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REI Traverse Shocklight Review

Pretty sweet for the price, these poles absorb shock well, despite basic foam grips.
The REI Traverse Shocklight Trekking Poles.
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Price:  $90 List
Pros:  Great deal on a shock absorbing pole, very light for an telescoping aluminum pole
Cons:  Foam grips are fairly basic, twist lock mechanism can be finicky both to lock and unlock if it becomes dusty
Manufacturer:   REI
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 5, 2014
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Our Verdict

The Traverse Shocklight is No Longer Available as of Spring 2017
The REI Traverse Shocklight Trekking Poles are pretty sweet poles for the price. At 18.5 ounces they are one of the lighter telescoping aluminum poles we tested AND they have a shock absorber and are the lightest such poles in our review. They were in the running for our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award, but were beat out by the Black Diamond Trail Back poles ($80) for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that the locking mechanism used in the Shocklight was our least favorite mechanism of any kind, among all of the poles we tested. It has a tendency to get stuck (locked) and occasionally we couldn't get it to lock at all, especially if dust got into the mechanism. These poles have a feature where the user can "lock-out" or turn off the shock absorbing system, and we thought that could have potentially been pretty cool, but on the model we tested it would turn back on unexpectedly.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Hands-On Review


The REI Traverse Shocklight Trekking Poles.
The REI Traverse Shocklight Trekking Poles.

Comfort


The REI Traverse Shocklight Trekking poles have a fairly basic ergonomic foam grip that was average among the lighter weight foam gripped poles we tested. It wasn't as nice as several of the other models that used cork or several of the rubber gripped models, but hey, they're $40 or more less expensive than most of those models. We thought it was comparable to the equally priced (also $80) Black Diamond Trail Back, though smaller handed users liked the Trail Back smaller diameter grip slightly better.

Locking Mechanism


The locking mechanism is where we had the biggest problem with these poles. The Shocklight uses an internal twist locking mechanism, that is reliable most of the time but can get dust, dirt or just plain get stuck or be hard to get to lock sometimes. REI's twist lock mechanism was our least favorite locking mechanism among either style of twist locks or lever style mechanisms.

Weight


The Shocklight weighs only 18.5 ounces, which is the lightest shock absorbing pole in our review. Not only that, but it is one of the lighter aluminum telescoping poles we tested, with only the REI Traverse being lighter.

Packability


The REI Traverse Shocklight packs down to a longer than average 28" (74cm). The only pole that had a longer minimum length was the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork which has a compact size of 29". For most hikers, trekkers and backpackers the 28" minimum length of these poles isn't a big deal, they will still attach decently onto the sides of most medium to larger size day packs (25-35L) and nearly all overnight packs.

Durability


The shafts of the Shocklight are surprisingly tough considering its relative lightweight 18.5 ounce aluminum construction. We would even say it's among the tougher poles in our review as far as sections resistance to bending or breaking. What didn't seem super durable to us was the twist lock mechanism, it would get stuck to the point where we would struggle for a few minutes to open it (but we could always open it eventually) or we would struggle to close it. While we didn't outright break one of these twist locks, we don't think they are nearly as durable as Leki's internal twist lock mechanism or any of the external lever lock style closure systems.

Versatility


This pole was the most at home on medium to warmer weather backpacking, trekking and hiking trips, though it is tough enough to handle heavier off trail hiking and snowshoeing as well. It's not great for alpine rock climbers who are looking for a more compact pole to strap to backpacks, or pack inside their rucksack.

Value and the Bottom Line


The Shocklight is a tremendous value, being one of the best priced shock absorbing trekking poles on the market and the straight up best priced such pole in our review. Plus, for only $90 and weighing a scant 18.5 lbs it's the one of the lightest aluminum telescoping poles out there. Its grip is average and we found the twist lock mechanism to be less durable and less user friendly than other models we tested, but it does work and if you want a shock absorbing pole that won't break the bank then the Traverse Shocklight could be for you.


Ian Nicholson