Helinox poles are not available directly in new Zealand – the Australian manufacturer ships them over on an order-by-order basis – so while I had heard of them, I had not managed to get my hands on a pair until just recently.
The LBB135 is the most advanced pole in the Helinox line-up, comprising four sections (most poles have three) and a mechanism that allows the pole to be retracted or locked in place by releasing or clamping shut a single lever. It’s unique – most poles use a twist action or clamp on each section to secure the pole. The LBB135’s mechanism is extremely simple and effective and allows quick set-up, collapse and fine tuning the length.
The four sections allow the pole to be collapsed to 54cm – a full 11cm shorter than my current poles. This allows them to be packed and carried inside your pack, rather than strapped to the outside.
They can extend between 90-135cm, making them useful to people between 130 and 205cm tall. I thought the extra section might be a weak point on these poles, but they supported my entire weight and did not threaten to buckle.
They weigh 476g/pair and are made from a DAC alloy which Helinox claims to be the lightest and strongest available.
The foam grips are nice to grip and are not too soft. They don’t become slick with perspiration and because the grip extends down the pole, on-the-go adjustments to grip can be made – this is especially useful when climbing uphill and you can’t be bothered adjusting the pole length. The straps are quite narrow and the padded section does not extend around the entire hand – not a problem for those with small hands, but I found them slightly less comfortable than more comprehensively padded straps.