Gear review: Black Diamond’s new trekking poles are light-yet-strong
Spring is upon us (supposedly) and most of us are looking forward to the snow melting off so we can flock back into the hills and hike to our favorite peaks or lakes. Anyone needing new hiking poles this year should consider Black Diamond’s new Z-Pole series. I have been trying the new Distance FL for the past couple of weeks and couldn’t be happier with them.When I first saw these in the stores the engineer in me started thinking that you can’t make something that light and have it still be strong. It turned out I was wrong. While these aren’t designed for heavy use such as steep backcountry skiing, they are ideal for anyone looking to shave weight from their backpacking setup. They function much like an avalanche probe – simply pull one end and everything snaps together. The end has the Flick Lock mechanism that so many of us have come to depend upon from Black Diamond. The pole comes with both a soft rubber tip and a metal tip so you can customize it a bit and it also has a storage bag. These poles fold down to surprisingly small sizes to fit any nook or cranny left in a backpack. Depending on the length you get, they will collapse to between 13.2 and 16.5 inches long. Black Diamond lists the weight between 15 and 16 ounces per pair, depending on length. Don’t expect all of the creature comforts of some other trekking poles – there are no removable powder baskets, the grips aren’t large and padded to your individual fingers, and there is no shock absorber between the grip and pole like some of the other high-end models. This is a minimalist’s pole. The handles are formed with an upper and lower grip so you can switch positions without adjusting length to change from uphill to downhill. There is a nice amount of adjustability built in with the FL feature but I would recommend buying the length that puts normal use on the longest limit so it collapses enough to use on steep uphill sections. Expect to pay just south of $120 for a pair of these. Overall this is a great trekking pole to lighten up your backcountry adventures.Local resident Robert Petrowksy is an avid outdoorsman who is most at home atop a mountain. Have something you’d like to see reviewed here? Email email@example.com.
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