Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable grip, good features, solid construction
Cons: Doesn't pack small, heavy, lacks versatility
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork
|Price||$139.95 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
$169.95 at Amazon
$139.95 at Amazon
|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
$42.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Comfortable grip, good features, solid construction||Comfortable grip, locks securely, packs small, highly versatile||Fairly lightweight, packable, adjust and collapse easily, durable for a lightweight pole||Lightweight, short collapsed length, surprisingly durable||Durable, comfortable grip, packs small|
|Cons||Doesn't pack small, heavy, lacks versatility||Carbon is less durable than aluminum, on the expensive side||Spendy, only slightly above-average comfort||No length adjustability, average grip comfort||Heavy, less versatile due to weight|
|Bottom Line||These poles are comfortable, but they lack versatility and are a bit heavy||A simple, elegant, and well-built trekking pole with versatility for all uses||A lightweight but durable pole that is highly packable and features easy adjustment and collapsibility||Durable with a short collapsed length, this is a fantastic value for a lightweight pole||A highly affordable pair of poles with all of the features of more expensive models|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Trail...||MSR DynaLock Ascent...||Black Diamond Dista...||Black Diamond Dista...||Trekology Trek-Z|
|Locking and Adjustability (15%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Construction Quality (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Trail...||MSR DynaLock Ascent...||Black Diamond Dista...||Black Diamond Dista...||Trekology Trek-Z|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||18 oz||17 oz||16 oz||12.5 oz||26 oz|
|Shaft Material||Aluminum||Carbon fiber||Aluminum||Aluminum||Aluminum|
|Collapsed Length||27 in||14.25 in||14/15 in||13/14/16/17 in||15 in|
|Max Length||55 in||47 in||49.2 in||39/43/47/51 in||47 in|
|Grip Material||Cork, foam||Rubber, plastic, foam||Foam||EVA foam||Foam|
|Locking Mechanism||FlickLock||DynaLock||External Lever Lock||Speed Cone Deployment||Lever lock|
|Baskets/Tip Attachments?||No||Yes, winter and summer baskets||Yes, rubber and carbide tips and trail baskets||Yes, rubber and carbide tips||Yes, powder and trail baskets, boots, and narrow tips|
|Size Tested||One size||100-120 cm||105-125 cm||110 cm||100-120 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Trail Ergo Cork performs decently in some of the most important areas, like comfort, locking and adjustability, and quality construction. More advanced users will want a lighter and more compact pole, but for most on-trail uses and casual day hikers, these poles are just fine.
The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork sets itself apart from the competition with a grip that is tilted forward from vertical to better align with the wrist's natural position. In reality, our testers could barely feel the difference, and in blind tests, we couldn't identify the angulation at all. Perhaps there is a placebo effect, but we don't fully buy into the marketing. The primary grips are made from cork, which molds to the user's hand over time, but it can also feel clammy in hot weather. The straps are padded, adding comfort, and there is also a secondary grip made of foam for choking up on the pole while side-hilling. The top of the handle is also rounded, making it comfortable to push down upon when moving. Overall, these are comfortable poles.
At 18 ounces per pair, these are some of the heavier trekking poles on the market. As a three-section aluminum telescoping pole, we didn't expect these to weigh in as low as the foldable carbon poles, but we are still a bit disappointed. This weight makes the Trail Ergo Cork unsuitable for long endurance hikes or speed-oriented hikers and endurance athletes. Indeed, after hours of hiking, we felt the heavy swing weight and were relieved when we switched to other lighter models.
The Trail Ergo Cork is heavy but relatively durable, making them a good choice for everyday hikers and casual mountain walkers. But, their heavy weight makes them unsuitable for long-distance endurance missions, mountain runners, or alpine climbers. They don't pack small, so they can't be used by climbers, and their plastic flick locks make them unsuitable for trekking in remote mountain ranges where replacement parts are difficult to find. These poles are only suited for casual hikers and walkers.
Locking and Adjustability
With 40 centimeters (16 inches) of length adjustment, these poles provide some of the most adjustability on the market. However, our testers rarely needed this much length adjustment. These poles are great for a company fleet or for rentals, but for individual use, we think they are overkill, and the highly adjustable length adds weight. The Flicklock locking mechanism is easy to operate but requires a screwdriver to tighten or adjust, whereas other poles can be hand-tightened or adjusted with a coin. Occasionally, our testers found themselves with loose locks and no way to adjust them until coming home.
Collapsing to a minimum size of 27 inches, these poles don't pack down small. If they live in the garage and in your hand on the trail exclusively, this isn't a problem, but for anyone who stashes their poles on their pack, needs their poles to disappear inside a pack while climbing, or who wants a low-profile trekking pole for airplane travel, this is a major impediment.
Cork handles mold to the contours of your hands over time, but they also chip easily and attract critters. During our testing, we damaged one of the cork handles during regular use. The aluminum shaft sections are high-quality and built to last, but the plastic lever locks used to connect them and hold the pole's length steady could break if smashed against rocks. Other poles use metal lever locks to eliminate this weak point.
The Trail Ergo Cork is relatively expensive compared to other poles on the market, and we don't think its features merit such a high price. There are better poles out there that cost much less, and the refined grip and durable construction aren't quite enough to deserve such a premium, in our opinion.
Overall, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork is noteworthy for its comfortable grip, relatively high construction quality, and large length adjustability. However, the heavy weight and large packed size detract from overall versatility, and we have some minor durability concerns. There are better values on the market, but if you are looking for a simple, everyday pole for casual hiking and walking, these are a decent choice.
— Jeff Dobronyi
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