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Q:

The Best Trekking Poles: REI Carbon PowerLock

I see people using increasingly high-tech hiking poles. What’s the deal?

Carbon PowerLock.     Photo: Courtesy of REI

A:In the photo above, it looks like these trekking poles are made specifically for people who have one arm longer than the other. The image is really to illustrate the adjustability of REI’s $129 Carbon PowerLock trekking poles, which can be set from between 27.5 and 55.1 inches. (And occasionally steep trail conditions warrant adjusting one side higher than the other.) As the name suggests, REI uses carbon fiber to dampen vibration and provide strength, while reducing the weight to a low 14.6 ounces. They come with tungsten carbide tips, ergonomic foam handles, and baskets near the end, which can help with stability in boggy terrain. The poles won’t slip under pressure, thanks to the PowerLock II mechanism, which provides a wide area of pressure against the pole walls and are easy to set: even when wearing gloves, you lock the poles by simply twisting to the right.

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