The Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking
poles have a unique design in my opinion. They are
traditional round trekking poles with Black Diamond's
patented FlickLock locking system and Control Shock
They appear to be constructed well. There are no manufacturing
flaws that I can find and they appear to be made of
quality materials. These poles are made of aluminum and
are mostly silver in color with red and orange graphics.
The manufacturer calls the color Cinnamon. These poles
are a three shaft design that uses a FlickLock locking
system to secure the lower and middle section to the
desired height. The lower and middle pole sections
have incremental adjustment markings of 5 cm (2 in).
These markings range from 100 cm (39 in) to 140 cm
(55 in). The markings are black on the lower shaft
and red on the middle shaft. I can see both colors
of markings, however the red stand out more. There
is also a stop indicator marking on both the lower
and middle pole sections. This indicates where the
poles should be adjusted in each section at the maximum
These poles have what the manufacturer call Control
Shock Technology (CST). It is an external shock and
it can be seen in the picture on the right. It is the
section between the hand grip and the grip extension.
It was placed in this location for optimal swing weight.
There are a few sections to this shock. The lower part
has what is called progressive shock control. The
middle section prevents the shock from bottoming out
when there is a great deal of pressure or force. The
last component is an internal air valve that serves
as the rebound control. This prevents the poles from
pogoing back up after the shock is released from compression.
When I push on the handles of the poles I can see
the red section spring back and forth. Pretty cool!
When I push on the poles with a little bit of force
only the top red portion of the shock moves. With more
force both red sections of the shock moves.
Control Shock Technology (CST) and hand grip
The FlickLocks are Black Diamond's
patented locking system. It is an external camming mechanism.
When the lever is closed it squeezes the pole shafts together
to form a joint stronger than the tubing itself. The manufacturer
recommends opening the lever on the FlickLock by pushing
it open with the user's thumb. The FlickLocks are closed
by pressing the lever completely closed.
The tension of the FlickLocks can be adjusted by tightening
or loosening the adjustment screw. The manufacturer suggests
releasing the FlickLock if the poles are going to be stored
for a period of time. The FlickLocks are not overly tight
to clamp them closed and to release them. They just have
the slightest bit of tension, and the good thing is I can
open and close them with my left thumb that is recovering
from a tendon injury.
The hand grips are made of black foam that feels hard
and dense when I press against it. The foam has a soft and
velvety feel against my hands and fingers. The hand grip
has a small molded ridge that serves as a resting place for
my index finger. There is also a larger ridge towards the
base of the hand grip that serves as a resting place for
my pinkie finger. The hand grip measures approximately 15
cm (6 in) long. The circumference of the hand grip measures
10 cm (4 in) just below the index finger ridge. The top knob
of the pole is made of a dense rubbery material. Below the
shock is a contoured extension grip. The extension grips
are made of the same foam as the hand grips and measures
almost 6 in (15 cm) in length.
The padded hand straps measure 3.5 cm (1.4 in) in width
(at the widest point) and they taper toward the adjustment
straps. The inside of the
padded straps have a gray mesh material and the outside of
the straps appear to be a nylon webbing type of material.
The poles have 4 mm (0.16 in) carbide tips and
small plastic baskets measuring 3.81 cm (1.5 in) in
diameter. The poles have Long Flex Tips which measure (from
the base of the basket to the tip) 3 in (8 cm) long.
The poles were supplied with only the low-profile trekking
baskets. I have a set of Black Diamond powder baskets that
I would like to try with these poles when I see some snow.
I referenced the manufacturer's website
prior to receiving the poles. What I really liked about the
website is there is an in-depth video on the CST (Control
Shock Technology) system. There is also some general information
on the characteristics of the poles and some more detailed
specifics. A set of instructions came with the poles and
the same instructions are available on the website as a PDF
So far I am finding the Trail Shock Trekking
Poles to be easily adjustable and they feel comfortable in
my hands. I have yet to use them to get a sense of the Control
Shock Technology, but that is what testing is all about.
Now it is time for me to head to Utah with
the Trail Shock Trekking Poles.
Bryce and Zion National Parks, Utah: The
Trail Shock poles were used here on day and evening
hikes for a total of 3 days of the trip. The temperatures
ranged from the 50's F (11 C) to the mid 30's F (2 C). The
weather was not ideal for hiking as it was windy, raining,
hailing, and there was even some snow.
Mt. San Jacinto State Park, California: A
one night backpacking trip, camping at an elevation around
9,000 ft (2,750 m) on the snow. The low temperature was in
the 20's F (-7 C).
Southern California: Day
hikes in Cleveland National Forest after the recent flooding.
There was no precipitation on these hikes/outings, but there
were many stream crossings. I also used the Trail Shock Poles
on day and evening hikes in Limestone and Red Rock Canyon.
The temperatures were in the mid 40's F (4 C) to the low
50's F (10 C).
Finally saw some sunshine in Bryce Canyon, Utah
Performance in the Field
Over the past three months the Trail Shock
Poles were used in Southern Utah and Southern California.
On my first outing with the Trail Shock Poles in Limestone Canyon I was fiddling
with the height of the poles and the FlickLocks. The tension
was perfect on the FlickLocks and I had no difficulty opening
or closing them, even with my injured left thumb that is
While in Utah the weather was not ideal.
