Diorite Gear Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles Review
I‘m very attached to my trekking poles. On the trail, I rarely take even a single step without them, and walking around town without a set of sticks in hand makes me feel oddly unbalanced, like a giraffe attempting to walk on its hind legs. My poles work for me ’round the clock, providing extra power, support, and stability during the day and giving structure to my ultralight tent at night.
Today I’m channeling my undying love of hiking sticks to review a pair of Diorite Gear trekking poles. For fans of the old Cnoc trekking poles, these are the exact same. Cnoc just rebranded their trekking poles under the name Diorite. I received my pair of cork-handle carbon fiber poles in the spring. After several months of testing, I have thoughts.
Diorite Gear Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles At a Glance
- $180 (EVA foam handle)
- $190 (cork handle)
- 14.8 oz (EVA foam handle)
- 19.6 oz (cork handle)
Length: 28 – 62 inches
Materials: Carbon fiber shaft, polyester/microfiber strap, carbide tip, cork or EVA foam handle
Circumstances of Review
I received the poles in late April and have taken them on multiple hiking and backpacking trips on the New Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail and Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. During this time, the poles saw plenty of rough, rocky, and slippery-wet terrain. I also used them at night to set up my Zpacks Duplex tent. Diorite offers both a natural cork and an EVA foam grip, but I only tested the cork version.
Many long-distance hikers swear by trekking poles to take some of the strain of backpacking off their joints, provide more stability and balance, and give additional power on climbs. These days, many popular ultralight tents use trekking poles to provide structure, saving hikers the weight, bulk, and expense of dedicated tent poles.
The Diorite carbon fiber poles are extra-long, making them a great choice for tall hikers or backpackers with extra-tall tents (looking at you, Zpacks Altaplex).
READ NEXT – The Best Trekking Poles for Thru-Hiking
Diorite Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole Features
These poles have many interesting features, but the most unique thing about them is that they are ridiculously long. Despite collapsing to a packed size of 28 inches (just a smidge longer than most of the competition), the Diorite poles telescope out to a maximum usable length of 62 inches. That’s over five feet long!
For comparison, most poles only extend to 50–52 inches. This extra length is a real boon if you’re tall or have a tent that needs lots of headroom.
Diorite makes all its poles with carbon fiber, which is a lighter material than traditional aluminum. The weight savings from the carbon fiber help to offset the extra length of these poles, keeping them reasonable at under 20 ounces for the pair. Unlike aluminum, carbon fiber also doesn’t conduct electricity, making these poles less of a lightning rod when you’re above treeline in a thunderstorm.
Likewise, you can choose your handle material. I went with the compressed cork handle rather than EVA foam, knowing that I like the feel of cork and that its moisture-wicking properties can help prevent blisters on my palms. But EVA has its own advantages: it’s very dense and cushioning, it’s more affordable, and in this context, it weighs significantly less.
Flick Lock Mechanism
These poles come in three sections that telescope via a set of flick locks. If you’ve used telescoping poles before, chances are you’re already familiar with this mechanism.
When the lever is up, pressure on the pole segments is relieved, allowing them to telescope freely. When engaged, the lever keeps the segments firmly in place. A knob on each flick lock can be tightened or loosened to adjust the amount of pressure.
Modular/All Replaceable Parts
Did a critter chomp your cork handle? Did you bend/snap the bottom segment of your pole? Have you worn the tips down to dull nubs that don’t offer any traction? I’ve experienced all of the above, and it’s pretty frustrating to consign an entire pole to the landfill just because one small component broke or wore out.
Many big-name manufacturers don’t offer replacement parts for their trekking poles (or make it a hassle to get them fixed). In contrast, Diorite sells online replacements for every part of their trekking poles. All three pole segments, the handles, the tips, the straps, all accessories, and every component of the flick-lock mechanism can be easily replaced if it wears out, hopefully extending the useful life of your poles by years.
The poles come with mud baskets already installed, as well as a set of rubber tips and truly gargantuan snow baskets that can be put on as needed.
Diorite Trekking Poles Pros
Reliable Flick Lock
The flick lock mechanism is easy to use, thanks to the easy-adjust tension knob. I’ve had many poles where this knob can gradually walk itself loose over time, forcing me to periodically check the tightness lest the poles collapse without warning. Moreover, on many poles, the flick lock has to be tightened pretty hard to prevent the poles from collapsing under weight. That, in turn, makes it harder to work the lever.
I loved the flick lock on the Diorite poles because it gave me none of these problems. The levers are easy to flick open and closed, which is key because I adjust the length of my poles on the fly all day. Despite this, the poles feel very sturdy. I’ve leaned over the poles and put my full weight on them (including a certain amount of dignified jumping up and down) and haven’t had either one start to collapse on me. Even better, I haven’t noticed either knob loosening of its own accord.
