After investing in a pair of snowshoes this Winter, the very next purchase was a pair of hiking poles. I wanted something that would be light and unobtrusive, yet solid and functional. A good hiking pole, that would be dependable, able to probe uncertain ground, and help balance my weight when navigating tricky situations. I decided to purchase a pair of MSR Flight 3 Winter Poles and put them through my adventures.
The first thing you will notice is how incredibly light they are, only weighing 451 grams these poles are made from 7000 Aluminum. The fully extended 140 cm pole comes in three sections that collapse to a length of 57 cm (making them really easy to transport). The shaft itself is egg-shaped, which prevents the pole from rotating, so everything is always properly aligned and hasn’t once collapsed under my weight. The trust this builds, allows you to use them to the fullest ability and for me, gave me confidence to try exploring areas that looked interesting. MSR has dubbed the push button technology SureLock, and it didn’t gum up with snow or fail to operate in the cold at any point. I could even trigger it with my Winter gloves on when collapsing or extending the poles. Tightening the wrist strap was also easy to accomplish while wearing gloves.
The foam grip didn’t transfer the cold, and the secondary grip (where you grab to collapse the poles) were perfect to use, even with bare hands. The foam is Hydrophobic and didn’t absorb water throughout any temperature I used them in.
There is a little catch on the grip that made swinging up the heel lift on the snowshoe a piece of cake. Thanks to the length of the poles, this allows you to remain standing up.
The swing was great, and I didn’t find it fatiguing. Due to the lightness of the poles, there were never something that interfered with my enjoyment of being out in the elements.
After a fresh dumping of snow, I found the baskets a little small. MSR's website mentions that the poles come with ‘standard snow baskets’, and that the poles were also compatible with their Powder Baskets. The only problem being… I couldn’t source them anywhere!
If the pole gets stuck in underbrush hidden in the snow, the straps breakaway. The bright red colour makes it easy to find the poles if they fall into some light fluffy snow.
The MSR Flight 3 poles were exactly what I was hoping for and I’m very pleased with my purchase. The Flight comes in two variations. The two section Flight 2, or the three section Flight 3. The Flight 2 has the same maximum length, weighs 17 grams less and has a larger collapsed length of 73 cm. The Flight 2 retails for $109.95 and the Flight 3 retails for $129.95