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How to Fix Trekking Poles that Won’t Stay Locked

I’ve always had problems with trekking poles that have an internal locking mechanism because I could never figure out how to fix them when they started to slip. It got so bad, that I gave up on them for many years and only used poles with external flicks locks like Black Diamond’s Trail Trekking Poles.

But two years ago, I went back to a trekking pole with an internal locking mechanism because I really like the hand grip they use (see Pacer Poles). I’ve really beaten on a pair of these since then and the locking mechanism started to fail this summer. Short of buying a new pair, I wasn’t sure whether I could fix them or not.

Until I watched this video. This is the first coherent explanation I’ve ever seen of how to fix a trekking pole with an internal locking mechanism and it helped me fix mine – which just needed to be cleaned. Buenisimo!

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27 Responses to How to Fix Trekking Poles that Won’t Stay Locked

  1. Liz September 30, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Still, the internal locking mechanism is a terrible design. In so many instances, I’ve hiked with people whose poles have stopped collapsing because it’s impossible to twist the poles and unlock them, especially with cold or wet hands. The flick-locks are much more user-friendly. Too bad the kind of poles you like have the internal lock.

  2. lori October 1, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4s are the solution.

    They don’t fail. Sometimes they don’t lock – but they are easy as pie to fix. Not at all like the commercial poles.

    • Earlylite October 1, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      I’ve snapped four lighttrek 4 poles. I won’t touch them despite the superiority of their internal locks.

      • lori November 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

        That’s interesting, because one of mine finally gave up after years of abuse – because I kept putting them in the trunk with the packs. If I had stored them properly I wouldn’t have had the failure, I’m sure. The location and nature of the break tells me it wasn’t normal use, and they didn’t break while in use. I only replaced one section.

  3. Grandpa October 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Thanks for the link. I love my Pacer Poles. I do wish they had flip locks and I’d like the option of shock absorbing tips (which makes me feel more secure on rock slabs), however those are small requests in relation to the incomparable comfort of the hand grips.

  4. Gary Allman October 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    To the gearheads this is going to sound like heresy, but we use cheap (sub $25) Outdoor Adventure poles.

    They have the flip locks and are easily tightened up on the trail with the screwdriver blade on my knife. I’ve broken one – by falling on it lengthways – I don’t think any pole would survive that.

    • Earlylite October 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Not at all. I know people who make poles out of used carbon fiber golf club shafts. Cheap is good!

  5. Trish November 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have found your video and instructions. I had just purchased the NB Walking Poles and mistakenly removed the bottom of the telescoping section one one pole while adjusting the length, and it would not lock when I put it back together. Followed your instructions and Viola! I now have two working/locking Walking Poles. Thanks again!!!

  6. Bushwhacking Fool February 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    I just fixed my telescoping snowshoe poles after watching the video. One stopped locking a couple years ago and I thought I would have to buy new ones. It is working great now. Thanks!

    • Philip Werner February 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      They just require periodic maintenance. It can be as simple as unscrewing the plastic piece as far as it will go (without taking it off) and then reinserting it into the tube. Another trick is to gently spread out the fins of the plastic locking piece (very gently and imperceptibly). I went back to telescoping poles about 3 years and haven’t had a problem since.

  7. Joe May 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    Very clear instructions.. I was able to fix a snowshoe pole that had quit tightening in just a few seconds. Thanks for video!

  8. Vincent May 5, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    I have the exact opposite issue with my Leki Thermolite XL poles. They have a flip-lock mechanism. They can be very difficult to collapse– they’re stuck, as opposed to slipping. I’ve sent back my poles to Leki for servicing and the problem has come back. Does anyone have ideas on how to resolve?

    • Philip Werner May 5, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

      Get Leki to replace them…?

      • Vincent May 5, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

        Was hoping to discover some special way to treat these shitty Leki joints that remain too tight. Leki already replaced my poles once, then once the issue returned, Leki required me to send in my poles for servicing.

        The poles still work but a little annoying. Causing me to covet these Black Diamond Carbon FLZ poles that retail nearly $200…

  9. redrook July 29, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    My problem is that the mechanism is just spinning, it won’t move up or down the thread as I turn the pole, the whole thing including the mechanism (which on mine is just a threaded piece of plastic) just spins round and round.

    • Philip Werner August 4, 2015 at 6:10 am #

      Sounds like you need a new section. Contact the mfg with a replacement.

      • Walter Underwood August 13, 2015 at 12:40 am #

        For some poles, you can buy replacement “plugs”. If the threads are stripped on the plug, replace that. If they are stripped on the pole section, you’ll need a new pole section.

  10. Walter Underwood August 13, 2015 at 12:39 am #

    I’m a bit surprised that this is news. When I pull the bottom section out on poles, I can feel the resistance. Obviously, it is getting some friction. Give it a twist, then move it up a bit.

    The other thing that can really mess up poles is getting the bottom section dirty. We have some weeds with sticky secretions that can really gum up the works.

    But here is a question. Why don’t trekking poles use collet locks like tripod legs? Those work fine. If you’ve used an electric drill, you’ve used a collet lock. On a tripod, the jaws are much thinner, just enough to grab the inner tube. They lock like external flip locks, but don’t catch on things.

  11. Richard Wuertz September 1, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    Hi I have Ascend Sojourn trekking poles. The locking part threads are stripped and I would like to repair it, are parts for poles available. Thanks

  12. Kelly November 6, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    Very helpful. Thank you

  13. Erica December 12, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    Thank you thank you thank you! Thought I was going to have to buy new ones but I was able to fix them after watching this video.

  14. Sigi December 18, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    I just bought a new pair of poles as my old ones have been a pain to adjust for quite some time. Coming home, looking for some maintenance instructions for my new poles I found this site and fixed my old ones in no time! Good to have a spare pair though.

    Thanks heaps, this was not the first pair I gave up because of that same problem. I wonder why retailers don’t advice you of proper maintenance…

    cheers from New Zealand

  15. Automatim January 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

    Anyone where I can find replacement cam locks for trekking poles. I have a set of rei traverse that have broken locks,

  16. Bea Paxson January 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! This was the only video I needed to watch to help me understand why the locking mechanism wasn’t working on my hiking poles! Easy fix with your quick how-to! So saving this website as my go-to for help! Sincerely, A Beginner

  17. Jake Allison July 18, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    Where is this video, guys? Help!

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