Black Diamond Trekking Poles

July 9, 2008
Filed under Camping Gear, Misc. Camping Gear, Sporting Goods

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Trekking poles can be a blessing for hikers of all ages and aspirations. It doesn’t matter whether your bagging a peak or exploring a lazy trail through the woods, a pair of trekking poles can make the experience a lot easier and more fun. What can a pair of trekking poles do for you? They can act as a second set of legs, providing a four-point contact system between you and the terrain. The extra balance and control offered by two more “legs” is especially helpful over uneven or rocky terrain, or when crossing creeks.

Black Diamond trekking poles can also help take some of the pressure and impact off of your hips, knees, and ankles. By using them and your arms to help pull you uphill, your legs are relieved of some of the work. More beneficial yet is the softening of downhill impact on feet, legs and hips. Trekking poles can soak up some of the impact that would normally be completely focused on your knees, ankles and feet. And although a pair is best, even using a single trekking pole can make a big difference.

Secure adjustability and grip comfort are two keys to a good trekking pole. Especially nice are poles that also incorporate a shock-absorption system. One trekking pole with those features and more is Black Diamond Equipment’s new Contour Elliptic Shock Trekking Pole incorporating the company’s Control Shock Technology (CST).

The most outwardly apparent feature of the Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Shock poles used during my last half-dozen hikes is an elliptic, rather than round, pole design that presents a sturdier fore-to-aft shape that yields increased stiffness. They are made from extruded aluminum for lightweight strength. That’s just the beginning. Black Diamond’s exclusive FlickLock lever-locks offer tension adjustment to prevent slipping and provide easy to use (even with gloves on), solid and secure locking of the three sections once proper height adjustment is established. The CST in the handles of the Contour Elliptic Shock poles is a progressive four-stage damping system that served well to suck up the hard plants without bottoming out, while damping the lighter impacts without noticeable rebound.

Adjusting the poles so my elbows were bent at just a bit more than a 90-degree angle (hands a little lower than elbows) when gripping the pole handles was generally the most comfortable position, but the best height adjustment is always a matter of personal comfort. See what works best for you.

Using the Nubuck wrist straps does allow your hands to be free, while keeping the poles “close at hand,” but that is also a matter of personal comfort. The top half of the 16-inch handles on the Contour Elliptic Shocks offer a firm, dual-density foam; the bottom half is collared in another layer of firm foam. Gripping the handle securely is good advice, but not with a stranglehold, too tight a grip can fatigue your hands.

The new Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Shock poles come in two sizes: 140 cm length and the Compact model (125 cm) with smaller grip size for smaller hands. The 140′s collapsed size is 27 inches, it offers a usable range from 30 to 55 inches, and weighs just 1 pound, 8 ounces. At 24.5 inches collapsed, the 125′s usable range is from 27.5 to 49 inches, and it weighs 2 ounces less than the 140. Both have a $129 price tag (MSRP). Have the Contour Elliptic Shock poles made a difference? They have made my favorite rock-strewn dry creek scrambles in the local canyons a lot easier. Black Diamond Equipment: 801/278-5552; /bdel.com/.

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