Gear Review: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
Trekking & Snow Poles
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
$170, 1 lb. 2 oz. (with trekking baskets)
One size, adjustable
If you make the mountains your playground in all seasons and find your budget tapped by a variety of boots, packs, and other gear for your sports, the notion of purchasing more than one pair of poles may create some financial hardship (and it cuts into your beer budget). You need one pair of sticks that do it all. From six mid-October days of hiking in the western North Carolina mountains, including a 34-mile backpacking trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to days of backcountry skiing in the Idaho mountains, I leaned on BD’s Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles and they stood up to every task.
The lightest trekking poles on the market are made primarily for a specific purpose: ultralight hiking on trails. But 100 percent carbon fiber shafts make the Alpine Carbon Cork poles both reasonably lightweight and sturdy enough for year-round hard use in the alpine, from backpacking, off-trail scrambling, and mountain climbing to backcountry skiing, riding, and snowshoeing. To that end, they come with interchangeable trekking and snow baskets, which easily screw on and off in seconds, and interchangeable carbide and rubber tips.
I’m a big fan of the dual FlickLock Pro levers for adjusting the length of these three-section poles: They’re easy to open and close, and once snapped shut, they never slip. Their secure and easy adjustability were exactly what I needed on the constant up and down of dayhiking North Carolina’s 12-mile, 3,500-vertical-foot Black Mountain Crest Trail, which passes over 13 6,000-foot summits, including the highest peak in the East, 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell. Plus, a small screw lets you quickly adjust the tension on the FlickLock levers. The length ranges from 63cm/25 inches collapsed—compact enough to tuck under a pack’s exterior compression straps—to 130cm/51 inches fully extended, long enough for tall people.
The durable cork handles proved comfortable on bare hands for hours of hiking and provide a secure grip for sweaty palms or gloves; and there’s a non-slip, EVA foam extension below the cork for choking up on the shaft. The padded wrist straps adjust with a tug, never slip, and accommodate fat gloves and mittens.
For strictly ultralight hiking and backpacking, these aren’t the lightest or most compact model available. But if you’re a multi-mountain-sport enthusiast and want one pair of poles that do it all, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles are your sticks.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles at backcountry.com.
I always hike with poles. Read why in my “10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier.”
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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