What works for me: Pacer Poles

I first started using hiking poles back in 2002, they were a set of Leki Poles complete with shock absorption, I soon learnt how to turn the shock absorption off. They were heavy, seeking out lighter poles I came across the REI  Peak UL poles made by Komperdell, they were much better to use but I was still not entirely happy. In 2006 having read about Pacer Poles while living in the USA, I contacted Brian Frankle at ULA and purchased my alloy Pacer Poles, which I still have to this day, I first wrote about these poles in 2008 and it now seems reasonable to update that post.


I have continued to use the alloy poles for all my long trips up north, and while the poles are heavy at 712 gm per pair they are very comfortable to use with their angled grips. I find them equally comfortable on all types of terrain whether it be climbing or descending. The twist lock mechanism in the Pacer Poles is the most reliable twist lock I have used, with only the occasional slippage.  More recently I have purchased a set of Carbon Fibre Pacer Poles.

Comparing the 2 types of Pacer Poles.

Alloy Carbon Fibre
Collapsed Length (includes rubber feet) 68 cm. 65 cm.
Fully extended Length (to the maximum stop, including rubber feet) 142 cm. 135 cm.
Weight (including baskets and rubber feet) 712 gm. 540 gm.

Using the poles

The Pacer Poles are a pleasure to use, the angled hand grips provide a comfortable and supportive position for the hand enabling the user to “rest” their hand on the pole in contrast with normal poles where the hand must “grip” the pole to ensure that the hand does not slide up and down the pole. Thus the pacer pole provides support and assistance when walking that , whereas a normal pole does not in my view.

The poles are not just for walking, or perhaps one could ask “What other uses can I put my walking poles to?” Like most other poles there are several options, some of which I have used which are listed below.

Using a pole as a Monopod

I enjoy taking photos on my walks and am always pursuing “the perfect photo” one thing that is obvious to me is the importance of a camera support whether it be a rock, a fence post or ideally a tripod. However, when I carry tripod I am sometimes reluctant to use it as I do not want to stop, take it out set it up and then take the photo. Maybe I should take more time, as I often become goal focussed and not focussed on the surrounds.

The Pacer Pole people offer a camera mount for their poles which I acquired a while ago but it took me a while to realise the best way to use the cameramount. I am right handed, so firstly the camera mount should be placed con the left hand pole. Then you need to learn how to use a Monopod (there are many youtube videos on this) finally a ballhead is strongly recommended as it allows you to fine tune your set up.  I have found that the one shown below works for me and with a weight is 68 gms, I can also use it with my Gorilla Pod.


Here it is shown mounted onto a Carbon Fibre pole with the Olympus EP 2 and the 40 to 150 mm lens.


Using the poles as shelter support

Perhaps the most important use of the poles is as shelter support, I have tried Pacer Poles in many different shelters, such as MLD Cricket, Black Diamond Megalight and Betalight, Tarptent Notch, GoLite SL 2 and SL3,  MLD Trailstar just to mention a few and in all cases they have performed admirably.


MLD Cricket


MLD Trailstar

Tarptent Notch

Handle down or up? I have tried both and I feel that it is a matter of personal preference.
Handle up can distort the shape of the peak of the mid, while handle down would appear to provide a more stable base, although it may slip more easily.


Recently I have looked at joiner sections, initially using parts of my Leki poles but then I decided to contact Heather and Alan at Pacer Pole and see what they could do. As always their customer support was excellent and after an email conversation, I received two joiner sections, one for the CF poles and one for the alloy poles as shown below.

Pacer Pole Connectors

These sections are very light and can easily be stowed in the pack.  I am very grateful to Heather and Alan for scouring their stocks of old poles and locating these pre loved handle sections.
For information the carbon fibre section is 34 cm in length and weighs 30 gms, and the alloy section is 23 cm in length and weighs 34 gms.

