MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles

A last look 2-25-2020

With the MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles in my hands almost all the time during a hike, I need poles that are comfortable and that do not create blisters. Having a blister on the hands is second to a blister of your feet. I have had both and neither is fun. I have not had any discomfort using the MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles. I have been able to move my poles quickly and accurately under various adverse conditions like slipping on an icy surface.

I really like these ease of making adjustments.

I look into the possibility of using hiking poles indoors on floors. I see so many people at the senior center that need walking devices that are cumbersome compared to hiking poles that have been adapted to wood or other floors that can be easily damaged.

If I could ask for one thing it would be a protective tip for these poles. I can envision that at some point in my life I will be using equipment to help with balance more of the time. I would like to use my poles in buildings or places where the carbide tips could damage the floor. 

 

Baskets

During this last month, I used a winter basket on one pole and a summer basket on the other. The summer one almost never got caught. I was able to tell that the winter basket was getting caught less on growth, but more on rough rocky surface. With the type of trails I hike, I will be using the summer baskets all the time. I also have another reason the use a smaller basket. When I am better adjusted to my poles I will able to lift small branches or pieces of wood off the trail without breaking my pace. The larger basket does interfere with this task.

My style of using poles

I am a firm believer in using poles. I find the more I use poles, the more I am able to control my balance. My proof is I have never had a fall when using poles. I have slipped several times, but was able to maintain my balance by using the poles, either for balance or support.
In a recent group hike I opted not to use traction devices. I knew the trail would have a lot of icy areas but also a lot of rocky surfaces. My preference was to deal with poles and slipping in the icy areas rather than dealing with traction devices over a combination of bare rock and ice.
For the duration of a hike my poles are in my hands at all times. The only time they leave my hands is to take a drink or make an equipment adjustment. They become an extension of my body while hiking.

With the poles in my hands almost all the time during a hike, I need poles that are comfortable and that do not create blisters. Having a blister on the hands is second to a blister of your feet. I have had both and neither is fun. I have not had any discomfort using the MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles. I have been able to move my poles quickly and accurately under various adverse conditions like slipping on an icy surface.
I was asked about shock absorbers. So far I have only noticed the fact that these poles do not have shock absorbers when I am on rocky and similar hard surfaces. I find that poles that are the lightest at the tip end are quickest to respond and require the least amount of energy. These are minor point points but over a long hike they become noticeable, and they are more noticeable as I gain in experience and age.

MSR Explore poles in Harold Parker forest
MSR Explore poles in Harold Parker forest

If I could ask for one thing it would be a protective tip for these poles. I can envision that at some point in my life I will be using equipment to help with balance more of the time. I would like to use my poles in buildings or places where the carbide tips could damage the floor.

Pros:

Great for trips where you really want poles where space is limited.
Excellent balance and control for protection against falling.
All adjustments are quick and easy.

Cons:

Protective tips to cover the carbide tips for rocks and indoor use.

MSR Dyna-Lock Backcountry poles
MSR Dyna-Lock Backcountry poles

 

I wish to thank MSR and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test the MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles. I look forward to many years using these excellent poles. Please check back for my next review or article.

 

MSR provided the MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles for review purposes.

 

MSR carries three series of trekking poles Ascent, Explore, and Trail.

Description

The MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles are three section poles made of aluminum. A full range of adjustments are possible with the dual Dyna-lock mechanisms, which is a design I like because it is external, visible  and the tension is easy to adjust without tools. The Explore poles are supplied with two types of baskets for powder and trekking. Aluminum parts are anodized for lasting durability.

Features

Strength : Lower sections made with 7075 aluminum
Secure adjustment : Easy,rock solid Dyna-lock adjustable for tool-free tensioning
Comfortable : Extended EVA foam grip for comfort scrambling or choking up on steep terrain
Versatile : Winter and summer baskets provided for year around season use

 

 

Specifications

Company : MSR
Website : msrgear.com
SKU : 10238Country of origin :
Color : Steel Grey
Model : Explore
Size range : 64-140 cm/ 25.2-55.1 in
Weight : 550 gm/ 19 oz
Length min : 100 cm/ 39.5 in
Length max : 140 cm/ 55 in
Length collapsed : 62.2 cm/ 24.5 in
Country of origin : Taiwan
Material : aluminum 7075 T6

Initial impressions

I checked the grip first since that is where my main interaction will occur. There is a minor mound to separate the index finger from the rest of the fingers. The grip area extends with reduction in diameter for those times on the trail when you want to lower your hands on the fly and still have a comfortable grip. I like the feel but will it take time to experience it under trail conditions. The hand strap is comfortable and adjusts easily. It was easy to slide my hand down to the extended grip. I think that feature will eliminate the need to make minor adjustments in the pole length.

