The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

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Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 Review: Best Beginner/Casual Pole

Best Beginner/Casual Pole

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 30% 30%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 40% 40%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Price: $70

Weight: 624g (1lb 6oz)

Length: 100-140cm

Collapsed Length: 64cm (25in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Rubber

Grip Extensions: Rubber

Strap Style: Vari-width nylon webbing

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

What We Like: Excellent value at a low price. Very durable, great for heavy backpacking

What We Don’t: Large pack size due to telescopic design. Heavy

If you’re just getting into the hiking game and seeking out a pair of trekking poles that won’t skimp on quality nor break the bank, Black Diamond’s Trail Sport 3 poles may fit the bill. These three-section telescopic poles feature aluminum shafts and rubber grips, making them our top choice for casual hikers or those just starting out, and the study aluminum design will absorb all sorts of punishment without skipping a beat. However, these may not be the best choice for experienced distance hikers, much less those willing to spend a little more in order to optimize their comfort, pack size or weight.

A great value but far from top of the line, the Trail Sport 3s make for an excellent pair of poles for beginning or casual hikers. They offer reliable support for day-hikes, treks and backpacking adventures withFlickLock® adjustability and a new rubber grip with ventilation channels for better breathability. Ultralight hikers will definitely want to look elsewhere, as the Trail Sport 3s are the heaviest set of trekking poles on this list at 1lb 6oz (624g). Unlike the fixed-length construction of the Distance Z and Distance Carbon Z, the Trail Sport 3’s three-section aluminum shaft is fully adjustable and will fit a wide range of hikers, however this means they can only collapse down to 64cm (25in).

Amongst Black Diamond’s Trail series, these still might not be your best option, as both the Trail Back poles (which cost $10 more) and the Trail Explorer 3 poles (which cost $10 less) are both higher rated on the Black Diamond website. However, their telescopic design and aluminum shafts make these poles shockingly durable, while the rubber grips are surprisingly comfortable.

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The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Combination-style pole makes them adjustable and pack small durable and versatile enough to handle all four seasons

Cons

Slightly heavy for the price

Not as adjustable as purely telescopic poles

Weight: [95-110cm] 482g (17oz), [105-125cm] 510g (18oz), [120-140cm] 567g (1lb 4oz)

Length: 95-110cm, 105-125cm, 120-140cm

Collapsed Length: [95-110cm] 34cm (13.4in), [105-125cm] 37c (14.6in), [120-140cm] 40cm (15.7in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Combination (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock Pro

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Z - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Excellent price for folding poles

Very light for aluminum poles

Collapse down small, pack/unpack easily

Cons

Only three-season support, unlike the Alpine series

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 323g (11.4oz), [110cm] 343g (12.1oz), [120cm] 362g (12.8oz), [130cm] 402g (14.2oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Highly adjustable and packable

Comfortable grips/straps

Very durable for carbon fiber

Cons

A bit pricey

Weight: Men's - 481g (1lb 1oz), Women's - 459g (16.2oz)

Length: Men's - 110-130cm, Women's - 100-120cm

Collapsed Length: Men's - 40cm (16in), Women's - 40cm (16in)

Shaft Comp.: Pure Carbon

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Men's - Lock Security Strap (Skin), Women's - LEKI Skin Strap

Collapse Style: Combination (ELD)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip (Short)

Locking Mechanism: Speed Lock 2

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Incredibly comfortable grip and wrist strap

Telescopic design and thicker carbon makes them both adjustable and durable

Cons

Not as light as other carbon fiber poles

Larger pack size

A bit pricey

Weight: 486g (1lb 1.1oz)

Length: 100-130cm

Collapsed Length: 61cm (24in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: 360° nubuck

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Lightweight, great for trail running

Easy to unpack

Cons

Only 3 oz. lighter than the distance Zs at almost double the price

Similar price to the Alpine series but with only three-season support

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 263g (9.3oz), [110cm] 275g (9.7oz), [120cm] 283g (10oz), [130cm] 295g (10.4oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 30% 30%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 40% 40%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Excellent value at a low price

Very durable, great for heavy backpacking

Cons

Large pack size due to telescopic design

Heavy

Weight: 624g (1lb 6oz)

Length: 100-140cm

Collapsed Length: 64cm (25in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Rubber

Grip Extensions: Rubber

Strap Style: Vari-width nylon webbing

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 30% 30%
  • Durability 40% 40%
  • Locking/Adjustability 70% 70%

Pros

Incredible price for carbon fiber and cork

Comes With An Impressive Number Of Accessories

Cons

Doesn’t pack down small unless disassembled

Quick lock mechanism can complicate packing/unpacking

Could be more durable; entry-level hikers may want to opt for aluminum

Weight: 442g (15.6oz)

Length: 66-137cm

Collapsed Length: 66cm (26in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (Quick Lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Tungsten Carbide

Locking Mechanism: Quick Lock

Included Baskets: Boots, Mud, Snow and Small Tips

The Best Trekking Poles: Gossamer Gear LT5 - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 30% 30%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Incredibly light

Highly adjustable

Comfortable grip/strap

Cons

Could be more durable

Expensive

Twist locks could be more elegant

Weight: 300g (10.6oz)

Length: 60-130cm

Collapsed Length: 60cm (23in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: N/A

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (twist-lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Twist lock

Included Baskets: Standard

If you’re just getting into the hiking game and seeking out a pair of trekking poles that won’t skimp on quality nor break the bank, Black Diamond’s Trail Sport 3 poles may fit the bill. These three-section telescopic poles feature aluminum shafts and rubber grips, making them our top choice for casual hikers or those just starting out. The sturdy aluminum design will absorb all sorts of a punishment without skipping a beat. However, these may not be the best choice for experienced distance hikers, much less those willing to spend a little more in order to optimize their comfort, pack size, or weight.