There was flash flooding, large amounts of rain, hail,
wind, and some snow. That did not stop us from getting
out and enjoying nature. However, the trails were icy and
muddy. I was glad to have trekking poles with me on that
trip as I was sliding on the trail. The Trail Shock poles
preventing me from falling several times and they also
helped me high step over rocks and mud without a loss of
The Navajo Loop trail in Bryce Canyon was
a complete mess. There was lots of mud and rocks were falling
down. Lucky for me, I was the last person up the Wall Street
trail that day; except for the forest service workers that
were closing the trail at the bottom. I was surprised that
when the Trail Shock Poles were placed in mud or when I had
pressure on them to prevent myself from falling; they did
not collapse. But, walking down the trail on the ice and
the rocks I felt vibration. I was surprised to feel the vibration
in the poles since I thought the Control Shock Technology
would help alleviate it. However, I will say that there is
less vibration than some of the other poles I have used.
While hiking up and down the muddy trails, I was trying to
feel the Control Shock Technology working. With a normal
stride and amount of pressure on the poles I really could
not feel any compression from the shock. When I pressed down
hard when hiking over large fallen rocks or while preventing
myself from sliding I could feel the shock compress slightly.
When the shock compressed and pressure was let off, there
was a gentle rebound. After my Utah trip the poles had mud
caked on them, but it was
easily cleaned off by using a cloth
and some hot water.
I got to use the Trail Shock Poles in the
snow, and honestly I could not feel any compression from
the shock absorber. I used Black Diamond Snow Baskets (not
included) on the poles for the trip to San Jacinto State
Park and they helped prevent my poles from sinking into the
snow. The snow baskets were easily interchanged with the
existing small baskets. Threading both types of baskets on
and off the poles was a breeze.
I found the grips to be comfortable and
I really like the extension grips. The extension grip prevents
me from having to adjust the poles while hiking up steep
inclines. The grips are "grippy" and my hands felt secure
(no sliding) while holding on to the poles with or without
gloves. I found it just takes a few seconds to adjust the
wrist straps to use the poles with or without gloves.
Coyote Buttes- Exiting The
Coyote Buttes North, Arizona: The
Trail Shock poles were used here on a day hike in sand, dirt,
and rock for about 10 mi (16 km). The temperatures
were in the 50's F (11 C). The
elevation at the Wave was 5,200 ft (1,585 m). I fastened
them to my backpack while scrambling to scenic points of
interest outside the Wave.
Mt. San Jacinto State Park, California: Two
days snowshoeing to an elevation around
9,000 ft (2,750 m). The temperatures ranged from
the 30's F to the mid 40's F (-1 C to 4 C). There was hard
packed and some powder snow on the trail.
Performance in the
Diamond Trail Shock Trekking Poles were used during the
past two months while hiking on dirt, mud, rock,
and snow. I have been very happy with these trekking
not been a time during the testing period that the
FlickLocks failed and the pole shaft slid. This is
most important to me. I am not a fan of having the
shaft of my trekking poles sliding and collapsing while
I am hiking, mostly because it can be a safety hazard.
I was surprised that I the poles have not collapsed;
considering I got them wedged between rocks and stuck
slightly in some icy snow. During the testing period
there was no need for me to tighten the FlickLocks
to keep them working properly and they were not too
tight for me to open even with gloves on. Also the
FlickLocks are great to easily adjust the poles on
the fly while hiking.
The grips of the Trail
Shock Trekking Poles feel comfortable both with and without
gloves on. The grips are not showing any wear, they actually
still look new. The top of the trekking pole grip works
great when I place my hands on it (palming) to hike downhill.
It is large enough that the poles feel stable in my hands.
I also like the grip extension grips
for walking up hill. My hands feel comfortable on the
and I can easily adjust my hands between the regular
grips and the extension grips.
I had the opportunity again to use the
optional snow baskets on the Trail Shocks. I tried to put
them on with gloves, but it was too difficult as I could
not get a good grip on the snow baskets. Without gloves
the snow baskets threaded on and off the poles easily.
Plus they provided the poles with enough flotation in the
powdery snow I was hiking in.
Even with the Control Shock Technology
I am still getting some vibration with these poles. I especially
noticed this on my hike in Coyote Buttes when I was frequently
hiking on rock. This vibration was minimal and did not
cause any discomfort in my hands. During this trip the
low profile baskets provided enough flotation while hiking
in the sand. Also the poles provided enough stability to
prevent me from sliding while I was hiking up and down
a steep sandy hill. It
is hard for me to notice the shock absorption when I am
hiking along. I can only notice it when I am stopped and
I deliberately press down on the poles.
I am very happy with the Trail Shock Trekking
Poles; they get a thumbs up in my opinion. Mostly because
they can be easily adjusted, the FlickLocks secure the
poles, and the grips are comfortable. These are a keeper
and I will be using them on my future hikes and backcountry
Things That Rock:
- FlickLock system
- Comfortable grip
- Ease of adjustment
Things That Are So-So:
concludes my long term reporting of the Black Diamond
Contour Trail Shock Trekking Poles. Thank you Black
Diamond and backpackgeartest.org for
providing me with the opportunity to test the Trail