Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Review

Solid features and a comfortable grip add to the performance of this shock absorbing master.
The Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Pole
By: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 30, 2014
Price:  $140 List  |  $132.41 at Amazon - 5% Off
Pros:  Best anti-shock system, good overall durability. Pretty good grip comfort
Cons:  Can't lock out the anti-shock system, not very compact, not as light as other anti-shock poles
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 10
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Packed Size - 15% 7
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 7
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Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock is a higher end version of the Black Diamond Trail Back that offers shock absorbtion. It has solid features plus a nice comfortable grip and the best shock absorbing system we tested, because both durability and not bottoming out prematurely, making the Trail Pro Shock our favorite shock absorbing pole in our review. While it wasn't as beefy as the Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Shock, most average to smaller sized users appreciated the Trail Pro Shock's smaller diameter grip and like the FlickLock closure system.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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Performance Comparison



Comfort


The Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock uses a nicely shaped foam grip with decent ergonomics and foam extending a short ways down the shaft for additional gripping area. The handle was similar to the much less expensive Black Diamond Trail Back but had better ergonomics and foam extending down the shaft. The strap is soft and above average compared with the other poles in our review. The shock absorbing system is a small percentage of comfort and we liked the shock absorption system on the Black Diamond poles both because we didn't think it bottomed out to early like on some of the Leki poles and we thought it was the most durable.

Locking Mechanism


The Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock employs their proprietary Flicklock system here, which involves an external lever. Black Diamond made this mechanism popular first and they continually update it. It has been a long-time favorite locking mechanism of ours because it's easy to use and durable. Today, Leki's similar SpeedLock rivals the Flicklock, as it also easy to use.

Weight


The Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock weighs in at 20 ounces, a little heavier than average overall among all of the poles in our review, but slightly lighter than average among shock absorbing poles available today. The Trail Pro Shock actually weighs the same amount as the non-shock absorbing version, the Trail Back.

Packability


All the shock absorbing poles were among the longest, least packable poles in our review and the Trail Pro Shock is no different. It packs down to 27" (68 cm). The only poles that were longer? You guessed it, the other shock absorbing pole, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork (29").

Durability


We thought the Trail Pro Shock wasn't quite as durable as the larger diameter, teardrop-shaped shafts of the Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Shock. Comparing them to all the poles we tested, the Trail Pro Shock is slightly above average in overall durability.

Shock Absorbing system


If you are just evaluating a pole on its shock absorber, this along with the Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Shock are the best. We liked its simple compression system better than any other shock absorbing poles in our review. We call it simple, because it looks simple when in fact Black Diamond uses a cool progressive 4-stage shock absorption system, that basically uses four different sections to absorb different levels of impact, from light shocks to heavy loads, and we thought it worked wonderfully. We like Black Diamond's system compared to some of the Leki models which we felt bottomed out a hair too easily.

Versatility


Unlike the Shocklight, the Trail Pro Shock can't lock out its anti-shock system, limiting its versatility. For most backpackers and trekkers this isn't a big deal, but for those users who really want that option for burly stream crossings, use on snow, or for aggressive travel where you are more actively leaning on, and using your poles for balance, this might make more of a difference.

Value and the Bottom Line


The Trail Pro Shock is a medium priced shock absorption pole that has one of the best shock absorption systems we tested. We thought it was durable and super effective and thought Black Diamond's four stage system worked great. While you can't lock the system out on the Trail Pro Shock, most folks looking for anti-shock poles don't feel the need to turn it off very often. The smaller diameter grips are some of the best for medium and smaller sized users and we found the shafts and the FlickLock mechanism easy to use and durable.

Ian Nicholson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 7, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Climber

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   Apr 7, 2017 - 12:57pm
thebigdrod · Climber · Colorado Springs

Given as a gift and didn't actually realize they had shock absorbers for the first two weeks I used them. I did notice (before I realized the sweet tech in these sticks) that they were a lot more comfy than any poles I'd ever used before. Can easily adjust the length, even with mitts on. Can take them apart and use them as snow anchors (which is a great feature if you're doing any alpine stuff). Foam grip below shock helps on the uphills. Top heavy but not ridiculous. Probably wouldn't have picked up poles with the shocks but I'm not upset that I have them.

TLDR

They do what they're supposed to. Shock is great. Heavy. Ability to break down lets you build emergency snow anchors (really, really helpful).



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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   Sep 23, 2015 - 12:43pm
Alois · Climber · Idyllwild, California

My 23 years old Leki Makalu shock absorbing poles died recently. I purchased the BD pair as a replacement. These BD poles works just as well, the locking mechanism is way better, the grips are much more comfortable and the poles are light. After about a year of using them in all seasons, I have nothing negative to say about them. I would buy them again.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Backpacker

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   Sep 23, 2015 - 01:24am
Coloradeaux · Backpacker · Denver, CO

I really can't find any fault with these poles. It comes down to preference when it comes to grip material and weight. For anti-shock poles, they have never failed me whether it's summer backpacking or winter snowshoeing.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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