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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > REI Ascent trekking poles > Owner Review by joe schaffer

REI Ascent Trekking Poles

Owner Review by Joe Schaffer

March 26, 2022

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 74
HEIGHT: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79 kg)

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); snowshoeing a mile or so (1.6 km) towing a sled.

Product: REI Ascent hiking pole

Manufacturer:  Komperdell, Inc. (branded REI)

lightly edited from REI website   
    Shaft Construction: Aluminum 7075-T6
    Grip Material:  Foam / Rubber
    Maximum Length: 55 in (140 cm)
    Minimum Length:
28 (71 cm) 
    Weight: (Pair) 20 ounces (567 g)     

    Anti-shock springs soften impact
    DuoLocks™--internal locking mechanisms
    DuoLocks showed 50% more holding power than other locking mechanisms during REI lab tests
    EVA foam grips; extended grip allows pole to be held low during short side hill traverses
    Adjustable padded neoprene wrist straps add support
    Fitted with trekking disks and extra-durable tungsten carbide tips; rubber tip protectors included

    Availability: Similar pole is Komperdell Wild Rambler TL 

    Origin: Austria

Warranty: (Komperdell) 3-year free repair regardless of cause.

poleMy Specs: 
        Weight: (single pole, no basket) 8 3/4 oz (249 g)        

MSRP: US $45 (pair) (Komperdell Wild Rambler TL)


My Description:
Clean shaft is the key
feature for me, which (with some exception) requires twist-lock adjustment. Twisting seems to have lost market favor over the years, being not as widely available as the subsequently developed flip-lock.

    Three sections give the pole a wide range of adjustment, with twist-locks at the top/center sections joint and at the center/bottom sections joint. Sections slide in or out when the twist-lock is turned enough to release friction. Twisting (rotating) the sections expands friction pads into the barrel of the upper section; or conversely retracts them. Sections can be pulled apart for cleaning or repair. There are no 'stops' to prevent sections from being pulled apart.

     Two kinds of material compose the handle: Very hard, non-absorbent synthetic for about 1 in (2.5 cm) of the top; then slightly compressible and absorbent EVA material for the hand, suitably shaped to match a person's grip. Grooves on the back side of the handle enhance grip and provide a slight amount of ventilation. Below the main handle is a secondary grip of ridged EVA somewhat smaller in diameter than the primary grip.

    Nylon webbing about 1/2 in (13 mm) wide inserts through the handle top in order to anchor the loop and to provide for locking adjustment of the loop.
Soft lining faces the inside of the hand loop for comfort and wicking. The part of the loop for the hand is about 8 1/2 in x 1 1/4 in (22 x 3 cm). At minimum hand loop, the adjusting side of the loop tail is about 7 in (18 cm) long, widening at the end to lessen the chance of pulling the tail through the handle. Adjusting the loop requires pulling the tail to release the lock-grip, and then the bottom piece of the loop to re-engage the lock-grip.

    At the bottom end of the pole is a replaceable 3 in (7.5 cm) tip. Inserted into this tip is a metal 'pin' for contact with the ground. The end of the pin has a star pattern (until it wears off) for traction on granite. The tip is pointed enough that it will often find ridges in granite or penetrate loose material rather than skid around. The tip has a top ridge and two nubs for twisting on various size baskets as may be desired for sand or snow. Friction holds the tip on the pole--no cement or attachment device. The tip is replaced by placing a screwdriver blade to the top and giving a sharp blow with a hammer. New tip slides on and a stiff smack to the ground seats it in place. The pictured pole is on its third tip. (I tend to use them until the pin falls out).

Ascent came with a shock fixed to the top of the center section.  The mechanism automatically locks on when tightening the twist-lock snugly. Reversing direction a slight fraction of a turn 'locks' the shock off. Even off, the section can retract on impact about 1/16th inch (1.6 mm).

    As with probably most trekking poles, the Ascent pole came in a pair. My partner has the one I don't use.
Field  Conditions:
I've used the Ascent pole for 15 years on about 540 days of backpacking covering about 1,300 miles (2,100 km), for mostly non-winter outings. I prefer this pole for off-trail hiking, which I endeavor to include in every outing.

Carrying any unnecessary weight is, well, unnecessary. For many years I didn't think a trekking pole was important enough to justify its weight. Then I toppled over crossing a creek, scavenged a stick for the rest of the hike and the love affair began.

