Today, I received my Gossamer Gear LT4 Trekking poles. I thought I’d let you follow me through the unboxing and initial impressions.
There were several factors that led to me buying these poles. First and foremost, I don’t use my poles all that much anymore. My natural balance has been improving, my hiking endurance is up, and my body weight is down. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but my poles are spending more and more time strapped to my pack. My Black Diamond Distance Z-Poles have been my favorite trekking poles to date, but, while lighter than many poles on the market, they weigh in at about 12.5 ounces for the pair. I felt that I needed to do better for an item that was essentially going to be dead weight.
A second factor was my past experience with carbon fiber poles. I used a pair of Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles (exacty the same as my “Distance” poles, except Carbon Fiber instead of Aluminum) on my Presidential Range hike in New Hampshire last year, and one of my poles was broken within the first two miles of the first day. After this experience, I had convinced myself that CF poles just weren’t durable enough.
The third and final factor was price. At $87.50 per pole (that’s $175 a pair), I’ve always thought the LT4’s to be a bit too expensive. I liked my Black Diamond poles a lot and couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on poles. As fate would have it, I had a bit of store credit from Gossamer Gear, as well as a standing discount through my membership in the Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Program. This brought the price down significantly, so I took a chance and ordered these poles.
The poles arrived in a sturdy cardboard tube, with no excess packaging (plastic baggies, packing peanuts, etc.) inside. Gossamer Gear suggests that you save the tube for use as a case, just in case you ever need to check the poles on a plane or put them in the luggage compartment under a bus. The tube would offer some protection from the rigors of travel.
I was actually shocked when I pulled the first pole from the tube. These things were light. I knew that the manufacturer’s specifications listed the weight as 4.1oz per pole (the pair weighed 8.3oz on my scale), but I don’t think I was mentally prepared for what that would feel like. The answer: It feels like nothing. It’s like you’re just holding air in your hands. This über-light weight added to my durability concerns a bit, but I won’t comment any further on that until I log some miles with these poles.
The Kork-A-Lon grips (EVA made to look like cork) seemed comfortable in my hands. Actually, at first glance, I think they might be more comfortable than the grips on my previous poles.
The LT4 poles do not have wrist straps, although straps are available on the LT4S model. Gossamer Gear suggests that straps aren’t really necessary for such a light pole. At the base of the grip, there is a small loop for attaching a “keeper” cord. You can string a loop of utility cord through the loop and around your wrist. This would make it possible to use your hands for other things without putting your poles down completely. Gossamer Gear warns that this loop is not to be used for attaching more traditional wrist straps, as it will not hold up to that kind of use. I’ve never used poles without straps before, so I’m interested to give them a whirl.
These poles have 2 sections which can be adjusted from 90cm to 140cm in length (83cm when fully closed). I know from my recent experience with fixed-length poles, that 120cm is the optimal length for me. The LT4’s don’t have any markings on the shaft to denote length, so it might take some practice to be able to get the length dialed in quickly.
The last 8-10 inches of the bottom section seems to be reinforced with some sort of carbon fiber or graphite wrap. I assume this is meant to protect the shaft against being dinged and scratched by rocks, branches, etc. There is also a red rubber O-ring on the bottom section. This is meant to seal the tiny gap between the upper and lower sections of the pole, preventing dirt and moisture from gunking up the adjustment mechanism.
At first glance, I think that these poles will serve their purpose quite nicely, as long as they hold up. Durability is my primary concern, but i won’t be able to test that until I get these things on the trail. I will write a more in-depth follow-up review once I have some practical experience with the LT4’s.
Disclaimer: I am a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador and received these poles at a discounted price. The funds used in their purchase were, however, my own. Gossamer Gear did not ask me to purchase the poles, nor did they ask me to write this or any future reviews. All opinions contained in this review are my own.