Review: REI Carbon Powerlock Trekking Poles

If you know me, you know that I’m not really that steady on my feet.  I’m definitely not the person who will evangelize trail runners – I love my high ankle boots and the support they give me.  For an early birthday gift last year, Andrew gave me the REI Carbon Powerlock Trekking Poles (Women’s).


You can find the poles at REI here for $130.  The total weight for the two poles with baskets and rubber tips is 15 oz.  If you’ve never used trekking poles, I suggest borrowing some from a friend and figuring out if you find them useful.  I’d used a pair of these Swiss Gear trekking poles once or twice before, which definitely helped me be more steady, but the difference between the two is amazing.

The REI poles are built with foam grips, padded straps, are made of carbon fiber, and have an external locking mechanism for the adjustable length.  These poles do not have shocks.



  • Lightweight but solid – enough said.
  • Locking mechanism – The Swiss Gear poles I was using had twist locks and would constantly slip and shorten.  These poles are way more solid and have never slipped.


  • Grip – The foam grip on these poles are great.  It’s comfortable to hold them all day, and I’ve never had a problem with blisters on my hands.  They’re easy to grip in both wet and dry conditions.



  • The wrist straps are pretty hard to adjust.  I constantly feel like one is longer than the other.
  • Compared to other high end brands, these trekking poles are on the expensive side.  They are worth using a 20% off coupon if you’re an REI member, but you can get similar Black Diamond poles with shocks for $10 more.

Overall Opinion

  • Trekking poles are an absolute must for me.  There’s no way I could hike without them.
  • If you like foam handles, these are a good choice, though they are a little overpriced.
  • Will I carry this on the JMT? Absolutely.  With the elevation changes over the trail, I’d be a fool not to!

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Tent Review: REI Quarter Dome 3

When I first started camping, I realized that Andrew’s old two man tent just wasn’t going to cut it for me.  The tent both narrowed and got way lower closer to your feet, which is fine, but only had an initial height of about 32″ – hardly enough to sit up.  It was also moderately heavy, at about 7 pounds.

In May of 2014, we purchased the REI Quarter Dome 3.


We love this tent! You can find it at REI here for $370.  We picked ours up during the anniversary sale last year when it was on sale for $300.  You get the tent, the rainfly, and some (crappy) stakes for your money.  I highly recommend the footprint ($35, or you can make your own).  We replaced the included stakes with some MSR Groundhogs that Andrew had used with an older tent.  For us, the total weight of this setup (tent, rainfly, footprint, stakes, stuff sacks, paracord for tie outs) is 5 lb 1.5 oz.  For the two of us, that’s a little over 2.5 lbs each, and if you were going to use it for three people, that puts you at a little over 1.5 lbs a person.

The best part of this tent is how roomy it is – for two people it’s an absolute treat.  It’d be tight with 3, but doable.


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Cookset Review: GSI Bugaboo Backpacker + nFORM Kitchen

Andrew and I have used these two things GSI products together for the past year.  I figured this is a good opportunity to review it.  These are actually two different sets (the Bugaboo Backpacker and the nFORM kitchen), but I’ll review them together because that’s how we use them.  There’s a reason it’s called a bugaboo.



The Bugaboo Backpacker set (find it at REI here) is about $70 and is a really versatile cookset.  It comes with a 2L pot, a lid with a strainer, a fry pan, a removable handle, two insulated “cups” (more on this in a minute) with lids that nest within two “bowls”, and a kitchen sink.

The nFORM Crossover Kitchen is a little under $40 (you can find it at REI here) includes a small cutting board, a folding spatula, folding large spoon/ladle thing, folding tongs, a scraper, an absorbent towel, a “spice rocket”, a nylon storage bag, a mini oil holder and a larger squeeze bottle.  I replaced the larger squeeze bottle with an even bigger one (1 oz vs 2 oz I believe).  Our sporks (one titanium, one plastic) also fit in the bag.


After taking these pictures, I weighed the entire kit.  Including spices and approximately 1 fl oz of oil, the kit weighs 2 lbs, 12 oz.

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