Gossamer Gear LT4 Trekking Poles

My first set of trekking poles was a pair of $26 ($13/ea) Outdoor Product Flick-Lock poles from the local Wal-Mart. I was not sure if I even wanted/needed poles at that time, which is why I went with some less expensive poles, but I wanted to give them a try. After the first hike I did using poles though, I realized that I liked them. So, I put another few hundred miles on them and they eventually got to the point at which the locks would not hold up anymore. So, I knew that I needed to get another pair…

By this time I knew that I wanted to go with some better quality poles, which also meant more money. I had looked at a few different poles, namely some Leki’s and some Black Diamonds. Both were well spoken of and I had no doubts about them, however, I had also come across the Gossamer Gear LT4 trekking poles… To be honest, this was the direction that I wanted to head in, but at $165 I knew it would be harder to pull off. So, I ended up going with a pair of Leki’s for a bit less money from REI. But, just like the trail itself…the LT4’s wouldn’t quit pulling at me…and despite how nice and worthy the Leki’s were, I knew that I would eventually have to get the LT4’s…

So, I did…and just a couple of months after getting the Leki’s!

But, why you ask?

Well, the first and easiest answer is simple. The LT4’s are light, lighter than almost any other “trekking” pole on the market today.

But, what does this matter you ask? I know that they are not part of my pack weight, but weight still matters.

When I stop and think about how many times I will actually lift each one of those poles while hauling myself up, down, around, through or over a mountain, a valley, or a river, through snow, mud and rock fields, those numbers can add up quickly. My pair of Leki’s weigh 18.6 oz, whereas my pair of LT4’s weigh 9.1 oz (both weights include supplied baskets). This makes my LT4’s slightly less than half the weight of the Leki’s. Now, multiply that weight by all those times they are lifted on any given hike, and for me, it’s easy to see a difference.

Concerning weight, in general, I have cut my pack weight waaaay down from what it once was, as well as the weight of my trekking poles. After doing so, I can tell that I am not nearly as exhausted once I arrive at camp for the night as I once was, even on 20+ mile days. The fact of the matter is, gravity pulls on every little bit of weight, and our bodies have to work against this. The less that I exert myself at working against gravity, the longer I can carry on and the better I feel at the end of the day.

My “SUL” set-up

So, how are these poles so much lighter than many of the other poles?

One reason that these poles are so light is because they are made from a lighter-weight material, carbon fiber, rather than the more widely used material of choice, aluminum. I will admit though, some feel like using this material is a disadvantage when it comes to overall durability.

It is my understanding that these carbon fiber poles are as strong as aluminum poles (if not stronger) when it comes to applying weight vertically, however, if enough horizontal weight is applied, they can break or shatter, rendering them useless. On the other hand, an aluminum pole will bend if horizontal weight is applied, and there is a chance that the pole can be re-bent into position and still used for a bit longer. Either way, I will agree that this is worth noting when using any pole in rocky areas where the poles are more likely to get lodged between objects while hiking. As well, the LT4’s also feature a spiral wrap on the bottom portion of the poles which also adds a bit of strength and overall durability “where it is needed most.”

In my experience, when I first received the LT4’s, I will admit, I was a bit concerned about using them because they are super light. (They have been known to lift up off the ground in a breeze, and they will also float on water…) It did actually take me about 30 miles of use before I felt a bit more confident in them and got comfortable enough to use them as I did my el’cheapo Wal-Mart poles mentioned above. And what actually did it for me was when I got all excited and carried away and started running down a mountain (not far from where I was in the picture directly below) and slipped and fell… Needless to say, I slid down a section of that mountain on my butt. I let go of one of my poles, which turned out fine. The other pole I held onto for dear life… When we (the pole and I) came to a stop, the tip was buried in the ground and the handle was wedged between a rock. All of the abuse it suffered was vertical abuse and it was still in tact, however, I had to get it un-wedged. In the end, it fared fine, and this is when I knew that these poles were a-ok for me!

