The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker

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Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork Review: Best Budget Ultralight Pole

Best Budget Ultralight Pole

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 30% 30%
  • Durability 40% 40%
  • Locking/Adjustability 70% 70%

Price: $55

Weight: 442g (15.6oz)

Length: 66-137cm

Collapsed Length: 66cm (26in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (Quick Lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Tungsten Carbide

Locking Mechanism: Quick Lock

Included Baskets: Boots, Mud, Snow and Small Tips

What We Like: Incredible price for carbon fiber and cork. Comes with an impressive number of accessories

What We Don’t: Doesn’t pack down small unless disassembled. Quick lock mechanism can complicate packing/unpacking. Could be more durable; Entry-level hikers may want to opt for aluminum

Another entry for our budget trekking poles, Cascade Mountain Tech’s Quick Lock poles will get you where you need to go while saving you quite a few bucks. Within the Quick Lock series you’ll find practically every combination of either aluminum or carbon fiber shafts, foam or cork grips, and telescopic or folding collapse systems with a range of prices from $25 to $65. For the purpose of this review, we have selected the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock with Cork Grips, a customer favorite on the CMT website and our personal favorite for Best Budget Ultralight Pole.

These budget-friendly poles weigh in at less than a pound! The 442g (15.6oz) Quick Lock Carbon Fiber Corks are significantly lighter than the 1 lb. 6 oz. Trail Sport 3s (which should come as no surprise, since those are aluminum), and even lighter than the Alpine Carbon Corks, which go for more than three times the price. As far as carbon fiber trekking poles go, you’ll struggle to find anywhere near this low of a price without skimping on quality.

One of the best things about Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles is all the cool stuff that comes with them. You’ll get four different accessories for the tips of your poles: this includes hard-surface tips like the boot tips and the smaller round tips, both of which can be slipped on and off the end of the pole, as well as the larger snow baskets and smaller mud baskets, which slip over the tip and then screw on just above it. You can keep all your accessories together with the included carrying case, and if you have any confusion about your poles, feel free to peruse the included instruction manual. It’s a surprising amount of accessories for such a small price tag!

The Quick Lock Carbon Cork trekking poles from Cascade Mountain Tech are an excellent purchase for entry-level hikers seeking to lighten their load. You simply won’t find better value for money on a pair of $55 carbon fiber poles. Experienced hikers, however, may want to open their wallets a little wider for slightly more versatile carbon fiber poles like the three-season Distance Carbon Zs or the four-season Alpine Carbon Corks.

If you’re not a fan of cork, you’ll be happy to know that you can purchase the foam-grip version of these poles for the exact same price. In addition, if you’d prefer your carbon fiber poles either slightly lighter or more durable, you can drop another 10 dollars and opt for Cascade Mountain Tech’s 11oz. Ultralight Carbon Fiber 2-Section poles or the ultra-strong 3K Carbon Fiber poles.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

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See Our Best Trekking Poles of 2021 HERE!

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Combination-style pole makes them adjustable and pack small durable and versatile enough to handle all four seasons

Cons

Slightly heavy for the price

Not as adjustable as purely telescopic poles

Weight: [95-110cm] 482g (17oz), [105-125cm] 510g (18oz), [120-140cm] 567g (1lb 4oz)

Length: 95-110cm, 105-125cm, 120-140cm

Collapsed Length: [95-110cm] 34cm (13.4in), [105-125cm] 37c (14.6in), [120-140cm] 40cm (15.7in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Combination (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock Pro

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Z - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Excellent price for folding poles

Very light for aluminum poles

Collapse down small, pack/unpack easily

Cons

Only three-season support, unlike the Alpine series

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 323g (11.4oz), [110cm] 343g (12.1oz), [120cm] 362g (12.8oz), [130cm] 402g (14.2oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Highly adjustable and packable

Comfortable grips/straps

Very durable for carbon fiber

Cons

A bit pricey

Weight: Men's - 481g (1lb 1oz), Women's - 459g (16.2oz)

Length: Men's - 110-130cm, Women's - 100-120cm

Collapsed Length: Men's - 40cm (16in), Women's - 40cm (16in)

Shaft Comp.: Pure Carbon

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Men's - Lock Security Strap (Skin), Women's - LEKI Skin Strap

Collapse Style: Combination (ELD)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip (Short)

Locking Mechanism: Speed Lock 2

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Incredibly comfortable grip and wrist strap

