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MSR DynaLock Trail Review

An inexpensive option that disappointed us in some key performance areas
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Price:  $60 List | $59.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, great locking mechanism
Cons:  Fragile construction, powder baskets are too big, cumbersome grip
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Henry Feder ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 20, 2020
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45
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Ease of use - 35% 6
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Durability - 15% 2
  • Packed Size - 15% 4
  • Comfort - 15% 3

Our Verdict

We were excited to try out MSR's entry into the backcountry ski pole market with the DynaLock Trail. Unfortunately, this pole is marred by design and durability flaws. The pole's main feature is its namesake DynaLock lever locks that keep the pole at its adjusted length. It works well, but unfortunately, the grip and powder basket leave something to be desired. The grip is too small for most hands and is relatively uncomfortable. The powder basket is massive and gets in the way of tip penetration when traversing across steep terrain. We also snapped one of the poles while testing during normal use. The DynaLock is the least expensive pole in our review, but we still wouldn't recommend it for the average backcountry skier.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The DynaLock Trail is named after its thoughtfully engineered locking mechanism, which works. Otherwise, the grip was uncomfortable, the baskets were awkwardly shaped, and its durability is suspect.

Performance Comparison


Testing the MSR Dynalock Trail in the Lake Tahoe backcountry.
Testing the MSR Dynalock Trail in the Lake Tahoe backcountry.

Ease Of Use


The DynaLock Trail is not well-designed for everyday backcountry use. The handle is made of a dense polymer that becomes hard in cold temperatures and loses its grip. We were able to use the top of the handle to flick heel risers, but it is not shaped to make this task particularly easy. Furthermore, there is no secondary grip, so choking up on the pole during traversing is less secure. Most backcountry ski poles have this feature, and the Dynalock does not. Our testers approved of the locking mechanism, which is secure and can be hand-tightened in the field.

The DynaLock's namesake locking mechanism is solid and works perfectly.
The DynaLock's namesake locking mechanism is solid and works perfectly.

Our testers did not, however, like the DynaLock's powder baskets. They are huge, and are styled as an ode to powder baskets of the past. Their deep snow performance is great, but in firm snow, they prevent the tip from penetrating deeply while sidehilling. The pole also comes with very small baskets, however, they were are small to be functional in the backcountry, and are best suited to resort use.

The DynaLock's baskets are awkwardly shaped and got in the way more than they helped.
The DynaLock's baskets are awkwardly shaped and got in the way more than they helped.

Weight


The DynaLock Trail weighs 19 ounces per pair, which is on the heavier side of all poles in our review, but not far off the average. In general, the weight is not noticeable and they feel like any other ski pole. The large powder baskets make the lower section of the pole feel heavy, affecting the swing weight in a negative way. The pole feels bottom-heavy and takes more effort to swing than others in the review. This makes short, quick turns in steep terrain more difficult.

Durability


The DynaLock seems like a durable, aluminum pole with sturdy components. However, we were able to break one pole during hard, in-bounds use. For most backcountry skiers seeking soft snow and low impacts, this isn't a concern, but for hard-chargers and steep skiers who might encounter firm surfaces, this is notable.

We broke the Dynalock during a day of in-bounds riding.
We broke the Dynalock during a day of in-bounds riding.

Packed Size


The DynaLock Trail is a two-piece telescoping pole, and like others with this design, it doesn't pack very small at all. It is not designed for splitboarding, and can't be collapsed down to fit on a backpack. The minimum length of the pole when collapsed is 80 centimeters, or 31.5 inches.

Comfort


The DynaLock Trail isn't as comfortable as other backcountry ski poles in our test. This is due to the handle being too small and narrow for big hands or big gloves. When skinning across the fall line or traversing across firm snow, the lack of a secondary grip below the main handle is frustrating, especially because most other backcountry ski poles have this useful feature. Furthermore, the grip material gets firm and uncomfortable to hold on cold days.

The DynaLock Trail's small and narrow grip was frustrating to use with large gloves.
The DynaLock Trail's small and narrow grip was frustrating to use with large gloves.

Value


The DynaLock Trail is the least expensive backcountry ski pole in our review, but in this case, you get what you pay for. It lacks key design features that we need in a good pole, like comfortable handles, secondary grips, and effective baskets. As such, we would not recommend this pole to anyone who can afford a slightly more expensive option. If you can deal with the DynaLock's lack of features and are looking for a budget ski pole, then it might be a good value, but if that is the case, you can probably get away with a resort ski pole with powder baskets and some hockey tape underneath the main grip.

Conclusion


We were excited to test the DynaLock Trail because of MSR's great reputation. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. It lacks key design features and may pose a durability threat. There are better backcountry ski poles out there, but none are less expensive.

Testing the DynaLock Trail side-by-side with another contender in the Lake Tahoe backcountry.
Testing the DynaLock Trail side-by-side with another contender in the Lake Tahoe backcountry.

Henry Feder