My wife and I are fine weather weekend walkers as is evidenced by the fact that most of our walks are routed to include Public Houses wherever possible. We have been dismissive and quite critical when we have been out and have seen fellow walkers ‘skiing’ past with these sorts of poles flashing two and fro, so we were uncertain about their merits when we were given a pair to try.
We took turns and found that the three part adjustable aluminium poles easily accommodated our quite different heights and with a little practice the trigger release could be used one handed to make changes on the move. We naturally favoured walking with a single pole, so were told to swap hands regularly to avoid any back strain due to the unbalanced repetitive movement and were advised that the poles are best used as a pair.
Our country walk was hardly out into the wild as it took us through civilised farmland and over the well trodden paths of the beautiful Surrey Hills. Deliberately routed to avoid steep inclines also meant the poles did not get a serious work out, however they were indeed welcome where the ground was uneven and as we traversed over stiles.
The poles were light enough not to encumber us unduly and yet they felt sturdy and took the random knocks we gave them. The wrist strap was secure and comfortable and the hand grip likewise.
The 12 mile round trip (which did include a pub or three) was a pleasant experience due in some small part to the poles (and perhaps a larger part to the liquid refreshments consumed along the way).
We were won over by these poles and my wife especially is looking forward to using them in her upcoming climbing attempt of Mt Snowdon where they will undoubtedly be an invaluable aid, particularly knowing her dislikes of ‘ups’.
It’s worth noting that these poles aren’t sold as uber-weight-saving, but rather as sturdy poles for all seasons which can’t slip when under pressure (which it’s possible for some twist-lock poles to do). That said, they come in at only 560g, which isn’t exactly going to dislocate your shoulders.
A contoured grip which is sort of mid-range in terms of softness, and a reassuringly stompy feel to them make them a good prospect for the pole-novice.
SUMMARY: MSR’s Surelock system is easy to understand and operate when you have gloves on or cold hands. There’s no risk of it slipping and thus it provides a reassuring sturdiness to anyone in need or a real leaning post. The friendliness of the design makes them ideal for beginners, but the price would restrict them to those of us who want an investment rather than an experiment in to pole use.