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Durston Gear Iceline Trekking Pole Review

Durston Iceline Trekking Poles Review

Durston Gear’s Iceline Trekking Poles are ultralight but durable carbon fiber trekking poles that can be used for backpacking and day hiking. Weighing 9.5 oz per pair, these adjustable three-section poles have simple EVA foam grips and carbide tips but do not have hand straps or summer or winter trekking pole baskets. The top two sections are telescoping, adjustable, and secured with a reliable lever lock, while the lowest fixed-length section snaps into place with an elegant push button mechanism.

  • Weight: 270 g (9.5 oz) per pair
  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Hand straps: No
  • Baskets: No
  • Sections: 3
  • Adjustment: Level lock and push button
  • Collapsed Length: 49 cm (19.5″)
  • Min/Max Open Length: 95 cm (37″) – 127 cm (50″)
  • Upper / Middle / Lower Pole Diameter: 18 mm / 16 mm / 16 mm

Thicker Diameter Poles

The first thing I noticed when I received these Iceline poles was the diameter of the carbon fiber shafts. They’re noticeably larger in diameter than other popular ultralight carbon fiber poles I’ve used, particularly in the bottom-most section where poles tend to snap when they get caught between rocks or you fall on them. This is a welcome design choice because one of the biggest problems with ultralight carbon fiber trekking poles is their tendency to break and shatter. I’ve broken more than my share of ultralight carbon fiber poles, so much so that I avoid using very thin carbon fiber poles and prefer ones made with higher-diameter sections.

Durston’s Iceline Poles are three-section carbon fiber poles. The middle section slides into the top section and is adjustable using a level lock.
Durston’s Iceline Poles are three-section carbon fiber poles

Lack of Hand Straps

As noted above, the Iceline poles don’t have hand straps, which will be a deal breaker for a lot of people because they lean their weight on them for added support. While that’s common practice with mainstream trekking poles, I think the omission of hand straps is justified in this case because ultralight poles serve a different purpose and require a different technique to use.

The top two sections are telescoping and adjust lengthwise using a level lock.
The top two sections are telescoping and adjust lengthwise using a level lock.

Rather than supporting your body weight, ultralight trekking poles are best used to extend your sense of balance and perception of your body in space (proprioception), similar to how a blind person uses a cane to perceive their surroundings. Rather than forcefully spearing the ground, one uses a much subtler extension of the forearm to move an ultralight trekking pole forward, lightly touching the ground on either side of your leg to maintain momentum and balance while moving forward along a trail. It would be nice if the Iceline handles came with a thin keeper cord so you wouldn’t lose the poles if you let go of them, but that’s a lot different than having a load-bearing hand strap.

No baskets

The poles also lack the ability to screw summer baskets or winter baskets onto the carbide tips. This can make them difficult to carry with the trekking pole holders of some backpacks that require the added width of a summer basket to use. This isn’t a problem for me since I never stow my poles and always have them in hand, but it could be an issue if you only use your poles part of the time.

While the bottom fixed length segment locks in place using a modified pin lock.
While the bottom fixed length segment locks in place using a modified pin lock.

The hand grips are made with contoured EVA foam that is quite firm and has little give. There is, however, no ability to choke up on the grip when climbing, another feature commonly found on many heavier-weight mainstream trekking poles.

Recommendation

Durston Gear’s Iceline Trekking Poles are an exciting option if you’re looking for an ultralight and durable pair of carbon fiber trekking poles and understand how they differ from more conventional poles in appearance and use. Weighing just 9.5 oz per pair, these Iceline poles are adjustable-length poles with reliable lever locking adjustment and pin-based couplers that can be separated for easy air travel.

Shop at Durston Gear

 

Disclosure: Durston gear donated poles for review.

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13 comments

  1. Dan said the next batch will have the option of straps. The poles are made by Komperdell and their Vario baskets & 8mm rubber tips are compatible. REI also have a 8mm version of compatible baskets.

  2. Fair point about not coming with baskets, but I took baskets off an old (broken) set of poles and added them to my new Durston Icelines with no problem. I like that breaking them down into three pieces allows them to fit easily in the small gym bag I use as checked luggage for airplane trips. The DCF carrying bag they come in is also helpful for this. They are the envy of all my hiking buddies, since they are so light. As far as I know, only the Gossamer Gear poles really compare. I hope you’re right that the “elegant” design features will make them durable. I’ve only taken mine on a few short trips, but I’m leaving today for a long/hard trip where I expect to rely on them extensively. One other note: Only having one adjustment point is still ample for use with trekking pole-supported tents.

  3. These poles look great and personally, I don’t use the straps. But what I do use and these poles lack, is the handle foam extension. It actually makes much more sense without the straps because the grip point becomes flexible. For me it has become a must have feature. It’s just such a hassle to readjust the length every time you start ascending/descending. I’ve found that many people simply don’t adjust because it’s so damn annoying. And then they just walk with the wrong length. The foam extension is such an easy and useful solution.

    • I never adjust my poles. I just change my forearm angle mostly.

    • I don’t plan to, but you could add a little of the foam-padded grip tape used for hockey sticks, baseball bats, hand tools, etc.

    • Don’t understand how it’s so annoying to adjust length. Unflick, adjust, flick. With a single adjustment point, it’s even easier. Takes 2 seconds. These poles inspired me to try mine existing poles without straps, and adjusting length is less annoying than adjusting straps. I find that without straps, I prefer to “palm” the top of the handle when both descending and climbing. It’s the best way to get some weight through your pole.

  4. Was looking forward to this review, thank you!

  5. Definitely will upgrade to these once they add straps. I have used both strapless ultralight poles and poles with straps. I find using straps reduce sweating hands, and a lighter grip to, as you so perfectly state “extend your sense of balance and perception of your body in space (proprioception),” not to transfer weight. For air travel I use the folding BD Distance Carbon FLZ, they have a well designed lightweight strap which has a unique attachment that is light and keeps the straps oriented correctly. I also like the extended grip on my heavier poles, one of these days I might try some bicycle handlebar tape on poles lacking it, but it’s not a high priority.

  6. Nice review Phillip. Based on the comments from Joe, baskets can be added, but that could only be accomplished via a friction fit, as the poles are not threaded. Having hiked in some extremely muddy conditions (Canada’s famous West Coast Trail, VT’s Long Trail and numerous milti-day hikes in NY’s Adirondacks, I can attest to the utility of baskets in muddy conditions.
    Seems to me that with just a friction fit that baskets would easily become “disappeared”.
    I’ll stick with my trusty BD Alpine carbon cork poles, or my Pacer poles, which are great, especially for winter hiking with their neoprene mitts.

  7. It would be useful to know how short one can make these when using them. As a very short person, I have had to return poles I couldn’t adjust enough to fit.

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