Robert, if you are still monitoring the thread: I use a 20 foot telescoping crappie pole, Black Widow brand, that I got at the local Bass Pro store for $25. I’ve been very happy with it. So far the summits I’ve visited had scrub trees on top, so I use some backpacking lashing straps (the kind used to attach a sleeping bag or tent to your backpack) to tie the mast to the tree. I attach one end of my 43 foot wire and then fully extend the sections up to maximum height. The wire becomes an end-fed sloper driven by a KX3 on 40m and 20m. I have used this in up to approximately 40 mph winds with little mast sway, I guess because it has such a narrow profile that there is very little wind loading.
Like Peter KD0YOB’s pole, it is 3 foot 9 inches long. I carry it by resting it in the water bottle pocket at the lower corner of my pack, and lashing it to the sides. Works, but inconvenient when ducking under low branches!
I find using this pole much more convenient than trying to find a tree with a branch that is both at the right height and not obscured by other branches, and then trying to throw a weighted string over the branch so I can hoist the antenna. I supposed I could carry a slingshot, but I am trying to keep down package size and weight.
I just returned from a hiking trip with the XYL to Maine, where we hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail. I activated 4 summits, 3 of them first-time activations, with this setup, and had no problem getting out. On one glorious day the band was open and I worked 5 European countries with 3 watts on 20m this way.
One other trick - because I kept the last section of the pole even though (it is very thin diameter, as Peter KD0YOB noted) I have a ring on the tip that normally is used to guide the fishing line. I tied a fisherman’s swivel with snap link to the end of my wire, so all I have to do is snap it to the ring on the pole tip. It saves having to tie the wire to the pole each time.