Scott S.R.S. Pole Strap Release System – Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Scott Series C tapered composite poles, retrofitted with S.R.S safety strap system.

Scott Series C tapered composite poles, retrofitted with S.R.S safety strap system. These are sweet ski poles, alu tip cover worked the heel units on all the tech bindings I tried it on. Shaft is flexible, but not too much so. The grips normally have a cosmetic finishing ferrule on the bottom, we left that off, FYI if you don’t like the abrupt transition from grip to skinny pole. Click images to enlarge.

Shoulder surgery. Possibly a year of recovery. Physical therapy you could classify as illegal torture. Weeks after the knife you might even have trouble operating a computer keyboard — let alone feeding yourself. Skiing? Next season.

A ski pole safety release system that works can be a godsend. Sure, you probably don’t want release straps for ski alpinism that involves dragging your poles over rock scrambles, while freeing up your hands to grab a hold (whoops, what’s that sound, a clattering ski pole seeking flight?). Same with extreme bush whacking. But for normal ski touring, when a tree root or avalanche asks to keep your poles, safety release can save your shoulders and possibly even your life.

Scott S.R.S Strap Release System is simply a plastic clip that cams on to a horizontal pin in the pole grip.

Scott S.R.S Strap Release System is simply a plastic clip that cams on to a horizontal pin in the pole grip. When inserted correctly, it is pretty much permanent when pulled at normal angles, but an upward pull pops the strap out of the grip. I’ve had quite a few other systems of this sort, many problem was the straps tended to fall out and get lost. S.R.S. appears to have a firm grip even at the release angle so it’s less likely to ‘pre release.’ Screwdriver is shown for scale, not required for the retrofit. Click all images to enlarge.

Enter the Scott S.R.S., an elegantly engineered solution that involves a simple plastic clip and steel pin in the pole grip. Both easily retrofitted to current Scott model ski poles (or available installed on certain models). I installed S.R.S. on a pair of nice new Scott Series C carbon sticks. These are high-end ski poles, with replaceable tips and super strong filament-wound composite shafts. They’re not as flexy as my all-time favorite carbon poles, but still give a bit, thus absorbing impact abuse that can transfer into elbow and shoulder problems. The retrofit was easy and the release system seems to be working. Age old question with this: will the straps stay on when doing things such as carrying ski poles on backpack? Time will tell. I’ll amend this post once I’ve done longer term testing.

Retrofit involves pushing this plastic pin out of the pole grip, thus removing the regular strap.

Retrofit involves pushing this plastic pin out of the pole grip, thus removing the regular strap.

You then push the steel pin into the grip, I tapped it with a plastic mallet to make sure it was seated.

You then push the steel pin into the grip, I tapped it with a plastic mallet to make sure it was seated.

Release clip is inserted like this, I had to tap on it to get it all the way in.

Release clip is inserted like this, I had to push on it with the other pole grip to get it all the way in (it seats with a satisfying snap).

Finished, looks like this. Tiny red peice of webbing is the tell showing it's the S.R.S.

Finished, looks like this. Tiny piece of red webbing is the tell showing it’s an S.R.S. strap.

(Shop hints from Lou: Removing ski pole grips, try dipping in boiling water for a few minutes then pulling off. Nearly always works for us unless the grips have some kind of mechanical fastener. If the grip seems to go back on too easily, lay a band of electrical tape over the top end of the pole shaft and hammer the grip on over that. Or try just roughing up the shaft with sandpaper and applying a bit of Gorilla Glue inside the grip. Easy to test grip retention when you’re done. Some baskets actually screw off with course threads, while others pop off (e.g., Scott). In either case, the boiling water trick still helps. Try pulling and rotating the basket first. If that doesn’t work, place feet (with stiffer shoes) on either side of basket and step down firmly. When replacing baskets, do it when they’re warm and lube with a bit of water. When cutting composite ski pole shafts, work your way around the complete circumference of the shaft with a hacksaw, then gradually saw through, this to prevent carbon fiber “runners” from royally messing things up.”)

Comments

28 Responses to “Scott S.R.S. Pole Strap Release System – Review”

  1. EasTim May 23rd, 2014 9:46 am

    I’d use hot-melt glue rather than gorilla glue – that way you can remove them again another day!

  2. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 10:00 am

    I don’t use much glue, and it seems to soften with the heat and not bond very well to the pole grip plastic. But good point, I’ll experiment some with this and edit the post if Gorilla glue is too hard to reverse. Thanks, Lou

  3. See May 23rd, 2014 10:22 am

    Maybe my search skills are lacking, but if you could tell me where I can get some of these straps to retrofit to my Scott poles, I’d order them today.

