Review: Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles

Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
$140, 1 lb. 2 oz. (140cm)
Men’s and women’s models, adjustable

Sometimes it’s the subtle design features that distinguish one model of trekking poles from another. From winter dayhikes in New England and Idaho on trails that ranged from icy and snowy to dry, to a six-day, 94-mile backpacking trip through Glacier National Park, Black Diamond’s new Trail Ergo Cork poles proved durable, versatile, widely adjustable, and useful for hiking and backpacking in all seasons. Here’s why.

Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles grips.
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles grips.

One of the Trail Ergo Cork’s most unique features is the 15-degree forward angle of the grips. When swinging the poles while striding, that “ergo” angle naturally places the pole tips in the ground behind my feet, where they deliver the most power. I really like that, especially in poles that are on the heavier end (because they’re built for durability, they’re not ultralight); and for hiking on trails, where you tend to move faster and more straight ahead than when hiking off-trail.

The cork grips don’t slip or feel greasy when your hands get wet with perspiration, and the foam extensions provide a lower grip on the shaft for reaching uphill on steep, off-trail terrain when scrambling or backcountry skiing or snowshoeing.

The length of these three-section poles adjusts using BD’s tried-and-true FlickLock levers, which reliably lock securely and open quickly and easily with a thumb or finger, even when wearing warm gloves. Tension on the FlickLock levers is adjustable using a Phillips screwdriver or any multi-tool or Swiss Army knife that has a Phillips head—meaning they’re adjustable in the backcountry when you’re carrying one of those common tools. With the tension set properly, I’ve never found the levers difficult to open or close, or seen them slip under sudden weight (like when catching yourself on a pole).

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The poles have a huge adjustability range of 74cm to 140cm (29-55 ins.), exceeding most trekking poles, making them useable for everyone from very tall people to short adults and even kids. The aluminum shafts are a bit heavier than carbon, but very durable, and won’t sheer like carbon can under unusual stresses. If you’re hard on poles, you don’t have to worry about bending or shattering these poles.

With a collapsed length of 73.5cm, the Trail Ergo Cork poles do stick up above the top of most daypacks when attached to the outside, so they’re obviously not as packable as folding poles; but they fit on the side of most backpacks and climbing or skiing packs, and in luggage.

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The wrist straps are wider than you’ll find on many poles, and that greater surface area translates to more comfort—especially on long, hard day—and a more-secure feel in challenging terrain. The straps adjust easily, lengthening by pulling up on the top strap and tightening by pulling down on the bottom strap.

As with many poles, the standard carbide tech tips grip the usual trail and ground surfaces you’ll encounter, from dirt to rock, and can be swapped out for rubber tips (sold separately, pliers required). The poles come with trekking and snow baskets.

BD has several models in its Trail Series that vary in design and price from the Trail Ergo Cork poles. Click here to see a menu of options.

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Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Poles


The Verdict

While on the heavy end of the spectrum and not as packable as many trekking poles, the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork poles are a widely adjustable, durable, and functional quiver-of-one pair of poles for backpacking, dayhiking, scrambling peaks, and snowshoeing—at a competitive price.



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See my picks for “The 10 Best Trekking Poles” and my “10 Best Expert Tips for Hiking With Trekking Poles,” and all of my reviews of backpacking gear, ultralight backpacking gear, and hiking gear.

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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 my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

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