Black Diamond Distance Z Poles Review

Black Diamond Distance Z Poles high among the tarns in the 7-Lakes Basin in the Olympic National Park

Intro: 
I'm a huge believer in hiking/trekking poles ever since I've been using an old pair of Black Diamond Trail shock poles. Recently I got some Black Diamond Distance Z poles which got me really excited to take them on some fast-packing and walk-through type hikes. I've been a little uncertain how well the fold up style poles would hold if I tripped compared to most standard poles. Only taking them out for a good hike would tell me.

Construction/Material:
The  Black Diamond Distance Z poles comes in two varieties: Aluminum and Carbon Fiber. My review will focus only on the Aluminum style so I can't really comment much about the durability of the later. Black Diamond calls their fold up system the "Z-POLE RAPID DEPLOYMENT SYSTEM" which works extremely easy and well. To lock out, Pull straight out too lock the poles in place. To compact, push the metal pin to recess it, give slack to each fold-able piece, then fold.
Z-Pole Rapid Deployment System
How to Lock out

One pleasant surprise was just how good the EVA foam grips on the poles are. The Foam grips have small serrations in them to provide excellent moisture management. Great for hot days on the trail or when you're truly working hard. It's something I would have completely taken for granted by just looking at the poles, but using them though the hottest June in record in WA has been amazing,



Pay extra attention to the Foam Grips
How it Fits:
The Distance Z poles come in 10cm intervals starting at 100CM and going up to 130CM. The 120CM model is the model I have and its really good size for anyone my height at 5'10". The Distance FLZ model has adjustability of about 20CM, but you have to pay extra for that convenience. 

Performance:

I was extremely happy to bring the Distance Z poles on the High Divide Loop in the Olympic National Park. It's been a trip I've wanted to for a long time which is just perfect for these trekking poles. The Loop is about 18 miles not including the 7-lakes basin area. The Loop and visiting most of the 7-lakes was about 24 miles for my trip. I kept my backpacking pack pretty light weight 20lbs before the heavy bear canister came along.  All through out the Loop, the Distance Z poles worked fantastic. I tripped a few times but the Poles stabilized me and never got bent once. My last day on the loop was 12 miles and you really get a sense of how light weight the poles are over that distance.

Distance Z Poles at Deer Lake on the High Divide Loop
I tried taking the poles out for a day hike to Tolmie Peak Lookout and Eunice Lake in Mount Rainier National Park. The day was hot as usual but the poles never got my hands sweaty and were comfortable on and off my pack.
Distance Z poles up at Tolmie Lookout
Summary:
The Black Diamond Distance Z pole would be the trekking poles I personally would buy for UL backpacking, speed hiking, or generic day hikes. The weight savings, the price point, the extremely comfortable foam grips, and compactibility has won me over. I would look only elsewhere if money was of no concern( get the Distance FLZ Carbon) or mountaineering was your objective.
One of the best poles for the money
Pros:

  • Super light and compactible
  • Solid construction for most outdoor activities
  • Price point is good compared to other Poles
  • Best handle I've ever used on a pole
Cons:
  • Fixed size only, only the FLZ style are adjustable
  • Strap is mostly useless

Comments

  1. I put about 60 or 70 miles on my BD Carbon FLZ poles. I have probably 300 miles on my 2-year old BD Ultra Distance Carbon FL poles. The Carbon FLZ poles have already failed. After ten miles the wrist straps began fraying. After a week in Zion, the hole near the locking pin on both poles has already badly splintered to the point that one of the pins doesn't even pop out to engage. There seems to be a huge gap in quality between the current production vs the old one. My old poles hardly show any signs of wear at the pinhole.

    I personally like using the strap a lot as it makes it such that I don't have to grip the pole as strongly.

    I'm getting a replacement pair in the mail for the Carbon FLZ poles. I hope the problem doesn't come up again as these are the only ones on the market that are adjustable and as light.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comments Vincent. Its interesting to hear you enjoy the straps, while i never use any straps. Definitely a matter of preference.

    Is the whole near the locking pin for the carbon model just pure carbon and nothing to reinforce the pin?

    ReplyDelete
  3. There is nothing reinforcing the pin.
    Mine just failed miserably on day. 4 of a trek in Nepal. One pole collapsed downhill and I tumbled, not very happy about that. It seems to be a design flaw that there is no added protection where the pin meets the carbon fiber. A little band of titanium/aluminum..might do the trick. If that were fixed, they'd be great.

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