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Kelty Upslope 2.0 Review

These underwhelming poles are fine for casual hikes and walks, but won't work for much else
kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review
Using the Kelty Upslope 2.0 to cross a log over a swollen creek.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi
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Price:  $45 List
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2022
44
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 17
  • Comfort - 20% 3.0
  • Weight - 20% 4.0
  • Versatility - 20% 4.0
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 6.0
  • Packed Size - 15% 4.0
  • Construction Quality - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Kelty Upslope 2.0 is a basic three-section telescoping trekking pole without the comfort or features of more high-performance (and expensive) alternatives. The grips are large and relatively uncontoured, the foam isn't that comfortable to hold, and the poles are on the heavier side. The length is adjusted via twist-lock mechanisms rather than lever locks, making them a pain to adjust. They come with snow baskets and rubber tips, adding some versatility for hiking on various surfaces, but the pole design relegates these poles to casual hiking duty only. The upshot is that the aluminum shafts are relatively durable, and the whole package is inexpensive. We only recommend these poles to casual and occasional hikers, but even at such a low price, there are better options.
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Inexpensive
Large range of length adjustment
REASONS TO AVOID
Uncomfortable grips
Heavy
Don't pack small
Editor's Note: These budget poles were added to our lineup on November 1, 2022.

Compare to Similar Products

 
kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review
This Product
Kelty Upslope 2.0
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $45 List$170 List$91.19 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$43 List
$42.99 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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82
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, inexpensive, large range of length adjustmentComfortable grip, locks securely, packs small, highly versatileLightweight, short collapsed length, durableDurable, comfortable grip, packs smallMedium weight, versatile, inexpensive
Cons Uncomfortable grips, heavy, don't pack smallCarbon is less durable than aluminum, on the expensive sideNo length adjustability, average grip comfortHeavy, less versatile due to weightBulky quick lock levers
Bottom Line These underwhelming poles are fine for casual hikes and walks, but won't work for much elseA simple, elegant, and well-built trekking pole with versatility for all usesDurable with a short collapsed length, this is a fantastic value for a lightweight poleA highly affordable pair of poles with all of the features of more expensive modelsA good pole for entry-level users with some great features at an excellent price
Rating Categories Kelty Upslope 2.0 MSR DynaLock Ascent... Black Diamond Dista... Trekology Trek-Z 2.0 Cascade Mountain Te...
Comfort (20%)
3.0
10.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
4.0
5.0
8.0
1
5.0
Versatility (20%)
4.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Locking and Adjustability (15%)
6.0
9.0
3.0
7.0
7.0
Packed Size (15%)
4.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
4.0
Construction Quality (10%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Kelty Upslope 2.0 MSR DynaLock Ascent... Black Diamond Dista... Trekology Trek-Z 2.0 Cascade Mountain Te...
Measured Weight (per pair) 18 oz 17 oz 12.5 oz 26 oz 16 oz
Shaft Material Aluminum Carbon fiber Aluminum Aluminum Carbon
Collapsed Length 25.5 in 14.25 in 13/14/16/17 in 15 in 26 in
Max Length 54 in 47 in 39/43/47/51 in 47 in 53 in
Pole Design Collapsible Collapsible Foldable Foldable Collapsible
Grip Material EVA foam Rubber, plastic, foam EVA foam Foam Cork
Locking Mechanism Twist lock DynaLock Speed Cone Deployment Lever lock Quick Lock
Baskets/Tip Attachments? Yes, carbide tips, mud baskets Yes, winter and summer baskets Yes, rubber and carbide tips Yes, powder and trail baskets, boots, and narrow tips Boots, mud baskets, snow baskets and small tips
Size Tested One size 100-120 cm 110 cm 100-120 cm One size

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Upslope 2.0 is tempting to consider at the bargain basement price. However, we were underwhelmed and generally feel you should fork over a bit more money for something more comfortable and versatile.

