Companion blog: Adventures In Stoving

Monday, June 5, 2017

Massdrop x Fizan Compact Trekking Poles

Recently, I received a set of Massdrop x Fizan Compact Trekking Poles.  These three section poles are a collaboration between Massdrop and Fizan.
Fizan Compact Trekking Poles.
Note:  These poles are red.  The ones available on Massdrop are blue.
Massdrop is a "group buy" site.  Massdrop approaches a manufacturer and says, in effect, "hey, if we get a bunch of people together, what can you do for us in terms of a price?"  You, the consumer, then have the opportunity to join the "drop" (group buy) and get the special group price that Massdrop has negotiated.  Please see below if you are interested in joining Massdrop.

Fizan is a manufacturer located in Italy.

Price
Speaking of price, Massdrop is offering a set of Fizan Compact trekking poles for $60.  No, that's not each.  That's for a pair.  That's a pretty darned good price compared to what I typically pay for trekking poles although I suppose Walmart may have something cheaper.  The price is especially good when one considers that the set includes:
  • Two poles
  • Two rubber "feet" (rubber tips that slide over the metal tips)
  • Three sets of pole baskets (Winter, Three Season, and Summer type)
  • One small carabiner.  Presumably the carabiner is a "freebie" thrown in as a "nice to have."  I don't believe it has any direct use in conjunction with the poles themselves.
The above are included with a set of Fizan Compact trekking poles.  Left to right:
Rubber "feet," winter baskets, three season baskets, summer baskets.
The "feet" weigh 22 g per pair.  The weight of a pair of each type of basket is listed below:
Pair
Basket Type Grams Ounces
Summer 6 0.2
Three Season 12 0.4
Winter 30 1.1
Note:  These are measured weights based on my scale at home.  These are not necessarily the same as the manufacturer's spec weights.

Weight
My interest in the Fizan Compact trekking poles was piqued due to their weight.  They weigh about 6 ounces per pole (see below table).  Six ounces is generally below the weight of an average trekking pole which more typically runs something like 7 to 10 ounces.  Now, six ounces is hardly setting a new ultralight weight record, but, for example, my carbon fiber LT4S's cost $206 whereas the Fizan poles cost $60.  That's more than triple the price for a set of LT4S's.  So, the price-to-weight ratio is excellent for the Fizan Compact trekking poles.

In particular, I was interested in a set of lightweight aluminum trekking poles for trips on rougher trails or off trail where I wouldn't want to bring my potentially vulnerable carbon fiber poles.

Each
Pair
Brand Model Grams Ounces Price
Komperdell Titanal 238 8.4 $150
Fizan Compact 7001 179 6.3 $60
Gossamer Gear LT4S 139 4.9 $206
Note:  These are measured weights based on my scale at home.  These are not necessarily the same as the manufacturer's spec weights.  The weight of the poles includes the "Three Season" baskets.  Deduct 12 grams/0.4 oz to get the true weight of the poles (167 g/5.9 oz).


Field Testing
I took my set of Fizan Compact trekking poles out this past Saturday and went up and down an old, steep jeep road, a total of 8.5 miles per my GPS.  In particular, I wanted a steep trail to test a) whether or not the twist locks would hold my weight (I weigh 215 lbs/98 kg) and b) whether or not the grips were comfortable with hands atop them on the descent.
Old jeep road heading up out of Trabuco Canyon.  Freaking steep.
My impressions are as follows:
They're pretty solid.  No slipping on the twist locks.  The instructions caution against over-tightening lest the poles suffer deformation.  I snugged by hand without really cranking down on them.  No slipping.  No deformation.

