What Does "Made in the USA" Look Like?
In case you somehow missed it, we just launched our hand-built, made in the USA trekking poles, and wow, has it been a challenge to make them! From building a new supply chain, to manufacturing tools, finding the best bonding materials and just teaching our bodies how to make things right, it was a tall order. This has been a two year long project that we are very proud to have accomplished; it even brought the company to the verge of closing at one point.
Though a huge challenge, it has been a very satisfying journey, and we wanted to share with you how it looks in our workshop. The poles that you are maybe holding right now have been made by real people: Devan, Nathan, Devo and Gilad. We continue to make every single pole here, with Devo now working as our main assembler with the occasional help from the rest of us (also known as "Nathan's Break").
Caring for the tubes
We have been fortunate enough to work with Goodwinds Composites in making our carbon fiber tubes. They make amazingly strong yet light tubes that come in a beautiful flat finish that really shows off the Carbon Fiber. What that means, is that once we get them, we need to turn them into a trekking pole tube: they need cleaning, printing and preparing to be bonded with other parts.
In our development process, finding the best way to transform them from plain CF tubes to trekking pole tubes was the most expensive part. We ended up commissioning a company to make us a bespoke Heat Transfer machine so we can print on the poles. To this day, it is the shiniest thing we have in our workshop!
Bonding, bonding and more bonding
It might be the biggest, and most important, part of our whole fabrication process: the quality of the bonding. This has also been the component we had to experiment with and change the most. After testing dozens of bonds for each part, it ended up that the core of our bonds come from Italy: a material flexible enough to handle the vibrations of the poles while also being strong enough to handle your adventures.
Another big aspect of our bonds is that they expand: since so many of our parts are hand-made, our bonds need to compensate for slight difference in tolerance, allowing them to "fill-in the gaps" so to speak in the poles.
What are sub-assemblies?
When we make your pole, we have a host of "small" parts that we need to make: the lever assembly or attaching the strap to the grip, for example. Though we see them as small, they are pretty important, including to confirm that your right strap (green) fits correctly, and not like the left (yellow) strap.
Making of a part
Our poles come in a 2 or 3 segment configuration, and each segment will be offered independently soon in case you want to experiment with other grips or maybe if you have managed to break a section from having too much fun.
Each segment is called a part: tip part, middle part or handle part, and each of those becomes its own "sub-assembly", using a combination of boding, attaching more parts to finish the clamp or just adding the relevant accessories like the rubber tips and mud baskets.
Getting it all to fit together
Once we have all our parts made, it is time to assemble them into a pole. The assembly is a pretty straight forward process, and when assembling the pre-orders for our Kickstarter backers we made it into a little party: all of us sitting with boxes of parts, making them into poles and then packaging them so we could send them to you. We might still have occasional assembly parties, while staying safely distant, as they are such a great way to be together while making something.
Ready for you
We are very proud of our poles. The process it took to get them to you was long and hard, but very satisfying. The ability to bring such a great industry in house means we can continue to innovate, update and take your feedback and make our poles a never ending improvement journey.
Thank you for trusting us on another great hike!
Great to see the results of your hard work. Rock on CNOC!
The entire CNOC team produced an incredible innovation in trekking poles unlike any others for us early recipients. Amidst extraordinary stresses on supplies and parts, the CNOC team made miracles happen. During this fire season my nearest hiking forest is closed, so test-trekking my new CNOC poles on steep river cliffs, rock and gravel pits is just the start of breaking them in. These cork handles and infinitely adjustable carbon fiber shafts give agile moves even to this 70 year-old. Hooooray CNOC!
Have loved the journey, thanks heaps for the poles, keep creating!
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