May 26, 20174383 views

Upcoming Massdrop x Fizan Collaboration

After nearly a year in discussion and development, we are proud to announce the upcoming release of the next generation of Fizan Compact poles. With a completely redesigned grip, a new silky smooth strap, and a plethora of accessories, we are taking an already great set of poles and making them even better. Oh, and did I mention that the are some of the lightest fully adjustable, compactable poles in the world? Only 6 ounces (158 g) per pole.
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Without hesitation, these are the hiking poles that I would recommend to 98% of my friends. However, without a personal referral, I am certain almost no one would have heard of this company. You'll not see them in REI or your local mom n pop outdoor store. Fizan is not well known in the US and even throughout most of the world, because they are still a smaller family owned, family run company making poles in their northern Italy factory. They don't have a big distribution network, a marketing team or huge advertisements or any crazy sponsored athletes. They haven't made a big push into sexier materials like carbon fiber or titanium. They do one thing and they do it really well, like they've been done since the 1940's - really high quality aluminum poles.
I chanced upon Fizan back in 2011 when my wife and I were traveling around Europe. We have been using Compact poles for personal use ever since then. I contacted Fizan as soon as I started working at Massdrop in 2015, and since then thousands of our UL members have bought the Compact poles.
In that time, I've talked with many of you about Fizan poles. I read every single post in the drop discussion. I've scoured the forums for chatter - BPL, reddit, whiteblaze, hammockforum - and any review I could find. I've seen people use them on the PCT and other thru-hikes. Some of our members even contacted Fizan with suggestions for improvement.
Well, all the information has been funneled to me and on to Fizan. We started talking last year about changes to the poles. And here we are.
So, what's different? Let's dive in
1) The Handle
The handle grip is a bit more ergonomic, with a more pronounced bump on top and bottom of the front, small air channels along the palm, and a reduced bump at the bottom of the back (which makes it more comfortable to move your hand up and down the grip as you change hand position for ascents). The harder plastic top is a bit smaller, which will make it a bit easier to use for shelters like TarpTents. It is also slightly more rounded, which makes it more comfortable on your palm for descents.
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Old grip on top, new grip on bottom
2) The Strap
The old strap was part nylon and part neoprene, almost like a padding. For the same weight, we are able to get a wider strap that is smoother and softer. It feels like silk almost. It'll breathe better, not absorb water, and minimize chance of chafing while distributing weight/pressure better (if you use your straps in that manner). The strap weighs about 1.0 oz (28.5 g) and is removable.

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New strap on top, old strap on bottom
3) The Accessories
The original Compact poles came with 35mm and 50mm baskets, plus a tip cover. The baskets were good for general hiking, but many people asked for basket brands that are compatible as they needed baskets with greater surface area for snowy passes in the summer (like in the Sierras or Rockies). We are now including a 95mm alpine basket for those intrepid hikers.
We also got several member comments that the tip cover is good for covering the carbide tip from poking something while packed away, but it was not durable enough hiking use. Our poles will come with a durable rubber tip with a traction grip and metal reinforced bottom, for many miles of hiking on rock, paved trails, or fragile areas.
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35, 50, and 95mm baskets, and durable hiking tip covers
4) The Color
The earlier version was green, which is appealing for some backpacking gear, but maybe not so great for poles as it's easy to forget them after a rest break if it blends in with the ground too well (hence, no green, brown or gray) . Our poles are in a nice sky blue, which is calming and evokes the color of a cool lake or, um, the sky.
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What's the same?
1) The aluminum sections and reliable internal locking mechanisms are still as great as ever. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
2) Fizan is still a family owned and operated company, with their factory making all of their poles in Veneto, Italy.
3) Massdrop is still the place to get Compact poles, and we will be the only ones to have this complete package.