This allows the two lower sections of each pole to be connected and provides a maximum length of 192 cm for each set of poles. However, I prefer some overlap at the joins and with the BD Megalight requiring an internal height of approximately 150 cm there is ample overlap at the joins. The poles do flex when sideways pressure is applied, however, the Megalight  when set up places most of the force at the top of the pole and thus is transferred thorough the poles to the ground, and I have not experienced any failure to date.

Black Diamond Mega Light and Oooktub

Using the poles: Snow and sand baskets
I have a set of snow baskets which I have never used, but if there is to be a lot of snow than I can easily add the ski baskets to help.

What improvements would I like to see?

A better camera mount, would be my main request. However, the adoption of Flicklocks on the poles may also be worth considering, though as I have previously stated I experienced very little slippage with the currrent locking system.

Which poles do I prefer?
If I had a choice I would always take the CF poles (because of their weight), but my concern is the “what if?” situation, especially when long trips above tree line where my poles are my shelter supports. In my experience if I slip/fall the Alloy poles will not break (possibly bend), whereas my CF poles may break. So for long trips I prefer my trusty alloy poles but for local or shorter trips I use the CF poles.

Towards Maddagaisi

Where have I been with my Pacer Poles? They’ve been everywhere.

here is just a selection of a few locations.

SwedenSmåland Pilgrim Trail

Pacer Poles Bjøllåga, Nordland Norway


Sweden, again
Pacer Poles

Skåne, Sweden


End of the Hærvejen


During the writing of this article I visited the Pacer Pole website and was impressed to read “USE FOR 4 WEEKS – FULL REFUND IF NOT SATISFIED” which is further evidence of the amazing customer service provided by Heather and Alan at Pacer Pole.

For a detailed report on the benefits of using Pacer Poles I encourage you to visit Section Hikers review found here.

This entry was posted in Black Diamond Shelter, Gear, Pacer Poles. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to What works for me: Pacer Poles

  1. Great long term review. I have had a similar, though shorter experience with these poles – going on 3 years now. They fixed my posture and made me a much more efficient walker. I also upgraded to the carbon fiber poles this year and they've proven admirably tough. I still use the alloy ones though for very rocky terrain – why tempt a breakage? Funny, I have a review of the carbon fiber poles in draft at the moment, but will be sure to link to your review when I publish it in the next week or two!

  2. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Philip, I suspect that the poles have helped with my posture and lower back soreness, as I experience much less now than I used to. The angled grips are so comfortable and no matter wherever I am, the poles always feel "right", whereas many of the other poles I have experimented with, do not feel as comfortable or supportive. My review has also been floating around for a while, I will add a link to your review when it appears.

  3. Martin Rye says:

    I broke my CF poles. I do like Pacer Poles, but not the weight, and find the handles a pain when stowed on a pack trying stow into overhead storage on trains. I cant fault them much but right now don't use them. Also at the times you don't need poles in your hand (scrambling etc) I would rather carry a lighter pole if on the pack, or in my hand to be honest. So the Pacers are in the corner of the garage and I don't know when they will be used.

  4. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Martin, CF poles of any ilk will always be of concern to me, especially when you are relying on them far from home and above treeline. I also agree about the shape of the handles and packing, however, that is a price I am prepared to pay for poles that are comfortable and work for me. I also agree if you are carrying poles (scrambling etc.) then they are heavy, but I rarely carry my poles. I recognise there will be those that will always use lighter poles with normal grips, but for me the Pacer Poles work and I can manage any of the issues associated with them.

  5. Mark says:

    Good post. I personally can't fault Pacer Pole. I have both types, CF and Alloy. The CF can be vulnerable (that's the price for the weight) and I would expect to break one section per annum. That's never really bothered me as sourcing a replacement part is quick and easy. I really liked the Alloy's this summer and I had a lot of confidence in them.

  6. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks for stopping by Mark, I agree and whilst I have tried many different types of poles, some alloy and lighter, I have resolved that I will use Pacer Poles from now on. On a long trip in exposed environments I would use a dedicated CF tent pole with the Pacer Poles as back up.

