Editors' Choice Snow Award 2012: Komperdell Carbon Expedition Vario 4 Poles

These lightweight poles will serve you well on all of your multisport outings.

[poles]

Adjustable-length trekking poles are ideal for varied terrain—unless they’re a pain to lengthen or shorten. The Varios custom-adjust in a jiffy, thanks to a sliding, easy-flick-locking top section that scales the poles from 120 to 145 cm (long enough for a 6’7” tester, a bit too long for a 5’3” one). The Varios’ twist-lock lower sections also tighten securely and open more easily than similar models we’ve tried. The carbon-fiber top sections keep the weight at an easy-swinging eight ounces per pole, which means you’ll never get tired of planting and pushing off. And along with the aluminum bottom sections, they withstood deep, hard tele turns by 220-pound testers wearing 50-pound packs.

“I banged the carbon sections against rock repeatedly on a four-day slot canyon trip,” says one editor, “and they never shattered, making me wonder if carbon is as fragile as everyone says.” The small baskets swivel for smoother planting and releases (snow-specific baskets are sold separately for $9), and the extra-long straps fit around insulated mitts. Another benefit of the design: The Varios collapse to 18.5 inches, short enough to pack in small duffels. Wish list for the next iteration: shock absorbers and a less-hefty price. $180; 1 lb.; komperdell.com

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