Komperdell Compact Cork Poles Review

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Our Komperdell Compact Cork Poles review examines a high quality trekking pole from this long established Austrian manufacturer.  We hope you find it useful.

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Introduction   

Over the years I have used and tested many types of skiing, running and trekking poles from different manufacturers.  I have also enjoyed following their evolution as they have become lighter, more compact and with evolving innovative features.  We have linked to some previous Peak Mountaineering pole reviews at the bottom of this review.

My reviews have also included various models from Austrian manufacturer Komperdell. Maybe they are not a brand familiar to some UK hillgoers, but they have actually been making poles since 1922. Also worthy of note is that every pole is still assembled in their Austrian factory. They produce a select range of other items such as snow shoes and back protectors, but poles remain a core element of their business.  This Komperdell Compact Cork Poles Review explores a trekking focussed model designed for ease of use, reliability and small pack size.  Please do read on to find out more and we hope you find it useful. 

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Features 

Styling

The Compact Cork poles are a traditionally styled three section telescopic design.  By this I mean the sections slide inside each other for storage and adjustment rather than the alternative Z-fold style.  The compact version (tested) has an adjustable range between 90 and 120cms.  However, they do also offer a longer Contour Cork version which has the same features, but an adjustment range of 105 to 140 cms.

Materials

The Compact Cork poles are made from 7075-T6 aluminium.  The top pole section is 18mm diameter with the middle section 16mm and the lower at 14mm.

Adjustabilty  

The sections secure with Komperdell’s Powerlock 3.0 closure.  This closure is made of forged aluminium and offers what the company describe as their strongest lock system.  The stowed length for this version is 57 cms. The longer Contour Cork model has a stowed length of 65 cms.

Grips

The poles are topped by the Trek Pro Foam 280 cork grips with an extended grip zone.  This is designed to offer flexible grip options for steep terrain.  The strap features ventilation via the Komperdell air padding system.  It is also woven inside for maximum wearing comfort. 

Basket & Tips  

The bottom end of the poles feature a carbide tip and Komperdell’s small size Vario basket.  Komperdell have a simple click on and off system for their baskets which allows users to switch to larger snow baskets if needed. Larger baskets are not included, but can be purchased separately.

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In Use

Styling

Let’s start with first impressions.  The styling of the Compact Cork’s is subtle.  Komperdell have opted for a polished aluminium finish which looks great.  It combines really nicely with the cork grips and subtle logos.  In a world where many poles come in vibrant and flashy colours,  in this case think understated.  I think they look really good.

Build Quality

The build quality also shines through.  Everything about the Compact Cork’s is beautifully finished and the attention to detail is clear.  This is also a theme in previous Komperdell poles I have tested. It is also something Komperdell obviously pride themselves on. After all, their poles are all backed by their 3 year repair guarantee.  

Pole Diameter 

Komperdell have used a chunky 18/16/14mm tubing combo.  The Compact Cork’s look sturdy and would make a great option where dependability is paramount. I have been testing them in winter in Norway and they have not blinked when being using in deep snow and on very challenging terrain.

The only downside to thicker tubes, of course, is slightly increased bulk. The upside is that the poles are comfortable to hold along their length. I often move my hand up or down the pole to account for factors like varying terrain angles. Poles with wider diameters are generally easier to grip.

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Leashes

The poles have a low profile leash made from mesh and with light padding. Komperdell call this their ‘air padding’ system. The leashes are also woven inside for wearing comfort. The leashes are indeed very comfortable to use. They also have a very neat adjustment system where you simply pull the tape to make it smaller.  Then, to extend the leashes you simply pull up on the tape and the leash can easily be pulled open.  It is a very easy to use system.  

In reality, I almost always avoid using leashes on poles as I find they hinder me more than help. I like to adjust my hand along the pole length on different terrain. I also prefer to not be attached to the poles incase of a trip or slip.  Some users do favour them and so it is great to have them there, but the best of both worlds is to have leashes that aren’t a hindrance when not needed and yet are easy to deploy when required.  In which case, the design for the Compact Cork’s works well whether you are using them or not. 

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Deployment & Adjustment

Deploying the poles is simple and very quick.  You flick open the lower section Powerlock 3.0 closure, slide the pole to the required length and reclose the lever. Repeat to the desired length on the upper section and you are ready to go. Markings on the lower section warn you when you have reached full adjustment and the upper has markings to show you what length you are at. This makes it simple to get both poles at the same length.

