Review: Cnoc Outdoors Vertex Trekking Poles

Cnoc Outdoors is a Portland, OR company that just entered the market with the introduction of their Vertex poles.  The Vertex poles are a hybrid Z pole/flick lock style aluminum and carbon trekking pole that folds down to an impressive 14.5 inches.  This is a brand-new product, from a brand new company and we were pretty excited to see how the unique design translated to trail performance.

We took the poles out to our stomping grounds in the Cascades for some winter fun snowshoeing and hiking.

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Photo courtesy of Monica Lauw.

Specs:
Weight: 16.2 oz. per pair.
Material: Carbon and aluminum segments
Folded: 14.5” Deployed:  43-53”

Locking Mechanism: There’s one tension adjustable flick lock on each pole, similar to the spinners you’ve seen on bicycle front tires. There’s also a detent pin on each pole that, when engaged, supports the pole structure. When this detent pin is disengaged, it allows a pole segment to nest in the handle and gives you the 14.5” folded length.

Features: These are adjustable from 110cm-135cm in height and come with carbide tips, tip caps, and snow baskets.

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Picture are the Cnoc Vertex poles next to Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork poles for comparison.  Both poles are extended to 125cm. Note the difference in both deployed and folded lengths.

Trail Vibes: Pretty high. This is a lot of pole for the money. I admit, I was initially concerned with the detent pin not being able to support any real weight, but at 180 pounds there was never a moment when I worried the locks would fail. There is a little play in the slip joints between each pole segment, but it has not affected the performance in my experience. At most, you’ll notice a rattle when shaking the pole if it is fully extended.

Handles: The handles are nothing to write home about, but they are not uncomfortable and provide two grip positions to suit your needs.

How does this improve my experience?

Unlike other Z style poles on the market, the Cnoc Vertex poles are height adjustable with the integration of the flick lock segment closest to the handle.  It’s an innovative design and allows for extremely compact storage and additional versatility on the trail, especially when using the poles as part of your tent structure.  Most Z style poles are not height adjustable, so if you are a shorter person that wants to use a trekking pole supported shelter and Z style poles, there’s a good chance that your Z poles aren’t tall enough to support your shelter.  It’s a small group of people, but the Vertex poles do fill the gap there.

What’s good?

For one, the value.  These retail at $70 and are currently on sale at $55.  That’s a lot of pole for the money, especially for beginner hikers and backpackers.

The folded length is impressive as well. If you store your poles up front, like I did here on the U.D. A.K Mountain Vest 3.0 and the Osprey Exos, these work well.

What’s not so good?

I had a hell of a time removing the nesting pole segment from the handle when I first got the these.  I could not for the life of me figure out how to deploy them. What’s worse, there is potential for that segment to get stuck in the handle out in the field.  I had to use a multi-tool to deploy the pole on my first go around, and while I normally carry a multi-tool on overnight trips, it’s not unthinkable that this maybe an issue in the future.

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The nesting pole segment was difficult to remove at first. I have had no issues manipulating it since that first instance, but the possibility of it becoming stuck is in the back of my mind while using the poles in the field.

The only other red flag for me is that the structural integrity of the pole depends on single detent pin to support all the weight, as do many other Z poles for that matter. If this detent pin fails, warps, or becomes damaged, there’s a good chance the pole will either get stuck in the deployed position, or worse, be rendered useless. I think that’s an extreme case and is rather unlikely, but I feel it’s worth noting.

For the enthusiast and beginner, I think these are awesome.  They’re light, compact, and relatively strong. Compared to the rest of the market, these are a great value. The Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles are comparable in features in folded length, but use all carbon segments to get the weight way down–they also cost three times as much.

Cnoc claims we should see a redesign in the near future that addresses some of the issues I brought up in this review. Be on the look out for the updated version this spring.

Disclosure:

Cnoc Outdoors sent me these poles in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I have no affiliation with Cnoc outside this review.

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Snowshoeing in the Cascades with the Vertex poles

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