REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles Review
Cons: Heavy, large packed size, uncomfortable straps
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles
$109.95 at REI
Check Price at REI
$34.39 at Amazon
|$38.47 at Backcountry|
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$64.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Sturdy, highly adjustable, versatile||Lightweight, short collapsed length, surprisingly durable||Durable, comfortable grip, packs small||Very durable, great value, comfortable, easy to adjust||Medium weight, versatile, inexpensive|
|Cons||Heavy, large packed size, uncomfortable straps||No length adjustability, average grip comfort||Heavy, less versatile due to weight||Heavy, large packed size||Bulky quick lock levers|
|Bottom Line||A durable and adjustable choice for those who want a reliable trekking pole and who don't mind the weight||Durable with a short collapsed length, this is a fantastic value for a lightweight pole||A highly affordable pair of poles with all of the features of more expensive models||An inexpensive and comfortable pair of unisex trekking poles that have a great swing-weight despite being heavy||A good pole for entry-level users with some great features at an excellent price|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Traverse||Black Diamond Dista...||Trekology Trek-Z||Black Diamond Trail...||Cascade Mountain Te...|
|Locking and Adjustability (15%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Construction Quality (10%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Traverse||Black Diamond Dista...||Trekology Trek-Z||Black Diamond Trail...||Cascade Mountain Te...|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||21 oz||12.5 oz||26 oz||22 oz||16 oz|
|Collapsed Length||25.2 in||13/14/16/17 in||15 in||25 in||26 in|
|Max Length||55.1 in||39/43/47/51 in||47 in||55 in||53 in|
|Grip Material||Cork||EVA foam||Foam||Rubber||Cork|
|Locking Mechanism||External Lever Lock||Speed Cone Deployment||Lever lock||FlickLock||Quick Lock|
|Baskets/Tip Attachments?||Yes, mud and snow baskets||Yes, rubber and carbide tips||Yes, powder and trail baskets, boots, and narrow tips||Yes, only baskets||Boots, mud baskets, snow baskets and small tips|
|Size Tested||105-140 cm||110 cm||100-120 cm||One size||One size|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Traverse poles stand out for their highly durable materials and construction. These poles were hard to damage during our rigorous test period.
The Traverse poles feature cork grips and secondary foam grips. While cork grips eventually mold to the user’s hands over time, we think the factory contours here are relatively uncomfortable. The entire grip is curved, but we find that our hands prefer a straighter grip shape. The secondary foam grip is very firm and would be more comfortable with a little give. The straps feel plasticky and hard on the skin of the wrist. On the upside, the rounded rubber top of the handle is comfortable to push down upon.
At 21.0 ounces per pair, the REI Traverse is one of the heaviest pairs of trekking poles that we have tested. While this has its benefits in the durability metric, users who are sensitive to weight will not enjoy these poles. Their weight isn’t much different from other aluminum three-section telescoping poles, but compared to the other options on the market, these are significantly heavier. Runners, alpine climbers, and fast thru-hikers won’t tolerate the weight of these poles, and even regular hikers might get annoyed by their heavy swing weight after just a few miles on the trail.
These poles are versatile, suitable for walking, hiking, and use in various trail conditions, from rocky to muddy to snowy. They come with two sizes of baskets, one smaller pair for mud and summer snow and one larger pair for softer winter snow. As such, they can be used for snowshoeing in addition to hiking. Their heavy weight makes them less suitable for fast travelers like mountain runners, alpinists, and long-distance through-hikers, and their cork grips make them less suitable for backcountry skiing than poles with rubber grips.
Locking and Adjustability
The Traverse excel in this metric. They feature three aluminum shaft sections that telescope to full length and allow either 25 or 35cm of length adjustment, depending on whether you purchase the 95-120cm option or the 105-140cm option. This amount of length adjustment is impressive compared to other options on the market. The markings on the shaft sections indicate that the user is supposed to extend the lower shaft to the same point every time, and the middle section is used for length adjustment. This allows for convenient and fast length changes. The wrist strap is also a cinch to adjust by simply pulling on one strand to tighten and another to loosen. The aluminum lever locks are easy to use and tighten with a simple twist, no tools needed.
Telescoping down to 25.2 inches in the 105-140cm size option, the Traverse trekking poles have a relatively large packed size. They share a similar packed size to other three-section telescoping poles and are much larger when collapsed compared to three-section foldable poles. As a result, they won’t fit into most day packs and will stick out when strapped to the sides of all but the largest backpacking packs. They are small enough to fit into a standard checked luggage duffel when traveling but don’t expect them to fit into a carry-on bag.
These poles feature an aluminum three-section telescoping construction, the most durable trekking pole construction on the market. The overlapping pole sections add rigidity when compared to foldable poles, and aluminum bends to absorb energy when stressed, compared to carbon, which snaps more easily. The shaft sections are relatively thick, which increases weight but also increases durability. Our only gripe with durability here is the cork grips, which can chip or crumble if impacted on sharp rocks.
The REI Traverse falls squarely in the middle of the price spectrum for trekking poles, and considering their durability, we think these poles are a good value. That said, there are much less expensive poles on the market that offer nearly the same features, and which also pack smaller and weigh less. For users on a budget, we’d recommend looking elsewhere, but for users who want a simple and durable pole for on-trail use, this is a good value.
The REI Co-op Traverse is a durable three-section telescoping pole that is suitable for most hiking applications and that will likely last a long time. Its primary downsides are the cumbersome weight, which makes it less suitable for users concerned with speed, and the grip, which isn’t that comfortable. If durability is your main concern, this is a good option, but if you are looking for more technical performance, look elsewhere.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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