Before the Komperdell Stiletto system came along, I’d nearly given up on adjustable hiking poles. The options used to be either the twist-lock system or the slightly better lever-lock (flick-lock), but both have their drawbacks. I’ve accidentally over-rotated a number of twist-lock poles over the years and broken the internal mechanism, leaving me in a few sticky situations. The lever-lock is a step better, but I still have to pick up the pole or reach down to adjust the length. That’s not something I want to do on a steep, rocky descent or incline where a loss of balance could spell trouble.
I was mesmerised when I first saw the award-winning Komperdell Stiletto Expedition Trekking Pole at the ISPO Trade Show in Germany. Never has adjusting the length of a pole been so easy. Komperdell’s innovation has been to put a button in the handle, reachable with your thumb, to allow up to 25 cm (10”) of height adjustment without ever taking your hand off the grip. It also tends to have a higher holding force than the other systems, which helps keep the length you’ve chosen locked into place. This makes the twist-lock and lever-lock systems look old and dated, and changes the game dramatically.
Komperdell’s Stiletto system works through a spring loaded inside the shaft of the pole which is released or secured in place by the button in the handle. It allows for quick changes of height on steep climbs, descents or in precarious positions, essentially on the go. It took Komperdell 3 years to design and get right, but the pole adjustment is now where it belongs – in the handle.
Easy height adjustment isn’t the only feature on the Stiletto Expedition Trekking Pole either. The pole is made from multiple materials to ensure durability and strength. The Stiletto Expedition uses Titanal HF for the upper section, a type of hardened aluminium, combined with zinc, copper and magnesium. The bottom half is carbon to minimize weight with an added rock sleeve to keep the carbon protected in rough, alpine terrain.
The handle is made from EVA (or Foam Rubber) and includes an extension below the main grip that allows you to essentially change the height of your grip without the need to adjust the pole. The handles are also anatomically correct, so you have a designated left and right pole in the set. At the opposite end, Komperdell uses their so-called Ice-Flex basket and tungsten/carbide tip. The basket is strong and durable, but can flex on uneven terrain through a type of ball joint. The tip has a flex in it, as well, to minimize any structural damage to the pole should the tip get stuck
The Komperdell Stiletto poles aren’t the lightest, with the Expedition weighing in at 590g (1.3 lbs) per pair. They also don’t pack down as small at 66 cm (26”), but the new pole adjustment system and all the other features make the product a must-have for mountaineering, trekking and even backcountry or ski-touring.
Komperdell trekking products are distributed in Australia by Outdoor Agencies and in New Zealand by Southern Approach. You can find them at specialty retailers like Paddy Pallin in Australia and Bivouac in New Zealand, as well as online stores. The Stiletto Expedition Trekking Poles retail for over A$300, but shop around as you may find them for slightly less.
Featured Photos: Komperdell Media Images