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RaidLight Carbon Ultra Compact Poles
The RaidLight Carbon Ultra Compact poles are some of the lightest on the market. Even with the light weight, they are surprisingly confidence inspiring. I took them all over the Maroon Bells Wilderness in Colorado on terrain ranging from root choked trails like you’d find on the East Coast, to a nice mix of dirt and rocks, to finally going up a talus field. The poles performed well both on uphills and downhills. They were easy to deploy and put away and gripped very well on all types of terrain.
Generally, RaidLight is at least 40 grams lighter than comparable products, and the weight of the poles does not negatively impact their stability. Plus they’re more affordable—you’ll likely save not only 40 grams, but also $20, an all-around good deal.
The poles’ most striking feature was their uncanny ability to stick to every surface and provide some stability and push. The tip is somewhat beveled, so it catches on uneven surfaces like talus. The poles are also quickly deployed on the move. The transition from your vest to your hands is about 20 seconds. The handles are smartly designed—whether you’re using them for stability on downhills or for push on uphills, there is always a little molded tab right where your arms naturally apply pressure.
That being said, the minimal wrist straps seem more nominal than useful. At points, the straps would pinch the meat of my palm. I hope that in future generations RaidLight will update the strap to something akin to a wrist harness to help with gaining purchase on steeper terrain.
One final excellent feature of the poles that is not explained in any product description, is a velcro strap on each pole. Normally to store the poles, I carry two industrial rubber bands that I get from the produce department at my local grocery store. I strap one rubber band to either end and make a nice compact bundle to put in my vest. The Carbon Ultra Compacts come with a velcro strap specifically designed for this. They are a heck of a lot more durable than my rubber bands!
—Tim Nooney runs 60 miles per week, typically with a new piece of gear that Trail Runner makes him take along and review.