Using my LT4’s on the Appalachian Trail

Saying all of this, I would probably not recommend these poles to someone who is new to backpacking and has never used a trekking pole. I would instead suggest to take the route I did… Go with some inexpensive poles first to see if you even like using them, and then to learn how to use them first. At this point, I would suggest considering how you use the poles. Essentially, are you rough on the poles and have already bent/broke a few? If so, I would not suggest these poles for you. If you are like me and are not so hard on them and have not broken any, I would definitely say get yourself a pair and see what happens!

Other than this, Gossamer Gear also managed to cut weight by making these poles 2-piece poles. Many of the other poles are 3-piece poles, which require more hardware to make the poles work, which make the poles heavier. By going with only a top and bottom piece, these poles still have the ability to extend to lengths between 35 and 55 inches, while cutting back on weight. However, on the flip side, these poles will not pack down as short as those 3-piece poles. This would be something to consider if you fly a lot with your gear, or if you end up packing your poles away in your pack for long amounts of time while on the trail.

A few other things about the LT4 poles:

  • They feature light-weight, EVA “Kork-O-Lon” foam grips, and in my experience, these are the most comfy grips I have used on any poles.
  • They feature a small spectra core loop below handle for attaching a “keeper” cord.
  • They come with small trekking baskets.
  • They feature hardened carbide tips.

These poles are also offered in other sizes and with a few other options. One option I chose not to go with is the straps. There is a lot of argument out there about straps, their effectiveness and the “proper” way to use them. But for me, I am just fine without them, however, I am fine with the fact that others like them. In my opinion, I think that this is a personal decision that one has to make. I intentionally left the straps off in favor of the weight-savings. And if I had to order another pair, I would again opt for the pair without the straps.

Also, the adjustable LT4’s come with a little red ring that is on the lower section of each pole, and a spare is also shipped with them. The reason for the ring is to help to keep rain and debris from making its way into the top pole shaft when the pole is used upside-down to hold up a shelter. (Although, the poles go on the inside of my Hexamid, so this is not such an issue for these types of shelters.)  When setting up the shelter with these poles upside down, GG recommends to simply slide the ring down to the junction of the upper and lower poles. This ring will simply deter most of the water from running inside the poles.

MY ZPacks Hexamid set-up with a single GG LT4 pole on the AT

Gossamer Gear does suggest to keep the inside of the poles as clean and dry as possible so that the locking mechanism will work as it should. As I mentioned, my poles are inside my shelter, however, if they were not, I would simply take my poles apart, wipe them down and dry them off (if possible) each morning before I began my hike, especially if has been raining. As well, after each hike, when I get home, I do take the poles apart and wipe the shafts and the locking mechanism with a wet towel and clean off all of the dirt from the tip under a faucet. Afterwards, I store the poles separated until my next hike.

The last, and probably most important feature worth talking about is the locking mechanism itself. If the locking mechanism fails, then the pole is essentially worthless (unless you are really short). The locking mechanism was truly a mystery to me before I got the poles. I did not see too many write ups, pictures or videos that really showed the mechanism in much detail. And up to this point, I was used to the flick-lock styles. So, this was something that I was excited to be able to see for myself once I got the poles!

Essentially, the lower section of the poles has a nut installed in the top. There is a bolt that is bolted securely into the nut and there is a thick rubber washer that will screw up or down along the bolt. When this is inserted into the upper (grip) portion of the poles, the rubber washer will grip the inside walls. When twisting the poles the washer will move up or down. Once the washer has moved all the way to the bottom of the bolt another twist or so is all it takes to securely lock the pole at the desired length because the rubber washer will expand slightly when twisted against the end of the bolt. And that’s it. So far, these poles have held my 200 pounds up for 200 miles…

However, it seems like this locking mechanism is not perfect. There have been others that have complained about getting the poles to lock, and some that have not been able to get them unlocked (possibly due to water/dirt getting in them and locking up the mechanism). I will admit, on one occasion (actually my first hike) I was unable to get my pole to lock. I feel like this was in part due to the temperatures (16 F + wind chill). From what I understand, since the lock is rubber, it can get hard when it is really cold. In order to counter this, one needs to simply try to warm up the rubber washer. This can be done by rubbing it with your fingers, or against your pants so that it will soften back up and work as intended. In my case, after about a minute of messing with it, it finally did lock in place, and I experienced no other issues. Once the lock was locked in place, it worked perfectly. However, others have had more issues, and I may too with more use…only time will tell though. For now though, I am confident enough in it to be quite happy with them and trust them.

