Wow, these bad boys are LIGHT! After a winter spent using heavy duty aluminium Black Diamond poles for ski guiding the Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 poles I was given for testing seemed unbelievably light in the hand. Were these things really going to support my weight?! What if I get them stuck between two rocks? Can they keep my DuoMid shelter off my face all night? Questions that would be answered soon enough as we headed off to Sweden for three days in the mountains.
First the figures. 107g per pole (including the basket). That makes them one of the lightest adjustable trekking poles on the market today. The LT4's are available in two sizes, the regular can be adjusted from 90cm to 140cm and there is a slightly shorter 85cm/125cm model. Being adjustable they can also be used to support many of today's ultralight shelter systems. They cost $160 a pair. Unlike many adjustable poles they only have one telescoping section which means they can be slightly awkward to transport on planes but a 354g travel tube is supplied. Check Gossamer Gear's highly informative website for more more information.
In use they are remarkably easy on the hands. The very comfortable, cork-effect foam grip and light weight means they are very easy to swing. On easy terrain I rarely used more than my thumb and forefinger to swing them between strokes. The full carbon construction has a slightly different 'feel' when they strike hard surfaces but they are indiscernible to aluminium poles on the majority of ground that they will be used on. Sure, they flex ever-so-slightly more but I never felt like they were going to catastrophically fail on me, even when I was easing myself down steep rock steps, balancing my entire weight on them. Another bonus of their almost-weightlessness is that they're easy to lift and keep out of the way on short sections where you don't want to use poles.
Their big test came when crossing the many cold, fast flowing streams and rivers that our path crossed during our trip. Glacier-cold water and unlined shoes has a habit of quickly numbing your feet and feeling for the slippery, rock strewn river bed becomes indistinct. The LT4's were crucial at keeping me upright and coped with sudden changes of balance and footing perfectly. They never felt frail or under-gunned, even when sinking between rocks.
(photo courtesy of Jörgen at Fjaderlatt)
At night I used them to pitch my shelter, an MLD Sil-nylon DuoMid and that task too they accomplished with no feeling of frailty. The one slight problem I had with one of my LT4's was with the adjusting mechanism. I couldn't seem to get it to lock properly but after Hendrik showed me the proper technique we soon had them locked out securely. We wondered if this was caused by the cold, wet weather affecting the rubber expander. Time will tell.
Testing has only just begun but they coped with the less than perfect mountain weather of Sweden very well, a lot more than I initially gave them credit for. They are obviously designed and built very well to offer so much support for such a crazy low weight. I will update this review after a few more trips but for now they are 'Highly Recommended'.
(photo courtesy of Hendrik Morkel at Hiking in Finland)