Pacerpoles - carbon

My theory

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11/09/2006 at 08:10
It's a shame John jumped to the conclusion that weight taken from the business end of a Pacerpole will require more energy in use. In fact, taking weight from the end of the pole reduces the energy needed to use the poles significantly. (The centre of gravity is nearer the pivot point [your hand], and the overall weight is reduced - result, a much lower moment of inertia).

Fastening some heavy weights to the end of your poles soon shows that more energy is needed to use them. It also shows that heavy ends are not as quick to respond or as accurate in positioning.

I've only used carbon Pacerpoles so can't judge the difference, whereas John has used Pacerploes for thousands of miles and is very able to judge the difference - he says he can't. But then, can you tell the difference between a 120g and a 100g stove when it's on your back? All these weight savings are marginal but all add up to the good. Poles are like boots, the weight saving has more effect than the weight alone would suggest.

John was right that they're quite long when closed down, and this could be a nuisance beyond any energy saving.
11/09/2006 at 11:37
I've used both the standard and carbon poles, one in each hand, and can't tell the difference. If there is one I don't think it makes any significant difference. The length does however as I sometimes put the poles on my pack when scrambling and long poles can be a nuisance then, as they can when travelling by train or plane. I like the carbon poles for skiing - the length is immaterial then as the skis are much longer!

I know the weight savings add up but I really don't think it matters with Pacerpoles, unless you're carrying them most of the time.
11/09/2006 at 11:53
But then if you're "carrying them most of the time" then what's the point of having poles in the first place ?
11/09/2006 at 12:00
"But then if you're "carrying them most of the time" then what's the point of having poles in the first place ?"

To hold you lightweight tarp up of course!!
11/09/2006 at 12:01
If I know I'll carry them most of the time - on the Cuillin ridge for example - I might still carry poles for the ascent and descent. If they are needed for pitching a shelter I might still carry them too. But the point is that I don't think the weight of Pacerpoles is significant when you're using them.
11/09/2006 at 13:30
Ah, understand a little better now.....

A related question now, but not exactly about weight. I've noticed that some poles have the ability to be both rigid and anti-shock via a quick twist to "lock out" the anti-shock. Is this a bit of a gimmick or an advantage to have?

It just seems to me that anti-shock would be preferable all of the time to prevent jarring of ones joints e.g when generally walking or when trying to arrest a slip.
11/09/2006 at 13:45
Anti-shock seems to be a personal matter. Some people like it. I don't. I've gone out with a pole with anti-shock in one hand and one without anti-shock in the other. Most of the time I can't tell the difference. However occasionally on descents I've planted an anti-shock pole below me and then felt the anti-shock give a little when I put weight on the pole, which gives rise to a slight unstable feeling that I dislike. Anti-shock also add weight, packed length and cost to poles.
11/09/2006 at 13:51
Thanks Chris,

I've been toying with the idea for a while now and can't make up my mind. I think I'll borrow some from a mate on my next trip out and see how I get on.

As you say, it's down to personal preference really.

Icidentally, one pole or two, or down to personal choice again? It's just that I can see myself getting my legs tangled up in two poles and planting my face into the terrain.
11/09/2006 at 13:58
Two poles are much more efficient both for propulsion and for support. When backpacking I always use 2 poles. On day walks I often don't use poles however I often carry one, mostly in case I decide it'll make a descent easier. With Pacerpoles you definitely need a pair to get the benefit of them. Also, they have right and left shaped grips so if you only have one you can only comfortably use it in one hand.
11/09/2006 at 14:49
Thanks again Chris, I wasn't aware that they were "handed".
11/09/2006 at 15:49
Hi JH,

I understand the point you make regarding the centre of gravity of the poles but in the end, as I mentioned in the review, the difference the carbon sections have made is so slight as to be inconsequential, especially, as CT has stated, as weight isn't the prime consideration with such fine poles: having them is the only real consideration that matters!

On the subject of anti-shock, I used to be a believer; now, having trundled so many miles with the Pacerpoles which, of course, aren't anti-shock, I've found that I reesnt losing the intimate contact with the ground that anti-shock brings. When you get used to using poles they do become more than just an extension of your arms (four legs good...); you can sense their contact with the ground through your hands and that's a very aid important to your own stability, in my opinion.
11/09/2006 at 17:24
Well at least we all agree that Pacerpoles are very good. I could never get on with conventional poles, but immediately felt the benefit of Pacerpoles within minutes when using them for the first time on the hill behind my house. Over the last three months I've got used to them enough to feel the benefit over a variety of terrains. Like any pole they can be a nuisance, but the benefits far outweigh this.