Telescopic design and thicker carbon makes them both adjustable and durable

Cons

Not as light as other carbon fiber poles

Larger pack size

A bit pricey

Weight: 486g (1lb 1.1oz)

Length: 100-130cm

Collapsed Length: 61cm (24in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: 360° nubuck

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Lightweight, great for trail running

Easy to unpack

Cons

Only 3 oz. lighter than the distance Zs at almost double the price

Similar price to the Alpine series but with only three-season support

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 263g (9.3oz), [110cm] 275g (9.7oz), [120cm] 283g (10oz), [130cm] 295g (10.4oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 30% 30%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 40% 40%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Excellent value at a low price

Very durable, great for heavy backpacking

Cons

Large pack size due to telescopic design

Heavy

Weight: 624g (1lb 6oz)

Length: 100-140cm

Collapsed Length: 64cm (25in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Rubber

Grip Extensions: Rubber

Strap Style: Vari-width nylon webbing

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 30% 30%
  • Durability 40% 40%
  • Locking/Adjustability 70% 70%

Pros

Incredible price for carbon fiber and cork

Comes With An Impressive Number Of Accessories

Cons

Doesn’t pack down small unless disassembled

Quick lock mechanism can complicate packing/unpacking

Could be more durable; entry-level hikers may want to opt for aluminum

Weight: 442g (15.6oz)

Length: 66-137cm

Collapsed Length: 66cm (26in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (Quick Lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Tungsten Carbide

Locking Mechanism: Quick Lock

Included Baskets: Boots, Mud, Snow and Small Tips

The Best Trekking Poles: Gossamer Gear LT5 - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 30% 30%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Incredibly light

Highly adjustable

Comfortable grip/strap

Cons

Could be more durable

Expensive

Twist locks could be more elegant

Weight: 300g (10.6oz)

Length: 60-130cm

Collapsed Length: 60cm (23in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: N/A

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (twist-lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Twist lock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker

Another entry for our budget trekking poles, Cascade Mountain Tech’s Quick-Lock poles will get you where you need to go while saving you quite a few bucks. Within the Quick-Lock series, you’ll find practically every combination of either aluminum or carbon fiber shafts, foam or cork grips, and telescopic or folding collapse systems with a range of prices from $25 to $65. For the purpose of this review, we have selected the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock with Cork Grips, a customer favorite on the CMT website and our personal favorite for Best Budget Ultralight Pole.

The Cascade Mountain Tech product line runs the gamut of outdoor gear, from trekking poles and folding chairs to camping lanterns and molded super coolers. You’ll find their products at several commercial outdoor stores like Dick’s, Academy, and Sportsman’s Warehouse as well as Walmart, Fred Meyer, and Costco. The company was founded in the Pacific Northwest by outdoor enthusiasts with a goal “to make time in the outdoors more enjoyable, more affordable, and more accessible for everyone.” This goal undoubtedly impacts the quality of their products for the better.

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker

Comfort

As their name would suggest, the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Corks have a cork grip that’s relatively ergonomic. It’s contoured for small- to medium-sized hands, but honestly, we found it less than ideal for larger hands. Above the grip is a rounded rubber top, while below you’ll find a lightweight foam grip extension with grooves that make it easier for you to keep your fingers in place. Finally, there’s a felt-lined wrist strap that should be sufficient but won’t win any awards for comfort. It was made light to save on weight, but in this writer’s opinion, the minor weight saved is less important than the comfort that could be gained with additional padding.

One additional comfort issue I’ve seen with these trekking poles is the Quick-Lock system. Although these beefy locks are quite durable, they’re also a tad bulky, and some hikers may have a tendency to hit them against their legs while walking on the trail.

Weight

These budget-friendly poles weigh in at less than a pound! The 442g (15.6oz) Quick Lock Carbon Fiber Corks are significantly lighter than the 1 lb. 6 oz. Trail Sport 3s (which should come as no surprise, since those are aluminum), and even lighter than the Alpine Carbon Corks, which go for more than three times the price. As far as lightweight trekking poles go, you’d be hard-pressed to find any better deal than these, however, there certainly are lighter trekking poles on our list. In fact, the slightly more expensive (but also aluminum) Black Diamond Distance Z poles come in at more than an ounce lighter, even at the 130cm length.

Packing

Unfortunately, these telescopic poles can’t come close to packing down as small as their folding counterparts, so don’t expect to save much space with the Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork poles, which collapse down to only 66cm (26in), making them the longest collapsed poles on our list. The Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Corks can be disassembled to pack smaller, but if pack size is a priority for you, I’d recommend you look at Cascade Mountain Tech’s Aluminum Folding Trekking Poles with Steel Cable, which weigh about 19 oz. and retail for around $40.

