Fantastic value but heavy, these poles are best for hiking and backpacking in remote locations, and great for those on a budget.
Available in two sizes
Small folded length
Easy to assemble
Rubber cover tip for roads included
Carry bag included
Heavy at 580g
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Harrier Catbells Aluminium Z-Poles: first impressions
The new Harrier Catbells Aluminium Z-Poles (available direct from Harrier Trail Running) are the latest update to this popular, very competitively priced running and trekking pole series – though we would consider them more of hiking poles than running poles, since each one weighs in at a relatively hefty 12.5oz / 580g. This is about 200g heavier than the average running pole, and around 300g heavier than the lightest skinny, carbon running poles you can currently buy.
• List price: $42 (US) / £39 (UK)
• Weight (regular pair): 12.5oz / 580g
• Colors: Green
• Material: Aluminum
• Variable length: Yes
• Sizes: Regular 41.3in-47.2in / 105cm-120cm; Long 47.2in-51.1in / 120cm-135cm
• Folded length: 14.2in / 36cm
• Compatibility: Running, hiking and backpacking long distances in remote mountains
However at this price (only $42 / £39) if you overlook the weight and chalk that up to the poles being made of robust 100% 7075 aluminum, the Harrier Catbells are truly the best that money can buy.
Their variable length means they can be adjusted to whichever height you need, and available in two sizes to accommodated even the tallest users. They assemble and fold away quickly, to a small size that you can carry easily in a pack. The long, foam handle is comfy and the fleece-lined wrist strap is easy to adjust. Harrier even include rubber pole tips for use on roads (so no annoying clack-clacking!) and a handy carry bag to store the poles in and keep them together. If you’re on a budget and don’t need the lightest of the light, these are the poles for you.
Harrier Catbells Aluminium Z-Poles: on the trails
On Peak District trails these performed excellently, especially for the bargain price. They have all the right features, including being able to adjust their length for going up and down hills, or just for experimenting with different heights if you’re new to using poles, to see which length suits you best – our guide to using trekking poles explains more.
The handle and wrist-strap are comfy and you can get a good swing going to power you along, which is especially useful on uphills when you want to keep your upper body open for full use of your lungs. The rubber tips are a really nice touch for use on stretches of roads because that click-clack noise can get insanely irritating on longer ultras. The carry bag is handy for storage too.
Yes, they’re not the lightest but being made of aluminum they’d be more inclined to bend rather than break and completely fail like a carbon pole. So if you’re hiking into remote mountains with no chance of repairs or replacements, this is the best material for you. However, if you’re looking for your fastest time on a non-stop ultra, or planning to mostly carry them just in case, you might want to spend more on a lighter pair of running poles.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.