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Durable and functional rigid poles. Usually a quick destroyer of hiking poles I have had to admit that these can take what I give them and survive.
- Comfortable hand grip
- Comfortable wide wrist strap
- Rock-Lock Clamp System
- 1.5 lb weight
I've had poles I liked before, but they never survived long enough to become good friends. The Easton ATR-70s retailed for $70 when I purchased them about 18 months ago, more than I would usually spend on poles, but I was tempted by a half price sale. After over a full year of traveling to some great spots together we are best buddies now.
All of my previous poles had twist locks which invariably failed unless I snapped the pole first. One of the reasons I was interested in trying the ATR-70s was to see how their Rock-Lock Clamp System worked.
Here you can see the top pole in the locked position with the bottom lock open and displaying the screw mechanism. Properly adjusted these locks work almost flawlessly. There have been a small number of times I have had to stop make adjustments as a pole started to slowly seem shorter, but I would rate those exceptions as rare and I have never had a pole just collapse without warning.
Adjustments are easy to make as is set up or collapsing for storage or carry. The locks require a fair amount of pressure to release which is good I think. Once opened the latch can be screwed up or down to decrease or increase the pressure desired. After getting them set it is just a matter of snapping the lock open and closed to make adjustments on the fly. Great for times you want to change the length of pole or poles on trail or when using them to set up a shelter.
Easton has this wide wrist strap which while firm in holding its flat shape has a very soft under side to go easy on the hands.
They also have what Easton refers to as a Dual-Density Comfort Grip. Designed to not only be easy to hold on to firmly but also touted to dampen vibration rather than passing it on directly to the hands. I can't tell you if any of that is true because my hands aren't that sensitive, but I do like the shape of the grip in my hand. I'm able to hold it in good positions for both swinging freely at pace or gripping firmly in order to plant the pole solidly.
I can't seem to find any details on what sort of metallic tip came with the poles but they don't seem to show any real signs of wear. Like most metal tips they catch very well on any rock they don't skip off of at a bad angle in which case they don't.
I have never used the large Winter baskets which came with the ATR-70s as the regular baskets are my preference even in snow and ice. These are big enough to hold on snow that will hold up without being so big if they go through and get caught on the crust as I'm trying to pull them up. Personal preference applies here and the Winter baskets are almost five inches in diameter if larger is yours.
Being a rigid pole there is of course no suspension to worry about breaking down. Since rigid is the goal here starting with sections that won't bend or snap is vital. Easton used what they refer to as High Strength 7075 Aluminum and I agree about the strength part. These poles have gotten snagged more than once by rocks or trees while I was in mid-stride so they've taken some leverage but other than a few nicks and scratches show no wear. They are still true so they slide well for adjustments even if a bit muddy.
That strength combined with locks I have confidence in allows me to really use these poles to my advantage on trail. I have vaulted more than a few water crossings my partners had to wade through. On steep descents I can use my arms to help my legs to keep speed under control without worrying I'm going to snap a pole. Then of course here in Maine we have both mud and ice seasons. With proper use good poles can literally save you from breaking your neck on those surfaces, but only if the pole doesn't break.
After putting the Easton ATR-70s through their paces in all four seasons I can recommend them or other Easton products based on their durable construction and well thought out design.
The only drawback I can really mention is the weight. For those counting grams they simply are way too heavy. For those looking for durability and strength to be counted on though I would say they are just heavy enough.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35 (half price sale)
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Historic Range: $49.95
Reviewers Paid: $35.00
High Strength 7075 Aluminum
Fully Extended - 55.12 inches (140 centimeters)
25.75 inches (65.4 centimeters)