Wednesday, February 08, 2017

High-tech, Low-tech.

Back in 2012 I was getting ready to head out on a long backpacking trip in Colorado. A friend suggested that I buy a couple of carbon-fiber hiking staffs that were being sold through Costco. I went and looked at them, liked what I saw, and made the purchase.

I did this to save a little bit of weight. My aluminum hiking poles that I'd already owned for about eight years (at that time) were perfectly acceptable. I'd bought them at either Walmart or Target (I've forgotten which). Good product. They worked just fine. But to save a pound of carrying weight, I went out and bought the carbon fiber poles.

The new-fangled hiking staffs performed just fine in Colorado as I climbed over 13,000-foot passes and clambered up and down steep, exposed terrain covered in rocks. And you really could tell the difference in weight in such situations. I was pleased.

Then, in 2014 one of the hiking poles failed on me in deep snow in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My first thought was that it had lasted two years through some extreme hikes and I accepted the fact that it had failed with no complaint. Plus, I still had its mate and I rarely use more than one hiking staff unless I'm on a multi-day backpacking trip. No harm, no foul.

Fast-forward to yesterday, February 7, 2017. Coming down from the rugged King's Pinnacle the surviving member of that carbon-fiber duo collapsed and failed. Alas.

Again, I was forgiving. It had lasted over four years through much abuse. What did I expect?

And then I thought about the aluminum hiking staffs that I had bought way back in 2004. The ones I had more or less abandoned when I got the new ones in 2012. They were still here. They still work perfectly. And I hadn't completely abandoned them, using them from time to time on various local hikes and backpacking trips. Never a failure. Never a complaint. And I'd only paid $20 for the freaking pair of them!

Yes, they are a tad bit heavier. But you know what? I'm not going to shell out for another set of high-tech carbon-fiber hiking staffs. The good old aluminum ones will do just fine. Will they eventually break? I have no idea. If they do...well, I really have gotten my money's worth out of them.

Cheap, but effective, and rugged. I'll keep 'em, thanks.

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