The title of this post stands for “Gossamer Gear LighTrek” grips on my “Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork” trekking poles. Some may remember that in a recent post hike gear talk post, I mentioned that I wasn’t a huge fan of the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles, in part due to the grips. So, soon after, I decided to strip the grips off of one of the BD poles to see how easy it would be to install some other grips that I know for a fact that I do like, the Gossamer Gear Lightrek “Kork-o-Lon” grips!
Now, I will admit, this was a bold move (IMO)… cutting the grips off of a pair of expensive poles… I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I will admit, I felt better about it due to the fact that I had read of others swapping the grips out successfully, and because I had only paid $65 for this pair (although, don’t get me wrong, money is money!)
So to begin with, I grabbed a sharp utility knife (razor blade), then made a slice through the black “extended” grip on the pole. After doing this, peeling the black grip off was rather easy, although, it did leave a large amount of glue on the shaft that I would have to soon remove. Next, I also cut through the upper, cork section of the grip. Peeling the cork off took a bit longer than the black foam part, although, I finally got it done.
After removing the grips, I needed to remove the grip housing from the top of the pole. To do this, I simply cut the carbon fiber shaft right at the spot where it entered the housing. This did remove about 2 inches from the poles overall length though. (More on this later.) Next, I used a sanding wheel on a Dremel and sanded the rest of the cork & glue from the top of the shaft, then used some tape adhesive remover pads to remove the rest of the glue from the shaft.
Once all of this was done, all I needed to do was insert the Gossamer Gear grip onto the shaft, and was actually the hardest part of the entire process for me. The first pole that I attempted turned out quite successful, whereas the second pole didn’t do so well… check it out in this video (which is much more detailed/lengthy than this write-up):
So, as seen in the video, the first pole was a total success, while I ruined the grip on the second pole. I attribute this to the fact that I was trying to hurry along in the video, and just went to fast. I took a great deal longer when applying the first grip to the first pole… now I know better. However, after making the video, I did get the grip all the way on the pole, and for now, even though there is a huge rip in the grip, I will use it. Eventually though, I will have to place an order for another set of grips… which is a bummer, but it’s what happens when I don’t slow down and pay better attention…
Anyway, there are a few things worth noting about these poles with the new grips now.
- The feel of these poles is now so much different. I figure most of this is due to the feel of the actual grips, but also due to the weight. The grips are a bit squishy, and oh-so-comfortable. As I said in the video, I use my poles set at a short height, and as a result am palming my poles probably 80% of the time. These grips have been tried and true as far as comfort is concerned, and being on a new pole won’t change that for me. For me, adding these grips have really changed my view on these poles… which went from: “Nah… they are not worth it…” to “Yes! I will give these a try again!”
- By getting rid of the cork & foam grips, as well as the plastic/rubber grip and installing the GG grips, the weight of my poles dropped from 8.1 – 8.2 oz to a solid 6.8 oz! This means I saved 1.3 – 1.4 oz per pole! And I can tell it too. The pole with the original grips felt heavy on both ends, and now the top end feels almost wispy. The only place they now feel weighty is on the end with all the locks and the tip on it. Sure, this is not the 4 oz LT4 poles, but it has gotten closer!
- Both the packed length, and the overall length is now different. These poles now pack down to 23.5 inches, and IIRC, they did pack down to about 24 – 7/8 inches. So, they now pack down about 1.5 inches shorter. However, this also means that the fully extended length is shorter too, by about the same amount. Now, if I set the lock on the “stop” position marked on each section of the pole, the total length is 51-1/4 inches long. However, I could get around another 2 inches in length from them by going about an inch past the “stop” position on each lower section, although, this is obviously not recommended by Black Diamond (but I’m sure changing the grips out isn’t either…)
One other thing to note, since I did cut the grip housing off of the end of the top section, this left the top section of the pole slightly shorter than the middle section. This means that the middle section will now not be able to be shoved into the top section as deep as it did before. I don’t believe that this will be an issue, although, I wonder how it will do over time. I just have to remember not to continuously slam the middle section back into the top section, so it doesn’t shoot out the top of the new grips… Time will tell though…
So, despite the fact that I did rip the second grip while installing it (pictured immediately above), I am still happy with the results. I now know that the GG LT grips will work on these poles, I just need to order another pair, and then take my time with it, and it will all work out fine. In fact, after stopping the video, I realized that I can use the middle section of the BD pole to “prepare” the grips a bit better than I did before. This should make it easier for me to insert the larger, top shaft, into the grips, and it shouldn’t tear again…
However, for the time they are both on, and I do plan on taking the poles with me on a hike in a couple of weekends to see what I think of them now. I have a feeling that once I replace the damaged grip with another grip, I will be much happier with the poles all together. As I said, I managed to cut a sizeable amount of weight from the poles, and now the grips are super awesome! Combine this with slightly beefier, carbon fiber shafts, flick locks, and a 3 piece pole that will collapse down pretty tiny, well, that sounds pretty good to me!
So, until I get more grips, thanks for stopping by!
After posting this I was talking with Ben from Goosefeet Gear, and he just so happened to have a pair of GG LT grips lying around, and was kind enough to send them to me to replace the one I damaged! Once I received them, I was eager to replace the damaged grip, however, I made myself take my time, and focus more on what I was doing as opposed to how I did so in the video… and of course, it worked out!
Some things to note though… while these grips are basically the same, there are a few small differences. These must be a previous model of the GG LT grips, however, they are just as awesome! The newer grips are more rounded, and have a slight upward slant on the top, whereas the older version mushrooms out more, and has a downward slope at the top. Also, the lines etched out on the back of the grips are thinner and more defined on the previous version than they are on the newer ones. As well, the older grips seem to be slightly larger in diameter than the newer ones. Despite these things though, the grips are still just as comfy, and I am super excited to have them! A HUGE thanks to Ben!
I will say that I did take a Dremel with a sanding wheel to the top of the grips to round them out a bit more. Despite this though, I found that the grips that Ben sent me actually weigh a hair less than the newer ones I had. Then, considering I shaved a little off the tops too, the total weight of my poles are now between 0.15 – 0.2 oz lighter than they were with the other GG LT grips I had! Now, each pole weighs in at 6.7 oz, and for the pair the scale will fluctuate between 13.4 & 13.5 oz! So, I will take it!
Disclaimer: I am a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador, and as a result, I did get the LT grips at a slight discount. As noted before, I picked up the poles from Steep & Cheap at a healthy discount to. However, I am not obligated to write about any of these products, nor am I being paid to do so. I took on this project on my own, and wanted to share it with my reader/viewers. So, take it for what it’s worth…