14/09/2006 at 12:31
Following this discussion, and for my own interest (had I really bought a dud?) I emailed Pacrepoles asking if they had any info about the better weight disribution of the carbon poles. Instead of recieving a list of figures for a reply I recieved a pair of alloy lower parts!

Having assembled one carbon and one alloy pole I did a blind test to see if I could tell the difference (just shaking a pole by the handle) - yes, but there's not much in it. I don't think I could tell when actually walking.

Next a more scientific appproach - out come the kitchen scales and my partners dress making tape measure. The alloy pole weighs 352g and the carbon pole 322g, a marginal 8.5% lighter (or 9.3% heavier if you look at it the other way).

I assumed the pivot point is 30mm above the flange at the bottom of the handle, which made the centre of gravity 350mm and 330mm from the pivot on the alloy and carbon respectively. This is the radius of gyration.

The moment of inertia equals the mass times the radius of gyration squared, so in kg and metres this gives 0.043 for alloy and 0.035 for carbon. The alloy pole has a moment of inertia 23% higher than the carbon pole. Because the poles aren't just rotating, which this calc covers, maybe we could say they need 15% more effort/energy to use. Plus the carbon poles are nimbler and quicker to position.

Against this they are longer when collapsed, which might be the deciding factor for many (1m vs 0.7m, but if you take them apart the carbon section is 0.9m).

Both are very good, and having scorned and laughed at poles for years I'm very pleased with them.


I hope someone checks my figures

14/09/2006 at 16:23
I think if you are using poles for propulsion, then anti-shock systems must consume some energy; you first compress a spring, rather than drive yourself forwards or upwards. Though I guess that the spring may return some of the energy. But if you are using poles for propulsion, then they should always be pointing backwards, so there shouldn't be much shock to absorb.
Edited: 14/09/2006 at 16:24
08/10/2006 at 17:12
I also think we need to remember, whatever the weight saving or larger length, is that as far as I can remember the 2 section poles are about 10 of your english pounds cheaper. So if the extra length isn't a problem for you it could be the better value option for you. Not all folk are doing the large testing climbs carrying all they need for a week on their backs; some will just put them in the car and have a few hours on the fells where the extra length isn't a problem.

Just my thoughts.
08/10/2006 at 23:15
Rob, you're quite right. Two-piece poles are stronger than 3-pieces ones too. If poles do break it's often at the connection between poles. For skiing I used single section poles - Swix Mountain - for many years and they proved tougher than any 2 or 4 section poles I've used. The connections can't fail or slip when they aren't any either :-).
28/05/2007 at 13:38
Having used both the carbon and ali ones for nearly a year now, sometimes with a different one in each hand, sometimes with a pair the same, I take back what I said earlier, I can easily tell the difference between the poles.

The most notable difference is that the ali ones vibrate more than the carbon ones when they hit the ground, which I assume is because the ali ones aren't as stiff, which might have consequences if a lot of weight were put on a pole during a stumble.

The other noticable difference is that it is much easier to place the carbon pole accurately, which is handy in rocky situations.

If it takes less energy to use them then it isn't noticable, I'm still knackered at the end of the day.

Edited: 28/05/2007 at 13:39
28/05/2007 at 14:33
Using same logic as above I'm measured my good old fashioned Leki Makalu Antishocks and found them to be 313g with the centre of gravity 295mm from the pivot point. would imply that they would be 22% better than even the carbon Pacerpoles.

If you take the inertia argument to it's extreme you would of course affix a weight to the top of the pole to balance it at the pivot point. Obviously this is not really a good idea as it would either result it poles that either had a long protrusion above the handle or a far greater weight.

28/05/2007 at 14:42
Yes John, Pacerpoles aren't lightweight compared to others.

Can't agree about adding a weight above the handle though; this would reduce the radius of gyration if the weight were nearer the pivot point than the original r of g, but wouldn't reduce the moment of inertia. (A flyheel has it's CofG at the pivot point, but it's moment of inertia is high).

I must say though that these small differences between ali and carbon could be outweighed by the carbons long stow length.

10/08/2007 at 09:00

I'm on the verge of getting some pacerpoles - I'm certainly convinced by the arguments, and, most importantly, I'm just into my new credit card month!

What I'm trying to decide is which type to get:

  • 3 section
  • Carbon 3 section
  • Hybrid 2 section

I can see weight and packing advantages in the 3 section carbon compared to the 2 section hybrid. Is that it? Are there any other deciding factors anyone knows about? I'm sure I saw a thread on this topic a while back but I can't seem to find it....

Sorry, but I just had to do those bullet points, now that I can!

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