Winter hiking and backpacking brings forth many new challenges, and those challenges often extend to your equipment. When dealing with thick, viscous snow pack, you’ll often need something a bit burlier and more supportive to get you through. The Flight 3 poles are designed just for this situation.
The Poles are built from a high quality aircraft-grade 7000 aluminum shaft, with is more polygonal than round shape to produce a stronger shaft. Foam, molded grips combined with a lower ridged grip allow for on the go adjustments of hand position while SureLock adjustments click into place for added security and reliability when adjusting the length. A large, flexible snow basket is included. The minimum and maximums lengths are 43.3 inches and 55.1 inches respectively. The poles Retail for $129.95, and weigh 1 lbs 1 oz for the set.
What I liked
The Flight 3 poles are built for reliability all around. The SureLock locking system clicks into place, and doesn’t move. This is an advantage in situations when heavily relying on the trekking poles for support. Slipping isn’t an option, which produces a peace of mind that’s appreciated when you’re climbing or descending in difficult, potentially dangerous terrain.
The grips feel pretty good, and provide a mild amount of insulation when using them. Being a winter focused pole, this is great. They’re also quite comfortable when using in warmer weather, as they don’t overheat your hands. The grip provided me with hours of fatigue free usage, while the lower grip did a good job of allowing on the fly adjustments of pole length, by simple moving my hand instead of adjusting the pole. This is great for rolling terrain and scrambles.
The build quality is fantastic. The non-rounded pole design has more of a rounded triangular shape to it, which creates a less flexible, more solid feeling pole. Instead of flexing under my weight, the poles resisted and held straight and sturdy. Every inch of the pole set, from the hardened tips to the adjustable wrist straps feel like they[‘ll last for years. The snow baskets are even hard mounted with a bolt to eliminate the chance of losing your basket to the powder.
The snow baskets do a good job of providing a stopping surface if you dig the pole into deep snow. Instead of falling 5 feet into a snow drift, they can actually provide you with a surface to lean against, when they snow is dense enough.
The hand straps are comfortable and friction free, if you decide to utilize them, thanks to the flat webbing like straps they’ve designed. They also have break away connections which is handy in the even that you fall, and are somehow hung by the wrists with your poles. They will break apart instead of ripping your arm off or trapping you. Adjustment is straight forward, and easier than most that I’ve tested.
They’re quite light weight, especially for their build quality, and the price tag is spot on.
What I didn’t like
The SureLock system, while producing a confident and reliable locking mechanic, producing a bit of a clicking noise when you walk with them. This comes from a tiny bit of slack between the locking pin and the locking compartment. It’s mildly bothersome if you’re hoping for hiking in silence.
The SureLock’s same reliability translates into a slight loss of convenience. Adjusting the poles is a little difficult, especially with gloves, as must depress a small sliding pin to move them from position to position. Thankfully, the ribbed grip on the shaft of the pole ensures you won’t have to deal with this unless you’re changing terrain direction for long periods of time.
The adjustable straps leave a bit to be desired. They don’t adjust small enough for me to really utilize them for bearing weight onto my hands like I’m used to. Instead, they just seem to dangle there in case I drop a pole. A smaller hand/wrist may find these less useful.
The Flight 3 poles are a just option if you’re looking for a year round trekking pole, and spend a fair amount of time in the snow. The design allows for use year round, with the removable snow baskets, and warm but not hot foam grips. The performance is incredible, with no chance of the poles slipping from their position and an unusually strong, ridged shaft to provide a confident, reliable means of added stability. The slight inconvenience of a stubborn adjustment system and inadequately sized straps (for smaller hands/wrists) can easily be overlooked when you consider the performance and reliability of the product.
Thanks to MSR/ Cascadian Designs for hooking me up with this great set of poles for review!