Some hikers have noted that the Quick-Lock lever can be difficult to snap closed when these poles are collapsed, certainly less so than what you’d find on more expensive carbon fiber poles. The only remedy to this is to loosen the thumbscrew, however, you’ll need to re-tighten this screw when the poles are extended in order to prevent the locks from slipping. That kind of inconvenience is important to know before you make your purchase. If it’s something you can live with, rock on—err, hike on.

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker

Adjustability

Much like with any telescopic trekking pole, what you sacrifice in pack size, you get back in adjustability. The Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Corks have a three-section aluminum shaft that is fully adjustable and will fit a wide range of hikers. The built-in measurements on the poles make it simple to find the right height, a feature that can be appreciated by both amateur and experienced hikers.

Cascade Mountain Tech’s Quick-Lock system is far superior to the twist lock I found on other CMT poles, and in fact, it’s quite similar to Black Mountain’s FlickLock system, which is chunky and easy to open and close while on the trail. The level lock, which keeps the poles in place, can be tightened or loosened with a thumbscrew. That means that unlike the Alpine FLZ and Alpine Carbon Cork, you won’t need to go hunting in your bag for the world’s smallest Allen wrench if you need to do some mid-hike tinkering. Instead, if you find your locks slipping, simply flip open the lever to unlock the poles and give the thumb screw half a turn clockwise to tighten it up.

Durability

Many hikers will tell you that carbon fiber is always going to be a risky purchase. Some would say they’re potentially even riskier when purchased on a budget because there’s a risk they’ll break. Carbon fiber trekking poles at triple the price of the CMT have been known to splinter and snap when put under enough pressure. While these poles should definitely suffice for a number of hiking activities and should be excellent for technical climbing and scrambling, I’d hesitate to use them for heavy backpacking since they might not be strong enough to bear the weight. Honestly, if you’re looking for a more durable budget pole I’d opt for Cascade Mountain Tech’s aluminum Quick-Lock poles in either cork or foam. It’s a two-for-one deal since you’ll also be saving even more money.

Price

As far as carbon fiber trekking poles go, you’ll struggle to find anywhere near this low of a price without skimping on quality. At around $55 on the CMT website (although I found them even cheaper on Amazon), these particular poles fall somewhere near the middle on price in the diverse CMT line. Their cheapest poles are the aluminum telescopic poles (available in both cork and foam) at about $25, followed by the folding aluminum poles at just under $40. At the top of the line you’ll find the even more durable 3K Carbon Fiber poles and the Ultralight Carbon Fiber 2-Section poles, both of which will set you back around $65 bucks.

The $70 Black Diamond Trail Sport 3s are the only trekking poles on our list that even come close in price to Cascade Mountain Tech, but they’re also much heavier, which should come as no surprise since the Trail Sport 3s are aluminum.

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker

Other Features

One of the best things about Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles is all the cool stuff that comes with them. You’ll get four different accessories for the tips of your poles: this includes hard-surface tips like the boot tips and the smaller round tips, both of which can be slipped on and off the end of the pole. You’ll also get the larger snow baskets and smaller mud baskets, which slip over the tip and then screw on just above it. You can keep all your accessories together with the included carrying case, and if you have any confusion about your poles, feel free to peruse the included instruction manual. That’s a surprising amount of accessories for such a small price tag!

Also worth noting is that all Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles come with a 1-year manufacturer’s defect warranty. You can also purchase replacements for any of the three-pole sections on the Cascade Mountain Tech website, which is handy and easy to use.
The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

The Quick-Lock Carbon Cork trekking poles from Cascade Mountain Tech are an excellent purchase for entry-level hikers seeking to lighten their load. You simply won’t find better value for money on a pair of $55 carbon fiber poles. Experienced hikers, however, may want to open their wallets a little wider for slightly more versatile carbon fiber poles like the three-season Distance Carbon Zs or the four-season Alpine Carbon Corks.

If you’re not a fan of cork, you’ll be happy to know that you have the option to purchase the foam-grip version of these poles for the exact same price. In addition, if you’d prefer your carbon fiber poles either slightly lighter or more durable, you can drop another $10 dollars and opt for Cascade Mountain Tech’s 11oz Ultralight Carbon Fiber 2-Section poles or the ultra-strong 3K Carbon Fiber poles.

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!