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I don’t love trekking poles. I’ve found most models to be heavy, unwieldy, and awkward.
After borrowing a partner’s pair for a few miles, I often wonder, “What’s the point?” They make scrambling and using your hands difficult.
So when Cnoc Outdoors (pronounced k’nok — meaning “hill” or “mount” in Gaelic and old Irish) offered us a free pair of their Vertex Carbon and EVA Trekking Poles, I didn’t expect to like them but was intrigued.
As someone typically averse to carrying poles in the backcountry, I was a clean slate for testing. I accepted and for three months put these things through the ringer.
When all was said and done, I genuinely enjoyed the Cnoc trekking poles.
- Collapsed length: 14.5″
- Extended length: 45″ – 53″
- Weight: 7.7 oz each
- Material: 100% carbon shaft; 7075 flight grade aluminum connectors
- Handle: EVA Foam grip with wrist straps
- Included accessories: rubber tips, mud baskets, snow baskets, and mesh storage bag
What We Like
The Cnoc carbon trekking poles are unique for their weight, compatibility, versatility, and adjustability. You simply don’t find this caliber of pole at this price point. It withstood beatings that involved trail running, climbing, hiking and even cross-country skiing.
Compact & Lightweight
These poles collapse to 14.5″ and can be easily strapped to any daypack, camelbak, or shoulder strap. At a total weight of 15.4 oz, they do feel featherweight in your hands. They’re easy to use, easy to carry and overall functional.
I’d wager most people use their trekking poles exclusively for hiking. And the Cnoc poles work great for that application.
But for fun I also wanted to test the versatility of these poles by, among other things, taking them cross-country skiing.
Yes — I really did take these bad boys on a nordic adventure, and they performed slightly better than expected. The trails at the local nordic center are groomed and because we have a dismal amount of snow here in Durango this year, I didn’t even need to use the included snow baskets.
I had no problem cruising groomers with the Cnoc poles. I won’t be winning any trail races but the poles flexed and moved with me comfortably. A testament to the durability, I never feared that the poles couldn’t perform, even when grinding up steep hills.
With a usable range of 45″ to 53″, this single pair of poles is usable by folks of all shapes and sizes.
My 6′ 2″ father, my 5′ 10″ partner, and my own 5′ 6″ self all enjoyed using these poles. It takes all of one second to adjust the height and the flip-lock is fairly durable. During cross-country ski trips, a quick switch transformed a form-fitted hiking set to a snow-ready instrument.
What We Don’t Like
Ease of (First Time) Set-up
My first time handling the Cnoc poles was reminiscent of building furniture from Ikea. The Z pattern is wonky and since I’m typically not an instructions reader, I found myself pulling, screwing and yanking on miscellaneous parts without resolve.
After two minutes of fumbling, however, I found the proper pull point and everything clicked into place in less than 2 seconds. This was user error, but an easy user error to make.
All in all it’s a minor gripe. Don’t let that stop you from getting these poles.
One spec I cannot completely attest to is the long-term durability of Cnoc’s trekking poles. Though I put them through three months of hard use, it simply was not enough time for something to break or go askew.
According to company founder Gilad Nachmani, his pair has survived nearly two years of constant use and is still going strong. However, some reviews claim the poles snapped in half in a year.
Based on the flex of the poles during intense workouts like cross-country skiing and running and the 100% carbon fiber shaft, I do expect these poles to last a long time.
From a durability standpoint one thing I don’t like, however, is the tiny push button connector that keeps the poles assembled during use. I would sacrifice an extra ounce or two for a secondary, backup connector in case of malfunction.
Use these poles for their intended purpose of trail hiking, whether it be day expeditions or thru-hiking adventures. While they can serve as cross-country or downhill ski poles in a pinch, that is not their intended use. Viable for all four seasons, these poles come with an optional snow basket and a rubber cap for the spiked tips.
According to Cnoc, a tarp or emergency shelter can be set up easily with any model of their poles.
By retailing this pair of poles for such an affordable price, Cnoc is shaking up the world of trekking poles.
Poles with similar specs can retail for twice the amount — compare it for instance to the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles, one of the most expensive models on the market.
For over twice as much, the Leki pair collapses to 15″, with an extended range of 43.3″ to 51.2″. It weighs just over 16 oz. and has a 100% carbon shaft.
Cnoc is lighter, with a similar range and a shorter collapsed size. It’s arguably just as durable, at a fraction of the cost.
You can find poles at a similar cost (I’ve seen last year’s model of the Black Diamond Distance Z recently marked down), but some aren’t adjustable or are made out of a less durable material like aluminum.
Frankly, I’m not sure how Cnoc stands to keep its epic price point, but I won’t ask too many questions.
How We Tested Our Pair of Cnoc Outdoors Trekking Poles
For as many days as I could tolerate in a three-month span, I took the Cnoc Outdoors trekking poles with me on day hiking expeditions. These hikes generally took place in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest, from 7,000′ to 12,000′ in elevation.
Wanting to truly push the limits of the carbon poles, these babies climbed mountains, traversed snowy passes, and descended valleys and ski hills. They were used for hiking, running, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
The Bottom Line
If I wanted trekking poles, I would without a doubt choose a pair from Cnoc.
I have no problem recommending these to hikers of every caliber, because they are versatile, functional, comfortable and extremely lightweight.
Proving that good gear doesn’t have to break the bank, this test put Cnoc Outdoors on the map for me. I’m curious to see what other sectors of the outdoor market this brand can improve.
We tested the Vertex Carbon and EVA Trekking Poles, but Cnoc makes two others: a Vertex Carbon and Cork version and a Vertex Aluminum and Cork version.