aide de Camp without anti-shock. I'm not sure about the tips but after analyzing the other features you look for in a trekking pole, that was my choice. I think they are great. I chose them over the Leki and Komperdell. Do the research like you obviously are in the process and see which you think are best for your needs. I plan to use them in the Frank Church Wilderness of No Return.

03-16-2006, 06:52 PM
Thanks for the link, rooster.
Anyone else have any thoughts on the topic?

03-17-2006, 06:11 AM
I have been using MSR Gabel trekking poles for several years now, love them! These are made by Gabel (http://www.gabel.net/) and distributed by MSR. I have the anti-shock feature and like it along with the carbide tips. Never noticed my tips being flexible though. I have a canted handle made of a cork rubber composite that is very nice. Don't know if it's still made.

03-17-2006, 06:12 AM
Specifically, can anyone tell me just exactly what a "flexible carbide tip" is?

Rusty Hook
03-17-2006, 06:15 AM
As a long time cross country skier and dry land pole trainer, I would pick the carbide tips for duribility over the steel ones. I don't know about the flexible feature though, that sounds like you are getting back into the same kind of issues as with the shock absorbers.

Another option, and a better one on our terrain here in the Sierra, is a set of the Pavement Paws, which can be added to what ever tip configeration you end up choosing. Pavement Paws are designed to be used on hard , primarily level, surfaces such as sidewalks and paved roads. They have a cam lobe type surface which allows them to grip over a wide range of angles. They grip better on rock and are much quieter than the metal tips are. They will also work in snow and brush and you don't need the baskets most trekking poles come with with the Paws.

Nordic Walking poles often come with Pavment Paws on them. The Nordic Walking poles are also available in one-piece or multi-piece designs. Most places selling trekking poles also sell accesaries, and the Pavement Paws can be bought separately as a set. Leki is presently making the best Paws which I have used. They can usually be put on right over your metal tips on the plastic ferrules the metal tips are mounted in. The Paws have holes for the metal tips to go down into in them.

Gluing them on prevents you from eventually driving the metal tip through the Pavement Paws for even better duribility. In some types of terrain the Paws may slip, but the metal tips also tend to slip in the same type of terrain. You might try using a Paw on one pole and the standard tip on the other and see what you like best. If the Paws work out better, and in my experience they will, then glue both paws in place or cut the pole to the Paw hole diameter and glue them in place. Rubber cement has worked out better for me than super glue or epoxy.

If you are not adverse to using a one-piece pole, used cross country ski poles can often be picked up for a few dollars at yard sales and second hand shops. You can pull more than you can push. Many of the multi-piece trekking poles don't extend long enough. A good pole height is between the height of your arm pit to the top of your shoulder. Angling your pole plant adjusts for the angle of the terrain you are going through. Good luck with your pole adventure, and please let us know how it works out for you after you have used them for a while...Rusty.

03-17-2006, 06:26 AM
I have wondered about "flexible carbide" too. My inference is that they call it that because the tip is embedded in a very slightly flexible plastic compound that otherwise makes up the tip. It doesn't appear to flex much. Perhaps they do that since carbide is brittle and the small flex resists tip breakage. Just conjecture.

The carbide tips are definitely the way to go, but for years before "trekking" poles became the rage, I used an old aluminum ski pole with a battered aluminum tip and the only major difference I can tell is on hard ice, maybe some rock.

03-17-2006, 07:06 AM
Thanks for the information, guys.
The poles I'm looking at are Komperdells. The ones with the flexible carbide tips are the El Capitano model. The steel tipped model is called just that...steel tipped.
If anyone has the defining answer on flexible carbide tips I would love to hear it.

powder river 2
03-17-2006, 10:51 AM
East river or west river? Anyway, as to your question about the "flexible carbide tips", poel is on the right track. I recently picked a pair of Leki's at cheapest internet price I could find. Even though I didn't intend to get the A/S feature after the guys' advice on the other thread, I couldn't pass up the price and free shipping. /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/laugh.gif The carbide tip sticks out of a slightly tapered 2 inch sleeve beneath the basket on my model. You have to apply a lot of pressure on that sleeve to detect even a little flex. The tip itself protrudes about a quarter of a inch out a brass nipple and there's no discernable play in that.

