While modern trekking poles are more high-tech than their predecessors, radical changes in their design are relatively rare. But with the Expedition pole from Komperdell you can now adjust the length on the move without stopping and without changing grip – all at the press of a button. As the length of a pole dictates how easy it is to use, especially on uneven ground and when traversing slopes, this could be the most important innovation in years.
Trekking poles improve balance, reduce strain on the joints and generally make hillwalking easier. They’ve become a must-have item for backpacking and hillwalking, and even valley walkers can be seen using them on level terrain.
Length adjustment is a relatively modern feature, and commonly this is achieved with an expanding internal cam design that locks the sections to a desired length. External cams are also often used.
With the Komperdell Expedition trekking poles, length is adjusted by pressing a big green button on the top of the handle, which is spring-loaded and allows the top green section to slide up or down the main pole. On releasing pressure on the button, the mechanism locks and the pole is ready to use at its new height. To shorten the pole you press the button and press down on the handle, and to lengthen the pole you put less pressure on the handle, which allows the internal spring to extend the pole length.
What I really liked about this mechanism was that it was just so easy to use. Gentle thumb pressure was all that was needed, and between operations of the button I could just retain a normal grip. So far the mechanism hasn’t jammed or seized up;
but as this is something that can happen to poles over time, it is impossible to know how well it will work in 12 months, say.
The rest of the pole is relatively standard in that you get a nice foam grip, a very comfortable wrist strap and a basket at the pointy end. The basket is able to adjust its angle to the ground via a ball and socket joint, which is a useful feature. The shortest length of the pole is 115cm in use, but others can be set to 105cm (a compact version of the Expedition is available that extends from 105-130cm).
To collapse the pole you unscrew the middle section to allow you to fold the pole in half. Its packed size is quite long at 63cm, with Komperdell making other poles that collapse down to 41cm. It is also quite heavy at 610g a pair, while other Komperdell poles are as light as 364g a pair. So it all comes down to do you really need the ability to adjust length on the move so easily? Tough choice.
For me the benefits don’t quite outweigh some of the drawbacks; but I am sure for some users that length adjustment is just what they have been looking for.
Material EVA foam grip; neoprene strap; Titanal rocksleeve and carbon shaft
Variable length 115-140cm (compact version 105-130cm)
Packed length 63cm (63cm)
Weight 610g (pair)
Innovative length adjustment could be ideal for regular users of poles, particularly when crossing variable terrain; but the drawbacks of weight and packed size may mean the Komperdell Expedition is not everyone’s first choice.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2016