MSR SureLock UL-3 (2013)

The popular twist mechanism can be both an unobtrusive and an immensely frustrating method of securing the length of poles. When moist or dirty the expander in the mechanism can fail to grip and will either lock shut or open, leaving you with a pair of poles that either won’t secure or won’t release. Worse still, the adjustment can even slip while in use. The SureLock UL-3 from American firm MSR sidesteps the issue by using its own SureLock system: a sprung metal pin that locks into a series of pre-set holes in the same style as a pair of crutches. It offers great peace of mind, particularly on long wilderness treks, and combines with the solid aluminium design and wrap-around wrist strap to give a pleasingly sturdy feel. The only downside is that this mechanism can take slightly longer than most to deploy, and once set there is a slight play in the fitting, leading to a small rattle when the poles are in use. If you can live with this, then you’ll have a failsafe pair of poles that will need minimal maintenance. At 408g they’re also extremely light, making them a good choice for longer journeys or wild camping trips.

Shaft material aluminium
Handle material foam
Max length 140cm
Packed length 61cm
Locking mechanism sprung pin with pre-set length settings
Weight 408g (pair)


The MSR SureLock UL-3s were the trekking poles with the best failsafe locking mechanism in our test.

Review by Dan Aspel
First published in Trail magazine April 2013