03-17-2006, 01:24 PM
I have Komperdell C3's. NON anti-shock. They have rigid carbide tips. My philosophy on trekking poles is that I want absolutely NO cushion, give, or flex. I want support and fewer moving pieces to wear out. Just my .02 worth. YMMV.

03-17-2006, 04:21 PM
After the previous input and some more research on my own, I'm getting a clearer picture of the flexible part of carbide tips. Thanks to all for their opinions.
powder river 2....I'm east river but have always believed the best part of SD is west river. Some day I plan on living there or further west in either MT or WY.
To all....I ordered the Komperdell El Capitanos. Will let you know how they work out afer our 2nd annual trip to the Wind Rivers of WY.
Again, thanks to all.

Rusty Hook
03-18-2006, 06:57 AM
Sdyotehunter: I would second Sawtooth's statement about rigidity in your poles. When things get dicy, the last thing you need is give and flex in your poles. That's one of the reasons why I favor one-piece poles over collaspable ones. They are also a lot lighter, stiffer and there is nothing to wear out but the tips...Rusty.

03-18-2006, 07:21 AM
Sawtooth, or anybody, how do you distinguish "flexible" from "non-flexible" tips? Maybe mine are non-flex after all; Konperdell Coutours (rigid, telescoping, Ti-Al alloy). I wouldn't normally consider the tips flexible but in the context of this thread, I see the plastic can be bent very, very slightly. When I look at their website, they don't mention anything about the tips flexing by design. The point is largely moot since I've used them several times a week for a couple of years now and never noticed any perceptible give. Makes me curious about the continually changing terminology, which I think is largely driven by marketing.

powder river 2
03-18-2006, 08:28 AM
The following description of was found on the Leki website. It appears to refers to tapered sleeve/carbide tip connected to the pole sleeve.

Universal Flex Tip
The flexible tip can flex up to 30 degrees, without damaging the pole shafts. The use of carbide provides optimal grip on rock and ice surfaces.

03-18-2006, 08:34 AM

I think you hit the nail on the head...marketing. I can assure you, my Kompderdell C3's don't have any flex at the tip at all. Patrick and others who have these can vouch for this. I'm pretty sure the Contours have rigid tips too.

03-18-2006, 08:53 AM
Oh. Duh. Thanks guys, that clears it up. Apparently I've got rigid carbide tips.

30 degrees? Don't think I'd want a tip to bend like that.

03-18-2006, 10:39 AM
How about the Komperdell El Capitanos? Are they a rigid tip, too?
I've appreciated the last few posts. That was the type of information I was looking for. Thanks, guys.

03-18-2006, 12:45 PM
Okay I'm "a little late to the party" here but I have some feedback on the "flextip" issue. As was finally noted in PR2's post from Leki they've done the separate tip piece on their poles for years. Not sure about the Komperdells -- maybe they've started doing something similar. It isn't designed to "feel" flexible under normal use. It is designed to allow some give in situations when the pole tip might have gotten caught or jammed between rocks or some such. In that case, if you're walking at a brisk pace (or skiing and it gets caught in ice) it provides some protection from bending the shaft whcih would then no longer telescope in and out to adjust. When you try and flex it in your hands it doesn't give much -- but think about the amount of leverage on that tip when you're gripping the other end of the pole and the tip gets caught. Having the tip "give" by up to 30% in that situation with that much leverage could save other damage.

I've not personally had a problem with this and I own a pair of Leki adjustable probe poles for backcountry skiing and an pair of Leki trekking poles. We do see pretty much every way a person can find to break a pair at the repair shop or at returns at REI and I have seen the flextips broken, or pulled off and the rest of the pole still in workable shape. Of course it's not 100% -- I've also seen poles that looked like people were practicing pretzel making skills!

