I always scoffed at people using trekking poles. I hiked almost my entire life without the use of poles or walking sticks. I didn't want the extra weight and I didn't need to look like a grandpa walking around the mountain. It wasn't until around 2010 that I was passed by some AT through hikers much younger than me with poles did I reconsider my stance.
I did some research in the usage of them, considered my typical knee pains when traversing downhills and decided I wanted to give them a shot. I didn't want to spend yet another 100+ dollars on something that I didn't even know if I would use so I waited until I found a sale online (my usual game) and I picked some up.
My first outing with my Black Diamond's was the Shining Rock Trip and going up Old Butt Knob trail. This was a very steep ascent and I adjusted the poles shorter so I wasn't overextended my reach with them and I quickly turned into a mountain goat. I always thought the poles would tire me out quicker but I no longer had to put so much force into my legs so I could continue longer on ascents and use my upper body to push myself further.
I liked the Black Diamond Trail Shock poles because they were cheaper than some of the other brands like Leki and they gave me everything I needed. I usually have to by the most top end product I can find but I was perfectly happy with a mid range this time. The grips are quite comfortable even when sweating heavily plus they have a spring shock absorber internally to give relief to the arms. The poles are also easily adjusted on the fly with flick-locks in too places to collapse them completely or adjust the height for ascent or descent.
For descents the pommel top is great. You can adjust the poles a little longer, switch your grip to the top and this helps you to stay upright and ease the descent. It takes all of the pressure shock from your knees. Loose rubble on the way down? No problem, you'll stick to the trail like Spider-man now.
The trails we were on in Shining Rock, both muddy or cliff-side, made it difficult to traverse on occasion. The Trail Shock poles definitely saved my hide from tumbling on more than one occasion. The added ability to keep myself upright, climb easier, and take pressure off my knees made my purchase well worth it. So, for anyone out there like me that laughed at people with poles, give them a shot and don't be embarrassed because they actually do help with performance and stability. I now use mine on every trip!