More info
The current drop of the new Massdrop x Fizan Compact Trekking poles: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-fizan-compact
Check out our original Compact drop page for previous community discussion: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/fizan-compact-poles
Dave at Engearment http://engearment.com/backpacking/massdrop-fizan-compact-poles/
Danielle at The Trek https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/gear-review-massdrop-x-fizan-compact-trekking-poles/
Kenneth Shaw at Ultralightandcomfortable https://ultralightandcomfortable.com/2017/06/02/gear-review-fizan-trekking-poles/
And here's the 2011 BPL review for the original Compact 3: https://backpackinglight.com/fizan_compact_poles_review/

A follow-up note on who might not want these poles, as I said I would recommend these to most of my friends but not all. Here are a couple other options for common scenarios. Nothing beats the simplicity of a walking staff or fixed-length pole, even a collapsible one like Black Diamond's Distance Carbon Z. For the absolute lightest when money is no object, then the Ruta Locura Yana and Gossamer Gear LT5S will shave an ounce at the cost of $95-130 more. The Fizan Compacts are ultralight poles, and aren't meant for extreme use, like snowshoeing, skiing, or mountaineering. So for one set of poles that can do it all, then check out something burlier from the likes of Black Diamond, Komperdell, or Leki. Finally, some people swear by Pacer Poles due to their unique grip.
To give some comparison and help you make sure these are the best poles for you, I put together a list of specs of some of the best lightweight poles on the market. For the most part, all of these poles adjust height and collapse, which is the most popular style and helps keep the comparison apples-to-apples. The two exceptions are the BD Distance Carbon Z, which is not adjustable (fixed length at 120cm), but does collapse quite small, and the GG LT4S which adjusts for hiker's height, but doesn't really collapse (in the sense that it is still quite long even at it's shortest setting). Consider these limitations when comparing poles, and the fact that we'll be selling the Compact 3 for $59.99 shipped.
Top Ultralight Poles - Arranged by MSRP
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Top Ultralight Poles - Arranged by Weight
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subbarao, Teagan Clifford, and 38 others
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Great trekking poles! Love the light weight! I have the green compact 3 from before they started the Massdrop made version. Worked great for two years, until I got lazy and didn't check or clean them after a cold and wet snow hike. Sat around for nearly a year, and the water that got trapped inside heavily oxidized the poles and now they won't lock reliably anymore. So let that be a lesson to you! Always check and maintain your gear if you want it to last! Will be replacing them with the new blue compact 3 as soon as they're back in stock!
I got the last pair of Fizan poles offered on here. Several years ago. I came to dislike them for a couple reasons: the twist lock tended to be really tough to undo, especially when cold or wet (I had to take off my gloves every time), and the handles kept coming off the tops of the poles.
Twist-lock is a matter of personal preference, but I hope you do something about the pole handles, because I almost wiped out a number of times when I was thrown off balance (the handle suddenly popped off as I tried to dislodge a pole from mud or a rocky streambed) as the handle came flying off.
It could be as simple as some superglue. I've since secured mine with glue, but I ultimately ditched the poles when I got sick of the twistlock and one of them got severely jammed in the open position (even at home, with real tools, I couldn't find a way to unscrew it without warping the pole).
Fizan have been available for australia for quite a while. I am a single pole user and I have a severely beat-up aluminium fizan pole that has been used for nearly a decade. Finally retired when my GSP puppy ate the grip and strap off it...otherwise I'd still be using it.
You will have no problems with their quality if mine is any indication.
Is this the Compact 3 I recently joined, or is this a distinctly separate product?
How does the length of the poles when collapsed compare to the BD Distance Z poles?
EDIT: Is that the meaning of the "minimum size" column in the spreadsheets?
Alpinistopher
Correct.
too bad only one color. it's going to be hard to differentiate when me and all my friends have these new ones vs the older ones where we could tell them apart by color. (and mine are from before mass drop started selling Fizan, so the pattern is different from even the previous massdrop Fizan models)
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now that's the kind of thinking that gets someone promoted!
TinCanFury
lol. you guys. too funny.
Just confirming, the poles drop at 6 am PST and not PDT? Or, in other words, they drop at 7am PDT?
Mauisharkman
You got me. It is technically 6am PDT, not PST. However, I changed it to PT - Pacific Time - to avoid any silliness with Daylight Savings Time. Thanks!
Way to GO! Super excited for these new poles! I've been using the OG (old green?) Fizan poles for years and I absolutely love them with a few exceptions and honestly, it looks like these new poles will address all my issues. The OG straps could get pretty rough after a long day off adding sweat and dirt but the new strap looks like a huge improvement! Also the grip head looks a bit smaller? The OG poles barely fit in the pole sleeves necessary to put the TT Double Rainbow into free-standing mode so I'm pretty excited to check that out. I gotta say I wish I had these new poles two weeks ago on Shasta cause the OG snow baskets just couldn't hack it in the soft snow. I don't really care about color but the blue is pretty. Good job Danny! Adjustable poles at this weight and price don't exist outside of Fizan.
