Fizan Compact Trekking Poles PCT Edition Review
What makes a good walking stick these days? With so many trekking poles to choose from and prices ranging from $50 to $250 for a pair, you might think that there are a lot of factors to consider. There are if you are willing to do a deep dive, but ultimately there are just a few things that really matter — length range, weight, and sturdiness.
The Fizan Compact 3 & 4 are two models that pretty much nail all three of these while remaining affordable. Their capable design is overshadowed by their differences, but in essence, these are subtle. The Compact 3 is a three-section pole that’s lighter. The Compact 4 is a four-section pole that packs smaller. Deciding which one is right for you might be a difficult decision, but let’s see if either of them is worth considering in the first place.
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles PCT Edition At-a-Glance
Type: Three-piece telescoping
Weight: 5.6 ounces per pole
Length Range: 39-52 in (100-132 cm) (measurements confirmed)
Minimum Length: 23.3 in (60 cm) (measurement confirmed)
Type: Four-piece telescoping
Weight: 6 ounces per pole
Length Range: 39-48 in (100-122 cm) (my measurements, different from listed)
Minimum Length: 20.1 in (51 cm) (measurement confirmed)
Adjustment System: Twist lock
Shaft Material: Aluminum 7001
Country of Origin: Italy
Humble walking sticks no more, trekking poles are useful in more ways than just trying to look as cool as that short guy in that hobbit movie. Although hiking with two poles, or just one, isn’t for everyone, adopters all agree that they are worth it for a number of reasons, including that they now provide structure to many of the most popular ultralight shelters in the backcountry.
The Fizan Compact 3 & 4 both aim to deliver a sturdy pole in a lightweight, packable package. Although they are slightly different in which of these final two metrics they prioritize, they share this ultimate goal — do the job and get out of the way.
PCT styling: Between the sage green colorway and vintage PCT trail crest, these poles not only look classy, but also pay homage to one of the truly great trails. With topo lines, a trail-shaped squiggle, and significant waypoints marked on these poles, there is a surprising amount of stuff to look at. Just make sure you have another navigation tool as backup. And if you hate the PCT, then perhaps the regular print version is for you.
Flexy lock: The telescoping sections are held in place by what Fizan calls their Flexy internal system. This is just a confusing way to describe el classico twist lock. Twist one way to loosen, and twist the other way to tighten.
Aluminum construction: The hoopla surrounding carbon fiber can be magnetic, but aside from potentially higher strength at a lower weight, aluminum is the better material for trekking poles. It’s cheaper, more durable, better suited to the variable loads that afflict poles, and breaks more gracefully (it bends rather than shatters). Somehow Fizan managed to use this superior material while keeping the weight down anyway.
Three or four pieces: The Compact 3 & 4 are constructed using three and four sections, respectively. The Compact 3 is slightly lighter, and the Compact 4 is slightly more compact when fully stowed.
EVA foam grips: These poles are only offered with EVA foam grips. Don’t be fooled by the “EVA Cork” option — it’s still EVA. It just looks better.
Carbide tips: Nothing sexy here. Carbide is the material of choice for a pointy thing that is going to be pounded onto all surface types, thousands of times per day. It is virtually indestructible. Some budget poles don’t use carbide. These poles do.
Extras included: If you like 35mm baskets, 50mm baskets, and/or rubber tips on your trekking poles, then get happy. The Fizan Compact 3 & 4 come with all of them. Honestly though, I wish these were optional. Most of this stuff is going to end up in the landfill or lost in the wilderness.
Compact 3 vs. Compact 4
These two different poles have much more in common than uncommon. They are basically the same pole. They look nearly identical, cost almost the same amount, and are made from the same stuff. Unless you are comparing them side-by-side, it will be hard to guess which is which. Heck, even with them side-by-side, I often mistook one for the other. Functionally, they are the same.
The Devil’s in the Details
The major differences, if we can hyperbolize a bit, are found on the stat sheet. The Compact 3 weighs 0.4 ounces less per pole. The minimum length of the Compact 4 is 3.2 inches shorter. Going for the lightest pole makes sense, but why care about such a marginal length difference?
It might happen rarely, but if you are securing your poles to your pack, it’s prettier and safer for your poles to sit flush with the length of the back panel. Although the Boba Fett look is cool, it’s cumbersome when your tips get caught on everything. Additionally, if you are flying with your kit, it’s nice when you can stash your poles in your checked luggage. The shorter the pole, the easier this is. Or if you are on a day hike, the Compact 4 will fit inside your tiny daypack better.
On the flip side, the maximum length of the Compact 4 might fall short of the requirements needed to pitch a trekking pole shelter. Many double-pole designs need 48” poles, which just qualifies the 48″ Compact 4, but some single-pole shelters need taller. Even the maximum 52” of the Compact 3 is cutting it close.
More Moving Pieces, More Potential Points of Failure
One thing to consider is that more complexity is often linked to more places where something can fail or break. Twist locks and aluminum poles are generally durable, but that extra section of the Compact 4 introduces yet another opportunity for something to go wrong. Simplicity is golden.
READ NEXT — Best Trekking Poles for Thru-Hiking 2023
How’d They Do?
Both the Fizan Compact 3 & 4 have functioned perfectly well and done the job. The weight difference between the two has been impossible to notice, and I haven’t needed to take advantage of the extra packability of the Compact 4. With this in mind, I have so far preferred the Compact 3, simply because it is simpler to use.