    Thanks again for all the great information, photography, trip reports and varied but consistently high quality content here on Wildsnow.

  4. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 10:33 am

    See, apologies, I should have added availability info at end of review. Pretty sure it’ll be this coming fall, but I’ll ask. I’ll update this when I hear back. Thanks, Lou

  5. Happy Days May 23rd, 2014 1:19 pm

    Not available in the States next season. Great concept but can’t get um.

  6. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 1:30 pm

    I just heard from Scott, available this coming fall. Happy, unless you can give me some kind of corroboration of your take, I’ll delete as I don’t want to confuse people. Besides, we don’t draw a distinction any more about what’s available where in the world. A pretty large percentage of our readers are in Europe, and things can be ordered pretty easily overseas. Thanks, Lou

  7. Keith Roush May 23rd, 2014 1:54 pm

    The heat-sensitive glue used for pole handles is known as ferrule cement and can be found at many better fishing shops. Your local pro ski shop probably buys large chunks of it from pole suppliers and can cut a corner off for you as well. it doesn’t take much.
    For cork-handled grips, put the handle in a bread sack or baggie in the hot water to avoid water damage to the cork and cork-attaching glue lines.

  8. Nick May 23rd, 2014 6:16 pm

    What is wrong with the easy solution – don’t use straps? It really isn’t that difficult to keep hold of your poles without using the straps.

  9. Lou Dawson May 23rd, 2014 6:21 pm

    Nick, good point, going strapless does work for some folks. Good to experiment with. Lou

  10. Matt Kinney May 23rd, 2014 8:10 pm

    Seem like skiers are using self-arrest grips in increasing numbers, (even it they don’t need them most the time) so a releasable grip seems a bit odd for the BC. Limited market IMO. You can go with self-arrest grips and hope you stop your slide or your pole releases giving you a really slight improvement of odds of not getting buried. On the other hand, a pole sticking out of the snow attached to a buried skier does increase his odds of being found. I don’t see the anchoring effect of poles as much with skis in an avalanche.

  11. John Gloor May 23rd, 2014 9:05 pm

    @ Matt. I have been around two avalanche incidents in which wearing pole straps was potentially dangerous. In the first case, a friend set off a slide of about a foot of fresh powder on a suncrust. He had time to click his skis of with his hands during the smooth magic carpet ride down Garret peak outside of Snowmass. The second involved a friend who was completely buried. He could have easily cleared the snow around his head and self rescued, if his hands had not been anchored below him with his pole straps. He survived. Pole straps are definitly a hazard

  12. Colin May 23rd, 2014 9:56 pm

    @Nick, if you’re using your poles right–that is, pushing off the straps–it’s easy to lose them if you’re going strapless.

    I have a pair of Leki Triggers. I’m happy with them. This releasable strap makes me more likely to buy a pair of Scotts in the future.

  13. zippy the pinhead May 23rd, 2014 10:21 pm

    Matt,
    The way I see it, both self-arrest grips and releasable pole straps are intended to minimize the consequences of a potential incident.

    They each serve, however, to protect against separate hazards.

    Self-arrest grips are intended to provide a measure of security in steep, hard and/or icy conditions.

    Releasable straps seek to protect against shoulder or other injury in the case of a pole that is hooked or otherwise caught (in a tree branch, bush or something else), and also to reduce the consequences of going for a slide and subsequently getting buried with long pointy sticks attached to your arms.

    I guess you could jargonize it and say that the two safety devices are for different use cases.

    Just my take, your mileage may vary.

    -Zippy

  14. Nick May 23rd, 2014 10:39 pm

    Oh dear, I’m not skiing the right way – I must stop enjoying it immediately ;-)

  15. Geoff May 24th, 2014 5:38 pm

    Releasable pole straps don’t always release when you want them to. My wife was wearing releasable pole straps when she went into a tree well head first. The straps didn’t release. Her hands were pinned under her and she wasn’t able to use them to clear an airspace in front of her mouth or to reposition herself. Fortunately, we were buddy skiing and a couple of us were nearby and were able to pull her out quickly. She’s never backcountry skied with poles straps since that day, and neither have I. It doesn’t take long to get used to skiing without them.

  16. Hacksaw May 24th, 2014 6:32 pm

    I never ski with ski pole straps. I don’t use them because I don’t want them attached if I’m in an avalanche or tree we’ll situation. I have only left them on my poles for bundling during heliskiing.

  17. Billy Balz May 24th, 2014 7:30 pm

    I stopped skiing with pole straps 2 years ago and have skied up to thigh deep powder with great results. Only issue has been with refrozen layers in powder where a plant on the steeps will keep the pole stuck and I gotta pull hard or climb back up to get my stuck pole.

