A while back Gossamer Gear ran a competition to win some LT4 trekking poles for its Trail Ambassador members. Several hundred photos were submitted. Fellow UK-based David Linton and myself cleaned up, bagging a pair of LT4 poles each. Having used them over some gnarly terrain and bagged a few mountains summits to boot, I decided a review was in order. To be honest, I would never have bought these poles. I broke my Pacer Pole carbon fiber model and, having seen my friend fold his carbon poles twice, I had no inclination nor desire for spending money on more. But I am at a point where I use trekking poles for some uphill sections and long descents only – so see little value on valley sections now for them. I rate trekking poles, but more often have them stashed on my pack waiting till I need them. So of late I had been using some excellent Fizan lightweight aluminium poles. But winning the LT4 poles I thought, what the heck, let’s give them a go.
The LT4 Trekking Poles are part of the “Take Less, Do More” approach from Gossamer Gear. Light, in that the average weight of each pole without any baskets attached is 119g (that’s light for a pole). Made from two custom-made carbon tapered tubes with a spiraling wrap which is meant to add durability. The locking mechanism is minimalist, along with the star of the show - the handles made from the famed “Kork-O-Lon” foam grip. They have a small spectre cord loop attached to the handle to add a keep cord if you need to. Add in the carbide tips and that’s it. A minimalist, super-light trekking pole.
Used now for trips in Scotland and the Lake District, the poles have been excellent on long descents, adding lateral stability, and for assistance on river crossings. As well as pitching shelters like the Luxe Hexpeak and MLD SoloMid XL.
These poles have reasonable stiffness, so I could generate power on uphill sections, and found they absorbed shock on some tricky, boulder-choked sections.
I like the EVA “Kork-O-Lon” foam grip handle, which remains grippy, wet or dry, and is very comfortable. I found I can alter my hand position on them to suit different terrain situations, remaining with a comfortable grip. I would happily buy these grips and put onto other poles. I hate straps – and the LT4 has a strapless option, which I opted for. I don’t like being locked into poles with all that force going through the pole into your arm if jammed, or folding up, trapped in rocks.
Not having a strap means you grip the pole and control it more, I find – unlike the relaxed, let-your-hand-sink-into-the-strap style of using a trekking pole, with the straps seeking to force leverage over control. I see strapless poles as more measured and controlled.
The LT4′s came with 2 inch baskets, but one fell off on the first trip I used them – but on reflection, it was my fault for not mounting it right. I use snow baskets now as they stop the pole sinking in soft ground when pitching a shelter, as well as making jamming the pole into rocks or tree roots less likely.
The poles support a SoloMid XL in an inverted position without extenders, as they can open up to 140cm. So they are a good choice for pitching mids. I supported a Luxe HexPeak fine with them. Others I have seen join them to pitch a large mid like a GolIte Shangria-La 3 - which I must try.
The locking mechanism took a bit of sussing out. I had slippage first time out, but once mastered I can now lock the pole off with ease.
Simply screw down the rubber section and brass cap, then marry to the upper section so that it just goes in and you feel it grab, then adjust the height – locking it off. It’s not complex.
The locking mechanism is simple and minimalist, so clean out the poles when you get home to stop them jamming and being unable to separate on the next trip.
In addition, there is also a red ring you slide down the shaft if using the poles upside down to pitch your shelter. This is supposed to prevent ingress of muck and water into the shaft. I don’t need it, but if your shelter is pitched with the tip fitting into the apex then this could be of use to you.
The tips are made of a durable carbide. I have hammered these poles on rocky summits, bog, peat hags, and steep down hills coming off 3000ft mountains. Nothing has broken so far; plus, there is no sign of damage on the lower shafts. I am very confident in them. Let’s face it: caning them over rocky Lakeland summits and the Cairngorms has shown to me that they work fine with no visible wear or damage. I like the 2-piece construction, but they won’t stash down small strapped to your pack. But they are light carried on your pack when not needed (so I can compromise). I reached for them last trip, and will do next time I am packing to go out to the hills. I am impressed with them. I never wrap gaffer (Gorilla) tape around my poles, by the way. I like to keep the weather off the tape and keep it clean for when I need it.
- 4.1 oz or 119 g per pole claimed weight (mine feel light but I have not checked the weight)
- Adjustable range of 90 cm 140 cm
- Two piece pole
- Custom tapered carbon fiber material
- Famed EVA “Kork-O-Lon” foam grips (really good)
- Carbide tips as standard
A light, functional, admittedly high-priced pole. I had discounted them, but have been pleasantly surprised at how good they are. I hammer poles and yet so far, over some gnarly UK terrain, I have had no issues. What more can I say. Highly recommended. I have to say I am a lucky I won them. They cost $175 a pair – but seem to me to be worth it.
I would like to see Gossamer Gear make a super-stiff 2 part aluminum pole with those handles. But until they do, these carbon marvels will do just fine outside of winter.
Martin Rye won the LT4 poles. No fee, request, nor obligation to write a favourable review was agreed – nor asked for by Gossamer Gear. Martin Rye is a Trail Ambassador for Gossamer Gear.