Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact

I have a confession to make.  I am a trekking pole newbie.  Yep, for some reason I had never used trekking poles, or even long sticks when hiking.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, just never picked up on it. A friend tried to convince me over a year ago to give them a try while hiking in southern Utah, and I did try his.  I was surprised at how much I liked them.  I thought they’d be cumbersome, and get in the way.  Plus – they would be just one more thing to carry.  Turns out, they really did work well for me, after the first few minutes of getting acclimated to them.

Not to long ago, I opened a box to find that a new set of Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact Trekking poles.   My first impression?  Wow, are these compact (which must mean the name was well chosen)

From the website:

Black Diamond Trail Shock

Black DiamondTrail Shock Compact Trekking Poles

Incorporating our cutting-edge, patent-pending Control Shock Technology, the Trail Shock Compact’s progressive, four-stage shock absorbs light strikes and heavy hits without pogo-rebounding or bottoming out.
    * Dual-density grip, 360-degree padded webbing strap and a foam extension
    * Control Shock Technology™
    * Double FlickLocks
    * Traditional round shape
    * Long Flex Tips and low-profile Trekking Baskets
    * Compact is a shorter, 125 cm version with reduced grip size
Incorporating our cutting-edge, patent-pending Control Shock Technology, the Trail Shock Compact’s progressive, four-stage shock absorbs light strikes and heavy hits without pogo-rebounding or bottoming out.

    * Dual-density grip, 360-degree padded webbing strap and a foam extension
    * Control Shock Technology™
    * Double FlickLocks
    * Traditional round shape
    * Long Flex Tips and low-profile Trekking Baskets
    * Compact is a shorter, 125 cm version with reduced grip size 

Not being an experienced user left me to wonder what, and how important these features all are?  I read, and read about trekking poles from various blogs and company sites.  After a while, my head felt like it may explode, I decided to head outdoors.  Well, that turned out to be a good solution.  I took the poles and went for a hike.  Behind my house is a 5,000 acre wildlife management area.  It has some dirt packed trails, some that are overgrown a bit and some areas that definitely require bushwacking through.

My first time out with the poles, I decided the grips were perfect for my hands.  I have long fingers, but they fit comfortably around the grips.   They are ‘dual-density’, which to the feel is a slightly cushiony feel.   The straps have a slight padded webbing on the inside, which is comfortable against the skin of my wrists.   I played around with the adjustments a bit, finding the length that was most comfortable for me.  The FlickLocks require a bit of pressure to snap closed.  Once closed, they hold the poles firmly, and do not allow the poles to collapse while in use.   Although unnoticeable on soft ground, the Control Shock Technology becomes obvious when going over rough or rocky terrain.  I could actually feel a slight ‘give’, which kept me from having the poles bounce or ‘pogo’ in my hands.

After my first few uses I am impressed, and really feel that they help save both wear and tear on my knees, and also allow me to go farther, with less fatigue.  Now that we have snow on the ground, I am going to try them out while hiking on snow-packed trails, and while snowshoeing.  I’m looking forward to getting out more, and trying the poles on different terrains.  I’m curious as to how the FlickLocks work over time.  Will they continue to works smoothly?   Check back in a month and see how we are doing!

Update: 2/02/10

I’m converted… I really like these trekking poles!  Snowshoeing over slippery terrain has sold me on carrying some poles.  I am sort of surprised at the difference they make.  I find I feel more balanced, and less clumsy.  I also find I get into a rythme while walking and keep a steadier pace.  The movement of the poles seems to keep time.

The different features of the poles contribute to my feelings about them.  The grips and straps make carrying them comfortable.  The grips are padded and have enough cushion that they don’t rub in any area on my hands.   I find the molded shape of the grips fit my hands well.  They aren’t molded to hold each finger tightly in one spot, but provide ‘guidance’ for keeping hands in a proper grip.  The straps are very soft and comfortable.  I found the webbing of the strap fit over my gloves easily, and did not pull against them, but instead slid over them as I walked.

The FlickLocks are a bit tough to open and close.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.  The poles hold their adjustment without any slipping.  I did readjust a few times, after reading some pointers on appropriate sizing.   The FlickLocks are tight when trying to open, but once they are popped open the poles adjust easily.  Snapping them closed again is tough, but they hold extremely well.  I’ve only closed them up twice for transporting, and was thrilled at how little room they took in my trunk.

The Flex Tips are great for use on dirt and packed snow.  They dig in enough to provide some stability, and keep the poles from slipping.   I’m surprised at how little wear they show, even after a few months of use.  The Trekking Baskets have been great, especially in the powdery snow we had earlier this winter.  The keep the poles from sinking too deeply into the snow.

I love the feeling of having that little bit of extra stability when using the poles.  I actually find the rythme of walking with the poles helps keep me moving – which is the point of being outdoors – moving!

3 Responses to Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact

  1. Pingback: Black Diamond Trail Shock Compact Trekking Poles « Reviews « 4 All Outdoors

  2. I have been drooling over some of the newer poles (especially these) for a few years now, but my old REI (made by Komperdell) poles just refuse to brake or wear out, no matter how badly I treat them.
    I discovered trekking poles many years ago and now won’t hit the trail without them. While they save my knees (especially on down hills), what I love most is how many times they made the difference between me staying on my feet or falling.
    Did your poles come with snow baskets? If not I would recommend picking up a pair, they make a huge difference in snow and sand.
    I look forward to seeing how these work for you!

    Dave

  3. Dave, I did get snow baskets, and have them ready to go. Our snow is now frozen solid, but I’m sure I’ll be out on it anyway. Anything to avoid housework!

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