The REI Co-op Passage is a slightly higher-end version of the REI Co-op Traverse pole that we reviewed last year. All of REI's trekking poles are designed by Komperdell, an Austrian trekking pole manufacturer. For $70, the Co-op Passage is an inexpensive and sturdy pole. Made from 7075-T6 aluminum and featuring rubber handles, you'd be hard-pressed to break this pole; though, the rubber handles were just average for their comfort, and we found them a bit slippery when hiking in hot weather. We also thought that the REI Powerlock mechanism on these poles wasn't as durable as others, as they had a plastic design.
REI Co-op Passage Review
Cons: Locking mechanisms could be more durable, Rubber handles could be better designed
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Co-op Passage was a strong contender this year for our Best Buy award, but was edged out by the Black Diamond Trail Back. The Co-op Passage was an excellent choice for those looking for a low price point, and at $70, it's one of the least expensive poles in our lineup. It features aluminum construction and doesn't feature a whole lot of weight for the design.
The Co-op Passage features great ergonomics for its price point. The overall design was quite comfortable, and the grip felt incredible in our hands. However, due to its rubber design, we found it to be a little slippery in warmer weather hiking. We thought that the Black Diamond Trail Back had a little better design, with razor siping on the rubber handle to help dissipate sweat and increase comfort. The Aluminum pole felt great to hike with, and although not as comfortable as its carbon fiber cousin, the REI Co-op Flash Carbon, we thought it was great as an entry level trekking pole.
Locking Mechanism and Adjustability
The Co-op Passage features REI's Powerlock system, which is a standard lever locking mechanism. On the Passage model, the lever locks are plastic, which although we didn't experience any issues with on trail, made us a little wary of the durability of the mechanism. We thought the REI Co-op Flash Carbon had a slightly upgraded version of the Powerlock system, with aluminum levers which felt a little more burly to us. However, the Passage is also significantly less expensive than the Flash Carbon. The Powerlock system works just fine, and we were satisfied with its ability to keep our poles at the desired length.
The Co-op Passage is on the lighter end of the aluminum poles in our review this year at 19.4 ounces. The Passage is a pretty great price to weight ratio; for example, the Black Diamond Trail Back is two ounces heavier, at 21.4 ounces, and costs $10 more. If you're looking for something a little more lightweight, take a look at the carbon fiber poles we reviewed this year like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or the Leki Micro Vario Carbon.
Thanks to its aluminum construction, the Co-op Passage is a tough pole. While its durability is a plus, as it's on the lighter end of the aluminum poles we reviewed, we still felt that the Black Diamond Trail Back was a more burly and tough pole, albeit a little heavier. We thought that although the plastic power locking mechanisms were effective at cutting weight, we would be hesitant to beat on these poles for fear of breaking one of the plastic levers.
The Co-op Passage is a great choice for entry-level hikers going on day hikes and short backpacking trips that are on trail. We wouldn't want to take it on much off-trail trekking or bushwhacking (we'd recommend the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork for that), but it does come with wider trail baskets for cross-country travel.
The Co-op Passage is an excellent choice for those looking for a low price point pole that performs relatively well. It is slightly limited in that it is not as durable as something like the Black Diamond Trail Back, and for that reason, we think that it would be best to keep the Co-op Passage on day hikes and short backpacking trips.
For $70, the Co-op Passage is an ideal entry level pole for those looking to break into the pole scene. The lightweight construction and durable rubber grips are rad. However, for $10 more, we'd prefer the Black Diamond Trail Back, which features a burlier design and better ergonomics - for only a little more weight.
The Co-op Passage is perfect for those looking for a low price point pole that will perform well on shorter trips. It performed pretty average in most metrics, and most low mileage users will benefit from it.
— Graham Williams