    Ascent pole's biggest advantage for me is the twist-lock adjustment mechanism. Most preferable would be a one-piece shaft (akin to a ski pole), but I've not run across any trekking poles to come that way. A few bungee-tension choices are available with fully slick shafts to the tip, but stretchy is no good for me. As I almost never adjust the pole, adjustment convenience makes little difference. What I like is the smooth shaft that makes brush entanglement much less likely when I'm cavorting off-trail. (I find that any protrusion on the pole gets too easily entangled in brush.)

    7075-T6 aluminum shafts make the pole very strong and relatively light. Bending is much preferred to snapping, and so far I've yet to snap any section of the Ascent pole, though several times it has been tortured to near-dogleg on the bottom section. As long as the tube doesn't kink, a careful exertion will straighten it.

    The in-use picture was taken about 1/2 second before the pole was called upon to keep the hiker upright. Tripping is not infrequent and the Ascent pole has saved me from countless full-speed falls. I do not routinely rely on it as a third leg, but as a stabilizer on the flat; a brake on downhill; additional propulsion uphill; and then yes, a third leg when I'm wobbly from exhaustion. I love the soft strap as I always have my hand in it while hiking; and while the old arthritic fingers often can't muster the grip to hang on in a fall, the webbing strap around the wrist prevails. Most often, probably the loop and the fingers split the effort. I consider the loop an absolute necessity, and wider and softer makes it more comfortable. On easy terrain the loop is great to keep hold of the pole while only thumb and index finger let it 'hinge' along as most muscles relax and the palm dries out.

    EVA foam handles tend to get less mucky from perspiration. Gripping requires much less strength than a hard handle when wet. The secondary grip is nice for being able to grab the pole shorter without having to make an adjustment, on the not-too-often occasions where circumstances would make having a shorter pole more prudent. Secondary handle offers no loop assist, however. I rarely use it and would actually prefer not packing the extra weight, minimal though might it be.

    Twist-lock can let the shaft sections budge under enough pressure. Though I've never had a sudden collapse, on occasion when taking the full weight of a fall the sections have compressed. Struck as a tent pole sections will budge when pounded. Of course the antidote is to tighten the lock with all might available, which of course then makes loosening the lock somewhat difficult on those fewer occasions requiring restoration to proper length. I use the pole without a basket, leaving little opportunity for torque leverage. Dusty lock components and barrels tend to lubricate the parts, allowing more slippage. I have had to clean the friction pads and barrels occasionally, though infrequently adjusting the parts keeps them in one place and less susceptible to getting slick with dust.

    Occasionally the locks may be excessively loosened or otherwise stubborn about re-engaging. This recalcitrance will yield to two mitigations: 1) Slide the section vigorously in and out while turning it; and 2) P
ull the offending section almost out and tweak it slightly enough to bind the pads, then turn the section slightly enough to feel friction as the section is pushed back in.

     I have made what I consider improvements to the pole. Shocks seem rarely worthwhile; and the twist-lock will not reliably hold the shock in the off position. Taping the pole sections at the shock joint works for a while, but as there's still that bit of vertical play even when locked, the tape eventually breaks itself at the joint. The solution I liked was to replace the shock-holding center section with one that does not have a shock.

    Secondly, even without a basket, the attaching nubs and ridge grab too much brush.
(They are little different from any others I've ever seen.) While a sudden stop is unlikely, having to stop to untangle the pole can be frustrating. Even worse is getting mad and yanking the pole so hard the sections slip apart and fall into the waiting maw of the thorny brush devil. My solution to this issue is to chisel away the nubs and ridge, tapering the tip top even to the shaft, which then usually lets the pole slip through most brush entanglements. Of course I can't use baskets then if I ever wanted to. But I've also found that hiking without baskets buggers up the basket seat and nubs enough to deny placement anyway. So shaving all that stuff off saves a micro gram and makes for an even sleeker pole.

    As this review offers more what to look for in a pole than for the referenced pole which is not available, another opinion may be worth the time needed to read it. The most expensive poles are shocked, corked and carbon fiber. Shocks are silly. Rodents prefer cork.
Carbon fiber is great for weight, certainly strong and will flex somewhat. I have snapped one, which was inconvenient. Twist-lock also does not hold as well in carbon fiber, and several times I've actually had a section literally drop out while in use. Taping the sections prevents that issue; and without a shock, the tape doesn't break. Very cleanest shaft is shock-corded, but they will stretch out of their section seats if the basket flange gets caught in brush.

Quick Shots:
clean shaft
b) comfortable strap
d) light
e) inexpensive
f) adjusters can be temperamental

Read more reviews of REI gear
Read more gear reviews by joe schaffer

Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > REI Ascent trekking poles > Owner Review by joe schaffer

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