There are a number of uses to walking poles that are often overlooked in reviews, but after using the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra trekking poles over a number of days in the Lake District and employing them in more situations that just walking on the flat it’s surprising to see that their other uses aren’t always taken into account. Of course, using them on the flat is fairly straight forward and it could be said that using them on ascent and descent is also. But having said that, previous walking poles have often felt more work than benefit when carrying on steeper slopes. In addition; we also used the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra to help in guying out a tent, and as depth test and support aid when fording a stream. So, read on and find out how well they performed.
Whenever the subject of walking poles was ever mentioned in the past, thoughts of extra and unnecessary weight crept in. Having to lift your arms a little bit more, and holding something extra every time a step was taken seemed like a nonsense and surely more draining than an aid in making walking, especially distance walking, any easier. Walking poles do seem to be one item of equipment as well, where the price tag rises sharply once you begin to try and look to lighter models and so it is understandable that people may not choose to look at carbon models for example. The Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra, much like alot of the Alpkit catalogue, completely blow that notion away however. For the price, and the subsequent weight difference between the Carbonlite Ultra and similarly priced walking poles that will tend to be alloy – it is difficult to brush them off as an unnecessary extra bit of weight. These things are incredibly light. On the occasions that they were packed away it was hard to notice that an extra bit of gear had been packed on this outing. When used on ascents and descents, they did not become extra effort at all. As many people say on walking poles, the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra actually became a great help toward the end of long days whether aiming at the summit of Wetherlam for a wild camp or descending Rest Dodd.
Despite the low weight, the poles actually appear quite strong. Fully supportive when using them to help dig in on a steep climb upwards and equally as unwavering when leaned on, even with a fully laden pack; on steep descents too. It was particularly apparent on climbing both up and down just how beneficial it is to use a pair of walking poles and relieving some of the effort from your knees. The poles never seemed to bend a worrying amount, but there was one occasion where the twist lock system seemed to slip and one pole suddenly became shorter. Despite the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra being twist lock poles, and there being some thought around the integrity over a flip lock mechanism I can honestly say that it was probably down to user error. The weather had been quite wet and it is probable that the pole wasn’t fully secured before use. I will be one thing to watch for though, however.
In addition to their strength when used while walking, the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra also proved to hold up well to being used to help in guying a tent in high winds. A guy line was attached to a loop on the tent flysheet, passed around one of the walking poles and then pegged into the ground. As you will see in the video below, even in strong winds; the poles stood up well and did their job in holding the flysheet.
There are more uses for walking poles than might first spring to mind, and the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra were utilised in most common of those extra uses across the multiday trip. Many people use them as a depth gauge and/or a balancing aid when crossing streams. The strength of the poles meant that again, this wasn’t too much for them and they managed it well. All round, the low cost of these poles doesn’t mean that any strength is sacrificed and certainly not any useability. There are some aspects of the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra that do show through in not being a premium product though. The handle and wrist strap seem a little low in terms of quality. The foam grips aren’t really that robust and I would wonder just how much wear and tear they could stand. The strap also seems a little bit delicate, and the webbing has frayed slightly already. These are very minimal points on the whole next to the quality of the rest of the pole and the fact that the poles themselves are clearly strong enough to put up with plenty of typical use.
In summary, the poles are a fantastic buy. Demonstrative of Alpkit’s low price but surprising stay of quality at that price point. There are a couple of bits that do show the cheaper side of the manufacture of the Carbonlite’s but not the main aspects and not something that will significantly hinder or overly lessen the useability of them. The only thing that the Alpkit Carbonlite Ultra are missing, is an anti-shock system, but with that said -this would likely increase the weight and I did not suffer in one not being present. There is a nice little bit of innovation in how the wrist strap’s tightening mechanism is embedded within the handle.