Gear Closet: MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon Backcountry Trekking Poles

Like a lot of great pieces of gear, trekking poles are one of those items that you don’t really know you need until you’ve actually used them for awhile. But once you’ve become accustomed to having them, you don’t really know how you lived without them. Once that happens, you’ll be on the lookout for the best poles you can find, preferably ones that are lightweight, durable, and compact. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the new offerings from MSR, but best of all they come at a great price too.

I’ve been testing the new Dynalock Ascent Carbon Backcountry trekking poles for awhile now, and have come away very impressed. Because these poles are made from carbon fiber, they weigh next to nothing, tipping the scales at a mere 9 ounces (.5 kg) each. That said however, they still feel substantial in your hand, providing a nice sense of durability and quality that you would expect from MSR. Part of that durability comes from the fact that Kevlar is used to reinforce certain parts of these trekking poles, adding a bit of extra strength in areas that are more prone to failure.

As the name implies, these poles use a Dynalock system for extending the length and keeping all three segments of the shaft in place. This is an extremely fast and easy method for securing the pole, requiring very little effort to lock everything down. I experienced no issues with the Dynalock approach while testing the poles, even when having to make adjustments to their length while on the go. Best of all, at the end of the hike the system releases very quickly, breaking the poles down to an easily transportable size in a matter of seconds.

MSR used a EVA foam grip as handles on the Ascent Carbon poles, which feels great to the touch and comes in very handy when scrambling up big slopes or across tricky terrain. In fact, the grips feel so good in the hand that you’ll appreciate them on those longer days on the trail when you’re using your poles for miles on end. As a bonus, the MSR designers incorporated lower grips on the shaft the pole that are extremely useful when shuffling along trails that hug steep hills or when climbing up those same slopes.

As someone who travels frequently, often to go hiking and backpacking in remote places, being able to take your trekking poles along with you is very important. That means they need to be compact and collapsible, which the Ascent Carbons deliver as well.

When reduced down to their smallest size, they measure just 17.5 inches (44.5 cm) (for the large size) in length, which makes them easy to tuck into a suitcase or backpack. When fully expanded, these poles measure 55 inches (140 cm) in length, which gives you a sense of how versatile and easy to carry they actually are.

These trekking poles are built for use all year round and as such, they ship with both winter and summer baskets. In fact, I’ve been testing them long enough that I’ve used them in both snow and warm weather on a trail and found they work great in both environments.

That makes them especially useful for outdoor athletes who don’t take particular seasons off and want to be able to use their same gear in any conditions. Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, or snowshoeing, these poles will make a great companion. They’re so lightweight that even trail runners will appreciate what they bring to the table.

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Dynalock Ascent Carbon Backcountry poles come at a great price too. These trekking poles sell for $149.95, which is a solid price for a carbon fiber model. However, if that’s still a bit pricey for your wallet, MSR has introduced two other trekking pole options as well.

Those include the Dynalock Explorer Backcountry pole, which sells for $99.95 and is made from aluminum, as well as the Dynalock Trail Backcountry version, which is a bargain at $59.95. Either of those models makes for a good entry level trekking pole, but experienced outdoor enthusiasts will certainly appreciate what the Ascent Carbon has to offer.

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