This is not a review, simply first impressions of my latest gear purchase. Carbon fibre trekking poles and a lightweight staff from Cnoc. I say latest, I backed this Kickstarter project almost eleven months ago. The project was to bring a new design of ‘poles for life’ to market. I pledged and ordered a pair of trekking poles and an ultralight staff. With supply problems and Covid-19 associated issues, manufacture and final delivery took longer than first suggested. That is the nature of Kickstarter projects which always seem overly ambitious, at least that is my experience. But I was in no rush and felt no need to be impatient. I tracked their delivery from the U.S. last week and picked them up from the parcel depot yesterday, more on that later.
Three Points of the Compass has used trekking poles for many years. I soon settled on Leki poles and an old favourite, a single Leki Sierra Photo pole with removable cap exposing a camera mount beneath has continued to be my favoured ‘go to’ pole for most day hikes.
For multi-day hikes I prefer a pair of UK manufactured Pacer Poles, with their unique moulded raked hand grips. It is this feature that I like most. I find them ergonomic, more natural and comfortable to hold and use, if a bit sweaty and slippery in hotter weather, or just slippery in rain. The customer service from this company is superb. Having expressed an issue via email on one occasion I was instantly sent replacement sections. When I later wore a pair out, I immediately purchased another pair. I am not a fan, however, of twist locks which I have had both jam up, and be reluctant to tighten at times. Another thing to note is that I use these as my poles for my Duplex tent, and have never experienced any issue with the large moulded grips when doing so. With an extender, I have also joined two together to make a single long pole for my Wiki-up teepee tent.
To return to the two Cnoc poles. I purchased a pair of three-section carbon fibre shaft poles, with friction flick locks and chose Cork grips.
- Weight: 266g, this is for a single pole, with no basket, with strap fitted (26g heavier than the advertised 240g)
- Collapsed length: 680mm (shorter than the advertised 710mm)
- Maximum safe length: 1550mm (this is with pole extended to the ‘stop here’ markings on the shaft. Shorter than the advertised 1580mm)
- Shaft diameters: 18mm, 15.5mm, 13mm (different to the advertised 18mm, 16mm, 14mm)
- Each pole has 100% carbon fibre shaft, compressed Cork grips, polyester and microfibre wrist strap and screwed on carbide tip.
- Poles are supplied with a mud basket (each 9g) a large snow basket (each 23g) and rubber road tip (each 9g). I prefer the smaller mud baskets that Pacer employ so screwed them on instead (each 5g)
I also backed production of a single two-section carbon fibre ‘Ultralight Staff’, choosing a short EVA grip with this.
- Weight: 176g, this is with no basket fitted and no wrist strap. Staffs are not supplied with a wrist strap but there is a cut-out for one to be fitted retrospectively. (Staff weight is heavier than the advertised 155g)
- Collapsed length: 945mm (longer than the advertised 930mm)
- Maximum safe length: 1655mm (this is to the ‘stop here’ marking on the shaft. Longer than the advertised 1650mm)
- Shaft diameters are: 15.5mm, 13mm (different to the advertised 16mm, 14mm)
- Staff is supplied with the same mud basket (9g) and snow basket (23g) as comes with the pair of poles. Shafts are again 100% carbon fibre, short EVA handle and screwed on carbide tip.
Poles and staff have metal and plastic friction quick locks which are easily adjusted and simple to use. It is possible that the heavier than quoted/advertised pole weight is down to the strap weight, however the staff, which has no wrist strap fitted, is also 21g heavier than advertised. That said, both poles, and particularly the staff, are still extremely lightweight.
There are a couple of other rather nice features- each pole is ‘handed’ via different coloured branding on straps and shaft. Construction looks good though I expect the printing on the shafts to wear off pretty quickly, in common with other brands of pole.
I note that the shorter lower section (580mm) from a pole can be exchanged with the longer bottom section (878mm) in the staff. This gives a maximum extended length of the staff of 1395mm and reduces the weight of the entire staff to just 159g.
For further reference:
- (Single) three-section Pacer Pole: max length 1410mm, weight 351g (no basket).
- (Single) two-section Pacer Pole (metal top shaft, single carbon lower shaft): max length 1285mm, weight 314g (no basket).
I remain concerned over using carbon poles for multi-day hikes, particularly if relying on them to erect a shelter. Freezing conditions can affect them, and we have all caught the tip or shaft of a pole when crossing rocky ground etc. A metal pole will flex or bend, and can be bent back, a carbon shaft may shatter.
I currently use two poles to erect my superb Z Packs Duplex, I cannot put that up with a single pole if one of my pair were damaged. As an aside I have also recently been looking at purchasing an Altaplex (now no longer available in my preferred colour/DCF weight), which utilises a single pole so if I do eventually purchase and use an Altaplex it would potentially permit one of my carbon trekking poles to be damaged catastrophically and I would still be able to erect my shelter.
As I mentioned above, these poles are still a new purchase and I have yet to put a single mile on them. But I do appreciate Cnoc’s ethos behind these. Every single part on pole or staff can be replaced so potentially a pole for life, like Trigger’s broom. Though no spares are available through their website yet. I do wonder if the cost of purchasing any replacement parts from the U.S. will ultimately prove unfeasible.
My new poles and staff were posted to me via the USPS who informed me that they were en route. I followed their passage into the UK where they halted. I then tried to track them down, were they with Hermes, DPD, TNT, DHL, Royal Mail? Who knows as I received no delivery, advice of attempted delivery, no notification via text, phone or mail. I eventually established that the package had been transferred to Royal Mail, who then transferred it to Parcelforce, where it then went to Customs, who released it back to Parcelforce. Who took it to an unspecified depot. I managed to identify the depot and rang them up to be told that there was a customs fee to pay and that I could visit the depot to do so and then receive my parcel. I drove to the depot and hurrah, they found my parcel. I thought the £5.55 Import Duty acceptable, but another £42.22 VAT!, then a further £12.00 Parcelforce Handling Fee- total £59.77. And this is on top of my $161 Kickstarter payment in 2019 which comprised of a $145 Kickstarter pledge plus a further $16 for international shipping. A couple of hours after I got back home Parcelforce sent me a text telling me they had successfully delivered my parcel.
I got stung…
But still, they look excellent products and Three Points of the Compass is very much looking forward to trying these on trail. I have high expectations.