MSR Swift 3 trekking poles
Light, strong and easily-adjustable trekking poles on test
These trekking poles are light, strong, and easy to adjust. They can be used all year round if you buy a set of snow or powder baskets to supplement the integral basket.
Our pros and cons...
- Strong and easy to adjust, yet reliable.
- Comfortable foam handles and top of pole
- Very neat profile, elegant and exuding quality
- Snow baskets are non-standard and extra purchase
- Compressed size is longer than comparable models
- After prolonged use the decals are looking tatty
MSR Swift 3 Poles on test © Steve Long
MSR (Mountain Safety Research) has been around now for several decades and has produced several iconic products over the years, including the eponymous stove and a popular range of snowshoes. MSR is now part of the Cascade Design range, which also includes innovative brands such as Thermarest and Platypus.
These trekking poles are a high-quality product combining light weight, easy adjustment and durability. The fastening is similar to the push-button used on avalanche shovels, but I have not seen it used on poles before. The compressed length is considerably longer than competitors such as the Black Diamond Ultra range, but these seem more durable and still fit inside a trekking sack at a pinch.
- Weight: 431 g
- Compressed length: 57cm
- Working length range: 110cm-140cm
- Colour: 'lichen' (pale gold)
I tested these poles in Snowdonia on a variety of terrains, and at different extended lengths. They were easy to adjust, although you need to push the small spring-loaded button quite hard with your thumb. I found I needed to remove gloves to do this.
Steve Long testing in Snowdonia
These poles will fit most adults: the extended size ranges from 110 cm to 140 cms; easily adjustable in 5 cm increments. The compressed size is 57cm, which is considerably longer than some comparable models, but its durable design should still fit inside most expedition rucksacks if required.
The handles and top of pole are foam-covered and very comfortable in the hand. The strap is ventilated, easy to adjust and again very comfortable (although I prefer not to use straps on poles). However, I was pleased to see that the strap has an automatic release clasp so that your wrist is protected if you take a fall wearing the strap.
The streamlined shape makes placing these poles accurate and positive. The adjustment system seems very effective, and will be a relief to those who have struggled with twist lock systems. It is neater and arguably more reliable than the clip lock style of fastening and seems more durable than the Z-style pole favoured by other top-end poles such as the Black Diamond ultra series and the recent Leki version. The triangular cross-section means that the holes line up easily with the push-button, but the flip side is that it pops up through intermediate holes when you are making larger size adjustments. The sprung-loaded clips do have a tendency to rattle slightly when shaken which detracts a little from the overall experience. I have reduced the points awarded for appearance as the lettering and logos on the poles have eroded somewhat with use.
The baskets differ from standard pole design
The main basket is integral to the tip and is adequate for general use. A snow or powder basket can be purchased separately and slides up to the integral basket, which then acts as its collar. A neat solution but replacement snow baskets may be harder to source as they are non-standard. The tips are strong but rather chunky.
More photos of the Swift 3 Trekking Poles