Expert Review: Black Diamond Trail Cork Trekking Poles- Women'sPublished on 02/09/2023 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2021.
Hiking Poles can help everyone get outside more! Photo by MChe Lee. All photos courtesy of Nicole O.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2021.
The Black Diamond W’S Trail Cork Trekking Poles are a durable product. This gear is ideal for backpacking, sketchy day hikes, and thru-hiking. They’re great for any skill level of outdoor enthusiasts. From experts to beginners, having a good set of poles will help them in the long run.
About this gear
- Model: 2020 Black Diamond W’S Trail Cork Trekking Poles (in the Alpine Lake color)
- Size: 100-125cm
- When I bought these: January 2021
- Days tested: 100+
- Where I’ve used them: I’ve used these poles everywhere, from Utah and Alaska to thru-hiking the Continental Divide Trail (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico).
- Average elevation change on hikes: I’ve taken these poles on many 3,000 or 4,000-foot climbs.
- Hiking boots: I have consistently worn Merrel Moabs Ventilators or Keen Sandals.
- Terrain: These poles have been through rocky, granite, scree fields, snowshoe trails, icy hikes, and slot canyon slogs.
- Types of treks used for: I’ve taken these poles out on day hikes, backpacking trips, and a thru-hike.
- Height: 5’4”
- Weight: 135lbs
- Experience: I’ve thru-hiked, made plenty of backpacking trips, and taken more day hikes than I could ever count. I’ve been into hiking and camping for nearly a decade now.
How they perform
What I was looking for
I was looking for some trekking poles to help keep my knees in better shape while going on many backpacking trips. I am also a little clumsy and generally a little nervous about river crossings, so I wanted a set of durable trekking poles to keep me from falling.
Why I chose this gear
I chose the Black Diamond W'S Cork Trekking Poles because it’s from a brand I personally trust, has great reviews, and is durable. I also considered trekking poles like Leki Micro Vario Carbon and REI Co-op Flash Carbon, but I went out with the Black Diamond since they were more durable and had cork instead of foam for the grips.
What I love about them
- Adjustability: These poles are super simple to adjust, and the locking mechanism is very secure.
- Durability: The Black Diamonds are super durable. I’ve used them a ton and only have a slight bend in one to show for it. I feel fully confident in them supporting my full weight if I’m using one to break, stop a fall, or vault over some water.
- Packability They pack down pretty small for not being foldable poles. They collapse down to 24cm. Plenty easy to stick into my pack and not have it poke out aggressively far.
- Grip comfort: The grip is one of my favorite parts about these poles. It has cork handles, so the sweat doesn’t build as much. This was a selling point for me personally since I get sweaty hands, and I was worried trekking poles would exacerbate that, but these don’t.
- Versatility: The Black Diamonds are fantastic for day hiking, backpacking, and basically anything.
- Day Hiking: The Black Diamond W’S Trail Cork Trekking Poles are great for day hiking. They help stabilize me on tricky terrain or going up and down steep sections.
- Backpacking: These poles are great for backpacking. Poles are important when one carries such a heavy load. They help stabilize me, take the stress off my knees, and make backpacking a little easier overall.
- Mountaineering: These poles would be great for mountaineering since they’re lightweight and easy to use. Bonus, they come with snow baskets.
- Extra features: A nice feature is that it has a cork handle and a little foam grip under it. So when I’m going uphill, I can rest my hand there instead of shortening the whole pole since I need a shorter pole when going uphill than I do when going downhill.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: Weight can be a major downside to these poles for some. They are definitely some of the heavier poles recommended for backpackers. Being made from aluminum instead of carbon fiber make them a bit heavier. However, I never noticed the weight “weighing me down” or annoying me. And, I personally would rather have a sturdier pole that I know can hold my full weight if I’m trying to catch myself from a fall or vault over a river crossing.
- Baskets: These poles come with winter baskets. I personally found it tricky to get it on and off, and I even lost one once, so I don’t believe changing it out is simple or secure.
- Size: I am an average height for a woman, and they were a comfortable size, with room to be bigger or smaller. I wish they could be just an inch or two longer since I use a non-freestanding tarp, and the setup would be nicer if I could make my poles a little longer. Other than that, I think they are a great size for the good majority of women.
Favorite moment with this gear
It’s hard to pick an absolute favorite time with this gear since I’ve had so many. However, it makes river crossings so much easier and safer. One of my favorite backpacking trips was going through a slot canyon in Southern Utah. Testing the water depth and having three points of contact while moving through the water made it a significantly more enjoyable trip.
Value for the money vs. other options
I’d say that these trekking poles are of great value. They will last a very long time, maybe even forever, if taken good care of. While cheaper poles are out there, such as the Hiker Hunger Aluminum Trekking Poles, they’re usually quite heavy compared to the Black Diamond poles. And then carbon fiber poles, despite weighing less, often cost quite a bit more (around $200) like the MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon and aren’t guaranteed to last as long.
The Black Diamond W'S Trail Cork Trekking Poles are great for anyone looking to enjoy more stability on their hikes or backpacking trips. Their durability and super comfy ergonomic hand grips are reason enough to buy them. The reasonable price point is a huge bonus too.