Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

Posted on Categories Gear Reviews

It wasn’t until I began winter hiking that I understood how great Trekking poles were. Before I had always wondered what I needed them for- I had never had a problem getting up and down mountains without them, how would using them make any difference? But hiking in the snow is a totally different game, and after embracing them they’ve now made it into my all-season gear essentials. Between the uphill advantages and the downhill knee-saving, I would highly recommend adding poles to your kit if you haven’t already. And my trekking pole of choice right now is the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles.

Performance

In my experience, Black Diamond typically makes very good products and the Trail Ergo Cork poles live up to that. I have used these poles on everything from ascending steep snow filled ravines to bushwhacking thick forests.

The tips of the poles have kept me stable on ice and have saved me more than a handful of times from slipping and falling. I weigh ~170lbs and have used them carrying around a 30-40 pound pack and I have never seen any issues in terms load capacity.

For adjusting height, they have dual FlintLocks that allow for quick and easy resizing. This allows for people of most heights to use these poles, as well as change the size depending on the slope and direction you are hiking. Shorter for uphill, longer for downhill.

Bushwhacking with the Black Diamond Ergo Cork Poles
A winter bushwhack using the Ergo Cork Poles.

One of the main issues with these poles is that when they come new the screws aren’t tight enough to keep the poles from sliding back into themselves. The continual pressure from hiking will slowly push the poles back down to a shorter length.

This can get annoying when you repeatedly have to stop and readjust the height. In the winter it can be even more frustrating if moisture gets inside and freezes, thus preventing you from being able to readjust the height until it has defrosted.

Thankfully it is a really simple fix for this issue. All you have to do is tighten the screws yourself and the poles should work fine.

Durability

I have had these poles for 3 years now and I have yet to have any malfunctions. I regularly take them on hikes throughout the White Mountains, and while they have plenty of scratches, functionally they are still at 100%.

I wouldn’t consider these poles “heavy”, but there are certainly lighter ones on the market if that is what you are looking for. I have heard horror stories of people getting ultralight trekking poles and having them snap days into their trip.What these poles may lack in lightness they do make up for in hardiness.

I am planning on taking these on a PCT thru hike Spring 2018, and will update this review with how well they hold up when I get back.

Comfort

These poles have two key design features centered around comfort: a 15° corrective angle and cork handles.

The corrective angle is supposed to keep your wrists in a neutral position to improve comfort and decrease the chance of repetitive motion injuries. While this may be true, I haven’t noticed the benefits myself. I do always make sure to use the poles in the correct hands, but occasionally I’ll have them backwards by accident and it doesn’t feel noticeably different.

Now the cork handle is something that I absolutely stand by. Regardless of what pole you get, I highly recommend getting one with cork handles.

Black Diamond Ergo Cork Poles, Cork Grip
The cork grip.

One of the best aspects of the cork is that it doesn’t conduct temperatures very well. It always feels pretty neutral, meaning in the summer it won’t be too hot to touch and in the winter it won’t be freezing.

Additionally the cork absorbs moisture, meaning your grip will always be strong no matter how sweaty your hands get.

Black Diamond Ergo Cork Poles
Pros Cons
  • Great stability and performance
  • Easy to adjust height
  • Highly durable, doesn’t break easy
  • Cork handles are the best kind of handles
  • FlintLock doesn’t hold the poles height in place without manually tightening the screws
  • On the more expensive side

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