Black Diamond has long been a well-known name in the hiking game, going back to the 1950s when Yvon Chouinard was selling his hand-forged pitons from the trunk of his car in Yosemite Valley. Since the company’s founding in 1989, they’ve established themselves in the climbing and skiing industries as well as many other outdoor pursuits. From helmets, crampons, and carabiners to backpacks, tents, and (you guessed it) trekking poles, they can help you scale the world.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Comfort

The Trail Sport 3s are the only Black Diamond trekking poles on this list with rubber grips, which is a decent material but certainly not the best, as foam and cork are generally considered to be far superior in terms of both weight and comfort. The rubber grips are by no means uncomfortable but will not wick away sweat to the same degree; they also have the potential to become slippery due to excessive sweat. They do, however, sport ventilation channels for better breathability and a rib pattern to dampen vibration on the trail.

In addition, the rubber material itself makes post-hike cleanup of these poles a much easier operation. Anyone who has ever glimpsed a pair of cork-gripped poles after a multi-day hike will attest to their, ahem, “grossness,” and it can be comforting to know that these can be easily disinfected and returned to their pre-hike condition.

The vari-width nylon webbing strap has a woven lining for added comfort. It’s not as light as Black Diamond’s distance straps or LEKI’s skin straps, but I can’t imagine the weight gain is at all significant.

Weight

Ultralight hikers will definitely want to look elsewhere, as the Trail Sport 3s are the heaviest set of trekking poles on this list at 1lb 6oz (624g). They’re even heavier than the Cascade Mountain Tech equivalent, their Aluminum Quick Lock Foam poles, which are less than half the price. However, with the additional weight of the Trail Sport 3s comes a higher degree of sturdiness. Bottom line: If you just need a set of poles to grab from the trunk at your nearest trailhead, these should more than suffice, but if you’re in need of a lightweight set, these will not make your list. For lightweight aluminum poles, you’d be better off going with the Distance Zs for another $30 dollars.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Packing

The Trail Sport 3s utilize a telescopic collapse system that is simply inferior to folding systems in terms of collapse size. These only collapse down to 64cm (25in), which is practically gargantuan compared to the collapsed Distance Z poles. The shortest of the Distance Z poles collapse down to 33cm while the largest collapse to 43cm.

The FlickLock system is used to lock the poles both in the collapsed and extended positions as well as adjust the height, which means that heavy use may wear on this locking mechanism. A worn-out locking system means that the poles will start slipping and telescoping once pressure is applied, which may as well render the poles useless.

Adjustability

Unlike the fixed-length construction of the Distance Z and Distance Carbon Z, the Trail Sport 3’s three-section aluminum shaft is fully adjustable and will fit a wide range of hikers. The built-in measurements on the poles make it simple to find the right height, an ideal feature for amateur and experienced hikers.

You may find that these trekking poles are not particularly easy to adjust with one hand but the chunky design works fairly well for gloved hands, so keep this in mind if you’re planning to change the height of these poles several times over the course of your adventuring. One reviewer recommended that you tighten the screws on the FlickLocks to ensure they don’t slip on the trail, however, I’d advise that users be cautious about modifying their poles if it runs any risk of damaging them.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Durability

A telescoping design with overlapping aluminum shafts adds to these poles’ overall strength. Truly, the durability of the Trail Sport 3s may quite possibly be one of their best selling points. I own a pair of their predecessors, and they have held up well over the course of several multi-day hiking trips with large packs. If you tend to be tough on your poles or are planning to do some heavy backpacking, these could make for a very decent option. The less-than-lightweight poles can bear a great deal of weight while the shafts themselves should hold up against some rough treatment, while also maintaining a great swing weight.

Price

The price tag associated with these trekking poles (approximately $70) is also one of their most attractive features. You could buy almost three pairs of Trail Sport 3s for the same price as one set of LEKI Micro Vario Carbons or Gossamer Gear LT5s.

Although there are certainly cheaper alternatives out there—as mentioned earlier, the Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Quick Lock Foam poles retail for just around $25. There’s also a certain comfort associated with purchasing an established brand that stands behind the quality of their products. That kind of comfort is priceless.

Other Features

Unfortunately, this particular pair of budget poles is lacking in bells and whistles. Unlike the Cascade Mountain Techs, you won’t get any spare tips or even a travel bag, which can be especially helpful if you need to disassemble these for travel. They are compatible with snow baskets, although they may not be an ideal choice for alpine skiing. I will say, though, that the Trail Sport 3s’ durable structure practically gives them four-season support and wouldn’t be your worst option if you’re going to slip on some snowshoes.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

A great value but far from top of the line, the Trail Sport 3s make for an excellent pair of poles for beginning or casual hikers. They offer reliable support for day-hikes, treks, and backpacking adventures withFlickLock® adjustability, and a new rubber grip with ventilation channels for better breathability.

Amongst Black Diamond’s Trail series, these still might not be your best option, as both the Trail Back poles, which cost $10 more, and the Trail Explorer 3 poles, which cost $10 less, are both higher rated on the Black Diamond website. However, their telescopic design and aluminum shafts make these poles shockingly durable, while the rubber grips are surprisingly comfortable.

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!