Fizan makes poles. That’s it. They don’t make anything else. So, one has to assume, with the company sticking around since 1947, that they make poles well. The Fizan Compact 3 pole is one of their most popular.
Massdrop is a group buy community. They offer members discounted gear. They also use their group buying power to work directly with manufacturers, creating custom collaborations like the Massdrop x Klymit Static V insulated sleeping pad. There’s a great symbiosis – manufacturers get direct feedback from a large and active group of their core customers and Massdrop gets to sell exclusive products to their members. It’s rather difficult to track down Fizan poles in the USA from any other vendor.
With the latest generation of Fizan Compact pole, Massdrop used their community power (like a superhero, but boring) to tweek the poles just a little bit, making them better than the previous version. The grip shape is massaged to make it both more comfortable in the hand and easier to use in setting up shelters that use trekking poles as support. The straps, once padded are thinned and made out of glorious, gossamer material. So soft, very easy to adjust, and stay in place when in use. I almost want to make underwear out of the material.
The new Compact 3s weighed in at 172 and 170g. They say 158g on them, but that’s apparently without the straps. The straps are simple to remove, but a pain to get back in. Unless you know you don’t like straps, don’t take them off. The poles come with a wide range of options for the tips. 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 and are supposed to be more durable than previous iterations. (10g) The Massdrop x Fizan Compact 3s collapse to 22.8″.
Upon receiving the poles, I extended them and 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. I really like that the twist locks are captive, meaning you can’t accidentally screw them off inside the pole.
I initially noticed a little gap between the sections at both joints, that could allow dirt to get between the sections. After use, this fear was confirmed. Dirt did get between them and scratched the poles. Function does not appear to be impacted. 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, but they’re easy to remove with a quick sanding or Dremel. I found that when I gripped the poles properly, I did not feel them. On longer trips, though, where one adjusts grip position, it may be more an issue.
Update – We’re told that Fizan is aware of the molding artifacts and will work to smooth them for production versions.
Out on the trail, the Fizan Compacts are light enough that they really don’t feel like you’re carrying anything. Swing weight is light. I used the smallest baskets while hiking on some firm, late-season snow. They were adequate, for the most part, but it may be a better idea to use the 2″ baskets for all-around trekking.
Are there lighter, adjustable poles out there? Yup – Gossamer Gear offers the LT4 ($206 per pair) and LT5 ($195 per pair), Ruta Locura has the Yana for $155. Massdrop charges a whopping $60 for the Fizan Compacts. Up to you to decide whether you want lighter poles or a heavier wallet. And, a side note – though our testers are red, the Massdrop x Fizan Compact poles will be available in blue only – a much better color.
For most people, the Massdrop x Fizan Compact 3poles are the best value for ultra light trekking poles. Get them exclusively from Massdrop. Masssdrop is also offering their updated Compact 4, which has four sections instead of three. It’s a bit heavier and $8 more expensive, but it collapses to 19.3″ instead of 22.8″, if you need that extra compactness.