So... is it a reason, by and of itself, to buy a particular pole? I don't think so. I'd be more focussed on weight and comfort of grip (I also prefer non-shock absorbing) and does the pole extend to the length you need (like for a Para Tarp). But I wouldn't shy away from it.

Rusty Hook
03-18-2006, 02:49 PM
Cleve: Thanks for your insights. Is REI now stocking the Pavement Paws? I have already worn out a pair each of the Komperdel's and Leki's and am on my third pair, which I picked up locally. I have been using the Pavement Paws for a number of years now on a daily basis; they will last a normal user a very long time. The Pavement Paws make the tips, flexible or not, pretty much a non-issue...Rusty.

Jim N
03-18-2006, 04:53 PM
One criteria I have in mind for my next pole is the disirability of collapsing into a shorter length package. This would require 4 sections instead of my current three section pole. Advantage to this is the ability to strap alongside (or in) a relatively short pack like the spikecamp.

I do not hunt with a pole but do like one for the hike in, haul out & nasty sidehill / downhill where the third leg comes in handy.

Am shopping for the pole that packs down short, weighs nothing & can handle hard use & abuse. The ability to put on a basket for snow / tundra would be a big plus. Anything like that out there?

03-18-2006, 05:21 PM

The Komperdell C3's are only 27" long when collapsed down all the way. I don't know if you can find them any shorter. As far as weight, a pair of them only weighs 14 oz. I haven't used mine much yet, so I can't tell you about durability. Some of the other guys have had theirs longer than I have.

03-20-2006, 04:42 PM
Jim - Like Sawtooth's C3s, my Komp Contours also collapse down to 27", and at that length have never posed a problem on the outside of smaller packs. I've also got powder baskets and some smaller, general purpose baskets that I change in the spring and fall. No problem, though sometimes some silicone lube spray helps locking and unlocking.

03-22-2006, 07:06 PM
My take on tips for trekking poles, is that I wouldn't have anything other than the carbide tips. They are impressive, when I first got mine I stood on the concrete and kept leaning over to see how far I could go before the tip slipped and sent me sprawling.

They held good enough that if I'd gone any lower you'd have to consider me already down!

Course while I love them for anything, where they really come into their own for me is on sheep hunts, skipping over irregular shaped boulders laying at odd angles they provide a margin of comfort and speed that is no where close to attainable with just your two legs.

It's carbide or bust for me and you can get replacement tips if you want but I've never had to replace a carbide tip, though they do dull a little and lose some of their grip over the years, but by then my pole is probably thrashed anyway.

I've been pretty happy using the REI brand poles, perhaps Cleve can give you more info on them.

Jim N
03-22-2006, 07:31 PM
Sawtooth, Poel

Thanks for the input. A bit more length may be an acceptable price to pay for decreased complexity and increased durability.

03-22-2006, 08:34 PM
Been meaning to reply to your question about Pavement Paws. Either I haven't had time when checking the forum on a break at work or here at home my daughter's been home for spring break and been "Bogarting" the computer. She and her mom are on their way back to school now so...

Basically the answer is no, or I don't think so. Didn't see anything on the sales floor or on-line by that name. Also looked at what we have the option to Special Order from Leki and they weren't listed under that name. They do offer some optional feet/tip options we can order, but I'm not sure they're what you're asking for. Komperdell doesn't allow for Special Orders -- common w/ European comanies that don't have US distributors. Maybe they will do direct on-line orders? I haven't checked for that.

That all said, while I'm glad you love the feet you've found, I'm in Rusty's camp on the carbide tips. They've worked great for everything I've used them for and the wear like, well... Carbide. YMMV.


