Name: Fuzzy Monkey (David)
Date of Review: April, 2012
Photo Album – REI Traverse Powerlock Trekking Poles
DISCLAIMER: Readers should be aware I’m currently employed by REI, however, I was not paid to write this review. The information in this review is from my own actual experience and done on my own time. Readers should also be aware I purchased this particular set of poles using my employee discount.
BACKGROUND: I’ve successfully thru-hiked the West Coast Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Appalachian Trail. I also have numerous other backpacking trips under my belt. The terrain I’ve had to deal with ranges from climbing mountains to peaceful grass pastures. I choose to carry the REI Traverse Powerlock trekking poles for my 2011 West Coast Trail Thru-Hike.
- Manufacturer: REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
- Website: Shop REI.com! HOME PAGE Link.
- Product Information: REI Traverse Powerlock Aluminum Trekking Pole
- Materials: Aluminum with Cork handles and wrist strap, Adjustable powerlocking mechanisms.
DESCRIPTION: The REI Traverse Powerlocking trekking pole are made from sturdy aluminum. The 3 sections collapse to a nice portable size. The hand grips are made of cork and shaped ergonomically to fit the hands nicely. The wrist strips are adjustable and add additional support when in use. The powerlocking mechanisms are user-friendly and work well. The inside of the two lower sections are clearly marked to make adjustments easier.
REVIEW: I carried these trekking poles for my 2011 West Coast Trail hike. Whenever I talk about my various adventures people end up asking me what type of gear or equipment I used or took with me. This review is to demystify some of those questions and to further expand how it worked for me.
I started using trekking poles back in 2007 when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Up until this point I had never used them before. One of the reasons I choose to start using them was to help out with my knees. The nature of hiking long miles everyday really takes a toll on your body. I found that using trekking poles really benefited me in a number of ways besides saving my knees . Since I started using trekking poles in 2007, I have never left for a hiking adventure without them. Here are a few of the reasons why;
Trekking poles help to take some of the load off my knees. When hiking on uneven surfaces you begin to notice how much your body sways from side to side, or uphill and downhill. Holding trekking poles allows you to brace yourself while on the various terrain. This in turns helps alleviate some of the pressures on the knees. This was one of the primary reason I choose to start carrying trekking poles and is also the main reason I still carry trekking poles today.
I have also found that trekking poles are extremely useful for keeping your balance. There have been a number of times I’ve had to cross fast current rivers. Having a set of trekking poles helps in keeping your balance and navigating through river crossings. In a similar fashion they also help when having to cross over logs or other obstacles along the trail. I’ve used my trekking poles to assist in me standing on logs, crossing boulder fields etc. Having trekking poles has assisted me in just about every obstacles I’ve run across while hiking.
Additional reasons I carry trekking poles are for poking around unfamiliar trail. For instance while I was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the high Sierra’s had a lot of snow. It was a little comforting to have a stick to poke around the snow. Primarily to gauge the depth of the snow or to find out if there is water under the snow I was crossing. Several times I needed to know if I there was a much larger hole that could not be seen. Having a trekking pole provided a tool of sorts to use while navigating the snow-covered trail.
A similar instance where this comes in handy is for very muddy trail. Often times pools of water collect on the trail. Sometimes these could be shallow pools of water or sometimes they could be very deep muddy holes. I found this out while hiking the West Cost Trail in 2011. This was perhaps the best example of using a trekking pole as a tool on the trail. Having poles to navigate the muddy WCT was essential for me. Several times I didn’t check to see if the water was deep and ended up with a shoe full of water and mud. I quickly learned my lesson and started to use my trekking pole to gauge the depth of the muddy trail.
I’ve outlined a few benefits and reasons for carrying trekking poles here. There are several other creatives uses for trekking poles. I know of many hikers who utilize them to pitch their tents. I’m not going into this here, but just though I’d mention in case readers are interested. Other benefits include keeping your hands level so they don’t swell hiking for extensive periods. And in some cases they can also be used to scoot nasty mean snakes off the trail.
PERFORMANCE: My set of REI Traverse Powerlock trekking poles worked really well for my West Coast Trail hike. In fact I’m really glad I had them with me. I’d had read stories of the difficulty of the this trail. Even though I’m a seasoned hiker I still found this to be a really tough hike. Having a set of trekking poles made this hike really bearable. The poles really came in handy for balance as I navigated the root infested trail. In addition I was able to use the poles to gauge the depth of the various pools of mud along the trail. In one instance I didn’t check the depth and assumed the pool of water was just surface water. Little did I know how deep and muddy some sections of the trail could be. I could not have imagined not having them with me for this hike.
Even having trekking poles to assist me I still ended up loosing my balance. There was one instance where I ended up bending the bottom part of one of the poles. Since the REI Traverse trekking poles are made of aluminum they just bent slightly. I was glad I choose to carry a more rugged trekking pole for this adventure. In the past I have used carbon fiber poles which are not as forgiving as the aluminum poles are. Carbon fiber trekking poles tend to break when under any excessive pressure.
Another feature I like about the REI Traverse is the powerlocking mechanisms. Traditionally, I’ve used a twisting style locking mechanisms on my trekking poles. What I found with a twisting locking mechanisms is that they are easy to over tighten breaking the locking mechanisms inside the pole. The powerlocking mechanisms on the REI Traverse eliminates this over tighten possibility, which I prefer.
Another drawback with a twist style of locking mechanisms is that its more difficult to collapse the poles when your hands are cold or wet. There have been several situations in which I’ve needed to collapse my poles but found it really difficult when your hiking in cold environments. It’s also hard to twist the poles and make adjustments when the poles or your hands are wet. I find if the poles are really tight and everything is wet its much more difficult to grab and twist the trekking poles and make that adjustment. With a powerlocking mechanism of the Traverse this problem is eliminated.
CONCLUSION: I’m really happy with my REI Traverse Powerlock trekking poles. I’ve used carbon fiber trekking poles and prefer the aluminum over the carbon. Another feature I like are the user-friendly locking mechanisms on the Traverse Powerlock. I use my trekking poles for many uses and find them to be essential equipment when out on the trail.
Fuzzy Monkey Likes:
- Forgiving Aluminum material
- Multi-benefits/uses of carrying poles
- User Friendly powerlocking mechanisms
Fuzzy Monkey Dislikes:
- Tips are not replaceable
- Wrist Straps difficult to adjust
Fuzzy Monkey Approved: YES