Expert Review: Black Diamond Trail Cork Trekking PolesPublished on 10/29/2022 · 4 min read This review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I tested for four days in October of 2022.
All photos courtesy of Octavio Rivas
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I tested for four days in October of 2022.
Black Diamond Trail Cork Trekking Poles are great affordable hiking poles that are made of aluminum and use a cork handle. These features mean the poles will be very durable under all conditions, but also comfortable and light.
About this gear
- Model: 2022 Black Diamond Trail Cork Trekking Poles
- Size: One Size
- When I tested these: October 2022
- Days tested: 4 days
- Where I’ve used them: Desolation Wilderness, Mt. Rose, Marlette Lake-Tahoe
- Average elevation change on hikes: 2,400 ft.
- Hiking boots/Trail Runners: Salomon Speedcross 6
- Terrain: Rocky, dirt, snow, mud
- Types of treks used for: Day hikes, backpacking, and trail running
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 200lbs
- Experience: 16 years of hiking/backpacking
How they perform
What I was looking for
I wanted an affordable hiking pole that I could store in my car in case I forget my other poles, or if I have a friend who needs poles when going on an adventure with me.
Why I tested this gear
As my backup pole, I wanted something that was going to be affordable, durable, and comfortable, as well as versatile enough to tackle any outdoor activity I might have planned. Another option I looked at was the Leki Legacy Lite which is similar in price and uses the same aluminum and a cork handle materials.
What I love about it
- Weight: At only 1lb 1oz for the pair, it is a very lightweight trekking pole. It’s composed of 7075 aluminum shafts which keep weight low and increase durability.
- Durability: Because it uses 7075 aluminum, the Trail Cork will be very durable. Instead of breaking like a carbon pole might, it is designed to bend instead.
- Baskets: It comes with trekking and snow baskets, which makes it superior to many of the alternatives on the market where the snow basket will need to be bought separately.
- Size: Black Diamond manufactures the Trail Cork in only one size (100-140cm or 39-55 in.), but they also produce a women's version which is smaller (100-125 cm or 39-49 in.).
- Versatility: The baskets provided by Black Diamond mean this pole can be used in any conditions the user may face.
- Day Hiking: The Trail Cork would be a fantastic pole for day hikes and I believe it excels in this area as it has everything needed for a great time on five to 10-mile hikes.
- Backpacking: Because of its lightweight construction, it would be a great pole to take on these trips. And, as it’s an aluminum pole, it’s made to last for several seasons without worrying about damaging it.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Grip comfort: The Trail Cork uses a cork handle which is nice for keeping sweat away. However, it does deteriorate faster than a foam (EVA) handle, and I didn’t find it as ergonomic as other poles I’ve tested. I would suggest looking into the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork, which provides more of an ergonomic shape and will be enjoyed on long hikes.
- Adjustability: It has a collapsed length of 62cm, or 25 inches, and uses Flicklock adjustability, which is great at keeping the pole from collapsing. However if the pole needs to be tightened, it will require the use of a Phillips head screwdriver.
- Packability: Because it only collapses to 62 cm (25 inches), this is not a pole that can be tucked inside a backpack for storage. They will need to be placed outside.
Favorite moment with this gear
I took my adventure group to a 10-mile hiking trail in October to see the Aspen trees change colors. We encountered some snow from the first snow dusting of the season and it was absolutely stunning. Several members also tried the pole and love knowing that it’s a very durable, and affordable pole. It performed great in the dirt, mud, and snowy conditions we encountered.
Value for the money vs. other options
In terms of value, the Black Diamond Distance Trail Cork is a great option that offers a lot to the user in the form of two baskets, durability, light weight, and comfort. Another great, comparable option I would consider is the Leki Legacy Lite, which has many similarities and the price point is in the same ballpark. It is also made of aluminum and uses a cork handle. And for those who want a little more comfort in the handle I would upgrade it to the Trail Ergo Cork, which only differs from the Trail Cork by having a more ergonomic handle for wrist comfort.
I think the Black Diamond Distance Trail Cork is a phenomenal option for hikers looking into purchasing their first hiking pole. Black Diamond does great in offering two baskets for versatility year-round, making this a pole that will handle everything thrown at it.