Lakes Ice - March/April 2013
Grivel Trail Pole
As someone who fully subscribes to the benefits of walking poles but finds using and carry them a bit of a hassle, I was keen to try the new Grivel Trail Pole.
With a decent dump of snow in the Cairngorms my first trip out with the poles was (predictably), up into Coire an t-Sneachda and back by Fiacaill a Choire Chas via the Goat Track.
What struck me immediately was the how light the poles were in use and I felt slightly self conscious setting off from Cairngorm car park with what looked like an extended tooth pick in each hand. Of course I knew they were lighter than most of the alternatives but the overall feel and increased articulation actually meant that they were immediately a pleasure to use. They feel so light in the hand that it takes a few minutes to start using them fully and trusting that they are not going to collapse at the first slip. I even broke into a jog at one point.
A key feature of the poles is the fold down size, at 40cm for the 115cm poles, meaning that they easily fit into a rucksack for climbing or traveling. The steel ferrels seem substantial (not to be compared with your average alloy tent pole ferrel), and the plastic coated connecting wire looks thick enough to be durable in the long term. The yellow velcro backed strap attached to the bottom of the wrist loops acts as a neat roll strap to keep the three sections together when collapsed.
I found the spring loaded release button difficult to use a first. No problem assembling the pole but releasing the button to fold the poles does take some practice. Strangely enough I found it easier to do on the hill than sitting at home. The technique seems to be, twist the sections slightly while pressing the button. There is a point at which the rotation of the sections drags the button down into the hole, meaning you don’t have to completely depress the button to release it. A good tip (for any poles) is to regularly spray the joints with WD40. This prevents the tube corroding from the inside and eventually ceasing up.
The baskets are perfect for snowless conditions but would be a bit on the small side in very deep snow conditions. I used them while there was about 6 inches of unconsolidated snow on the ground and they worked fine. If you were wading in knee deep powder I suspect they would not be very effective. The carbide tips, which are built into the basket unit, are nice and grippy on rock and don’t skid like regular steel tips.
Not having any length adjustment is a compromise of weight saving but at least you don’t have to continually worry about whether your poles are adjusted to optimum length or not. Just snap them together and that’s it. I used a 115cm pair which, for me, was pretty much spot on. I’m 6ft (180cm) tall. Having an extended hand grip is useful if you were finding the poles a little too long on a steep climb. You could easily grip the pole lower down, but then your hand would be outside the wrist loop.
In fact my only gripe is the wrist loop. Not being adjustable seems like a a weight saving compromise that was not worth making. For the sake of a couple of 15mm ladder locks weighing a couple of grams each the grip could be easily adapted to various glove thicknesses and hand sizes. It would very easy to make that change yourself if you are handy with a sewing machine.
Maintenance: Disassemble to dry, wipe off any dirt/grit and spray with WD40.
View our selection of poles here.