Black Diamond Alpine CF
I got hooked on trekking poles 11 years ago when I…
Price Paid: $104
I got hooked on trekking poles 11 years ago when I was backpacking alone in fairly remote regions of trails. I had purchased a pair of Leki Super Makalu Anti-shock poles, and have been using them ever since. About 5 years ago I purchased my now-wife a pair of Komperdell poles and she also swears by the benefits of using them while backpacking.
However, both sets of these trekking poles have proven difficult to keep tightened, and are now to the point where it can be challenging to get the screw-mechanism to engage to even begin to lock the lower section of the poles in place. While this is annoying on general backpacking trips, it became very problematic on two mountaineering trips where I was unable to get the poles to the correct length at times when I really wanted to use them. The guides on both trips recommended looking at Black Diamond's poles.
The Alpine CF poles are a perfect design for mountaineering usage. The poles are noticeably lighter than my Lekis, the flicklock mechanisms are awesome and very mitt/glove-friendly, and the extended grip on the poles allows you to grip lower on the pole for steep terrain without having to grip the cold/uninsulated pole or change the length of the pole.
Plus, I've found that the strap on these poles is easier to adjust the length of than either of the other two poles that we've owned, and while it's a little detail, it's still appreciated.
I haven't found myself missing the anti-shock feature of the other poles that we use. Whether this is because I don't generally put a whole lot of weight on my poles, or because the carbon fiber dampens the shock I'm not sure, but either way the poles are great as-is.
The only thing I might miss is the positive angle grip from my Leki poles (not the cork grip though - the grip material on the BD poles are fine). It's definitely not a must-have, but I actually do think it added a bit of ergonomic comfort. I'll still take the Alpine CFs with me any day of the week on any trip, so I categorize this as a very minor complaint.
Overall the Black Diamond Alpine CF poles are a very welcome addition to my gear collection. If weight isn't an absolute concern, Black Diamond claims that their Spire poles are stronger and that could be a useful feature. However, I'm into gram counting mode for future trips, so the Alpine CF poles are the ones for me.
I have never been one to use trekking poles -- ever.
Price Paid: $130
I have never been one to use trekking poles -- ever. Not once. But when confronted with a 7 mile stretch that was going to be nothing less than a consistent slog down a flowing river, I realized it was time to try them out. Boy am I glad I did -- these poles literally saved my bacon!
Having never used trekking poles in the past, I have nothing to compare these to, but these poles delivered exactly what I wanted: a solid device I could trust putting weight on.
If you've ever hiked up a moving river ranging in depth from boot-high up to a meter or so -- and filled with silt or algae-covered rocks -- then you know the benefit of being able to put your weight on something like a solid trekking pole. I am not a small guy, and having put my weight on these over and over again, I saw no slippage whatsoever. I also appreciated not having to guess as to the length of each pole, since there are marks for setting the length you want -- a particularly nice feature if you're hiking with two poles since you'd want both to be the same length.
Bottom line: these poles are worth every penny spent, and I'd recommend them to anyone who is in the market for a great trekking pole.