Black Diamond Trail Back Review and Trekking Pole Discussion

Find out more about these awesome trekking poles here!:

I’ll be honest in that I have learned the hard way that there are some pieces of equipment that you really need to do your homework on before you dive into a purchase. Trekking poles are one of those products. Several years ago I purchased a cheap-o set from Wal Mart for general purposes, and found myself in a situation where I really had to rely on my poles for support.

Last winter a friend of mine and myself went winter camping in a state forest. We were “totally” prepared for the weather that was predicted, and so we were slated to have a good time out in the woods. One thing we failed to prepare for though was if the weather man was wrong (which he was). That night a blizzard ended up rolling through and brought the temperature 40 degrees lower than we had prepared for equipment-wise. The weather man predicted 20 and it ended up getting down to -20 with the windchill. Needless to say, we had to do an emergency bug out somewhere between midnight and 1AM.

As we were bugging out, I realized how important my trekking poles became to me in that blizzard. They were a huge help to me in maintaining balance and avoiding potentially dangerous footholds that were covered by the snow. The situation could have been a lot worse had I not invested in a pair of poles.

Now, those poles were great and all, but they weren’t the kind that I was going to stake my life on in the future, and so I went pole shopping once more. I fell in love with a set of Swissgear poles I saw at Gander Mountain that had a built-in LED light and cork-like handles and decided to purchase them out of impulse.

Boy was I disappointed. They came with no instructions as to how to install the batteries, and a week after purchasing them, the “cork-like” handles slipped right off without any effort! I hadn’t even taken them to the trail yet! Shortly thereafter, I did take them on the trail for a week in PA. After the week was done, I was done with them. The ring protectors that cover the ends of each pole section wouldn’t stay in place, the screw-lock system became unreliable, and the batteries/LED lights kept giving me problems. All in all, I would stay away from Swissgear trekking poles if at all possible.

Needless to say, when I went home, I found myself pole shopping once more. This time though, I did my homework. I wanted to get the best bang for my limited buck and after reading several reviews I ended up purchasing a set of the Black Diamond Trail Back trekking poles. I couldn’t have been happier. These things are amazingly rugged, are very simple to adjust with their flick-lock system, and are more compact than most comparable trekking poles. Once more though I put these to the test by taking them on the trail for a week, and have to say that I would highly recommend them to anyone. They are about the best pole in their price-range, and I would even put them against poles much more costly.

Check out the video and let me know what you think! What poles do you use on your adventures?

If this is your first time with us, my name is Dave, and David’s Passage is the name of my vlog. This passage in life started with a desire to share my love of the outdoors with the world. My hope is that those who tune into my videos will be inspired to venture out and enjoy all of creation for what it’s worth. This video blog features videos on an array of outdoor-related topics, as well as DIY projects that might just help you more fully enjoy the outdoors. New videos come out on Tuesdays at 3pm EST, so please subscribe and be on the lookout for new content soon!

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The song sample you heard in the intro was from the finger-style guitarist, David Youngman. I highly recommend you check him out.
I obtained full permission from the original artist to use his music in my videos.


seattwa says:

Where did you get your boonie hat? I have two, but mine have wider brims.

David's Passage says:

I believe I go that one at Wal Mart.

Springer Spaniel says:

Hi I just purchased a pair of these, purchased them at an Outdoor Camping/hunting supply store in Canada and paid 119.00 Cdn. Will take them on a spring mountain hike. I too love the locking system on these. I purchased a more expensive Lexi pair last year, they continually collapsed on me on the first use it was an intense 18 km hike in the mountains and I returned them the same week. Began looking for a replacement pair and selected these. These look so much more reliable and durable. I think these will be the winning poles for me. Great review!

David's Passage says:

I can’t remember the total length. I’m 6’1″ and I find that when I set both sections on 30cm I am good to go. From what I understand, the models with the shock absorbers do add a bit of weight and length to the poles. These are the shortest models from what I understand, and they are quite packable.

David's Passage says:

Awesome! I still love mine 🙂

papermason says:

I bought mine a week ago, and I really like them! I’m just trying to figure out technique, I have a leg that doesn’t always do what I want it to do. But I’m so glad I got them.

papermason says:

Great review, by the way, David.

seattwa says:

What is the maximum length of yours open? They are listed in cenemeters in length on amazon and in the US we dont speak metric! And how tall are you? B D does make a shock obsorbing model, the trail shock.

David's Passage says:

Glad I could help. I have nothing bad to say about these, and I’ve been using them for over a year now.

Bill Foster says:

You show the spring in the Swiss Gear pole. That spring is actually the shock absorbing mechanism. The twist lock is on the very end. The Trail Back pole doesn’t have any shock absorbing mechanism built-in. There is an advantage to this… With no spring, it adds to the primary/secondary tube overlap. This means the prim/secondary sections can extend to their full potential length. So shorter poles without springs can extend to the same length as longer shocked poles. PLUS, this saves weight.

Pakforce1 says:

Thank you excellent review

Dan Leasure says:

I also had the Walmart ones but they would slip down if I put hardly any weight on them even adjusted tight. So a week ago I was shopping with my wife at cargo largo and spied some poles kinda hidden behind the counter on top of a shelf made them get them down I got a steal for them 29 dollars Black Diamond ultra distance z light poles carbon fiber rei like 160 so I have been itching to test them out. They are so light and I love how small they pack up and pop right in place.

DiGiTaLdAzEDM says:

You should always do research first when buying gear that you must depend upon in the bush. I just bought a set of the Black Diamond Trail Back poles–first trekking poles I have invested in. They actually are an entry level pole for that company, but based on the strong reviews I decided I did not need all the bells and whistles found on more expensive models. One primary use of these for me will be in creating quick shelters with a tarp or even a poncho when back packing, or day hiking.

seattwa says:

Hey David, finally got to use my trailbacks today. Unfortunately in was urban trekking in the city. Walking to rehab after back surgery. With the rubber tips on, I was very happy with them they worked very well! Not the woods, but that’s next.

Robert Baker says:

I agree with your comments. When purchasing poles in Canada at MEC, the salesclerk took me directly to the Black Diamond poles. I am totally satisfied!

seattwa says:

I ordered a pair off of ebay a couple days ago, non shock type. You’re 2 inches taller than me but they’re adjustable so I’ll see how it goes. Thanks for the help David!

glenn anthony says:


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