BLACK DIAMOND TRAIL TREKKING POLES
BY STEPHEN CHASE
May 04, 2008
NAME: Stephen Chase
LOCATION: Ashtabula, Ohio, United States
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86.20 kg)
I started backpacking almost 20 years ago. Today, I backpack mainly
in the Midwest, spending a lot of time in the Allegheny National
I spend a great deal of time sea kayaking, mountaineering, biking,
snow shoeing and cross country skiing. All of these require some
I spend an average of 3-4 nights per month outdoors. In winter, I
typically day hike, either snow shoeing or cross country skiing.
I am a mid-weight backpacker; I minimize pack weight, but like some
I do a lot outdoors and expect a lot of performance out of my gear.
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE -
LINK TEXT = "Black Diamong Equipment">>
MSRP: US$ 79.95 USD
Listed Weight: 18 oz (516 g)
Measured Weight: 20 oz (567 g) with winter basket
From Black Diamond Website:
COLLAPSED SIZE : 63.5 cm (25 in)
USABLE RANGE: 63.5 cm (25 in) - 140 cm (55 in)
An easy-to-use, comfortable pole offering year-round versatility,
the Trail now comes equipped with our new 360-degree padded webbing
for all-day comfort. An excellent value, the Trail features glove-
friendly dual FlickLocks, a non-slip foam grip with lower extension
for choking down on steeper terrain, a Long Flex Tip, and both a low-
profile, non-snagging trekking basket and a winter-specific powder
These are a pair of three piece aluminum trekking poles. The hand
grips are ergonomically shaped and covered with a dense foam
material. The hand grips measure 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) in height and
3.75 inches (9.5 cm) in circumference. A short tubular section of
foam extends from just below the hand grips down the first aluminum
tube approximately 6 inches (15 cm). The hand grips have a padded
adjustable nylon wrist strap. The strap extends to a maximum of 8
inches (20 cm).
The lower two aluminum tubes are clearly marked in centimeters from
100 cm to 140 cm. The two lower sections of the poles are adjusted
by what Black Diamond calls a "Flicklock mechanism". This unique
locking system has a moon shape plastic piece that functions as a
cam to lock each lower pole section in place. (The mechanism is
further detailed below with a photograph.)
The baskets provided are a small summer hiking basket and a much
larger winter or snow basket. The smaller basket is a solid donut
shaped flexible plastic 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. The outer edges
of this basket have some slight serrations for added traction. The
snow basket has similar serrations along the middle of the basket.
The snow basket is 3.75 inches (9.5 cm) in diameter with cutouts in
a pattern around the circle. The tip of the pole extends 3 inches
(7.6 cm) past the basket. The end of the tip has a small circular
piece of hardened steel attached to protect the plastic.
I have used these trekking poles on all my outings since purchasing
them in the December of 2005. During the warmer months, I use them
in the traditional role of a trekking pole. When the snow flies, I
use them in for both mountaineering and snowshoeing. In fact, this
past winter (2007-2008), I started using them at a nearby ski resort
as alpine ski poles. I have exposed these poles to rain, mud,
freezing river, and snow, from temperatures of -30 F (-34 C) to 90 F
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Collapsed">>
The first thing I noticed is how compact the poles are when
collapsed. I believe the lack of an internal locking mechanism
allows the section to have less overlap allowing the poles to
collapse further than most. The benefit of this is that collapsed
the poles are the shortest I have ever owned. This makes packing
them for travel or stowing them on or in a pack much easier.
The hand grips are the perfect size and shape for my hands. I wear
XL gloves and mittens and find the strap accommodates my hands
without any difficulties. In fact, the straps are long enough to
allow me to use them like a typical ski pole strap. I slip my hand
up through the loop from below and grasp back down on the strap and
hand grip. This gives me a superb grip and these poles seem to be
made with that method in mind.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Wriststrap">>
Wrist strap with wedge
The wrist strap has a wedge shaped piece of plastic located on one
end of the strap. This wedge is located in the middle of the two
pieces of strap material that comes out of the hand grip. Shortening
the strap is just a matter of pulling on the free end of the wrist
strap. Lengthening the strap is not so simple. In order to lengthen
the strap, this wedge must first be pulled loose. I find this to be
very difficult to accomplish while on the move and absolutely
impossible while wearing gloves.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Flicklock Mechanism">>
Flicklock closed on left, Flicklock open on right
The length of the poles is adjustable by use of Black Diamond's
Flicklock mechanism (See image above). This is where Black Diamond
has revolutionized the trekking pole market. The Flicklock mechanism
is the easiest and surest pole adjustment I have ever used. The
mechanism consists of a small semi-circular hinged piece of plastic
that acts like a cam around the pole. The plastic cam piece wraps
around the shaft of the outside pole section clamping the inside
pole section in place. The nice thing about the design is that the
end of the semi-circle plastic piece is exposed so a simple push
with a thumb will release the mechanism and allow the pole length to
My old poles would routinely ice up and begin to slip, sometimes
collapsing completely at the worst possible moment. The Flicklock
adjustment doesn't suffer from this problem. I have used these poles
for two winters now without a single incidence of slippage.
The Flicklock mechanism makes the adjustment of pole length so
simple that I continually adjust the length to suit the terrain and
conditions. I can easily adjust the poles longer on down hills,
shorter on up hills, and even different lengths when traversing
hills. It takes just a couple of steps to pull the pole up, twist
the Flicklock mechanism open and lengthen or shorten the pole.
The tight fit required to keep the baskets in place makes changing
them very difficult, it's for this reason that I only use the larger
snow baskets. I have been using winter baskets during the summer
month for ten years or more and haven't had any problems. The tips
of the poles seem to be wearing at about the same rate as the other
poles I have owned.
These are a comfortable and versatile pair of trekking poles. I use
these poles for trekking, snowshoeing, mountaineering and as of this
winter alpine skiing.
THINGS I LIKE
The ergonomic hand grips are very comfortable.
The Flicklock mechanism is fool proof.
Very compact when collapsed.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
The wrist strap is difficult to adjust while on the move.
Baskets are very difficult to switch out. I just leave the snow
basket on all the time.
Sincerely, Stephen Chase
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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.