Since I got my LT4’s, these are all that I use. I will admit, around home I will grab the Leki’s to run outside and set-up a shelter (as seen in the video at the beginning) but if I am heading to the trail, there is no question as to which poles I will be bringing. I absolutely love these poles and look forward to wearing them out!

Thanks for reading!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: I am a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador, however, I purchased these poles with my own money, and before I was an Ambassador. I am under no obligation to review these poles for Gossamer Gear, however, I enjoy using them so much that I wanted to let everyone know about them!

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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17 Responses to Gossamer Gear LT4 Trekking Poles

  1. Pingback: Olympic National Park Post Hike Gear Talk | Stick's Blog

  2. Rich says:

    I’ve snapped my Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4s twice now. While traversing a steep incline on a high pass on the Wonderland trail we encountered heavy snow. I lost my balance, planted the pole and SNAP! It saved me from falling down the mountain but the carbon snapped like a twig. The shear force from postholing the pole was too great. On the CDT I jumped a muddy area on the trail, landed on a wet rock which caused my foot to immediately slide out from under me, I planted the pole and again, SNAP. Luckily both times the snap occured in a spot where the poles were still usable for the remainder of the trip, albeit much shorter poles. These are situations that could happen to any hiker.

    I love the light weight of these poles, and I love Gossamer Gear stuff and the folks at Gossamer Gear, but the ridiculously high cost to keep replacing carbon sections is too great. I have two other issues with these poles. The internal adjustment expanders don’t work 100%. The rubber can slip repeatedly before catching when adjusting. A big annoyance. Also, the longest section is slightly too long when fully broken down for airline travel. Not as compact as I need or an adjustable pole.

    I can’t recommend these poles based on my experience and the high cost. If money is no object for you, then go for it. If you want poles that you don’t have to worry about, or think about, and don’t require a second mortgage, look elsewhere.

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    • Stick says:

      Rich,

      That is a bummer to hear that you had to go through so many of them…I do agree, at this price, they can be an expensive item to keep replacing… However, I appreciate you sharing your experiences with them.

      I am planning to do the WT next September, and I am pretty excited about it! But I will say that as long as my LT4’s are still intact, they will be going with me on that trip to. I am planning to mail a few items that I cannot check on the plane such as my tent stakes and maybe even my stove and fuel, just in case, and will also mail the LT4’s ahead. I am planning to mail them ahead to reach the destination about a week before I leave, this way I have a little time cushion…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  3. deborah says:

    Thank you for your review. I have used several other brands of trekking poles and kept losing them (subconscious desire to get rid of them?). Finally I bought Gossamer gear’s LT4’s and have used no others since. The grips are super comfortable and the light weight really does contribute to less fatigue at the end of the day. I agree cold temperatures can cause the locking mechanism to be a bit finicky and I appreciated learning a remedy for this. I have not used the poles to set up shelters, nor have I beat them up sideways, so I cannot speak to their durability under those conditions. I just got back from hiking across the Pyrenees (Somport to Santo Domingo de la Calzada) as well as the St. James Way from Oviedo to Santiago (all mountain routes, but somewhat “civilized”). The LT4’s served me well and for that type of hiking I wouldn’t trade them for any others now.

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    • Stick says:

      Deborah,

      Thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the write up! As far as the locking mechanisms… I just got back from a trip and had some issues with one of the poles… I couldn’t get it to lock for anything! I ended up having to pull the pole apart, twist the black rubber washer until it was a little tight and then put the top part of the pole over it, carefully so that I didn’t unscrew the black washer and it stayed a bit tight. Once I got it in place then I finished locking it down… So, I just sent an email to GG to see what they say about it… But, I still love them and will continue to use them on my trips!

