MSR Surelock UL-3 Trekking Pole Review

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The MSR Surelock UL-3 Trekking Pole is an easily adjustable, compact and lightweight hiking aide. MSR has two trekking pole series and the UL-3 are designed as a low weight option for those looking to move fast and light while still offering great adjustability. The patented SureLock adjustment system offers fairly quick length adjustment with a solid click when set in place.

MSR gave the UL-3 pole a foot of adjustability in its length, making it usable for almost all adults and many older children. The SureLock system is both easy to use and effective at locking in the length. They have a positive feel to the lock and stay firmly in place so you don’t have to worry about any slipping. I found the push-button system to be more effective then the lever lock of other models of adjustable poles. All three shafts of the pole can be collapsed together in to the upper shaft for compact transportation. When in this mode, the UL-3 poles are only 24 inches long.

SureLock push button adjustment system is effective and easy to use.

The lower shaft can be compressed for ultimate portability with this one push button.

I first tried the MSR UL-3 trekking poles on a late fall hike and loved the weight and feel of them. They had a great “swing weight” to them that made me not have to think about the poles themselves and just appreciate how they were increasing my stability and balance while hiking. I am about 6’1″, 190 lbs. and the UL-3 supported my weight well without feeling wobbly or unstable at any point. MSR included two types of pole baskets that can be swapped out fairly easily for different conditions. The traditional circular basket comes installed standard on the poles. A wide “powder basket” of sorts is included as well. I figured these were for using the poles in the snow so I tried them out on a snowshoe hike and found them to be effective. This brings me to my only real complaint about the UL-3 poles. I wasn’t able to fit my gloved hand into the otherwise great pole straps and resorted to just removing the pole strap altogether. I am not sure what the thinking was behind this but maybe MSR did not design the poles for cold weather use. If you have small hands and thin gloves, you probably won’t have a problem.

Snow baskets can be easily swapped in.

Traditional circular pole baskets.

Extra padded grip on pole is great for putting two hands on one pole when using it as a hiking stick.

Pole straps are adjustable and work well with bare hands.

My fairly low profiles Hestra gloves couldn’t begin to fit in the pole strap.

Overall, I give the MSR SureLock UL-3 my seal of approval for anyone looking for a lightweight and functional trekking pole. If you plan on using them in the winter, I suggest trying them out at the store to see if your gloves fit into the straps. For more information on the Surelock and other MSR gear, visit or

Jesse: Jesse's love of the outdoors brought him to Colorado back in 2004 and he's continued to enjoy the natural playground ever since, having moved to the Vail area in 2012. Jesse is a professional photographer specializing in weddings, portraits and active lifestyle advertising. As a photographer with a love of hiking and camping, Jesse is constantly testing ways to carry camera gear into the backcountry. A former Level II certificied ski instructor who gets over 50 days a year on the hill. He was first put on skis at the age of 2 and spent 10 years snowboarding as well so he has a pretty good handle on what makes great snow gear. Jesse has been a multi-sport athlete for most of his life and loves to be active. To learn more about Jesse's photography work, visit and
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