Building a perfect trekking pole

A follow up to this post: I want to make the perfect pole for primarily one-pole hiking.  Priorities (in order) are: durability, stiffness, weight, compactability.  Needs to go up to 54 inches or so for use as a shelter pole and for potential use with a yet-to-be-made friend as a skiing pole.  Needs to get down to 45 inches as that’s the shortest length I might want.  Shorter for carrying is good but not mandatory.

Ingredients (top to bottom): BD carbon probe ski pole lower shaft (115cm), available in the spare parts section of their website.  Old Leki ski pole upper section, retrofitted with a flicklock (twist lock mechanisms are archaic).  One BPL foam/cork grip.

The carbon section is 42″ total length, 37″ to stop mark, 4.5 oz with Leki trekking basket shown.  The Leki section is 30″ long,  and 7 oz with the stock grip and strap as shown.  The BPL grip weighs 0.4 oz.

Retrofitting a flicklock onto a pole is pretty easy, provided the OD of your pole matches one of the several sizes they sell (spare parts on “mountain” section of their site).  First remove the twist lock stuff (usually possible without tools), then drill a hole, then dremel a slot from the end to said hole.  Install flicklock, use.  I have a pair of the very first three section flicklock trekking poles BD made, and aside from breaking the mid sections in ski crashes (beyond spec and thus not really the poles’ fault) they’ve been bomber.  The flicklocks have never slipped except when they aren’t retightened periodically, and are pretty immune to permanent harm from grit and other abuse.  The latest version is redesigned to “have more clamping force,” which is I think marketing speak for “has more steez.”  For me the original is one of the best gear innovations in recent memory.

Combined as pictured the two parts work nicely (the inner diameter of the Leki is 16mm, outer is 18), and are very stiff.  They are too long, and the Leki grip is a tank and the hard rubber isn’t so comfy and conducts cold better than I’d like.  So I decide to cut 10 inches off the top, and glue on the BPL grip.  Ideally the lengths of the top and bottom section would be more equal to provide the requisite length and greater compactability, but I don’t want to cut the carbon, and want to preserve future use of the lowers as an avalanche probe.  Plus the longer insertion of the lower into the upper makes the combination very stiff in normal use.

Yes, that is what she said.

The groove pictured above, cut in with a bench grinder and smoothed with a file, is to seat a bit of thin spectra cord.  Said cord will stick out the bottom of the grip and provide a place to tie a strap should I want to use one, and be unobtrusive when I don’t, which will be most of the time.

I put a bit of gorilla glue into the bottom of the grip, then smear some shoe goo on near the end of the pole.  This is a secure method of attaching the grip, and the shoe goo helps the grip slide all the way on.  The gorilla glue does expand up the inside of the pole (set it upside down to dry), and will need to be tamped down a bit so it doesn’t eat up to much collapsibility.

The upper section, post mod and with the flicklock installed, is 3.5 oz.

I don’t like the forward slant of the grip, and the amount of foam above the end of the pole (~2cm) is actually too much.  It wiggles around a bit.  The Gossamer Gear grips are a great shape (available for sale separately), but the cap above the top of the pole isn’t solid enough.  One both my MYOG poles (GG grips on cut down fiberglass XC ski pole shafts) the shaft eventually poked through the grip.

On the above grip, I took a bit off the top and reshaped it to my liking with the sanding wheel on the bench grinder.

Result is 8 oz on the nose, max length of 57 inches, minimum of 44.  Should work well.

One response to “Building a perfect trekking pole”

  1. […] follow up to this post: I always intended to make a pair, and to use the Gossamer Gear grips, which are the best. At first […]

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