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Did you make that tarp? What's the design?
PatC
It's the zpacks cuben hammock tarp with doors ~ 9oz. 11' ridgeline, 8.5' wide, 6' sides with four 3' doors, and 18 tieouts. Works great for the hammocks and pretty good on the ground. Its my two person (couple) UL shelter.
Nice chart, Danny; super helpful. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a set of these.
HJ
hikin_jim
Thanks! My hope is that more information will help everyone get the lightest best pole for their need and budget.
First off, these poles (previous versions) are excellent. Couldn't really find another set of poles on the trail that were lighter- and that had the same abilities. The handles are pretty much perfect, the straps- also perfect, pretty easy to twist down unless your hands are rather wet, have a solid lockup, super light at about 6.7+- oz /pole, don't make your arms nearly as tired because they are so light, and smaller in length than my bag- so they are compact enough for me. The value is excellent. They can take extreme flex without bending/breaking. Used TWO pair of these same (compact 3) in green on my 2016 AT thru-hike. I used them by day to hike and by night to stand up my tent. Despite the carbide tips clearly poking right through, I left the original bumper covers on the ends so as to increase my footprint and avoid postholing into the trail. One pair was a darker green, and the newer ones are a vibrant shade of neon green- both pairs equally simple to pick out, especially when left in a mound of other hiking poles at a shelter or hostel. Not really sure which shade I prefer....they're both equally kickass....A choice of color would be nice? Anyway, with both sets I managed to not bend or otherwise damage any of the individual sections (total of 3/pole) but the tip sockets in both poles of the first set eventually got so loose they let the tips fall right out- even with a bit of epoxy. I guess the use and abuse was just too much (1500+- miles). When I lost the carbide tips I tried buying bottom 1/3 replacement sections but no luck with massdrop or the manuf. I loved them so much I bought another pair and had em sent out to me on the trail. Back home, I put replacement bumpers of the originals on the once tip sockets- now a plastic stump and gained another life out of em! Success, for now. Itd be nice to get some replacement sections and get the tips figured out straight on the newer model. Still got the second pair and they are so great I'm thinking about buying a newer third pair just in case they ever stop making em.
For those of you with older non-reinforced rubber tips, I have a solution. A small stainless steel washer inserted into the rubber tip works great. The carbide tips of one pole poked through and the other was close to doing the same after one rocky weekend. I was really bummed. Then I started the brain working, headed to my shop and started looking for a fix. Viola! Found some stainless steel washers that worked (3/16" maybe?). Dropped one into each rubber tip, nice tight fit and success! The fix has worked for the past six or more trips.
Frankz58
Thanks for the note, Frank. The new Fizan poles will come with improved hiking tips that have a metal washer in it, just you like you suggested.
DannyMilks
I am liking the upgraded handles and straps on the new poles. I may be seeing more $$$ leaving my wallet!
I saw how other fizans loose their twist lock strength and get loose. I have similar Italian made poles and they also went loose. Right now I use a pair of Black Diamond poles with latches. They have to be tighten from time to time but they are much more reliable.
If I hadn't just picked up a pair of the new Ruta Locura Yanas (really pleased with them thus far!), I'd definitely be all over these. May have to pick up a back-up set anyways.
idoc72
I wouldn't try to persuade you not to buy another set of poles. I mean, for 1/2 -1/3 of the price of the Yanas . . .
DannyMilks
Yeah - I'm sure my wife and kids could use some new poles!
What's the expected price range?
prolepsis
$59.99 for the Compact 3 with free shipping to US / subsidized shipping abroad. The Compact 4 will be an extra $8. https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-fizan-compact
how would I get  replacement carbide tips?  I am planning a long distance hike in the not too distant future and expect to need to replace them at least once during my hike
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Si77
Most companies offer replacement tips, and they are generally interchangeable. You'll need to heat up the tips (maybe with a hair dryer) to loosen the glue underneath and remove the old tips, and then can put new ones one with a bit of fresh glue. You could even switch them out for BD's Flex Tech Tips, which allow you simply unscrew the carbide tip to replace as needed, rather than the whole tip.