  7. Manda says:

    Pacers are an absolute joy and I've used them from the Tongariro Crossing to the Svartisen Glacier. I've walked much further and faster using them, including some interesting traverses where I found them particularly brilliant. If I needed to scramble I simply stowed the poles on the loops on my pack. Most recently they've kept me walking despite needing a hip replacement, and then aided my recovery from said op. Looking forward now to getting out there againTried various brands of poles before finding Pacers, and never found any of them the least help. If they're a straight handle you're just hauling yourself forward putting loads of strain on upper back, neck and shoulders. If they're "handled" poles, the pressure is all straight down on them. Both bad for the back. Never had a problem with the weight (mine are carbon), or with stowage on planes, trains or boats. Then again, I belong to the generation that thought nothing of carrying a heavy pack up the Pyrenees for a season of fieldwork – just good endurance training 🙂

  8. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Manda, there is no doubt that Pacer Poles can be used in many different terrains in a variety of circumstances and I am pleased to hear that you on the road to recovery and will soon be out on the peaks enjoying the landscapes. I suspect I am from a similar generation, though I have always sought out the lighter alternatives, which back then was lightweight but now would be considered heavy, oh how times change.

  9. Manda says:

    Never had a problem with weight. A few grams or ounces less in weight has never been enough to tempt me to sacrifice performance and durability. And whilst I have adequate stamina and strength, it simply isn't an issue. Having said that, my physio maintains that it's all those years of trogging around the hills and mountains with my backpack that has developed the strength and stamina I still have now. Swings and roundabouts I guess.

  10. Dan Baker says:

    Roger,Terrific article. I too love my pacer poles apart from the occasional jam where i cannot for the life of me get it to undo!I have been using them with my MLD Cricket in a V configuration, using a 150 mm extension I made from an old hiking pole.With the extension I can fit a 'netted lair' (my 8 year old daughter/hiking partner's term) that accommodates the two of us comfortably under the Cricket. Works wonderfully.Happy to email a photo to help it make more sense :)Cheers,Dan in Australia

  11. nielsenbrown says:

    Wow that is an interesting set up, I am aware of the V set up, but have not found a need for it, I would love to see a photo, you can contact me through the link in the copyright section on the right hand side. Which part of Oz are you in? I originate from Melbourne.

  12. Dan Baker says:

    We are down in Geelong Roger, the Otways is my favorite playground!I am just finishing up a 'netted lair' for the cricket so will post some photos with it all set up.Cheers,Dan

  13. nielsenbrown says:

    I lived on the Eastern side of Melbourne so tended to head east more than west, though I recall some wonderfully wet walks down around Beech Forest and Cumberland Falls. More recently I spent time on the west coast around Apollo Bay etc. I am quite taken by the Great Ocean Walk, and it is on my dream list as is the Great South West Walk.Look forward to the photo(s)Cya Roger

  14. Dan Baker says:

    I am planning on doing the GSWW next year in two stages. Come over for a walk or two!We will have a bed and a hot shower ready when you arrive!The GOW is a terrific walk, I have done it a number of times in different seasons and it never ceases to have wonderful highlights.Talk soon,Dan.

  15. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks for the invitation Dan, 2015 is the year of west coast walks. My brother and I are planning to do the GSWW and if I can fit it in the GOW as well. I will keep your offer in mind. BTW I am guessing you use the 150 mm extension on the front pole to gain a greater slope.

  16. Dan Baker says:

    Well, the offer still stands! (Including your brother) :)I had an old aluminium hiking pole, $5 special with a broken tip, so I cut two 180 mm lengths from the centre and capped them with chair tips, they fit snugly over the tip and allow for the two pole setup.I found on the weekend, while making some more adjustments to the new netted lair, that I can get away with only one pole in the centre because of the extra length.Will send some pics when all is done, hopefully this weekend if my fabric arrives from the US.

  17. Pingback: What works for me: Shelters | Nielsen Brown Outdoors

  18. Pingback: Why am I not using Pacer Poles, at the moment? – Nielsen Brown Outdoors

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