Monday, December 1, 2008

A DIY Gear Project: Homemade Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

I thought it would be fun to see if I could make my own Carbon fiber trekking poles on the cheap that would rival the more expensive, commercially-produced ones out there. So, here we go! First, I purchased the components:

1. 42" Carbon golf club shafts. $5 each on eBay.
2. Cork grips. $2 each at my local fly fishing shop.
3. Leki tips. $7.50 each from REI.
4. Bicycle handle bar tape. $10 at my local bike shop.

I glued the cork grip to the very top of the shaft with Gorilla Glue (it took a bit of filing to make the inside diameter of the cork grip fit the shaft) and wrapped a 9" section below it with foam bicycle handle bar tape. This "dual grip" compensates for the fact that the poles are one piece and can't be adjusted to be longer or shorter for going up or down hill.

When going downhill, I can hold the pole by the cork grip, giving me extended reach to compensate for the downward angle:

When going uphill, I can grip the pole lower down on the handle bar tape, giving me a shorter pole for steep ascents. One advantage is that you don't have to stop and adjust anything--just slide your hand down to alter the length instantly:

Finally, I epoxied the Leki tips to the end of the pole. I chose these because I already have attachments such as baskets, snow baskets, and rubber tips that fit Leki:

Overall, I ended up with a sturdy, finished product that only weighed 4.4 oz. per pole. The cost per pole was about $18.50 since I already had the glue, etc. that I needed. While not as light as some of the commercially available ones, like Gossamer Gear Light Trek 4s, it proved to be pretty cost effective with a little time investment. I think the most difficult part was tracking down the components. You could make a pair for $37 (maybe less) if you want to lose weight and don't mind the homemade look.

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16 comments:

David Ray said...

That's an interesting project. I'd have to figure out how to add the straps though. My hands get fatigued if I don't use the straps properly.

SL said...

That's a cool idea. Though, I'd like to have a field report to see how well they hold up on the trail.

SL said...

Jason,

I just checked, MAKE Magazine has linked to your story on their blog.

Link:

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/12/diy_homemade_carbon_fiber_trekking.html?CMP=OTC-0D6B48984890

Jason Klass said...

Cool!. I guess I've "made it"--get it? ;)

wildscott said...

Brilliant!
But a more cost effective way might be to pick up "broken" twist lock carbon poles at REI for <$20 and then fix them.

n3rd said...

be patient enough at the local driving range and the shafts are free. People break them and just toss them. They also make a keen weed wacker because they are so lite

David said...

Jason,

I've always wanted to have a trekking pole that could be converted into a spear by attaching a blade. That way, you could ward off wild animals or brandish it as a token of your authority...or, when you're starving, you could use it to forage for food like Wolf Mills...

Any ideas?

Jason Klass said...

Whoa! That's a BRILLIANT idea! One of the best ways to catch animals in a survival situation is to make a spear from your trekking pole like the ancient Anasazi did countless centuries ago!

Anonymous said...

Great Idea. I've been wanting to make a set since I saw it here. How did you chose the shaft blank? The specs usually list the butt dia., but not the diameter on the small end. Also, some are more flexible than others. Any help? I'm considering adding fishing pole ferrils (or similar) so they can be broken down to fit in luggage.

Jason Klass said...

Anonymous-
I measured the length of my had (held at a right angle) to the floor. I still have 2 shafts left that I want to get rid of. If you want them and pay for the shipping, they're yours. Email me.

mill pond golf said...

Great idea, I'll be sure to try this over the weekend. Thank you very much.

Doug Provins said...

I just swung by the local Goodwill Industries and there were several carbon fiber shaft drivers in the shop for $4.99 each. For that price I may give it a go.

I bet I could find them even cheaper (or free at the driving range, etc.) if I wanted to spend the time... but time is $$ as well.

If I make something I will let you know.

Anonymous said...

How well did the apoxie do at holding the carbide tips to the shaft? I just came across 2 old carbon fiber shafts at Goodwill, so I ordered done tips from gossamergear.com and I plan to make done next weekend.

Would gorilla glue hold the tips on or should I stick with the apoxie you recommended?

Roel Bobis said...

do you know any carbon fiber for sale in the philippines

Carbon fiber wheels manufacturer said...

This is so cool. I am such a huge fan of their work. I really am impressed with how much you have worked to make this website so enjoyable.

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