I'd say it also depends on the hike you're doing. If there is a lot of rock, use the hiking tip covers to add traction while reducing wear on the carbide tips. To be honest, I've used the same carbide tip for 5 years. I could replaced them, but it's so low on my list of ways to improve my backpacking set up, that I'll likely keep them for another five years :)
DannyMilks
Thank you both for your replies and suggestions. 
Ahhhhh yes! I've always wanted the blue ones and my OG green ones are a bit worn now.
This is excellent news
Telios
Have any photos of your green poles in action? Glad you like the blue too.
Kuddos for acting on my comments regarding the rubber protector! :)
geekyhiker
It's taken a while, but here with are with improved poles and the accessories everybody has asked for over the years. Thanks for posting, then and now.
DannyMilks
Yes this really unleashes the true potential of your business model.
Fixable poles are awesome. Simple!!! use them on all thru hikes and cannot praise enough. however with most UL gear they need a bit of care and cannot be mistreated. fabulous kit!!!!!
Creamytorr
Thanks for the post!
DannyMilks
Your welcome! obviously should read fizan pesky pred txt!!!!! Have good weekend
Dang Danny, hard to believe it has been six years since that review. New poles look good!
JerkyKen
Thanks Ken, but I believe after six years you're supposed to tell me I still look good, not the poles ;)
DannyMilks
You don't change.
I have a pair of these in my hands right now. (Ok, on my desk. I'm typing.) We'll put up a full review soon on Engearment.com, but some first impressions:
The straps are glorious. So soft, very easy to adjust, and stay in place when in use. I almost want to make underwear out of the material. Basket options are nice - there are 4" powder baskets (14g), 2" trekking baskets (6g), a 1 3/8" "well, I guess we should put something on the bottom" baskets (4g). The rubber feet look nice, but we'll see. (10g)
I put some weight on them. They flex smoothly and the twist locks don't slip when tightened properly. Of course, they're brand new, so they better not. There's a little gap between the sections at both joints, so dirt may get in. Looking at the lock mechanism, first thing I notice is that it's captive. You can't accidentally screw it off and lose it in the pole. I've done that with Lekis before.
Annodization appears to scratch easily, but looks nice otherwise. Foam grips are comfy with just enough give to be soft but firm. There are some plastic burrs around the strap pin hole that may irritate hands. easy fix though.
The poles say 158g on them. Poles actually weigh 172 and 170g on our scale. Are they 158g when you remove the straps, maybe? I tried to get them off. Couldn't figure it out.
The blue is really nice. Ours are red. They also say "World's Lightest" on them. World's lightest aluminum? Definitely not world's lightest overall.
SawatchFactory
Thanks for sharing your immediate impressions Dave. The stated weight of 158g is without the strap. Strap weighs another 10-12g. It's not hard to remove the strap, but challenging to get it back in. To remove it, push the straps in a bit to give them to slack, and try to pull out the plastic wedge piece in the middle. If you can pull that out, the rest of the strap will follow.
The "World's Lightest" was true for being fully able to collapse and adjust, and was uncontested for many years. Now the new Ruta Locura and Gossamer Gear poles are slightly lighter, so the Fizan poles should read "one of the world's lightest" poles, though I guess technically they are the lightest fully-featured aluminum poles :)
Good point about the internal locking mechanism. It is possible to pull out the pole sections, but you cannot remove the internal delrin stopper.
I got the original Fizan poles offered on Massdrop, and love them. Have held up very well for the hiking I do, dirt/gravel/rock trails in the high Sierra mountains. I will most likely get a pair of these new ones to start using this hiking season, and keep the old set as a backup pair.
I mainly use poles for hiking in rivers after coming down a canyon. I personally don't think of this as super intense, but what's the general consensus on these poles for that use -will they hold up?
Hmm, im not a fan of "twist locks" as a rule. Danny, can you help me ponder this?
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Thank you.
TimT
I agree. I have a pair of these Fizan poles (well, the non-massdrop version... my first hiking poles ever) and I got pretty sick of them. When your hands are cold or wet, unscrewing them is really hard. I usually had to take my gloves off, which is no fun.
Also, when using any poles among rocks or deep mud, occasionally they'll get stuck and you have to pull up on them. Many times, when I pulled up on the Fizans, the handle suddenly popped off the pole and I was thrown off balance. I almost fell several times during stream crossings for that reason and we laughed about it later. Hopefully they'll improve the glue connecting the handle to the pole?