REI Co-op Passage Review
Cons: Locking mechanisms could be better, lacks comfort
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
Our Analysis and Test Results
On the whole, this pole is unremarkable except for its price and its durability. It comes at a relatively heavy weight, doesn't pack very small, and lacks refined, comfortable features.
The Passage features good ergonomics for the price point. The grip is nicely contoured, but the rubber handle can become slippery from perspiration in hot weather. The grips have no ribbing, and rubber does not absorb moisture, meaning sweat has nowhere to go. The aluminum shaft absorbs less shock than carbon fiber poles. But as an entry level pole, it is fairly comfortable.
These poles weigh 19.4 ounces, which comes down on the heavier side of poles in our review. The heavier weight might help increase durability, and for the price, you get what you pay for. Lighter poles have more refined features that save weight, like carbon fiber construction and smaller lever locks. That said, the weight of this pole didn't deter us from using it on long day hikes and short multi-day trips. For longer light-duty trips, we'd go with a lighter pole.
Locking and Adjustability
The Passage features REI's Powerlock system, which is a standard lever locking mechanism. On the Passage model, the lever locks are plastic, and although we didn't experience any issues with on trail, this made us a little wary of the durability of the mechanism. That said, the Powerlock system works just fine, and we were satisfied with its ability to keep our poles at the desired length.
The minimum collapsed size of these poles is 27 inches, which is the longest in our review. That means they will stick out if you fasten them to the side of a day hiking backpack, but they'll still disappear cleanly along the outside of a multi-day backpack. These poles are not meant to disappear into a backpack and might be more difficult to fit into luggage if you plan on taking them overseas or across the country.
Thanks to its aluminum construction, the Passage is a tough pole. There are more durable poles in our review, but none can provide this attribute at such a low price. One weakness is the plastic construction of the lever locks, and we wouldn't want to bang these poles through a boulder field. If you're sticking to basic trails, though, these should last a long time.
The 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, but it does come with wider trail baskets for cross-country travel. The large packed size and heavy weight render these poles less useful for technical backpacking and mountaineering.
For the price, the Passage is an ideal entry-level pole. The durable rubber grips and aluminum construction are a plus. However, for just a little more money, better pole options abound. REI has a a great lifetime warranty, should anything go wrong. This pole is a safe investment for on-trail hikers.
The 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, but serious hikers will want more refinement.
— Graham Williams