The Komperdell C3 Carbon Compacts are the best priced carbon fiber poles in our review and they are the lightest and most compact telescoping poles we tested. They aren't quite as light or small as all of the folding "tent pole style" trekking poles like the Black Diamond Ultra Distance, but they are lighter and smaller than several models and are likely more durable. The C3 Carbon's grip is just average because of its basic, weight saving foam design, and the same could be said about the PowerLock mechanism, (Komperdell's external lever lock style locking mechanism was good, but not quite as nice as the external lever lock style system used by other manufacturers) though it was easier to use and more durable than all of the internal twist lock systems. We do think that the C3 Carbon Compact is a super versatile pole for its weight and that it's great for everyone from day hikers to alpine rock climbers who might need a pole that is light and compact enough to carry up and over a route, yet still beefy enough to handle any off-trail travel that may be encountered on the other side.
Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact Review
Cons: Grip is pretty basic, the locking mechanism for the adjustment isn't as good as other models we tested, baskets are a little funky
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact uses a basic lightweight foam grip that performed well during mild to hotter weather hikes, but its general ergonomics and overall feel are pretty average. The C3 Carbon's grip isn't near as nice as its heavier telescoping carbon counterparts like the Leki Carbonlite or the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork, but it is lighter, and unlike the Carbonlite, uses an external lever locking mechanism. The biggest thing that all our testers commented on instantly, is that the C3 Carbon Compact does have a larger diameter grip than all the other foam grips we tested, though it was similar in diameter to the Black Diamond cork handled models. This wasn't a big deal for most folks with average to larger sized hands, but our smaller handed testers didn't really like this grip at all. The Komperdell C3 Carbons grip is bigger than our OutdoorGear Lab Top Pick, the Black Diamond Ultra Distance or the Leki Corklite.
The Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact uses an external lever style locking mechanism called the PowerLock. While we did think it was far easier to use and more durable than all the internal twist-lock style mechanisms we tested like the ones found on the Leki Carbonlite or the REI Traverse Trekking poles; we didn't like the PowerLock as much as Leki's SpeedLock or Black Diamond's FlickLock for the same ease of use and durability, but didn't think it was too far behind.
While the comfort and the locking mechanism of the Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact might be average, its weight is not. The Carbon weighs in at a scant 13 oz, by far the lightest telescoping pole in our review. Not only that, but the C3 Carbon is lighter than some of the newer folding, "tent pole style" trekking poles like the Leki Micro Stick which weighs 17.5 ounces. The C3 Carbon weights the same as the Black Diamond Distance pole (13 oz) and is only 3 ounces heavier than the much less durable and less versatile Black Diamond Ultra Distance. The C3 Carbon is also 3oz lighter than our overall Editors' choice winner, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork (16 oz) or the Leki Carbonlite.
The Komperdell C3 Carbon packs down to 21.5" (54 cm), the shortest of any telescoping pole in our review by four inches. It's also 8 inches shorter than several other models we tested. With that said, it's still 4-6 inches longer than the folding, tent pole style trekking poles like the Black Diamond Ultra Distance, which compacts down to a mere 15.5 inches. The trade-off for the Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact is that it only extends to 120 cm, around 15-20 cm shorter than average. 120 cm is fine for most folks up to around 6 feet tall. Despite not being the most compact pole, we do think the Komperdell packs down small enough to still make it an excellent choice for everyone from climbers who need to carry their poles on, or inside their packs, to frequent travelers, because the C3 Carbon compact will fit into most small sized luggage.
The C3 Carbon Compact is in the middle of the road, durability wise among the lighter weight sub one pound poles. It certainly isn't as durable as the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork, but is much more durable than the Raidlight Foldable Trail Poles. It's comparable, though falls behind slightly in toughness to the Leki Carbonlite, though it is likely a little more durable than the folding Black Diamond Ultra Distance.
The Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact are surprisingly versatile poles for their weight. While we wouldn't use them for absolutely everything, we would use them for nearly everything. From fairly rugged off trail backpacking and climbing to snowshoeing in the winter. If you are super hard on your poles we might steer you toward the Alpine Carbon Cork because it's tougher but it's not nearly as light nor as compact. We do think the C3 Compact works especially well for alpine rock climbing because they get small enough, are light enough to carry with you up and over a route, but are also tough enough to get you down through the talus without (hopefully) snapping them.
The Komperdell C3 Carbons are an excellent value and are the least expensive carbon fiber pole in our review, being around $20-$40 cheaper than most other models and they are the lightest and most compact among the telescoping models, that's pretty sweet.
— Ian Nicholson