Komperdell Explorer Contour Powerlock Review
Cons: Flimsy locking system, unrefined comfort
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Komperdell Explorer Compact performed in the middle of the pack in just about every category. It boasts a small collapsed size compared to other three-section telescoping poles, and a good light weight despite being made from aluminum. We didn't especially enjoy its foam handles or plastic lever locks.
The Komperdell's grips are made from foam, are lightly contoured, and feature a foam grip extension below the main grip. All of this is great for wicking sweat on hot days. However, we found the foam grip to be a bit too thick in diameter, which meant that it was slightly less comfortable, and more tiring, to hold over the course of long days. The pronounced ribs on the lower grip extension aren't as comfortable as other poles in the review. The aluminum shafts don't absorb any shock from the ground. On the whole, we weren't impressed by the comfort of these poles.
At 16.0 ounces, these poles are remarkably light, given their aluminum construction and telescoping design. For comparison, one other pole in the review is made of carbon and features a z-style design, and weighs slightly more. The foam grip and plastic lever locks help shave a few grams compared to cork grips and metal lever locks, but these heavier features on other poles improve performance in other metrics.
Locking and Adjustability
We were disappointed with the plastic lever locks and tricky wrist strap adjustment features. In our experience, plastic lever locks get banged up and damaged over time, meaning that eventually, these poles won't be able to hold their length. We didn't have any issues during our testing period, but we have seen it before. The lever locks feel relatively solid, but seem unrefined. The poles feature 12 inches (30cm) of extension, which is plenty.
We didn't love the Komperdell's wrist strap adjustment feature. A toothed wedge connected to the strap has to be placed just right to lock down the strap in the correct length. We found this feature unintuitive and hard to adjust on the go. After a while, we got used to it, but it seems like there are better ways to achieve easy adjustments.
The Komperdell Explorer Compact scored highest in this category because they pack smaller than any other three-section telescoping pole in our review. They collapse down to 22.8 inches, which helps them fit onto the side of a large backpack with ease. They'll stick out if you strap them onto the side of a day pack, but much less than other poles in our review. The baskets are easily removable for low-profile packing inside of luggage.
In general, aluminum poles are relatively durable. The metal shafts resist chipping and cracking, and also bend when stressed instead of snapping. We found that these poles bend a little more under gentle weight than other aluminum poles, which was slightly concerning. Furthermore, the plastic lever locks don't seem robust and might be the weakest point on the pole. Still, we weren't able to damage these poles in our test period.
These poles are good for average hiking use, like day hikes and short overnight trips. We wouldn't trust them for long backpacking trips, through-hikes, cross-country travel, and would choose a more durable pole for those uses. They don't pack as small or weigh as little as other options, making them less useful for technical climbs. Still, for the average hiker, these are plenty useful.
These poles are cheaper than the high-performance options, making them a great entry-level pole that will provide good value and a useful lifespan. That said, there are cheaper options that perform better.
The Komperdell Explorer Compact is a good option for average hikers who just need a pole that does the basics. These won't cost you as much as other options, but you won't get all the bells and whistles either.
— Jeff Dobronyi