The top of the grip on a Fizan trekking pole.
The top of the grips is a hard plastic. In downhill mode, it was a little uncomfortable when my hands hands were directly atop the grips.  It's not horrible, and you can kind of work with it, but it could be made better by being making the top of the grips a little wider and having some padding.  However, of course, that might add weight and cost.  Now, I'm a fairly big guy (215 lbs/98 kg, 72"/183 cm) .  I may have bigger hands than you do, and odds are I weigh more than you do.  So, factor that in. What feels smallish to me might be fine for you.  Likewise, the pressure on a set of poles from a big, heavy guy like me might feel quite different than for someone who is, say, thin and wiry.  While I haven't tried it, I understand that Gossamer Gear's cork grips can be purchased and installed on the Fizan poles.  Apparently, it's not a hard process.  Perhaps worth noting if you're a heavier person or have big hands.
Detail of grips and straps of a set of Fizan Compact trekking poles.

The straps are strong and show no sign of fraying or wear.  The straps on a lightweight set of poles like this are thinner and do curl/fold over on occasion, so you have to straighten them out periodically.  Such is the "price" (it's not a huge deal) of light weight.  The silky material of the straps slips some, particularly when the straps are not under tension, as when taking the straps on and off of one's wrists.  It was a bit  annoying to have to keep re-tightening them, but I've seen worse (my LT4S's for example), and it's not that big of a deal.  The straps did not appreciably slip when under tension.  The wedge that holds the straps in place might grip better if it were made of a slightly softer, more rubbery material.  Note that I use pole straps as a cross country skier might, i.e. the straps are bearing much of the weight.  I let the straps do the work lest I exhaust my grip strength.

For the price and for what its included (three different baskets and a set of rubber pole tips), they are excellent poles, and I like how the weight is mid-way between my Komperdells and my LT4S's.  The grips however on both my Komperdells and my LT4S's are more comfortable, particularly in downhill mode with hands on top.  The Fizan Compact grips are acceptable, but there's room for improvement. I particularly like the all cork grips on my LT4S's, but I can't imagine that all cork grips could be included at the price these Fizan poles are being offered at.

There's my take on the Fizan Compact trekking pole collaboration between Massdrop and Fizan.  You might also find Philip Werner's take on these worth reading:  Section Hiker:  Fizan Compact Poles.

Thanks for joining me,

HJ

How to Join Massdrop
Massdrop, as I mentioned, is sort of a "group buy" site.  They contact companies and basically say "hey, if we could guarantee X number of sales, would you give us a special discount price?"  If a company agrees, Massdrop then posts a "Drop" on their site.  Members of the public can then join the Drop and get the group discount.  Here's a link to join:  https://www.massdrop.com/r/ETFBT7.

Just so you know, if enough people join (and actually buy something), I will receive a "gift box" (contents unknown) from Massdrop as a thank you for the referrals.  If you noticed, I didn't exactly worship the Fizan Compact poles (though I think they're a good deal for what they are for the price), so I don't think I'm unduly influenced by whatever might be in the gift box (which may or may not even be of interest to me).  However, if you did use that link, you could sort of consider it a way of saying "thank you" for my reviews.  If you want.  If you don't want to, no worries, and I still hope you get something out of my reviews.  Take care and hike on!


Disclosures
The trekking poles featured in this blog post were provided at no cost to me by Massdrop.  The poles were provided with the understanding that I would review the poles as I saw fit.  There were no preconditions to my review.  For my review, I receive no compensation other than I typically get to keep the item that I reviewed.  Further, I receive no remuneration of any kind from the sales of these poles with the possible exception that I might receive the aforementioned gift box (see preceding section) if enough people were to join using the above link and then make some form of purchase, those purchases not being limited to trekking poles.  Inasmuch as I don't know what might or might not be in said gift box, I'm not exactly holding my breath, but the gift box should be mentioned as it might be considered a form a compensation.  By the way, any of you reading this are just as eligible to receive such gift boxes if you join Massdrop and subsequently refer friends.  These gift boxes are a standard practice of Massdrop and are not some special compensation for those who write reviews. Lastly, I wish to assure you that any intimation that the gear presented on this page is a secret conspiracy between myself and Massdrop to fill every last blessed nook and cranny of storage in my place of residence is completely false, despite any protestations to the contrary by my lovely spouse.

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