Gear Guide 2012: Helinox Featherlite Trekking Poles

Durable and lightweight, these poles offer an impressive strength-to-weight ratio.

[lightweight] 

Testers liked the ounce savings of the three-section Helinox Featherlite poles, but it was their durability that really wowed. “I placed 200 pounds of body weight on them when I leaned in for balance in steep terrain,” says our tester, who used them from Arkansas’ Ozarks to Nepal’s Everest region. “Through it all, they sustained only one small dent from impact.”

The impressive strength-to-weight ratio comes from DAC’s light and strong proprietary TH72M aluminum alloy. Further weight savings come from the twist-lock mechanism, which is lighter than levers. The molded-foam grips proved comfortable through hours of hiking, and the foam extension on the shaft let our tester choke up on the pole during short, steep climbs. Bummer: The twist-lock loosened in freezing or wet conditions. $120; 10 oz. (for 120 cm, also available in 135 cm); bigagnes.com