Performance Comparison


kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - testing the strength and durability of the kelty upslope 2.0 during...
Testing the strength and durability of the Kelty Upslope 2.0 during a rainy fall creek crossing.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Comfort


If a pole is uncomfortable to hold, it won't make your hike any more fun. Unfortunately, the Kelty Upslope 2.0 has round grips with minimal ergonomic contouring, so they didn't fit our hands very well. Furthermore, the grip diameter is large, which worked for testers with big hands, but for everyone else, they were awkward to hold. The secondary grip features ribbed foam that also misses the mark for comfort. In general, these poles are hard to hold. On the upside, the slightly padded wrist straps are comfortable.

kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - the upslope 2.0's grips have a wide diameter, making them...
The Upslope 2.0's grips have a wide diameter, making them uncomfortable for users with small to average-sized hands.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi


Weight


At 18 ounces per pair, the Upslope 2.0 is on the heavier side for trekking poles. This is likely due to the large-diameter aluminum shafts, which are wider than most other trekking poles out there. This makes them slightly less pleasant to take on hikes, and they have lots of weight in the lower shaft sections, adding swing weight. Generally, we prefer lighter poles overall, and especially poles with lower swing weight, because they make hiking more comfortable. It's easy to feel the weight of these poles when using them.

kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - the aluminum shafts of the upslope 2.0 (top) are thicker than other...
The aluminum shafts of the Upslope 2.0 (top) are thicker than other aluminum poles on the market, leading to a heavier weight overall.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Versatility


These poles weigh a lot and don't pack down small, making them less suitable for technical missions like alpine climbing and mountain running. They are sturdy, but their locking mechanisms are prone to failure and can't be tightened in the field, meaning these poles aren't a good choice for international travel and rugged, remote trekking where a pole failure can ruin a trip. The Upslope 2.0 performs just fine for normal day hikes and short jaunts, but that's about it.

kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - the upslope 2.0 comes with screw-on rubber tips (above) for soft...
The Upslope 2.0 comes with screw-on rubber tips (above) for soft sandstone trails, and small baskets for summer snow crossings (below).
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Locking and Adjustability


The Upslope 2.0 boasts an incredible 18 inches (45 centimeters) of length adjustment. This is great for a rental pole or a pole you can give to visiting guests, but in our experience, we rarely need our trekking poles to have this much length adjustability. In fact, we are usually just fine with fixed-length trekking poles once we know how long we like them. Also, the Upslope uses outdated twist-lock mechanisms to preserve the pole's length, which requires twisting two shaft sections apart from each other to loosen the connection, then adjusting the length, and then twisting the two sections back the opposite direction to tighten. Sometimes it can be hard to grasp the sections, and sometimes the locking mechanism can't preserve the length while weighted, no matter how hard you twist the sections to tighten them.

kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - screw-lock length adjustments are outdated and annoying to use, and...
Screw-lock length adjustments are outdated and annoying to use, and their tension can't be adjusted in the field.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Packed Size


The Upslope 2.0 is a three-section telescoping pole, meaning the three shaft sections extend and retract in one direction, fitting cleanly inside one another to collapse to a smaller size for packing and storage. These poles pack down to a minimum length of 25.5 inches, which is too long to be useful for packing inside a backpack or strapping onto the outside of one, as they will stick out of the top. It can also be a pain to pack them inside small and medium-sized duffel bags, making them less practical for travel. If you need to pack your trekking poles into your backpack for sections of scrambling or climbing or just want a pole that packs down small, look elsewhere.

kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - we decided to put our poles away during the dirt road section of a...
We decided to put our poles away during the dirt road section of a recent hike, and these poles stick out of the top of a backpack conspicuously.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Construction Quality


Aluminum pole sections are generally stronger than carbon ones, and these poles have thick aluminum shafts that last a long time. The foam grips are susceptible to chipping, but only if treated with carelessness, and the carbide tips resist wear. Overall, these are a good choice for durability, but the twist-lock adjustment mechanisms are prone to failure over time.

kelty upslope 2.0 trekking poles review - with aluminum construction and carbide tips, we were generally...
With aluminum construction and carbide tips, we were generally impressed by the Upslope 2.0's durability.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Should You Buy the Kelty Upslope 2.0?


Overall, we are not impressed by the quality of these poles. They are very affordable, but there are better poles on the market for a similar price. The only reason to buy the Upslope is if you need a pole that can deliver 18 inches of length adjustment. For example, if you are building a rental fleet for a business or accumulating poles for guests to use, these might make sense as long as your guests are only going on simple hikes.

What Other Trekking Poles Should You Consider?


If you are looking at these poles because you are shopping on a budget, we'd recommend the Trekology Trek-Z instead. They offer better performance for a similar price. If durability is your main concern, check out our top pick for heavy-duty trekking, the Leki Makalu Lite. And if you simply want the best pole that money can buy, we recommend the MSR Dynalock Ascent Carbon for all-around use.

Jeff Dobronyi
 
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