Tested in the Cairngorms

Tested extensively by Cairngorm Treks in the Scottish Highlands

Trekking poles are a must for us and after our boots and waterproofs, are the items we never leave at home, so we were really looking forward to testing the Sherpa XL Trekking Poles. At first glance they look extra sturdy with the promise of taking the weight and hardship of varied mountain terrain, including steep descents. They didn’t disappoint.

We found the initial set up hassle free with the Speed Lock 2 system easy to adjust, even when wearing gloves. Importantly,the levers are very secure giving excellent confidence that they will hold and the poles won’t collapse when under severe load - such as during fast steep descents or river crossings. The Lock Security Strap is a simple but efficient function and easy to tweak once you get used to pulling up the strap to release it. This also works well out in the hills when needing to change the strap if adjusting the wrist volume in relation to putting on or taking off gloves.

These are 3 section poles allowing a great degree of length adjustment from fully closed of 70cms to fully open at 145cms, making them perfect for use by anyone, male or female, and especially those way over 6 foot. The shafts are all made from well engineered aluminium, with the top section being a meaty 18mm in diameter. All this means that each pole weighs in at 263g but we don’t see this as a major downside when considering the strength and locking security they deliver, and would only be an issue if packing the poles - something we rarely do. However, on occasions when the poles needed carrying, such as scrambling, the minimum length of 70 cm when fully closed could be a snag issue.

The extra long Aergon thermal grips work well with or without gloves, are well shaped and are suitable for large hands. They also give additional warmth on cold days and no slip with sweaty hands. The grips also allow the poles to be used as daggers when moving up very steep grass and snow slopes. The long flex tip is hard wearing and can take hard terrain in its stride. The poles come with a small basket which can be easily changed with an accessory snow basket if required.

Our verdict

These are not the lightest or most compact of poles but these slight negatives need to be balanced against the huge positives of build quality, durability, ease of adjustment, suitability for larger framed and taller people, and total reliability and super strong robustness for using in full mountain conditions on extended treks throughout the year. A giant of a pole in more ways than one!

Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...