+9 9 votes

Win a Pole for All Seasons

Photo: The Exped Alpine 140 compressed and expanded.


11/29/2012 Update: Winner Chosen. It's not quite like winning the $550 million Power Ball pot that took place last night, but Knash had some measure of luck going on when we drew his/her name for the Exped Poles this morning. Using a completely scientific and anonymous system (really) we narrowed the field of 52 entries down to 'Knash' and 'Sharon' at the first throw of the darts. Then, anonymously drawing between these two, Fate chose Knash.

by Andy Dappen

In an ideal world, quivers wouldn’t exist. One pair of boots would be perfect for hiking, mountain climbing, and rock climbing.  And one pair of skis would have you carving the groomers and surfing through backcountry powder. In the world of boots and skis, jacks-of-all-trades don’t amount to a hill of beans. When it comes to ski/trekking poles, however, some products can be quiver killers. The adjustable, Swiss-made, Exped Alpine 140 (14 oz per pair, $120) is such an example. It’s become my year-long, all-a-rounder for hiking, mountaineering, skiing, and snowshoeing.


What do I like about this pole?


First: It’s a three-section pole that collapses to a minimum of 21 inches and expands to a maximum of 55 inches (140 cm). In collapsed form, it slips into luggage for air travel or straps to the side of a pack when the pole isn’t wanted (e.g., third-class scrambling). Fully expanded I use the poles for cross-country skiing Forest Service roads. Between these extremes, I can adjust the pole to whatever length I prefer for hiking, downhill skiing, or backcountry skiing. Often while traversing I like my uphill pole to be radically shorter than my downhill pole and the Alpines make fast work of any adjustments. Adjustability also lets different people in the family use the same set of poles.

Second: I like the weight of the Alpines – or should I say I like their absence of weight? Weighing 14 ounces per pair, they are a half-pound lighter than many 3-section poles.  Over the course of a long day, you’re moving your arms many of thousands of times and, if you’re moving a half pound less with each cycle of the arms, that’s a ton of weight you’re not moving. Literally.


Third: I like how easily yet effectively the poles loosen and tighten for adjustment with a twist lock. It’s worth noting here that I strongly dislike most poles using twist locks. The majority of twisting locks are hard to tighten securely enough to prevent unwanted collapsing when you load them heavily or from expanding when you sink a pole in gloppy snow and pull up abruptly as you ski past it. Many brands of twist locks also perform poorly in cold weather. These poles are the exception. Two sections of this pole don’t twist but lock securely in place with the positive push-button snaps used on the adjustable handles of avalanche shovels. Meanwhile, the twisting third segment of the pole (the part  allowing for quick height adjustment) has internal welts every 5 centimeters that jam against the internal camming device to prevent unwanted collapses and extensions of the pole.


Finally: The little touches about the Exped Alpine are nice. They come with both hiking and skiing baskets. The wrist straps adjust quickly and easily, and stay at the adjusted length even when heavily loaded. And the EVA foam (wrapped around the upper portion of the poles) provides good grip when you choke-up on the shafts -- something you're doing frequently when traversing snow slopes in winter.


What don’t I like about these poles?


On my poles, the foam on the handles started spinning after two years of use and I needed to re-glue the foam. Next the attachment of the handles to the pole’s shaft uses a plastic connector that is durable yet breakable if you use your poles as clubs. In thick trees, I sometimes break the branches ahead of me by clubbing them with the handles of ski poles. Also, before stepping into ski bindings, I frequently club snow off the bottom of my boots with the handles of my poles. Such antics run the risk of damaging these poles. Finally at this point in time, no local retailer is handling the Exped Alpine. Not only is it good for the region when we can buy locally but it’s good for the consumer to see, touch, examine, and think about a product before he plunks down $120.

 +++++


Note:
We are holding a drawing for a free set of these poles at WenatcheeOutdoorsForum.org . Find the 'Giveaway: Exped Ski-Trekking Pole' post (it’s at the 'Snowsports' forum), and ‘Reply’ to that post that you want to be included in the drawing. The names of all who 'Reply' will be put in a hat for a drawing (held after Thanksgiving).
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