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1) Twist-lock pole adjustments can become unreliable over time, especially when used for river crossings or salt water, as corrosion makes the threads harder to tighten, and the plug and pole sleeves get polished or gunky.
2) To solve the problem, first pull the pole apart and clean dirt and corrosion off the screw threads using a clean cloth or old toothbrush.
3) Lubricate the threads very lightly using bicycle grease, chapstick, or other non-running lubricant. DO NOT use WD40 or oil, since it will run onto the plug and pole interior over time, making the adjustment slip.
4) Then sand the plug’s exterior to clean off any gunk and increase friction against the pole shaft interior by creating horizontal striations. For trail repairs you can use almost anything, even sand or pebbles.
5) Replace the expander plug and twist it up and down along the screw threads to lubricate their whole length. Then clean off any excess grease that could run onto friction parts.
6) If the pole adjustment still slips, clean and roughen the interior of the female pole shaft. Here a hydration tube brush has been bent to match the wider pole circumference.
7) Sand paper taped to a gun cleaning rod, thin dowel, or wire coat hanger also works. Twist the brush or pole in a circular fashion to create horizontal striations.
8) Reassemble the pole and hike away. High mileage hikers may need to do this annually.
9) Poles that adjust with a camming lever are less problematic, but can still slip as parts loosen or pole interiors become polished or gunked.
10) First step: Tighten the adjustment screw. If necessary, keep it from constantly loosening using LockTite.
11) If the pole still slips, sand the interior of the compression collar and, if necessary, lightly sand the exterior of the lower, male-end pole.
Photos by Jennifer Howe / howephoto.us