DPS Nori Adjustable Ski Pole
Construction: Alloy (titanal) & unidirectional carbon fiber
Weight Per Pole: 255g
Length: Adjustable from 100 centimeters to 140 centimeters
Days Tested (combined): 50+
[Editor’s Note: Will Brown and I have been testing DPS’ Nori Pole since last October, and we are impressed. Here’s what we’ve found.]
I’ve never been concerned with weight when it comes to ski poles. Like a lot of folks in the freeride world, Scott Team Issues have been my go-to, burly aluminum sticks for many a season. They get me through the lift line and withstand some occasional tomahawking down the mountain without snapping in half.
Team Issues aren’t the cheapest sticks with grips out there, nor are they the lightest, but they’re likely to hold up to years of abuse and lots of kicker sessions.
But aluminum poles don’t always make life easier on a pow day or in the backcountry. Using a shorter 46-inch, freestyle-oriented length, while nice to have in the air, makes things a little tougher when moving along a traverse, skin track, or out of a stash. Pushing yourself along from your palms on the tops of the grips gets old quickly, especially when small park baskets sink right into soft snow.
It’s a minor annoyance, but something I’ve always put up with. Lighter carbon poles are more functional alternatives for soft, backcountry conditions, but they have never seemed as durable as my Scotts. But turns out that’s not true of every adjustable, composite pole out there.
The DPS Nori Pole is more substantial than other composite and full carbon poles on the market (these aren’t Goode graphite noodles), but has also proven itself to be just as strong as any beefed-up aluminum pole I’ve used.
Thanks to an oversized alloy upper shaft and a unidirectional carbon lower portion, the Nori is sturdy and rigid but far from brittle. The uni-carbon construction differs from a triaxial weave ordinarily found in a composite pole, which can crack and splinter under stress.
After a number of very hard falls [editor’s note: Gaper!], the Nori hasn’t shown any signs of cracking or deterioration. They have slightly more give than a pole with normal aluminum construction, but return to shape even after a hard blow. And have you ever successfully made a bent aluminum pole straight again without snapping it in half? I can’t say I have.
The coating material on the lower carbon shaft has held up extremely well to edge-knocks, showing nothing more than some minor, cosmetic scuffs (I have to say, I had my doubts at first). With the carbon fiber layering clearly visible under what looks to be a very thin coating, I worried that it might chip or crack with hard use. This has not been the case. Again with only some small scrapes, the paint on the upper shaft seems just as durable, if not more so, than any other comparably sturdy (and much heavier) aluminum pole.
The larger, flexible rubber powder baskets on the Nori work perfectly well when poling along in deeper snow. Plus the adjustable shaft makes riding with a shorter length in resort possible while not sacrificing a longer, more efficient length for backcountry and off-piste conditions.
I am totally impressed with the retention strength of the quick-release locking mechanism on these poles. I can remember a number of times when the latch on a friend’s adjustable poles needed tightening with a screwdriver, but I haven’t experienced any kind of unwanted slippage or movement with the Nori.
The rubber, rear “notch” race grips are simple and work about as well as any other design I’ve seen. I’ve come to appreciate their relatively slim profile.
Given the poles’ super light weight, they feel very natural to hold and are preferable to a more weighty aluminum pole. At 510 grams per pair, the Nori weighs in under Black Diamond’s lightest, pure carbon adjustable pole.
At $139 retail, the Nori pole is pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for in terms of strength, durability, and weight (or lack thereof). Considering a pair of fixed-length, aluminum Scott Team Issue pole usually retails at around $110, DPS’s pricing on the Nori seems much more reasonable. I consider the Nori every bit as durable as my old Scotts (if not more), yet the poles are much lighter and far more versatile. They’re also great looking, especially if you appreciate good composite designs, and they are probably the finest piece of G.N.A.R. cornice pole-whacking equipment ever created.
If you’re in the market for a performance backcountry pole, but want something that’s just as durable as any full aluminum freeride stick, the Nori is it.
Next: Jonathan’s Take