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REI Traverse Trekking poles Review

A cheap and relatively durable choice.
The REI Traverse Trekking pole
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Price:  $70 List
Pros:  Great deal, lightest telescoping aluminum pole in our review, pretty durable
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 REI Traverse poles were Discontinued in Spring 2017
The REI Traverse is a solid pole at a stellar price that was in the running with the Black Diamond Trail Back (also $80) for our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy award winner. The REI Traverse Trekking poles have a lot going for them; they are sturdy, versatile and the lightest telescoping aluminum poles in our review. Their foam grips are average as far as comfort and ergonomics and were comparable to several more expensive models. What kept them from winning the Best Buy award was the internal twist lock mechanism. This mechanism was okay, but it wasn't near as easy to use or as durable as the mechanism on the Trail Back or any other pole system in our review.

Our Analysis and Test Results

Hands-On Review

The REI Traverse Trekking pole
The REI Traverse Trekking pole


These poles use a fairly basic shaped ergonomic foam grip that was average among the lighter foam gripped trekking poles in our review. It didn't feel quite as good as several of the other models that used cork or more complex shaped handles, but hey, the Traverse is $50+ less expensive than a majority of trekking poles out there. We thought they were comparable but maybe not quite as nice as the equally priced (also $80) Black Diamond Trail Back, which featured a pleasant ribbed rubber grip and among our testing team we noticed smaller handed users liked the Trail Back's smaller diameter handle slightly better.

Locking Mechanism

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


The REI Traverse weighs in at only 17.5 ounces, which is the lightest telescoping aluminum trekking pole in our review. Pretty amazing considering it's tied for being the least expensive with the Black Diamond Trail Back at only $80. The Traverse is even the same weight as the Leki Micro Stick which is a folding, tent pole style trekking pole, though it wasn't as lightweight as the Black Diamond Distance FL (13oz).


The shafts of the REI Traverse surprised us with how tough they were considering they have the lightest telescoping (17.5 oz) aluminum construction. We would even go so far as to say it's among the tougher poles in our review as far as each of its sections resistance to bending or snapping. The pair we used got pretty banged up but kept on going. What didn't seem super durable was the twist lock mechanism, it would get stuck to the point where we would struggle for a few minutes to open it or sometimes the pole wouldn't want to lock down. So while the REI Twist lock mechanism isn't terrible, we didn't think it near as durable as the Leki's internal twist lock mechanism or any of the external lever lock style closure systems.


The Traverse is quite a versatile pole and will excel at most uses from day hiking to snowshoeing. It's not great for alpine rock climbers who are looking for a more compact pole to strap to or pack inside their rucksack.

Value and The Bottom Line

The REI Traverse is a pretty sweet pole for the price and is one of the best trekking poles you can get for only $80. It only weighs 17.5 ounces, which is the lightest telescoping aluminum pole in our review and one of the lightest such poles on the market. The Traverse is pretty durable and has decently comfortable grips, but the twist lock mechanism isn't quite as user friendly or as durable as most other models we tested.

Other Versions

The REI Traverse Shocklight Trekking Poles.
REI Traverse Shocklight
  • Cost - $90
  • Shock absorbing poles
  • Lightweight for aluminum poles

Ian Nicholson