November 7, 2009
I don’t know about you, but in more cases than not, I find hiking and backpacking with trekking poles better than without. Personally, I often feel as if I can hike longer without fatiguing when I make use of trekking poles – especially on rolling terrain – in addition, the poles really help reduce the strain on my knees when descending steep terrain. Not only this, but depending on the type of shelter I’m carrying, sometimes my trekking pole is an integral part of setting up camp at night!
I’ve used several brands of trekking poles, with different styles of adjustment. I have to admit to being a big fan of the Black Diamond flicklock system – the flicklocks are easy to use and adjust – there’s no need to go fishing around for expanders that have gone and gotten lost inside the pole anywhere. The poles are clearly marked on the outside if you happen to know your preferred length setting. When fully compressed, these poles are fairly compact and are easily stowable – they also have plenty of range – and will expand to 55″ in length (these are not the compact model – those only go to 49″) While I am not terribly tall, I do prefer to use standard length poles because one of my tents actually needs the longer poles for setup.
These particular poles have a shock-absorbing design – unlike other shock-absorbing poles that I’ve used, these do not feel springy in the literal sense – the Black Diamond Control Shock Technology absorbs both light strikes and heavy hits without the spring-rebound feeling. The shock absorbing system is located just below the handle on the pole, above the padded extension that runs down the top section of the pole. When I weight-load the pole, I can feel the shock-absorber being compressed, but it doesn’t feel like it abruptly bottoms out or recoils as a spring system usually does.
The grips on these poles are nicely molded and are comfortable to handle. The adjustable straps are padded, and are also comfortable and have not bound or chafed at all on the few day-long adventures I’ve already had with these poles.
January 13, 2010
Over the last couple months, I’ve been using the Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking poles primarily in desert environments on hikes of varying duration from a short jaunt of a few miles longer days topping 10-miles. The poles are comfortable in the hand, relatively light weight, and adjust very easily – though at first the flicklocks seemed stiff and a little reluctant to release, they’ve since loosened up nicely and are much more easy to use. The pole tips seem to “grip” well without leaving obvious marks and they don’t seem to skitter around on rocky surfaces.
These trekking poles have been a welcome addition while hiking – they aid in balance, and also in providing some protection to my knees while hiking up- and downhill stretches. The handles are comfortable, allowing my hand to remain in a neutral position while cradled in the padded wrist strap. Even on long days, I haven’t noticed any discomfort or chafing of my hand at the end of the day. The straps are easily adjusted to accommodate gloves or mittens, without continuing to loosen at all once adjusted.
As far as durability goes, the poles seem a little too light – while I haven’t managed to bend them, I do notice that they tend to vibrate whenever they are firmly planted – and they flex if loaded heavily – especially during steep downhill stretches. I can’t say I feel the vibration in my hands while hiking – perhaps this is due to the anti-shock feature of the poles, but there is very obvious physical vibration of the pole shaft during use. This hasn’t prevented me from taking these poles out on hikes, though I think I would prefer my ellipticals for more aggressive terrain, simply because they do not seem to flex or vibrate at all during use. Other than this vibration, the flicklocks are in good condition, and have not required any sort of maintenance during this time period.
April 13, 2010
I’ve continued using the Black Diamond Trail Shocks on all of my various outings and they continue to perform well. I continue to notice the physical vibration of the shaft during use, and this does still cause me some concern, though in all fairness, I have not had any performance problems with the poles during this time. Other than some expected scuffing and cosmetic wear, the poles continue to be easy to adjust and they hold their position nicely once set. For most hiking, these have become my pole of choice as they are comfortable, easy to adjust, relatively compact and are light weight. I tend to default to my other poles if I know I’ll be leaning on them or putting my full weight on them due to aggressive terrain or heavier pack load – primarily because mentally the pole vibration gives me some concern.
My thanks to Black Diamond for this evaluation opportunity!