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REI Flash Folding Trekking Poles
Materials: Carbon composite shaft construction, EVA foam grip, Tungsten carbide tips
Weight: 13.8 ounces (for 115 cm length)
Best Features: Ultra lightweight, sleek, foldable design, minimal pole baskets help navigate running terrain well.
Room for Improvement: The EVA foam of the grip is possibly too squishy and the straps are scratchy.
Most noticeably, the REI Flash Folding Trekking Poles poles are feather light. With the shafts composed completely of carbon, at one point, I forgot that I was even holding them in my hands. When folded, they are very compact, which makes them great for a quick stash in most hydration packs.
On the trail, the poles assemble quickly and lock securely into place. They are composed of a 3-section collapsible design that is available in four fixed lengths (105cm, 115cm, 125cm, 135cm). Under full bodyweight, the pole felt sturdy and responsive, especially on steep uphill sections of trail. The pole handles contoured well to the hand, but the foam grip was too squishy for my liking and did not allow for the most efficient poling technique.
The wrist straps are easily adjusted by a pull-strap system, but unfortunately the material was not comfortable and scratched my wrist along the way. (Wearing gloves, a la Karl Meltzer, may solve this problem for some runners.) The minimal pole basket is a big plus, and made for unobtrusive, nimble navigation throughout the trail.
All in all, these poles would be an excellent choice for a fast-pack mission or for technical ultramarathons without breaking the bank!
—Kylee Van Horn, an avid road and trail runner lives in Carbondale, Colorado. She loves a good adventure, craft beer and talking about sports nutrition.