Life-Link -- Guide Ultra-Light trek/ski pole

Moses had his staff. John Muir, I am sure, had a stout wooden walking stick. But I have what Life-Link calls the lightest and most dependable trekking poles on Earth.

While it’s a big claim, Life-Link’s Guide Ultra-Light poles proved for me to be excellent accompaniments on tough hikes and mountain climbs this winter. The sturdy and lightweight poles add substantial support while walking in the backcountry. Stress was taken off my knees and my balance improved greatly when moving on tricky terrain.

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The poles, which are made of high-grade aluminum and carbon fiber, weigh just 7 ounces apiece. They adjust from 30 inches for storing on your backpack up to 49 inches when put to use. A telescoping arm with a twist-lock system lets you adjust the pole anywhere in between those dimensions to fit your height and the current geography.

Life-Link, a company known for its avalanche and snow-rescue equipment, built an avalanche probe into the Guide Ultra-Light. The two telescoping sections remove quickly and screw together to make a 55-inch probe — a very nice touch for anyone who spends time in the mountains.

The company includes baskets for both snowy conditions and for trekking on dry land. Life-Link also sells an optional self-arrest grip that can be added to the poles to convert them into pseudo ice axes for moderate mountaineering.

I was happy all around with this product. Its construction is solid and, unlike an older pair of adjustable poles I own, the Guide Ultra-Light’s telescoping arm did not slip once I tightened it up before heading into the woods.

For me, the poles were not long enough for efficient cross-country skiing, but for everything else — hiking, scrambling and downhill skiing — they performed superbly.

Price: $100.
Contact: Garmont, 1-800-943-4453, http://www.garmontusa.com/lifelink09.html.

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