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I've generally seen two kinds of locks for adjustable trekking poles. Twist lock and clamp lock (Clamp lock is also called "lever lock" and "quick lock"). What are the comparative advantages and disadvantages of clamp vs. twist?

Clamp lock:
Trekking pole clamp lock

Twist lock:
Trekking pole twist lock

  • No point in adding an answer, but clamp (also known as flick) locks are the way to go! I've had too many issues with twist locks in the past. The only issue with clamps has been my son somehow losing one (the clamp, not the pole). Still have no idea how he did that. – topshot Sep 8 '16 at 21:05
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Basically twist locks (in my experience) are a pain. They suffer from a number of issues:

  • They're difficult to undo
  • It's impossible to grip them with gloves on, this is a problem when it's cold
  • The lock without careful maintenance can lock solid (had this happen a number of times to mine). This can be very difficult to rectify (especially without the help of a pair of plyers, etc)

The only disadvantages of clamp locks that I'm aware of are:

  • They're newer and tend to be more expensive because of this
  • They make the pole more bulky when stowing away
  • They can come undone if you catch the latch

Generally, the mechanism is simpler and just less likely to foul up. You may have guessed I prefer the clamp to the twist lock, which is odd because both my poles are twist lock ones :(

  • I got twist lock poles which have opened plenty of times already. I think this can happen if you twist the pole a little while it touches the ground and has friction therefore. I hope (and assume) that clamp locks aren't opening that easily, because it is a big issue. – Wills Sep 2 '16 at 15:45
  • Not sure but clamps are maybe heavier? – Wills Sep 2 '16 at 15:47
  • 4
    Can you clarify bullet point #3 against twist locks? It reads like it's missing something. – Harrison Paine Sep 2 '16 at 17:54
  • I would agree with your preference for clamps, but like you my poles have twist locks. This is because the design I prefer (PacerPoles) doesn't come with clamps. Now I've got used their quirks I find the twist locks quite useable. So if you strongly prefer a design and it only comes with twists, don't let the locks put you off. Otherwise, go for a pair with clamps. – Tullochgorum Sep 3 '16 at 0:35
  • @HarrisonPaine This is what you get writing an answer on your way out of the office las thing on a friday! – user2766 Sep 5 '16 at 8:16
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@Liam's answer above is great but I wanted to add one additional con of the clap lock system.

You need a screw driver to adjust the tightness of clap based poles so you probably can't do it in the field.

I have a pair of clam locks similar to these:

enter image description here

About once or twice a year, I need to tighten the screw that that controls how tightly the clap lock is. Typically, I realize that I need to tighten the screw when I am miles away from the trailhead where I don't have a screw driver.

I think this wouldn't be a problem with a twist lock pole.

  • I've never needed a screwdriver for mine. I normally just use a fingernail though it can take some effort. If that's not enough, the tiny pocket knife I carry works great. – topshot Sep 8 '16 at 21:01
  • @topshot - Mine are too stiff for a fingernail and too deep for my pocket knife. Agreed thought that it seems like there should be an easy workaround. – sixtyfootersdude Sep 9 '16 at 13:55
  • Time for some new poles. ;) Mine are just the Outdoor Products ones from Walmart. Hope they still carry them as I need to get some more myself. – topshot Sep 9 '16 at 13:58
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Clamp locks are the safest and the best design. The clamps are designed to fit flush to poles -I have never encountered the clamps opening by catching on anything for over 10 years owning the poles and I do a lot of hiking and snowshoeing with these. I used to own the old twist poles and they are lethal. Everyone I know who have the twist locks ask me to help fix them as they cannot loosen or cannot tighten or they fail or collapse when used which is dangerous. They throw these twisties out and then use common sense and buy the clamp lock poles and are happy.

  • You've basically said that clamps are great because they aren't twists and twists are terrible because they never work right. Your answer would be greatly improved if you expanded this answer with more specific pros/cons like the two answers with positive scores. – Erik Jun 26 '17 at 16:22
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One thing to bear in mind is that the twist lock will last a lot longer than the quick lock. This is because of the way the mechanism works. Each time you lock and unlock, there's a little wear on the mechanism in the case of the quick lock. With the twist lock, the wear is so slight as to be negligible.

  • 1
    Interesting - but what evidence are you basing this on? – Tullochgorum Sep 3 '16 at 0:36
  • 1
    not true. twist locks are based on friction of the inner piece. with time the inner piece abrases a lot, and stops gripping. As soon as it starts to loose grip, it gets worse quickly (evidence: observation of various models of both on sufficient periods of time to see all the twist time stop gripping and becoming impossible to lock) – njzk2 Sep 3 '16 at 1:34

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