MSR Explore poles grip
MSR Explore poles grip
MSR Explore lower grip
MSR Explore lower grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaft adjustments

The shaft adjustments are well marked and easy to read. They are labeled every five cm and marked in one cm increments. The range is from 105-140 cm. Then I tried adjusting the
tension which was quick and easy, I lifted the red locking mechanism and used my thumb to adjust the wheel. I could easily see a plus and minus sign to indicate increasing or decreasing tension. Next, examined the baskets.

MSR Explore locking mechanism
MSR Explore lower grip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore pole baskets

 

I was very interested in assembling the baskets because I have seen hikers with a basket missing on one of their poles.  It was not easy to install a summer basket, but it was even more difficult to remove it, making me feel confident that I won’t be losing a summer basket.

Next I installed the winter baskets for use until winter is over. There are three pointer tabs on the winter baskets to use with MSR snowshoes to engage the Televator heel lifts which reduce muscle strain to conserve energy.

MSR Explore winter basket
SR Explore winter basket
MSR Explore Televator lift tab
MSR Explore Televator lift tab
MSR Explore summer basket
MSR Explore summer basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

I am a firm believer in using hiking poles on all my forest hikes. Poles offer stability which not only prevents falls but also reduces stress on muscles and joints and allows me to hike longer, feeling safe and confident. I look forward to using the Explorer poles on all my hikes.

I wish to thank MSR and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test the MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say.

 

Update 1-25-2020

MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles Harold Parker forrest
MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles Harold Parker forest

During this time period, although the ground has been frozen, most of the time there has been no snow cover. However, I did hike one time in about six inches of snow. I used the MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles for three group hikes in Harold Parker forest. I also used them for several local walks.

Baskets

I have done a lot of hiking and never paid any attention to basket size. Having used the smaller summer baskets for almost twenty years, with these poles, I started using the winter basket from the beginning. I am finding there are adjustments to make. I made similar adjustments when I transitioned from walking sticks to trekking poles.
The trails are relatively new and there are a few spots where the larger baskets get momentarily tangled in a bush.
When I am walking on crusted snow, if the basket goes below the crust, it sometimes catches on the crust. I will adjust by keeping the poles straighter while lifting the poles These things don’t happen very often. It just was a surprise when these minor interruptions occurred.

Locking mechanisms

I have had a couple occasions where I stumbled forward while descending a hill and put most of my weight on the poles to keep from falling. The locking mechanism held firm. That was one of several times I found myself putting a lot of weight on my poles. Since I had set all four settings at 115 cm, I could quickly check that the settings had not changed.

Extended hand grip

This caught my eye, but I was not sure at first how I was going to make it work for me. The hand grip has an extended part that is smaller in diameter, circular, with horizontal ridges. The important part is that it insulates the metal shaft and provides a gripping surface for a bare or gloved hand. There are times when I would like to choke down on the handle. The hand leash lets me use the full extent of the reduced handle.

Adjusting pole length

I tried adjusting the poles at the start of the hike. Since it was a cold day, I was wearing heavy gloves which I had to remove to make the adjustments. With the gloves off, I was able to make to adjustments to each pole before my hands got too cold. It was about 20 F. I found I had put too much tension and once it released I reduced the tension, the on and off release worked well after the minor adjustment. The markings are easy to read while outside in bright sunlight. This adjustment was quick and easy even in the cold.

Weight

I have not seen that much difference in poles weights for most good poles. These poles are a couple ounces lighter than the ones I have used for many years and I can’t tell the difference especially in winter with the extra weight of clothing.

MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles with fellow hikers
MSR Dyna-lock Explore poles with fellow hikers

Summary

I found the MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles sturdy even when I had to put most of my weight on them to prevent falling. They are quick and easy to adjust in cold weather without gloves. They collapse to a small package for easy storage. Being able to choke down on the grip reduces my need to change the length of my poles.
I look forward to making some minor adjustments to length. Most of all I am thankful that the poles help prevent me from falling. I wish to thank MSR and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test the MSR Dyna-lock Explore Backcountry Poles. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say.