Gear Review: Mountainsmith Andesite Trekking Poles

Making gear lighter is the name of the game right now, and Mountainsmith joins the club in the trekking pole department with the new Andesite Trekking Poles. Designed for the Real Hiking Viking, these poles are made to maximize the balance between cutting ounces and handling big-time force. These are solid poles at a reasonable cost, so let’s take a look at the ins and outs.

Mountainsmith Andesite Trekking Poles At-a-Glance

  • MSRP: $99.99
  • Weight: ~6 ounces per pole (11.2 total)
  • Length Range: 32-55 inches
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Adjustment System: Telescoping Double Cam Twist Lock

Circumstance of Review

These poles have been put to the test in the most southern of the Appalachian Mountains in Eastern Alabama on the Pinhoti Trail. They’ve seen ~40 miles so far and are impressively durable for carbon fiber twist lock poles. I have been able to put my entire body weight on them without the twist lock system conceding at all.

Features

  • Pole length range of 32 – 55 inches (81.2-139.7 cm)
  • Adjustable soft-touch webbing wrist straps
  • Durable carbide tips
  • Molded EVA foam handles
  • Double cam twist lock adjustment
  • Two telescoping sections
  • Removable hiking baskets w/ locking pins
  • Removable set of rubber boot tips

Raw Strength

I have tested trekking poles from most of the major makers (Black Diamond, Lekki, Gossamer Gear, and Cnoc) and so far these have the best strength-to-weight ratio of anything I’ve seen. It isn’t necessarily that the materials of the poles are any different than any of the other ones out there: the key to these poles’ success is a twist lock system that actually works. 

I’ve tried to push pretty hard on these poles without any success in getting the twist lock system to give. At 190 pounds with a loaded pack, I have lifted myself off the ground (granted, briefly) without the poles slipping whatsoever. If lightweight poles can’t reliably hold you when you need their support descending or ascending, is it worth the ounce shaving? With the Andesites, you don’t have to choose.

Did I Like Them?

Even folded down to the minimum length, the Andesites are still a bit awkward to pack (but at least they’re color coordinated with Mountainsmith’s Zerk 40!)

Yes. These are truly solid poles at an excellent price. These are probably one of the best values out there and it’s about as good as gets in terms of strength per ounce.

But. There is one significant catch that might be enough to dissuade many people from getting these poles: the length. I’m not talking functional length, but the minimum length these poles can fold down to. For a weekend warrior, this is hardly a drawback, and arguably a positive in that there is only one point on the poles that needs adjustment. But for a thru-hiker who likes the versatility of being able to stash away the poles, this is a strike. 

Pros

  • Price point. $100 is excellent for a sturdy pair of lightweight poles.
  • Strength. For as light and easily maneuverable as these poles are, they should actually handle a good beating.
  • Simplicity. If you aren’t concerned about how big they are folded up, it really is a plus that these are so simple to adjust. The handles and straps are also very basic, yet exactly what you want in a pole. No need for any extra bells or whistles there.
  • Extras. I know it’s really the standard now, but it is worth mentioning that for $100 you also get the rubber stoppers for the poles and some very basic yet functional baskets.

Cons

Really there isn’t much to say here that hasn’t been said. If you’re getting nitpicky about the perfect poles, it’s a bummer these don’t collapse smaller. They are very basic and straightforward poles, which is good or bad depending on what you’re looking for. Typically, I’m not a big fan of twist-lock poles. I tend to have trouble testing them, and I feel like they usually aren’t made to last. That said, I’m impressed at how well these have held up.

Final Thoughts

The Andesite Trekking Poles are as good of a value as you’ll find for a solid set of lightweight trekking poles anywhere. They really are made to last it seems, and it doesn’t even hurt the wallet that much to pull the trigger on them. These sturdy, lightweight trekking poles make an excellent option for a variety of different types of hikers.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Mountainsmith.com

Comparable Poles 

Gossamer Gear LT5 Three Piece Carbon Trekking Poles
MSRP: $195.00
Weight: 10.6 oz

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles
MSRP: $199.95
Weight: 16.9 oz

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
MSRP: $179.95
Weight: 17.1 oz

Cnoc Telescopic Trekking Poles, EVA Grip, Pair
MSRP: $189.99 (but currently on sale at $169.99)
Weight: 14.8 oz

**This product was donated for purpose of review

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