ALLOY SHAFTS OR CARBON FIBRE SHAFTS?
All Pacerpoles are made from high quality materials - but which Pacerpole shaft to choose.
There are a number of aspects to consider before choosing, depending on your body frame / speed / stowage needs if a climber / expedition use etc.
1. Perhaps think of a Pacerpole as an add-on body part. If you have a big frame - then go for the Alloys as these extend longer (and you'll need the extra length on a steep descent to avoid having to stoop forward - and so underperform). If you have an average/medium frame then either the Carbon or the Alloy. If you have a small frame then consider the Carbons. The Carbons pack shorter for stowing, and lighter to carry - but in use the difference in weight is not as noticeable as you'd think (see below Weight v Effort).
2. Those wanting to move at speed tend to choose the Carbons.
3. Either Alloy or Carbon shafts are at their shortest for travelling/flights etc when dismantled and placed diagonally in the pack (use the mesh bag - if wanting to keep the sections together).
4. Carbon fibre as a material is basically fibres laid down in a matrix. Common sense will tell you that when these fibres are cut - especially deep cuts eg repeated bashing against sharp rocks, then this weakens the material and it will eventually snap (perhaps after just a slight knock ...on the basis of the straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back scenario). If the shaft tip is caught/fixed so the shaft keeps bending under heavy load then eventually the increased bending will snap a carbon shaft, whereas an Alloy shaft will continue to bend ......and probably will be able to be straightened a little so it is at least usable again, to finish the trek.
5. Remember it's good practice to dismantle any shaft after use - as condensation can occur inside any tube. Damp air can cause the metal/alloy thread of the expanding bolt to oxidise as white rough markings ..so it won't function as smoothly as it should. To avoid this just dismantle the Carbon or Alloy shaft into sections, stow in the mesh bag and hang somewhere dry until needed ...
Whether Carbon or Alloy Pacerpoles, both have the same handles. What has a real impact on performance is the way any Pacerpole is used - and personalising its shaft height to integrate with your arm's 'stride' action (so check the How-to-Use page on this website).
WEIGHT v EFFORT
In practical terms weight is not just a question of gms or ozs - but more importantly, how much effort is required to move it.
Why does carrying a pack by hand take more effort (is more tiring) than carrying it on your back - even though it's exactly the same weight?
1. Where the weight is has a significant impact on performance - and when applied to poles - where the weight is distributed along its length as it integrates with the arm (its weighting) will influence how much effort is needed to move it.
Compare the arm/leg scenarios: lightening-up the weight of a boot at the far end of your leg as a pendulum, will mean less effort to move the leg - so it's less tiring; lightening-up the weight of your shorts will hardly be noticeable (even though it's the same leg that's moving) because it's near your hip pivot point as the leg swings through.
The shaft tip is the equivalent of your foot/boot, and the pole's top section is the equivalent of your thigh/shorts. Having the 'weighting' of a pole near to its elbow pivot point means less effort to move it……..
Effort expended or saved is not directly related to the 'dead' weight in gms or ozs of the pole.
2. The above scenarios refer to limbs/poles when they're off the ground - but the reason for using a pole is to have it for loading/thrusting-against for each step on the ground. Controlling this thrust from a suspended strap fixed to a shaft wastes a lot of effort; this is the equivalent of the leg's walking action on soft sand which is very tiring (inefficient) - especially when compared to walking on solid ground, thrusting against something firm which doesn't give-way. This firm ground is the equivalent of the 3D contoured Pacerpole handle - so the hand/arm can push directly against the contours controlling the arm's action without gripping and without wasting effort ….. rather than by trying to control a 3D soft-sand-action indirectly through the suspending strap of a conventional pole.
3. Even though Pacerpole's 'dead' weight may be more than an ultra-light pole, it is designed to make the body more effective (accessing maximum power and wasting less effort then conventional designs when being used to load and thrust-against on the ground) and whose effort expenditure when lifted off the ground is insignificant over the day to affect the net gain in performance and endurance levels.
An ultra-light pole is only ultra-light when it is off the ground; when it touches down it's as wasteful of body effort as any other conventional pole - which is why overall it is inefficient.