Komperdell Explorer Compact Trekking Pole Review
Komperdell is a brand with considerable history - the company was created in Vienna in 1922 and, while originally focussed on producing walking poles, they soon started making ski poles. Their reputation as a prestigious and quality brand led them to be used by, among many others, Toni Saller (who used them to win triple gold medals at the 1956 olympics) and Franz Klammer (used them to win olympic gold in 1976).
Although widely known in Europe, the company is likely to be less familiar to U.K. outdoor folk. However, it is a brand gaining a significant toe hold in the British market and you are likely to see them more and more in the near future. I was familiar with the brand but had never used any of their products, so when I was asked to review a pair of their Explorer Compact Power Lock poles, I jumped at the chance…..
The Explorer Compacts are a 3 section alloy pole utilising Komperdell’s Power Lock closure. They come supplied with medium sized baskets suitable for walking in most conditions and have their well padded Expedition Contour Grips and padded wrist loops. I tested the compact model which extends between 90 and 120 cms and has a packed size of 58 cms but they also offer a regular length model which extends between 105 and 140 cms and has a packed size of 66 cms. The model I tested weighs 213 grams and the regular weighs 236 grams.
I have used the Komperdells on several mountain days in Snowdonia and walking days in the Peak District and Lake District. They also accompanied me for a Jebel Toubkal expedition to Morocco and have been used extensively by Cal on her summer walking adventures.
I had high hopes for the Komperdells and, upon unpacking, they certainly didn't disappoint. Even before use they I still confidence with their solid appearance and strong looking straps and pole section locking mechanisms. All the finishing was perfect and the detailing looked well thought out. Having heard about Komperdell’s quality standards…..they didn't disappoint in any way.
In terms of styling the Explorer’s have a very smart, if understated, colour scheme. The sleek alloy colour contrasts with black straps and grips, subtle branding and colourful locking mechanisms. They are light to hold and yet the tubing and alloy machined locking levers exude strength and durability. I immediately thought that these would make a superb all season pole (I consider some poles to be too flimsy for winter use) and I was keen to see how they coped with some real world testing.
The compact model I tested packs down to a very trim 58 cm length and so, as is my norm, I could easily store them tucked inside my rucksack (I shared some ideas on pole carrying in a previous blog post here). Having said that, the regular length option packs to 66cm so you could store those comfortably inside a rucksack too.
I set up the pole length to match my first use and locked the sections with the locking mechanisms. This is via a mechanism Komperdell call Powerlock 3 and features crafted high density alloy flick lock style closures. I was immediately really impressed with these. They have been extremely easy to use (with or without gloves on) and hold the pole sections tenaciously. The use of alloy also allows Komperdell to make them quite narrow whilst still having enough strength and the alloy closure also, importantly, looks great too. The thin closure also makes them lightweight. It is a great design.
The pole sections are formed from high strength 7075-T6 alloy in tapering widths. The sections have worked faultlessly so far and look strong enough to offer many years faithful service. Alongside this, Komperdell supply a mid size basket that clips securely into place and works well in soft ground and, I would expect, everything except soft snow. A durable tungsten tip rounds off the lower end.
At the hand end sits the Expedition Contour Grip and a padded leash loop. The grip has a sculpted handle formed of durable high density foam and a ridged section continues some way down the shaft to offer an alternative holding position which I commonly use when contouring slopes. Adding padding to the leash is a nice touch and makes them very comfortable. It is all very well thought out.
In all uses so far the Explorer’s have performed perfectly and it is hard to see any reason they won't continue to be dependable trail companions for a long time to come. The poles are easily living up to Komperdell’s reputation for quality and great design.
However, there is another very good sign that Komperdell are confident in this product. Every pair of poles comes with their 3 year ‘no questions asked’ guarantee. This is a fantastic additional benefit for owners as they will repair any returned poles free of charge for 3 years from the purchase date. Brilliant service.
It is always interesting when, based on reputation, history and snippets of information, you expect big things for a product from an untried manufacturer. This was exactly the situation I faced with the Explorer Compacts and yet, looking back, I needn't have been unsure at all. These poles are well designed, meticulously manufactured and built for reliability and durability. They are a great product, which, at £80 rrp, I think offers great value for money. Of course, there is also that 3 year guarantee too……..a massive well done to Komperdell on all fronts.
Posted by Paul
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