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MSR DynaLock Explore Backcountry Poles

photo: MSR DynaLock Explore Backcountry Poles rigid trekking pole

Very good, three-section aluminum trekking poles for trekking and year-round mountaineering. Sturdy and relatively light, feel dependable, and delivered with multiple baskets. Great price tag and the cost/quality ratio.

550g / 1 lbs 4 oz | Open, Max: 140 cm / 55 in | Collapsed 62.2 cm / 24.5 in

Pros

  • Dynalock system with adjustable tension
  • Sturdy and durable, yet not overly heavy
  • Comfy no-slip rubbery foam on grip and extension
  • Nice wide band with pleasent feel

Cons

  • Very specialized users will want something lighter

I was looking for a trekking pole to cover my needs for at least three-season use, and I generally accept something a little heavier to gain durability (and dependability). After some research I went with these poles, which are not widely well-known apparently, as other brands have the lion's share of the market and many buyers go by the reviews online to play it safe (completely understandable).

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Trekking poles fully retracted
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Trekking poles, fully open (right) and fully retracted (left)

I was pleasantly surprised by this pair of trekking poles, which are three-section poles, made entirely of aluminum (MSR mentions the "light, high-strength 7075 aluminum lower sections"). The Dynalock system works great and is very robust, both in its own construction and in the locking it provides.

You can adjust the tension manually, and it is maintained throughout many opening-closing cycles. The markings along the poles length really help remembering your preferred length; I adjust the sections to the same length so I only have to remember one number.

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Dynalock system, with the tool-free tension adjustment

The EVA foam grip is really great, and secures your grip over the poles, even in summer with sweat on your palms. It has an extended portion under the handle with the same material, which is very nice to have in mountain environments, where obstacles (fallen trees and boulders) and varying terrain slope are best dealt with by changing the poles' length.

I often keep my thumb and index on the lower section of the handle and the rest of my hand grabs the extension, to overcome high-step sections. If the section is not obstructed and has a constant high slope, you can reduce pole length and use the adjustable straps around your wrists to apply more pushing force and relieve you knees and leg muscles. The carbide tips do a great job on any terrain, and haven't slipped even on bare rock.

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Foam on grip and extension with anti-slip relief

In the summer you can use the poles with no baskets at all, or opt for the small baskets included. In winter you will appreciate the snow baskets included, which are nice and wide and do a great job even on loose snowdrift.

If you need to measure snow depth (e.g. in a snnow pit) you may appreciate the length markings on these poles. The poles work well with winter gloves, even the locking mechanism is not such a pain. My BD gloves with goat leather palms gripped the poles handles and grip extensions securely in winter.

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Small baskets fitted
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Winter baskets under (left) and over (right) view

Experience

First pair of trekking poles, used them in summer, autumn, and winter (snow and fair conditions), over many miles overall. They have helped in uphill and downhill sections, questionable rocky terrain, dirt, and snow. Most times I had a heavy backpack with me (close to 50 lbs). In snow I had a small light summit bag and used an ice axe in my uphill hand, and one pole in my downhill hand. It provided adequate support; the other was latched to my bag.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 89 euros

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Specs

Price MSRP: $109.95
Current Retail: $99.95-$109.95
Historic Range: $99.95-$109.95
Size 64-140cm
Weight 1 lb 4 oz / 0.55 kg
Length, min 39.5 in / 100 cm
Length, max 55 in / 140 cm
Collapsed length 24.5 in / 62.2 cm
Material(s) 7075-T6
Product Details from MSR »

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