Review Updated 3.28.2019 – Poles are back in stock at Costco for 2019!
Chances are you’re standing in Costco right now looking at a giant box full of Cascade Mountain trekking poles with about a $30 price tag hanging above and wondering if this is the best deal ever or if you’re just wasting considering some garbage product when you could be grabbing free food samples.
The short answer is a resounding “buy these now” and if you give me just a couple minutes, I’ll explain why you should skip the big brand versions and get these for your next hike.
But before I get into the specifics of the poles however, you probably want to know what qualifies me to even write this review. Well, a few things…
4 years and hundreds of miles of use have gone into this review
I’ve been hiking with these poles (and the previous versions) since 2014 when I was just another uncertain customer standing in a Montana Costco store wondering the same thing you are now. Since then, I’ve hiked hundreds of thousands vertical feet and hundreds, if not over a thousand miles with these poles. They’ve accompanied me on dirt hikes through the Grand Canyon, up the rocky slopes of Mount St. Helens, across the Glaciers and snowfields of Mount Rainier and so much more.
So ya, I’d say I’m qualified to share an opinion here.
Cascade Mountain Features and Specs (2018 Version)
The 2014 version of Cascade Mountain’s trekking poles had a similar look and price to the current version, but plenty has changed since then so for 2018, I’ve redone this review from top to bottom (much like the poles.)
What you’ll get now is a set of modern, fairly light weight, quick-clip driven, carbon poles. Let’s break that down:
- Carbon fiber construction keeps the poles fairly light weight at around 16oz and makes them pretty durable for hiking from boulders to snow and back.
- Cork grip handles are comfortable in your hand on a hot or cold day though perhaps not as soft as some of the premium versions out there.
- Quick clips make adjusting easy as the poles expand from 26” up to 54” (that’s 66-137 cm if my math skills still work), plenty for me at 6’2″.
- The end of the pole is a metal tipped point designed for snow, light ice and other hard surfaces. These are covered by the included rubber feet for dirt hikes and the likes.
- Cascade Design changes the colors up most years and the 2018 version are much more in sync with the sleek look of the premium competitors too. Not that looks matter in trekking poles people.
- In typical Costco fashion, the package includes an assortment of tips for dirt, sand, and snow which you’ll almost certainly lose before the poles give out on you.
There are certainly other poles on the market at about $30 but you’ll be hard pressed to find carbon fiber, cork grips, quick-clip adjustments and the accessory pack for anywhere near this price. Heck, for twice this price.
Putting the Costco Poles to the Test from Snow to Rock
In the four years that I’ve had these poles, they’ve gone all around the world with me (seriously) and while I’ve had a few sets, that’s mostly because I’ve lost some, given others away and have to keep upgrading to write this review. In all my time with them, only one of my poles has actually broken and that was from hitting it against a steel crampon all day long. They’re pretty damn tough.
To really understand what I mean by damn tough, let me go back to me (how fun.) My “hiking” use is really alpine climbing and volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest / California. This means the poles have to surviving being buried and lifted thousands of times through deep snow, getting wet and freezing, then dry, being left out and sun baked all over and over again. I’ve had them on trips where I was up to my waist in powder, taken them lightly skiing in resorts, and left them overnight on days where waterbottles froze up. Winter: Check and no issue.
But the real measure that makes me confident to tell you that these poles hold up as well as their far more expensive counterparts has been Mount St. Helens. Over the past few years, I’ve had the same pole, one of my original pair in fact, with me on a couple dozen hikes up that mountain. The trail to the top in summer heads through a few thousand feet of boulders which destroy just about everything from gloves to boots. I’ve had to replace the rubber feet plenty of times too but that pole – still with me
I’ve heard people complain about carbon fiber poles, I know it’s hard to believe cheap ones could even content, but in my experience, these things are clutch. And no one paid me a dime to say that (seriously Cascade Mountain, can I get like a coupon or something already?!)
One negative I will leave you win: after the handles get wet and dry out, they’ll never be as comfortable as new (though I hold poles from the top anyways.)
What’s changed in the latest version
If you’ve hiked with older version of these poles, you’ll notice that beyond the usual color refresh and some spiffy paint / styling, there are some real updates to the recent version of the poles.
- The cork grip handles (seen in the 2017 version) are a significant step forward from the old foam though they still feel like a cheaper (stiffer) material from the premium alternative poles.
- The clips have also been updated to an improved design that slides easily, locks down better and seems like it it’s less bulky, better designed than the old take.
What the expensive competitors offer
I may be tied to my Costco poles but hiking every weekend, I’m out with plenty of people using different gear to compare to. In truth price does make a difference and there are certainly some features you won’t find in these poles like shock loaded systems, the very softest grip materials, probably an ounce or three of weight savings, and some better rust protection. Cascade Mountain doesn’t break the mold first but so what? These are all minor details to me that make little real world difference and hardly justify $120, at least by my book.
On the flop side, cheaper versions tend to use twist lock which always seems to fail in cheap versions, skimps on the accessories and most certainly is not light weight. Simply put, most of the alternatives do give you what you pay for.
The bottom line: These are a great buy all around with premium like features save for that last few little details but at a cost that’s a tiny fraction of what you’d pay for the big brand alternatives.
So pick up a pair and go get yourself a Costco pizza to celebrate saving $90.
The Spring 2019 is here and my local Costco has the trekking poles back in stock (can’t find them? look for the team sports area which may not be next to the camping stuff… but don’t ask me why.) Not seeing any notable updates on this year’s release but if you spotted a change, comment below!
- Category: Trekking Poles
- Utility: Hiking
- Pros: Extremely solid, insane value
- Cons: Lacks top quality materials
- Style: Neon yellow / green
- Price: $29.99 at Costco, about $50 on Cascade Mountain’s site
- Rating: 5 of 5
- Official Site | Buy in Costco Stores Spring – Summer