Seattle Backpackers Magazine was given three poles to test. Since we do not have any three armed testers, one set went to Amelia and the single remaining pole went to Isaac.

Amelia hikes mainly in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana around the Tetons, whereas Isaac spends a fair amount of time hiking in the San Gabriels near LA. The wide range of terrain ensured we gave these poles a thorough test. Here are the thoughts from our two testers.

Amelia
Hiking with any sort of poles is a fairly new thing for me. For some reason, I just never spent a lot of time reaching for them before heading out on an adventure. I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to bringing gear on hikes and I always just thought they were not necessary. And then I had kids. Hiking without at least 25 pounds of weight on my back is simply not an option. I would much rather be out there with my entire family (including the child on my back) than not at all, but the truth is when I am hiking regularly with that extra weight, an aid for stabilization comes in handy. Kids tend to be a squirmy and unpredictable load.

When I have used poles for snowshoeing or hiking, they have been my ski poles, or something similar. They were sufficient for what I needed and I dealt with the occasional breaking pole.

Isaac
I have not been much of a trekking pole hiker until about one year ago. I have bad ankles (too many death marches in the Marines) so having the extra stability has saved me too many times to count from busted ankles. I will be honest: I was a tad skeptical when Ergo Trekker approached us to test their pole due to its unique looks. They asked us to submit to measurement by extending our forearm out at 90 degrees with the upper arm in line with the body centerline. Next, we were to measure the distance from palm to elbow and elbow to the ground. With these two measurements, they were able to custom build either one or two (your choice) poles.

Amelia
I jumped at the chance to expand my horizons a bit and test out the Ergo Trekker.  I had no idea what I was missing in my previous system!

The Ergo Trekker is a radical departure from the standard ski-pole-style hiking sticks I know well.  Engineered to work ergonomically with your arms’ muscles, they require less energy and result in greater comfort while hiking. They claim to be nearly indestructible (unless you are using a machine to try to bend them) and are light and comfortable for the average hiker.

Despite their advantages, the Ergo Trekkers are certainly not built for anything more than light or moderate hiking (nor do they claim to be.)  The wide rubber tip is great for preventing erosion on trails, but fails quickly under rockier terrain and lacks traction in softer soils.

Isaac
I hiked with one pole, while Amelia had two. The first trip I used the Ergo Trekker was an overnight trip with a 45-lb. pack, with an elevation gain and loss of just under 13,000 feet in 12.5 miles. I think I went a little too big for this pole on its first trip. With only one pole, going downhill coupled with the natural stride (more on that in a bit), I was only getting the extra support for 25% of my gait. Here is a video of the founder demonstrating “proper” downhill technique which I tried but it seemed very awkward. If you could maintain this type of technique while going down a very steep trail, with a heavy load and two poles, you could enjoy the support of at least one pole per step (or every other step if you have one pole).

After a year plus of using “normal” trekking poles, I really liked the Ergo Trekker. Due to the bends in the poles, they rarely clipped obstacles on the trail with the natural swing of my arms. The poles felt like extensions of my arms. Another thing I liked was how my wrist was straight versus being bent back with “normal” trekking poles. Even though these poles are heavier than other trekking poles, I could not tell; even after 12 miles my arms never got tired.

Pros

  •  Lightweight
  •  Indestructible – We both had no doubt that these would hold up to anything we put them through.
  •  Because they are custom-made based on your individual measurements, they certainly work WITH our various body types and we found ourselves less fatigued than with normal trekking poles.
  •  They provide support and stability for light or moderate hiking on established trails.

Cons

  • Amelia: Despite the fact that the hikes I tested the poles on were not extremely rigorous, I wished the tips had more aggressive traction. The rubber tips are great for pavement or soft trails, but don’t do well in rocky areas or when climbing off-trail.
  •  The rubber tip also broke down quickly in rockier terrain (which most of the trails in Wyoming are).
  •  Because of the internal steel bolt coupled with the fact that the poles are hollow, they are loud on the trail (Amelia noticed this, but Isaac did not).

Amelia
In short, I was thrilled with the ease of comfort I found in the use of the Ergo Trekkers.  They come with me nearly every time I am wearing a pack and out on the trail.  I would prefer they had the option of a more rigorous tip (the rubber tip can be removed to expose the inner bolt, but I felt like it wasn’t sufficient).

Isaac
I love my Ergo Trekker. It is perfect for light to moderate hikes (I am thinking it will be perfect for my ultralight backpacking trip later this summer through the High Sierra). It does not collapse, which is kind of a bummer, but not a deal breaker. I really enjoy the natural gait it provides and how comfortable it is to hike with. They are a relatively new company and consequently the website is under construction, but if you want to order a pair drop an email to Dale at meow@angelcatindustries.com.

Manufacturer: Ergo Trekker
Date available: Will begin production shortly
Manufacturer’s Website: Ergo Trekker
MSRP: US$ 69.95 each
Actual Weight: 14.9oz
Materials: Aircraft Aluminum
Dimensions: Vary by user
Requirements: Your custom measurements
Warranty info: Lifetime on the pole
Colors Available: Red only (for now)

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