About 3 months ago, I lost my favorite hiking poles and had to replace them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my old poles anymore. I got them a few years ago at Sierra Trading Post and I don’t think they’re available in this country.
My old poles were 130cm, 1-piece carbon walking poles made by Komperell for nordic walking. They were fixed length and never needed to be readjusted which I considered a big plus. How many times have you had to wait for a companion because their pole locks loosen and they have to re-adjust them?
So I went to REI to see if I could find a pair of poles with a reliable locking mechanism. My friend Karin had raved about Black Diamond poles and I decided to check them out. Black Diamond poles use a locking technology called flicklock which is easy to adjust even while you are wearing gloves. It also clamps down really tight and NEVER slips unlike the Lekis or REI branded poles I tried.
So I bought myself a pair of the Black Diamond “Trail” model, shown above. They have 3 sections which lets you collapse them for easy plane travel and a nice long cushioned grip which lets you self adjust by moving your grip up and down when climbing or descending a grade. I find the hand strap a bit awkward to get in and out of and will probably end up just cutting them off. The shaft material is aluminum and the tip is carbide. The pair weight 1lb. 2 oz. and come with two baskets.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using his own funds.
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Cut off the straps?
Properly worn (powergrip style, reach up through and grasp over) straps moves much of the strain from your hands to your stronger wrists and forearms.
I noticed that newly taught snow skiers are no longer being taught to wear straps this way and I assume it's just becoming a lost bit of knowledge.
But this is a hiking blog. They really are not necessary – completely different biomechanics.
Do they also tell you that using straps is the number one reason people get broken or die when caught in an avalanche – because they can't jettison their poles. Something to consider for backcountry skiers. Ask an avalanche expert about it.
As a newbie hiker I was wondering if I should be using poles on my first solo backpacking trip coming up next week.
A 10 miles jaunt the other day (after an amazing thunderstorm the night before) had me slipping and sliding over all sorts of rocks and mud. I must have fallen three times and nearly fell a dozen more.
Needless to say, I went out and bought a pair of these today. Thanks for the advice.
I think you should if only to get used to hiking with them. (They also make good emergency spears if you are charged by wild boars.) Just kidding. Eventually, using them will be become second nature and you won't have to look at where you are planting the poles or even where you place your feet! That may be hard to believe now, but you'll get there soon.
I highly recommend using hiking poles too. They reduce strain on your knees, help maintain balance, give your upper body a good workout, and once you are used to them, you won't think twice. I hardly ever hike without them now.