Aside from that, there is nothing to report. These poles are inoffensive and boring in the best way, and their remarkably low weight is the biggest talking point. The best trekking poles should be an afterthought, out of mind like comfortable shoes and socks. In this, the Compact 3 & 4 have been wildly successful.
Fizan’s Flexy internal locking system is really just another version of the classic twist locks. This was a bit of a letdown for me because the name mislead me into thinking that I was going to test something newer and better, but they work.
I’ve never been a big fan of twist lock systems, but aside from my pair of flick-locking poles that made it halfway up the PCT, I haven’t been able to get away from the twist. And I don’t really have anything to complain about. Twist lock mechanisms are simple, lightweight, sleek, and only slightly annoying to use. I have one pair of twisters that have survived over 6,500 miles, and another that have propelled me for over 3,200 miles. Sometimes the friction screw gets ganked up and jammed, or a temperature dip makes it impossible to loosen, but I’m confident that I can always fix the issue, whatever it may be.
Flick locks, on the other hand, are relatively bulky, heavy, and complex. They are arguably easier to use, but essential parts like nuts and screws can fall off or go missing. That’s bad news.
Nope. As discussed above, the grips of the Compact 3 & 4 are made from EVA foam. There are two different color options, black and “cork”, but appearance is the only difference. Not only is EVA way cheaper than true, genuine, real cork, but it is also more durable, lighter, cheaper, and plenty comfy. Like the hoopla surrounding carbon fiber, all that sexy hoopla surrounding cork grips is misplaced, in my opinion. The benefits of cork are marginal and subjective at best.
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Pros
5% to PCTA: Five percent from each sale of the PCT Edition Compact 3 & 4 is donated to the PCTA. Not only do you get some fly-looking poles, but you help preserve and protect the trail.
Lightweight: Kaviso claims that the Fizan Compact 3 is “the world’s lightest three-section aluminum trekking pole,” and it is pretty darn light. In fact, the 5.6 ounces per pole isn’t far off from my favorite carbon fiber pole, the Gossamer Gear LT5, which weighs 5.1 ounces per pole. And the Compact 4 isn’t far off at 6 ounces.
Aluminum: This material is pretty well-understood and reliable, and this particular alloy (7001) is plenty strong. Carbon fiber on the other hand, is a complex composite material that can have wildly varying properties depending on the particular fibers and resins that are used, not to mention fiber orientation and layup techniques. I’ve had some carbon poles that are awesome, and some that are trash. For this reason, it’s hard to know what you’re going to get without a major nerd-out. Aluminum, on the other hand, is relatively straightforward. Alloys in the 7000 series are best.
Sleek: These poles look simple and classy. Credit goes to the internal twist locks and subdued colorway.
Compact: As their name suggests, these trekking poles pack small. The Compact 4 is super tiny when stashed, but even the Compact 3 telescopes down with the best of them. It’s hard to go shorter without exploring Z-style folding poles. Note: Most telescoping poles will be even shorter than the shortest spec when completely disassembled into separate sections.
Cheap: One really can’t argue with this price. It’s harder to find cheaper poles anywhere besides Bob’s garage sale or Walmart, and those will probably be heavy and bulky. The Fizan Compact 3 & 4 are some of the most compact and lightest trekking poles available and are somehow some of the cheapest as well.
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles Cons
Fit and finish: It isn’t hard to find one or two spots where Fizan cut costs. The top of each grip is made from rigid plastic that isn’t as comfortable or grippy as the soft rubber of premium poles. The transition between EVA and this plastic cap isn’t particularly smooth either. Also, the wrist strap is minimal and doesn’t seem particularly durable. These are budget poles, after all.
Length accuracy: Set to the same nominal length, the Fizan Compact 4 comes up a little short. The Compact 3 is spot on. It’s just a few centimeters difference and I only noticed because I was using one of each at the same time, but it was disconcerting. After investigating, the Compact 4 measured 1″ short throughout the length range, including maximum length (48″ vs. reported 49″).
In a world where quality ultralight gear is usually prohibitively expensive, the Fizan Compact 3 & 4 trekking poles are refreshingly affordable. And why not? With simple materials and a simple job to do, there’s nothing that says you need expensive poles to match your expensive DCF shelter. We’re talking about walking sticks here. Sticks!
While I understand the temptation to seek the lightest carbon fiber poles that money can buy, these poles from Fizan make that now seem wildly indulgent. Between their low weight and compact stashability, they are not far off the specs of the absolute lightest and smallest, while costing significantly less. Unless you absolutely hate twist locks, then the Compact 3 & 4 leave little to be desired, and that classy PCT styling just sweetens the deal.
Similar Trekking Poles
Gossamer Gear LT5 Carbon Trekking Poles
Weight: 5 ounces each
Length range: 23.5-51 in (60-130 cm)
Locking: twist lock
Zpacks Minimalist Trekking Poles
Weight: 5.1 ounces each
Length range: 24.3-52 in (62-132 cm)
Locking: twist lock
Diorite Gear Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
Weight: 7.4-9.8 ounces each
Length range: 28-62 in (71-158 cm)
Locking: flick lock
REI Co-op Trailmade Trekking Poles
Weight: 8.5 ounces each
Length range: 25-55 in (64-140 cm)
Locking: flick lock
Disclaimer: The Fizan Compact Trekking Poles were donated for the purpose of review.
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