I’ve been using 3-section aluminum hiking poles for over 25 years. They’ve been with me every step of the way on the Long Trail, the AT, and various other trails — several thousand miles in all — and I thought there wasn’t a good reason to change. Boy, was I wrong.
Last fall, I decided that maybe it was time to give carbon fiber poles a whirl. That’s when I discovered CNOC Outdoors. As their motto says, “CNOC is about creating amazing gear that everyone wants but no one makes.”
The company started because the founder broke a trekking pole in Scotland (near Mount Cnoc) and thought “there has to be a better way.” Let’s just say he (and, ultimately his team) found it.
In the case of their trekking poles, here’s what you get:
- Construction. The carbon fiber pole shafts were developed and are made in the U.S.A., then poles are assembled by CNOC in their Oregon shop.
- Design. All parts are replaceable (including the carbide tips that can be screwed on and off without tools).
- You don’t need to buy accessories. The poles include mud baskets, snow baskets and rubber tips.
- Ultralight. Each pole weighs under 7 oz. (EVA handle) or under 11 oz. (cork handle).
The day the poles arrived, I took them for a walk and I haven’t looked back. They are a joy to use. It’s not just the featherweight design. The double lock down mechanism is sweet. You snug down the knurled adjustment screw, then snap the cam shut to lock it down (the screws and cams are replaceable in the unlikely event you need new parts). I chose the cork handles. My first two pairs of poles had EVA grips, which I didn’t like as much.
So, now the big question — are they worth it?
That depends. If you’ve never used trekking poles before, they’re an expensive test drive (you can score a pair of aluminum poles for around $25 as opposed to carbon fiber, which are in the $169 and up range). For me, having upgraded most of my other gear over the past few years, it felt like it was time to take the plunge. The design and quality of my CNOCs make me glad I did.
About my gear reviews
Gear reviews are based on my experiences and opinions. I do not receive compensation for reviews, nor do I participate in affiliate marketing programs.