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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 Poles.

But two years ago, I went back to a trekking pole with an internal locking mechanism because I really like the handgrip 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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  1. 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. 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.

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

      • 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. 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. 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.

  5. 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. 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!

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

  8. 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?

    • Get Leki to replace them…?

      • 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. 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.

  10. 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. 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. Very helpful. Thank you

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

  16. 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. Where is this video, guys? Help!

  18. Awesome, Thank you so much!!

  19. Can anyone suggest where I can find replacement cam locks for trekking poles. I have a set of REI traverse and only one cam lock is broken. I really like the poles and don’t really want to buy new ones. Thank you!!

  20. using Halin. different locking mechanism but I guest principle is the same. it worked. fixed it. thanks

  21. Thanks for a video that was simple to follow and very successful on REI Ascent duoloc poles.

  22. You saved my poles from the landfill! Thank you!

  23. I was skeptical but followed the instructions to pull the pole apart and then a quick clean and reassembly and now everything is working again. Thanks!

  24. Thank you! I managed to fix my pole that wouldn’t lock ?.

  25. I was so frustrated with my pole. Ive been messing with it off and on for weeks. I even went to REI and the person working in camping didn’t know how to help. I had looked at Leki’s website and watched other videos but still no luck. I just happened to trip across this post and video and had it fixed in 30 seconds. I know it’s been years but I hope you’ll see this message. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  26. The demonstrator’s fingers are all over the inner lock’s friction surfaces, lubricating them with finger oils as he admonishes against lubrication! He should be wearing clean cotton or nylon gloves (beware of plastic or rubber gloves that may contain talc or mold release agents), or not touch them at all, finger oils migrate.

    We went through several pair of internal locking poles, cleaning when they slipped, cleaning the bores with bottle brushes and alcohol, expanding their fingers, roughening their surfaces with sand paper for more grip, replacing the plastic grippers – most attempts worked for a while but ultimately they just slipped and slipped.

    We gave up, going over to the Black Diamond Z series. These have been secure against slippage, but after a few problem-free years their own failure modes developed – the inner shiny aluminum joint tubes work out of their sections (two out of four poles) and the rubber string buffer sleeves develop cuts and tears, despite careful handling when folded. Bottom line: all equipment eventually fails in one way or another, become familiar with yours and inspect regularly.

  27. In my case the locking mechanism has come out of the tube that holds it at the end away from the grippers, where the dimples seal the screw mechanism permanently into the pole. How can I re seat the mechanism?

  28. Hugely helpful…thank you!

  29. Excellent tutorial. Thank you!

  30. The video method didn’t work for me – pole kept spinning even at the narrowest point – nor did a gentle flexing of the plastic locking mechanism to try and expand it. Instead found sliding some kitchen paper under the mechanism to artificially widen it did the trick!

  31. I recently bought Leki poles, and right on my first hillwalk they kept extending when stuck in the bog and muck. I must have sorted them a dozen or more times. Thinking I was doing something wrong I asked another walker and yup they kept on extending when stuck. I’m actually hoping I can get sticks made of either bamboo or wood that don’t extend as I’d prefer that. These poles scunnered me that much.

  32. Thank you for these tips. I just bought a used pair of Leki poles which would not lock (at an excellent price for that reason) and after cleaning the expansion tip, as you describe, they are as good as new. I am delighted.

  33. I have a set of expander type poles that spun freely instead of engaging. Upon inspection, the threaded expander plug is made of 2 parts. A plastic expander and a steel nut. The nut had fused the threaded post fitted into the shaft. I used 2 sets of channel lock pliers with a but of towel over the teeth for protection to break the two parts free and unthread them. I cleaned the threaded shaft, as there was a but of corrosion. I also cleaned out the nut threads that are in the plastic expander. I then put a very thin layer of grease on the clean shaft threads and wiped away any excess. Lastly I threaded the expander back onto the shaft, making sure it spun freely. Be careful nut to get and grease on the expander flanges. Works great now.

  34. i had the same problem i used neversieze got the same results

  35. I used Loctite on the thumb tightener for my cane.

  36. What about the spring action absorber on twist lock poles. Mine sometimes locks the spring – no absorbing action.

  37. Harry Mangurian

    As a very senior citizen who uses collapsing poles for walking, I would like to fix the height using glue or tape. I don’t want any danger of my pole collapsing. Any advice on how to do this will be greatly appreciated. (please do not tell me to buy a new pole – money is scarce.)

    • Can’t think of anything beyond what you’ve suggested.

    • Harry, I know you said not to tell you to buy a new pole, but how about a used pole? If you live in a part of the country where people ski, thrift stores are full of fixed length ski poles. I see them every time I go to the thrift store, for $1 to $5 a pair. Plus many thrift stores have a senior discount. Likely cheaper even than buying a roll of heavy duty tape or glue. Best of luck.

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