I need to trust my hiking sticks to support my weight if I stumble. With the Diorite trekking poles, I have full peace of mind.
I love cork handles in general, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Beyond being comfy and functional, I was pleased to learn that Diorite uses leftover cork from the manufacture of natural cork stoppers.
Diorite’s pole grips (both the cork and EVA options) are extra long so that you can hold the pole higher or lower in your hand to adjust the length rather than using the telescoping segments. I like to make my poles longer to take pressure off my knees on sustained downhill runs, but on short ups and downs, the extended grip is an easier way to change the pole’s functional length by a few inches.
Finally, the straps. I use my hiking sticks “ski pole style,” meaning I slip my hand through the strap before gripping the handle—so the comfort of the straps matters to me. These straps are easily adjustable and lined with soft microfiber that doesn’t chafe my hands.
I already discussed the modularity of these poles in the Features section above, so I won’t belabor the point here. I’m just really excited that Diorite makes it so easy to repair these poles. Trekking poles have a nostalgic quality for me. I like looking at all the dings and scrapes on my poles and thinking about the many places I’ve gone with them. Plus, they’re expensive, and even more importantly, I’d prefer to keep them on-trail and out of the landfill for as long as possible.
On a related note, you can buy these poles as a set or as individuals. I’ve always been a two-pole person, but I know many hikers who only use one at a time. Why waste money on a second pole you’ll never use? Diorite gives you options, and I respect the hell out of that.
Longest Pole on the Market
These poles are nearly as tall as I am. If I’d had them on the AT instead of my 51-inch Black Diamonds, I’d have had a much easier time retrieving several failed bear hangs that got tangled up in the trees. Realistically, I don’t need poles this long, but if you’re tall or use a tent like the Zpacks Altaplex that requires tall poles, you can’t do better than Diorite. Seriously—I’ve yet to find a longer trekking pole anywhere.
Diorite Trekking Poles Cons
Many hikers consider carbon fiber a plus since it’s quite strong and lighter than aluminum. Personally, I’m not a fan. The material is a lot more expensive than aluminum for what I consider underwhelming weight savings. (I do have to acknowledge that with these extra-long poles, the use of carbon fiber helps keep the weight in line with other, shorter poles. As a short person myself, I just don’t get enough benefit from the poles’ length for this tradeoff to be worth it.)
Carbon fiber is also less durable than aluminum. Carbon fiber poles tend to splinter and snap where aluminum poles would bend. A pole that bends under stress might still prevent a complete faceplant if I stumble. And I can still use a bent pole until I can get to an outfitter—assuming I can’t find a way to unbend it, which I probably can.
Neither of my Diorite trekking poles gave me any trouble during testing, but I’m thinking ahead. I’ll be doing some off-trail hiking this summer, and much as I liked these sticks, I probably won’t bring them. Carbon poles are better suited to trails with generally good tread, like the PCT, where the slight weight savings can outweigh the risk of snappage.
On a related note, these poles are not ultralight. The pair weighs just a hair under 20 ounces, which is a few ounces more than most poles on the market and fully twice as heavy as ultralight poles like the Gossamer Gear LT-5. In fairness, Diorite’s EVA-handle pole weighs much less: 14.8 ounces per pair, right in line with the competition, even if they are still heavier than the lightest of the light.
If weight is your main priority, you could do better with other cottage manufacturers for about the same price. You really have to want that extra length (and the cork handle) to justify the extra ounces. Diorite has a great blog post explaining the advantages of the cork handle and why it’s so heavy, which is worth a read if you’re on the fence.
Overall, I found the Diorite trekking poles sturdy, reliable, and comfortable. My biggest beef with them is the weight. In retrospect, I wish I’d chosen the EVA foam handle instead of the cork and saved myself five ounces. I’ll probably take advantage of the poles’ modular design and swap my current handles for a pair of EVA replacement grips down the line.
Call me paranoid, but these sticks will not be joining me for my off-trail adventures this summer. I just can’t bring myself to trust my facial structure to the reliability of carbon fiber in rough terrain. But for future adventures on proper footpaths, I’m excited to keep using my Diorite poles, hopefully for many years to come.
- MSRP: $200
- Weight (Pair): 17.1 oz
- Maximum Length: 51 in
- MSRP: $100
- Weight (Pair): 10.2 oz
- Maximum Length: 52 in
- MSRP: $159
- Weight (pair): 13.6 oz
- Maximum Length: 55 in
- MSRP: $195
- Weight (Pair): 9.8 oz
- Maximum Length: 51 in
The Diorite Carbon Fiber trekking poles were donated for purpose of review.
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