Rusty Hook
03-23-2006, 06:17 AM
Cleve: Thanks for your troubles. I did a little looking on my oun and found that REI is, in fact, stocking the Pavement Paws only they are listed as Leki Trekking Pole Fitness Walking Tips, Item No. 735252. The easiest way to access them is to use REI's search mode and plug in 735252. They are $12.00 a pair. If this works, you should be able to see what they look like bt clicking on the link below and putting 735252 in the search window:

http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductD...d=48oo6782& (http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?catalogld=4000000&8000&productld=48 oo6782&)

Actually I found this through WalkingSmart but they wanted 14.00 dollars a set. At one time I had the Part No, but after I got them locally I saw no reason to keep that information. The Pavement Paws was a term used by another seller, probably for sales appeal because it is catchy, but we now know they should be called Rubber Fitnes Walking Tips.

For those of us who are confined to streets and sidewalks most of the time, these rubber tips allow you to train effectively with your Trekking poles on a daily basis. When you head for the hills, leave them on and see what you think about how they work in your local mountain terrain...Rusty

03-23-2006, 11:50 AM
Yeah, that was the Leki item I had found, but the name was different so I wasn't sure it was what you wanted. Thanks for the clarification. I can see what you mean about the hard tips on sidewalks, etc., but I haven't ever used mine that way. Good advice if I ever do, thanks.


03-23-2006, 12:06 PM
Re carbide tips on concrete, there are little hard rubber caps ($5.oo) that I bought with my Komperdells--and before that for my Lekis--that work quite well. And, yes, carbide tips hold amazingly well on rock--even when they're just nubs as on my battered Komperdells. They do lose some grip over time, as Randy points out. Still pretty darn effective tho. For lots of sidewalk cruising it looks like Rusty is onto something with the Paws.

Rusty Hook
03-24-2006, 07:15 AM
I think the kind of rock you have to contend with may make a big difference. Here, we have mostly granite and quartz. On sandstone or shale the carbide tips would work much better. As someone who has done too many miles of roller skiing, roller blading and running with poles with carbide tips to count, I can say that the paws work much better on asphalt and cement than carbide does. The paws grip better on the type of rock we have and make the poles much quieter for hunting.

Keeping the carbide sharp will increase its effectiveness considerably. To sharpen carbide tips requires special tools. If you attempt to sharpen them on a bench grinder, you will need a carbide rated stone wheel to do it. Using a grinder isn't a good idea because the heat generated tends to melt the plastic the tips are imbeded in and the tips will eventually fall out after being sharpened on a grinder. A file which is rated for carbide is the tool of choice but requires lots of elbow grease.

Depending on manufacturer, some of the carbide tips are threaded in to the basket ferrule. Carbide tips can be bought separately in bulk and replaced as needed on the threaded ferrules. Changing oftem will make you a happier camper if you use your poles a lot. In the long run the rubber fittnes walking tips are easier to deal with, they are quieter, and grip better on rock surfaces with out giving up all that much on other surfaces except for glare ice. There, you really need the carbide tips. If you don't glue the rubber tips in place, you can just pull them off to use the carbide tips when needed.

For those who have tried the round rubber tips, there is a huge difference in the way the rubber feet work as compared to the rubber knobs. Because of the rocker built into the pavement paws or rubber fitness walking tips, they grip over a much wider range of angles compared to the rubber caps and carbide tips...Rusty.

03-26-2006, 06:48 AM
Received my Komperdell El Capitanos from Sierra Trading post and the flexible carbide tip is as rigid as can be...just what I was wanting. So, I agree with earlier posts that the flexibility issue is used for marketing and is a relative term. The poles are great...light weight with a comfortable grip. If you are looking for a set of poles they are worth checking out.

03-26-2006, 10:00 AM
I didn't read through the thread so sorry if this is not pertinent. FWIW I use non-collapsible, aluminum ski poles. I found that rubber arrow blunts fit snuggly over the tips and work excellent on gripping rocks, and quietly, and are very durable.