I completed the Fellsman this weekend ( 25th April) and was lucky enough to have got my hands on a pair of Mountain King Trail Blaze Poles – Ultra Light Fast Packing / Trail Running Poles that are made by a British Company.
I have previously had a pair of BD Ultra Distance Poles so it was going to be interesting to test these Mountain King Trail Blaze ones out (I snapped my BD ones a few weeks back whilst scouting for the Fellsman event)
The poles are certainly minimalist. They have a small but comfortable cushioned hand grip with a non adjustable wrist loop, again comfortable on the wrist. A small cord runs through the centre of the 4 sections and when pulled hard out of the top of the poles allows the poles to slot together then locked in place by slipping the manufacturers pre fitted knot into the little groove at the top of the pole. The Poles come with 2 detachable baskets (screw fitting so don’t just try to rive them off), and also 2 rubber type covers for the carborundum/tungsten tips of the poles if you dont want to click on rocky terrain. Personally I leave the rubber tips of all the time but would be likely to use the baskets on the poles in winter or in the alps.
The poles are made up as an aluminium centre overlaid with a wrap of carbon fibre, and I imagine that this is what has given them their strength without compromising on weight – especially at the joins between the sections on poles
The poles arrive with a small mesh bag to hold them in and they are both fitted with a small but ideally sized velcro loop to keep the poles under control when they are folded away and stashed on or in your bag.
At first glance look and feel very fragile, but after having used them a number of times and trapped them between rocks on trails or had them stuck in a bog and get unfeasibly pressured as I bent them over whilst stopping myself to extricate them, they seem to be robust enough to last – this has dispelled any worries about fragility.
The joins in the poles feature an aluminium ferrule one end and a carbon sleeve at the other side. As far as I understand it this is a part of the poles redesign since last years model, to improve strength without compromising on weight, and so far so good, no splits or cracks despite rather a lot of abuse in a short time…
I intend to use these poles plenty over the course of the summer, both here in Snowdonia and in the Alps. I plan on a number of longer runs hopefully including the Paddy Buckley Round here and some other Sky Races out in Northern Italy and have loads of confidence in these poles.
They have proved themselves so far – lightweight, easy to fit together and quick, comfortable hand grip and an perfectly adequate wrist loop that is also comfortable. Very impressed and would recommend them for sure. Oh and by the way as far as lightness goes, they are 40gms lighter per pair for the 120cm length than the BD Ultra Distance Poles – Perfect…..
For future reference and if I would suggest any improvements that could be made then I would suggest a slightly less stretchy or a tighter fit for the centre cord, as a number of times the poles were pulled significantly apart when pulling them out of sticky turf terrain whilst running and this caused me to be a little concerned that they would pop apart.
I would also suggest that the padded section on the handle could be made another 4 cm longer to be really sweet when ones wrists are engaged into the loops and to give a bit more flexibility to hand position and comfort.
However both these issues are minor tweaks and should not put one off these amazing poles
VERDICT:- 9 /10 – EXCELLENT