The Good: A lightweight, easily adjustable touring pole that can compact down small enough to be carried in a pack.
The Bad: The included snow baskets aren’t very helpful on a storm day with lots of powder.
The Awkward: There’s no way to talk about ski poles with out things sounding sexual.
Back country skiing is a game of adjustment. You’re constantly adjusting layers for the conditions, speed for the distance of tour, and ideally, pole length for the type of terrain. Varying pole length can be amazingly helpful in differing terrain, but an amazing pain in the ass if you don’t have quick adjusting poles. The MSR Deploy poles bring lightweight adjustability to the table, allowing you to get the most efficiency out of your ski tour.
Winter came early this year in Northern California so we’ve been rocking the rock skis since October. We’ve already had the chance to take these poles on several tours on Mount Shasta. Surprisingly, we’ve brought them along in both corn conditions as well as powder days (all hail the snow gods!) During tours we were able to quickly adjust the length of the poles with MSR’s Trigger Release. By simply pulling up on the trigger below the pole handle, the pole shaft easily moves up and down to your desired length (is there any way to not make this sound sexual?) Simply release the trigger to lock the poles into place. We found that it requires two hands to lengthen the poles but only one to shorten it (nope, there’s no way).
We absolutely love how light and compact these poles are. The shafts are built will a 7000 series aerospace aluminum, keeping it super lightweight while remaining stiff and solid (here we go again.) The aluminum build gives your poles a bit of rattle while skinning up, but so far it doesn’t indicate any compromise in quality. The pole handles have a catch for aiding in lifting your risers on the way up while the straps are glove friendly and have a ‘break-away’ safety feature for on the way down. The straps are even comfortable and lay flay against the hand with out gloves.
MSR offers these poles with snow baskets and powder baskets that are sold separately. We strongly suggest getting the powder baskets if you plan for any storm days. The included snow baskets are definitely not sufficient for powder. For those looking for a lightweight, strong, quickly adjustable pole this season, the Deploy TR-3s fit the bill, just be sure to throw those powder baskets in the shopping cart as well.