MSR DynaLock Trail Review
Cons: Fragile construction, powder baskets are too big, cumbersome grip
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MSR DynaLock Trail
|Price||$60 List||$150 List||$169.95 at Amazon||$154.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Inexpensive, great locking mechanism||Comfortable grip, lightweight, good features||Packs very short and slender, lightweight, simple and fast to use||Nice grip features, relatively light, easy to use||Simple design, good durability, comfortable grip|
|Cons||Fragile construction, powder baskets are too big, cumbersome grip||Not as durable as some, doesn't pack small enough for splitboarders||Fixed length, not as strong as other poles||Not durable, grip only works for large hands, doesn't pack small||Sluggish swing weight, doesn't pack as small as we hoped|
|Bottom Line||There are better options on the market, but all are more expensive||These lightweight poles are great for big days in the hills||The right choice for splitboarding, this pair is simple to use and packs small||A good carbon pole for users with large hands||An unremarkable 3-section backcountry ski pole, but can double as a trekking pole|
|Rating Categories||MSR DynaLock Trail||Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro||Black Diamond Carbon Compactor||G3 Via Carbon||Black Diamond Expedition 3|
|Ease Of Use (35%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||MSR DynaLock Trail||Black Diamond...||Black Diamond...||G3 Via Carbon||Black Diamond...|
|Size Tested||140 cm||140 cm||120 cm||Long||140 cm|
|Measured Weight Per Pair (oz)||21 oz||18 oz||18 oz||18 oz||19 oz|
|Shaft Material||Aluminum||Carbon||Carbon fiber||Carbon||Aluminum|
|Min Length (cm)||100 cm||115 cm||120 cm||115 cm||62 cm|
|Max Length (cm)||140 cm||140 cm||120 cm||145 cm||140 cm|
|Pole Design||Two-Piece||Adjustable||Z-Pole||Adjustable||Double Adjustable|
|Locking Mechanism||DynaLock||Flick Lock||Z-Pole||Flick Lock||Dual Flick Lock|
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
— Henry Feder