Powerlock 3.0 Closure

It is interesting that Komperdell use a forged aluminium closure for their Powerlock 3 system. Many brands use some combination of metal and plastic. It certainly feels extremely durable and dependable in operation. It is also really smooth to operate and can be easily operated with winter gloves.  I’m not sure what weight penalty it adds, but Komperdell have obviously decided it is worth it for the other benefits. It also looks great. To adjust the tightness of the closure clamp in the field you would need a screwdriver.  

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Cork Grip   

The cork grip works really well.  The shaping fits comfortably in the hand and the cork feels comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The top of the pole is also a perfect shape to cup in your hand. I find myself holding poles on the top quite often and so really value this. The cork also feels really nice to hold. It has a great feel to it when not wearing gloves, but is also grippy enough to feel secure when wearing gloves. This doesn’t seem to be adversely affected by the cork getting wet.

I always really value having the grip extension on poles.  When you are crossing slopes it really helps to  be able to position your hand further down the pole.  This means you don’t need to keep re-adjusting the length.  It also gives your hand a break by changing the grip position. Komperdell have designed this just right. They have also added some ribs at the bottom of the extension sections. This looks nice, but more importantly gives a tactile indicator when your hand is at the bottom of the extension. With a bit of use you will find you intuitively know when you reach this point.  

Innovative Baskets

Beyond all that, the other aspects to consider are at the base of the poles.  The durable carbide tip is, as expected, certainly up to tough use. The difference I want to mention with these poles is with the baskets. To attach their baskets Komperdell use a system that differs to many manufacturers. You simply push their baskets onto the poles and twist to lock them in place.  It is simple and really efficient.  I was a little concerned they might come loose but so far this has never happened and I no longer worry about it. They feel rock solid.

They have included their small size baskets with the poles, but you would need to purchase any replacements or larger baskets separately. Although I like the design, this does mean they aren’t always a simple replacement to find. They also aren’t interchangeable like many manufacturers. While on a recent trip to Norway a team member lost a basket, but a quick trip to a local shop allowed them to find an alternative even though it was a different make. This wouldn’t be possible with the Komperdell baskets unless you found a local shop stocking their specific baskets.

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Telescopic Versus Z-Poles

Whether you choose a telescopic pole model over a z-pole design is a consideration. Like all things, both have their pros and cons. A big plus for telescopic is their simplicity. The pole sections simply slide inside each other and are clamped together to lock them. With z-poles there is more internal mechanism that may go wrong. This may make them harder to repair in the field.

The other big factor is portability. If you want to store poles inside your pack (we discussed this in our trekking pole storage article here) then telescopic type poles have a smaller widthways pack size than Z-pole models. On the flip side, they are generally longer when stowed. Like all decisions, the call has to be based on what you plan to use them for.

Weight

The poles have a stated weight of 229 grams per pole.  For this Komperdell Compact Cork poles review I also stuck them on the office scales. They came in just a touch over at 332 grams per pole. Poles of this weight could be described as lightweight, but there are plenty of much lighter models on the market. Whether that weight penalty is a reasonable trade off for the durability and functionality of the poles is a decision for each user. I think what we have here is a very dependable general use pole that will suit a variety of uses, but they won’t be favoured by those wanting ultralights or very small pack size.

Durability  

Even though they aren’t the lightest poles out there, they are of very robust design and will undoubtedly last extremely well.  In an outdoor world where we are striving to be as sustainable as possible this is a great thing.  Having a set of poles that will last for many adventures has to be better then having poles that could fail or be destroyed after not so many. It is always that trade of weight versus performance versus durability.

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Summary

Our Komperdell Compact Cork Poles Review details a durable and lightweight product from a respected Austrian manufacturer. They are simple to use and adjust, look great and offer good value for money. If you want a top quality product that will last well and be suitable for a broad range of activities, the Compact Cork might be your ideal choice. 

The RRP of the Compact Cork’s is £129. There are certainly plenty of cheaper poles out there, but in today’s market place this is actually a good price for what you are getting. They will undoubtedly perform and last extremely well. It is also well worth considering that the poles also benefit from Komperdell’s amazing 3 year guarantee.  This, states Komperdell, is a ‘no questions asked’ guarantee.  They will repair your poles regardless of what happened to them.  This works in every country and operates directly through the manufacturer.  Their website has a facility to initiate returns.  For items like poles that are very prone to damage this is a great feature.

So, well done Komperdell on producing another very well designed and beautifully manufactured pole. They are a pleasure to use and the guarantee is a reassuring additional benefit. Full details are available on the Komperdell website here.

We hope you found our Komperdell Compact Cork Poles Review useful. We have also tested various other Komperdell models and these reviews may also be of interest. Our FXP4 Cloud Compact poles review is here and our Carbon Cloud review is here. We also produced a general pole users guide that may be of interest. You can find that here.