MSR’s newest line of trekking poles, DynaLock, have something for every outdoor enthusiast. The Ascent, the lightest and most technical in the line, is ideal for hardcore explorers and mountaineers, and the Trail is the bare bones model (though that said, it still has everything your everyday hiker or snowshoer might need). Right in the middle, aka the sweet spot, is the Explore, which I took out on the trail all spring and summer in anticipation of its launch this fall.
This compact, three-section pole is lightweight but durable, has a pretty serious point at the bottom to really grip the dirt and snow, and is highly adjustable. My first fear with any new trekking pole: will the locks loosen as I hike, eventually collapsing my pole under my stride? So far, the MSR Explore has held strong in this regard, with its two adjustable DynaLock closures remaining tight once I’ve set my height.
This is the perfect pole set for someone who backpacks on moderate to difficult terrain, in all conditions, or who will be navigating uneven terrain in historic sites or ancient cities. They do well in snow (you get a snow basket and a summer basket) for those who cross-country ski, AT ski or snowshoe, too.
I like the EVA foam grip at the top (as opposed to simple molded plastic), because it doesn’t get slippery when my hands get sweaty, and I appreciate that they designed the grip to run down the pole shaft about eight inches, so I can choke up on steep ascents.
This pole comes in two sizes — the large set weighs 1 pound 2 ounces and extends from 120 cm to 140 cm long. The small weighs 1 pound 1 ounce for the set and extends from 100 cm to 120 cm long. It’s made of aluminum, and the two adjustable DynaLock closures telescope from 63 cm to 140 cm long. There’s also a neoprene strap.
Because the Explore poles adjust so easily, they’re a good option for those who use their trekking poles to raise their shelters at night. We used these with a Nemo two-person tent that requires trekking poles for assembly and had no problem.
Pick up any of the three pole types in the new DynaLock line at outdoor retailer stores such as REI, or shop on Amazon. For reference, the Ascent retails for $150, the Explore for $99, and the Trail for $60.