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What experience do you have of their toughness?
My wife and i have been using komperdell duolock C3 for now 5 years, and about 2000km in all kinds of conditions, hiking or snowshoeing.
I had one pole that broke near the handle just after the first year for no apparent reason, Komperdell was nice enough to replace it for free, so the only hassle was hiking back to civilization for 4 days without it.
From that i was expecting the worse but we had better luck and no breakage for the last 4 years.
I broke my CF Pacer Poles. Now use the Aluminium ones and no issues so far.
This one will run and run!
And there are no definitive answers - though you may wish to consider the stress factors, and how this will affect your chosen poles.
Like for like carbon fibre - defined as a base epoxy resin with fibres incorporated into the material - has a terrific weight to strength factor versus aluminium alloy. It's expensive, and it's what you get if you're minded to spend the farm on some class of a mad 'n' bad super-car. And it's at least 40% lighter.
In simple terms, carbon-fibre can be uni-directional - in other words will only perform to certain constraints - or global. Used for trekking poles it's global.
Up to breaking point carbon-fibre will absolutely out-perform aluminium alloy.
But maybe that's not we're looking for, que no?
Are we looking for a system that will perform up to failure - or a system that may fail and still give us a degree of support?
Once a carbon-fibre pole breaks, that's all she wrote. At failure an aluminium alloy pole may still be usable. Under stress a tubular aluminium alloy will distort before breaking entirely. You'll still have a pole, and you may be able to batter it back into some semblance of a shape until you can get a replacement.
It's a hard call, and it comes down to individual preference. For myself I've gone through two sets of Kohla poles since 1996 - and am now on a set of Leki. On two occasions my poles saved me from potential serious injury. Both times the poles distorted but did not break - and so continued to provide me with support.
I simply can't comment on whether comparable carbon-fibre poles would've broken. But if they had there would have been serious consequencies.
I guess in the end it comes down to the conditions that you feel you may encounter - and a 20cm stream cornice can cause you as much harm as some gnarrly scree! - and your own best analysis as to choice predicated on worst-case. Personally I'd go with a forgiving system that may weigh more but give better recovery options.
But I'm not being prescriptive, and we all make our own choices!
Monsieur Pidgeon and I were once involved in an Alpine rescue where a walker had slipped off an icy path and used an alloy Leki to self-arrest, bending said pole through ninety degrees. She survived and gratefully plied moi et mon ami with mucho Bier and vino in the hut. Don't expect Denis remembers. Pole was well knackered, of course, but lady survived.
I have to agree with Humphrey when carbon fiber breaks its end of the line. I have had aluminium poles break on me I managed to cut of the bent part of the centre section and still had a serviceable pole, aluminium for me (say what John )
Cheers & Beers
If anyone is interested in trying some carbon fibre poles F&T have an offer on Karrimore poles at £30 per pair. At this amount of money even I'm prepared to give them a try!