  18. See May 24th, 2014 7:45 pm

    Strange how most poles come with non-releasable straps– the least desirable configuration imo.

  19. Matt Kinney May 24th, 2014 8:11 pm

    So do you use straps when skinning because I find skinning without straps a tiring technique on arms and hands compared to the gentle resting of the wrist in you strap “nordic” style. Am I confused?

    Tree wells are not an issue here.

  20. Billy Balz May 24th, 2014 9:05 pm

    If you are in avy terrain go without straps. If it’s safe terrain then why not use straps so. You can hang on them a bit? What sayest thou Lou?

  21. Lou Dawson May 25th, 2014 7:13 am

    Billy, I’m in avalanche terrain quite a bit in the winter, so ideally I like to have release straps so I can just use my pole straps and not be fooling around having them on and off. Though when doing things like ski cuts I remove my straps no matter what as I want instant shed of poles if desired, if I get caught in a slide. Likewise, ski bindings set to reasonable RV values are key. I’ve been hearing about a lot of severe broken legs the last few years, with people caught in slides who sound like they’re using bindings that are cranked way up in release values. Also, I agree that if you get used to simply going without straps it can work. I’ve done that off-and-on for years. These days, I prefer ultra-efficient everything for going uphill, and the support of a pole strap definitely adds to that, which is why skimo and nordic racers still use pole straps. So for me, a release strap is ideal. The main thing is to be aware that if you are caught in a slide, having ski poles strapped to your hands is in many (if not most) cases detrimental. Lou

  22. Daniel May 25th, 2014 9:45 am

    Another straps non-user here. Good enough for for any skiing down and ascends up to 600m vertical/hour, at least.

    Key is grip between pole grip and gloves.

    I still use the straps for scrambling and taking photos in exposed or high wind situations, or the like. and straps are great for securely fastening straps to a pack.

  23. Lou Dawson May 25th, 2014 11:01 am

    I’ve done more field testing of the Scott S.R.S. and they seem to stay on well without accidental loss. But it occurs to me that a simple lockout mechanism would be the best of both worlds, perhaps a small spring-loaded button on the pole that when pressed clips a pin through the strap. That way those of us who use straps could have both release and non-release on the same poles — such straps could even be used for Whippets. And for those of you who don’t like straps, just a tug up on the S.R.S. and you’re strapless! Everyone should be happy! Lou

  24. Kristian May 25th, 2014 7:52 pm

    Finally bought a very expensive set of L**i carbon adjustable poles with strap releases this season. But found them to be troublesome and ultimately terrifying. Pushing on the top of the poles to skate uphill would cause the straps to release. But far worse, when tight tree skiing, the powder baskets are perfectly designed to snag on undergrowth. And with the strap tightly strapped to your hand, in sub-second time, you are suddenly jerked to an instant stop with your arm and shoulder somewhere uphill behind you. Happened multiple times – got rid of the poles.

  25. Bar Barrique May 25th, 2014 9:21 pm

    A long time ago, I used to wear my pole straps “properly”; this resulted in injuries to my thumbs, and, hands (falling with your hands trapped to a pole). When alternatives to pole straps became available in the 1970′s, I embraced them (first Ramy, then Scott).
    Finally I realized that the best way to avoid injury was to wear the pole straps “properly” on the way up, and, then just slip your hands through them on the way down. True; you may sometimes leave them behind, but, it is the best practice that I have found.
    These “break away” straps may work, but, in the mean time, avoid injury to your hands.

  26. Lou Dawson May 26th, 2014 5:09 am

    Bar, I’d forgotten about that technique, thanks for the reminder. It works. And yeah, I’m missing a thumb ligament that I never got repaired. Wish I had, perhaps someday. Would be nice to be able to grab things normally (grin).

  27. Geoff May 26th, 2014 10:03 am

    Another advantage to leaving pole straps off is that, when you are skinning on a steep traverse, you can easily adjust your grip as you go and “choke up” on the uphill pole. That improves efficiency quite a bit. I find that, most of the time when I’m skinning (except on the flats), I just use the poles for balance, and so hand fatigue isn’t a problem without the straps. By the way, I know quite a few guides who just cut the straps off their poles. Apparently, they think that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

  28. Stano May 26th, 2014 2:37 pm

    I believe the best way is to not use straps while skiing due to avalanches (preventing you from fighting) or getting your pole stuck by a tree/branch/bush (popping your shoulder out).

    For the way up, I use them for about 30-50% of my skinning, again based on the avalanche danger and terrain. I use them on terrain where they help unless I have safety concerns.

    Guides usually cut them off as to never getting caught with their pants down and to go by example to their clients (to not use the straps).

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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