      ~Stick~

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  4. barefootsage says:

    Stick,
    You’re obviously a careful reviewer with lots of knowledge of different kinds of gear. But a 20 minute review for a set of poles? Frankly I didn’t have the time to watch this one. Would be nice to hear a review the gets to the point a little faster!
    Sincerely,
    Carole

    Like

    • Stick says:

      barefootsage,

      I do agree, I can get a bit carried away in my videos, but that is the way my mind works… I did shorten the video down a little too… 🙂 Anyway, the text in the write up is a bit of a shorter version…

      ~Stick~

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  5. Joe Heiker says:

    Hard to believe the flick locks wore out since they are black diamond. I’d have to see it for myself to believe it since you can simply tighten the flick locks if they are lose. Please post pics of these non working flick locks.

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    • Stick says:

      Joe,

      The poles I had that the flick locks wore out on were Outdoor Product poles… not sure where Black Diamond came in at… And yes, they wore out, no matter how tight the screw is. I tighten the locks up good and tight but when weight is applied, they will slide right on down…

      ~Stick~

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  6. chris says:

    The grips on these trekking poles are the best, and that’s about it. I’m sorry to report my GG trekking poles failed miserably multiple times. They either wouldn’t lock or unlock, or would get stuck and be neither locked or unlocked to where you couldn’t adjust or take them apart. GG’s customer service was great and they paid for shipping and tried to fix my trekking poles, they sent them back to me but they failed again after just one trip back out. The locking mechanism is a failure IMO and the true weight savings it provides versus a more reliable system is minimal. Because the locks failed so often the GG poles can’t be counted on for adjusting to changing hiking conditions or for setting up tarps/shelters. I really tried to like these trekking poles but was totally disappointed, and not to mention severly compromised because the poles failed on me so many times and one of those times was during a snow storm. Even Stick admits to having problems, and suggests rubbing on the rubber lock. If the poles are stuck togeather like mine were there is no way way to take them apart anyway. And should you really have to repair/tune-up your trekking poles every time the weather changes?? One’s gear (in this case my GG LT4 poles) shouldn’t be failing under stressful conditions, that’s when it should excel.

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    • Stick says:

      Chris,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences. I know that others have also had issues with them, but I can’t say that I have heard anyone with as many troubles as you have experienced. That is truly a bummer to hear too. And I do agree with you, gear should excel in stressful conditions.

      As you pointed out, I did have an issue with them, and actually on my first outing with them, however, it was quickly resolved and has performed as expected in all conditions since then. But I will admit, it was a bit disheartening at that moment when I first set out to use the poles and it didn’t work out at first. But, since then, no other problems, and they hold tight when they are locked, whether I am using them for hiking or for holding up my tent. So, based on this, I will continue using them and trust in them until they give me reason to do so otherwise.

      I wonder if maybe the poles were just bad that you had… Anyway, so what are you using now?

      Thanks for stopping by.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  7. Tollermom says:

    I too bought the cheap-o Walmart poles and until last weekend when I demoed a new one, I was satisfied. I tried the Black Diamond Z pole Ultra Distance. I don’t know the total weight but I can say they were are as light as a feather. Had nice grips and a comfortable wrist strap. Plus they fold up quite small for traveling. I might have to compare the Gossamers to the Black Diamond.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Tollermom,

      For me, the Wal-Mart poles were worth the money I paid for them, however, by the time I needed to replace them, I knew I wanted a pair that would last longer… and well, you read how that went… 🙂

      I like the idea of those Z Poles, but I wanted a pole that I had more control over the length, especially since I use it to set up my shelters and tarps. The Z Poles only give one set height, so that wouldn’t work for me. Seems like others that don’t use it for their shelters liked them ok though. If you get some, let us know what you think of them.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. John C says:

    Thanks Stick, another excellent report. A friend of mine has these poles and loves them. He keeps trying to get me to buy a pair, but I baulk at the price. I have to admit, I am getting interested though. Please let us know how they hold up long term.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      The price was hard for me at first too, but I was happy to pay it, especially now that I know that I do indeed like them, heck, I love them too! 🙂

      Anyway, I am sure I will go over them again once I get more miles on them…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  9. RioLeichtsinn says:

    Nice report Stick.
    I agree with you, best grips in the world.
    Rio

    Like

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