TSL Outdoors Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles Review

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TSL Outdoors Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles

Over the past couple of years I have fallen in love with trekking poles. It is amazing how much wear and tear trekking poles prevent on the knees, ankles, and body. For me trekking poles are considered one of my essential pieces of hiking equipment.  

Lately, I have been using the TSL Outdoors Connect Carbon 5 Trekking poles. TSL is a company that specializes in snowshoes, trekking poles, gaiters, and sleds that is based out of the European Alps. Originally designing snowshoes, TSL over the years has created products for all sorts of alpine adventures.  

The Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles are feature heavy trekking poles that are as at home on snow and ice as they are on rocky terrain. Over the past month I have had a chance to trek around the Colorado Rockies while using the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles.   

About the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles

To say the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles are feature rich might be an understatement. These trekking poles come with all of the bells and whistles. What I find particularly nice is that these poles can be used for both summer time activities as well as winter pursuits like skiing and snowshoeing.  

Starting out on the top of the pole is the magnetic strap system. This system allows the user to easily attach and remove the straps on the poles. Straps align perfectly with the magnet, making putting the straps on a quick endeavor. The straps are then locked in place once aligned by the magnets. When ready to remove the straps from the pole, pushing the top button allows for the release.  

The poles can be adjusted for length by using the external lock system. This system is quite robust and tightly holds the trekking poles to the correct length. This system is really intuitive and adjustments can be made easily.  

External Lock System

Made for Versatile Terrain

The bottom of the poles where the baskets attach is feature heavy. Different baskets can be removed and added simply by using the push and pull system and twisting off the existing basket. Once removed the next basket can be added for a different activity.  

Push and Pull System

The baskets can also be adjusted up to a 20 degree angle. This Swing System feature was added so that it would align the basket to steep terrain. Having the basket conform to the terrain makes it so that the pole gets a flush mount each plant.  

The bottom of the trekking pole can also be modified by the addition of the crossover pad concept. This feature acts as “mini crampons” for the poles. These were created for grip on varied terrain. During the winter a “winter spike” can be added for grip on slick and icy surfaces.  

Baskets and Crossover

The entire trekking pole can be broken down to 16 inches. This allows poles to easily fit in a pack when not in use. Between each articulation the line that connects the pieces is nylon covered preventing breakage. To assemble the trekking poles a little pressure contracts a spring and then locks the poles in place making set up a cinch.  

Thoughts on the TSL Outdoors Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles

I can’t believe how many different features have been packed into these trekking poles. Many of these features I did not realize how much I would like until I began using the poles.  

River Crossing

My favorite part of the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles is the portability. Having trekking poles that can easily be stashed is great. When I am fishing or hunting I use the poles to reach my destination but once there I like to get these out of the way. At approximately 16 inches they can fit into all of my different backpacks. Additionally the poles only weigh 8 ounces, so these will be coming with me on all my outdoor activities.  

The other feature that makes these poles indispensable is how easily the height can be changed for different users and terrain. The external lock system is perfect for switching height between users. On my last hike my wife, 6 year old, and myself switched off using the poles. It was great to be easily able to make the necessary adjustments without stopping.  

Switching uses on the trekking poles

So many different uses

Although I wasn’t able to take full advantage of the many features of the bottom of the poles I am very excited about these. Unfortunately the 90 degree temperatures we are having here in Colorado aren’t exactly perfect to try these poles out for skiing, I was able to get after some great hiking. The basket articulation using the swing system is a cool and well thought out design. This simple concept is great for those steep terrain areas. Also, it is easy to set making quick adjustments simple.  

Hiking in steep terrain

Along those same lines, being able to switch out the basket on the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles is really handy. This feature makes it so that these poles can be used in a variety of terrains from ice to rock, allowing four seasons of use. These trekking poles were great this summer, and I am looking forward to taking them out in the backcountry this winter.  

Another cool feature of the bottom of these trekking poles is the crossover pad. This all terrain pad is a unique alternative to the traditional sharp tip. I am not sure if I noticed a huge difference in grip with this tip added but I did like the concept. It was also nice to have this on the pole when my 6 year old was using the poles as it made the poles way safer. Where this feature will really shine for me is during hunting season. The crossover pad makes using the poles silent even on hard surfaces. This will be great not to have a clicking noise each time the poles are planted.  

Small Critique

Overall, I am really pleased with the performance of these trekking poles. The features are outstanding and really designed for a variety of conditions. My one gripe about the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles are the grips. The foam grips are comfortable but if they are held by the lower grip the foam changes ever so slightly. The bottom foam has a tendency to wear off, getting a black smudge all over the hands especially when sweaty. Although this critique is nitpicky I would love to either see a uniform foam handle or a cork grip on the pole.  

Foam grip wearing off

Features of the Connect Carbon 5 Trekking Poles taking directly off of the TSL Website

  • MSRP $169.95
  • EVA foam handle / Long EVA foam handle for walking down hill
  • Magnetic System  with a range of straps to chose from
  • 5 parts Carbon
  • External Lock System
  • -Tungsten tip
  • Poles come supplied with 55mm and 85mm baskets and the Crossover end piece.

Final Thoughts on the TSL Outdoors Connect Carbon Trekking Poles

The Connect Carbon Trekking Poles are a versatile trekking pole that will be great in four seasons of use. These poles collapse down so that when not in use can be stashed easily and placed out of the way in a backpack. The entire pole can easily be modified so that height and basket can be adjusted so that they can meet the needs of different users and activities. If you are in search of new trekking poles for both hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing these poles would be perfect. 

For more info on the Connect Carbon Trekking Poles, visit www.backcountry.com.

Bennett Colvin: Bennett Colvin lives in Steamboat, Colorado and is an avid fisherman, hiker, skier, and outdoorsman. Bennett instructs fly fishing and runs youth fly fishing programs. He also is a professional fly tier and ties publicly at fly shops and expos.
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