The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

Table Of Contents

Best Overall Pole

  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Price: $160

Weight: [95-110cm] 482g (17oz), [105-125cm] 510g (18oz), [120-140cm] 567g (1lb 4oz)

Length: 95-110cm, 105-125cm, 120-140cm

Collapsed Length: [95-110cm] 34cm (13.4in), [105-125cm] 37c (14.6in), [120-140cm] 40cm (15.7in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Combination (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock Pro

Included Baskets: Standard

What We Like: Combination-style pole makes them adjustable and pack small. Durable and versatile enough to handle all four seasons

What We Don’t: Slightly heavy for the price. Not as adjustable as purely telescopic poles

Black Diamond’s Alpine FLZs are combination trekking poles with cork grips and aluminum shafts. Easy to deploy and adjust, these light and durable trekking poles can tackle all four seasons with little to no issue. By utilizing both a telescopic top shaft and folding collapse style, they’ve got excellent collapsibility and adjustability, while the aluminum shafts bolster their durability. It’s no wonder these do-it-all poles have taken the crown as our Best Overall Pole.

The Alpine FLZs come in three different sizes: 95-110cm, 105-125cm and 120-140cm. With a range of 15cm for the smallest pair and 20cm for the medium and large, the Alpine FLZs are slightly less adjustable than a telescopic trekking pole, which typically has around a 30cm adjustment range. Like what you’ll find with all of Black Diamond’s Z-poles, the Alpine FLZs utilize a rapid deployment system, making them space-conscious and very simple to unpack on the trail. If you’re planning to go the ultralight route, however, you might want to look elsewhere, as aluminum shafts and cork handles do no favors to the Alpine FLZ’s overall weight.

I’m a big fan of these trekking poles, which may just be the most versatile amongst the Black Diamonds on our 2021 list. By combining a folding collapse style with a telescopic upper shaft, they pack small and can still be adjusted to suit your changing needs. The aluminum shaft improves durability while the cork grip dials up the comfort. So whether you’re soaking in the summer sun out on the trail or trekking through the snow in the dead of winter, you can bring these poles with confidence. Just make sure that if you’re planning to purchase a pair for yourself, you know which size will fit you best, as there are three from which to choose.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

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See Our Best Trekking Poles of 2021 HERE!

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

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  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Weight 60% 60%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Combination-style pole makes them adjustable and pack small durable and versatile enough to handle all four seasons

Cons

Slightly heavy for the price

Not as adjustable as purely telescopic poles

Weight: [95-110cm] 482g (17oz), [105-125cm] 510g (18oz), [120-140cm] 567g (1lb 4oz)

Length: 95-110cm, 105-125cm, 120-140cm

Collapsed Length: [95-110cm] 34cm (13.4in), [105-125cm] 37c (14.6in), [120-140cm] 40cm (15.7in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Combination (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock Pro

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Z - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Excellent price for folding poles

Very light for aluminum poles

Collapse down small, pack/unpack easily

Cons

Only three-season support, unlike the Alpine series

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 323g (11.4oz), [110cm] 343g (12.1oz), [120cm] 362g (12.8oz), [130cm] 402g (14.2oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding (SlideLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Micro Vario Carbon - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Highly adjustable and packable

Comfortable grips/straps

Very durable for carbon fiber

Cons

A bit pricey

Weight: Men's - 481g (1lb 1oz), Women's - 459g (16.2oz)

Length: Men's - 110-130cm, Women's - 100-120cm

Collapsed Length: Men's - 40cm (16in), Women's - 40cm (16in)

Shaft Comp.: Pure Carbon

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Men's - Lock Security Strap (Skin), Women's - LEKI Skin Strap

Collapse Style: Combination (ELD)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip (Short)

Locking Mechanism: Speed Lock 2

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Weight 70% 70%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Locking/Adjustability 90% 90%

Pros

Incredibly comfortable grip and wrist strap

Telescopic design and thicker carbon makes them both adjustable and durable

Cons

Not as light as other carbon fiber poles

Larger pack size

A bit pricey

Weight: 486g (1lb 1.1oz)

Length: 100-130cm

Collapsed Length: 61cm (24in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: 360° nubuck

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 100% 100%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Locking/Adjustability 40% 40%

Pros

Lightweight, great for trail running

Easy to unpack

Cons

Only 3 oz. lighter than the distance Zs at almost double the price

Similar price to the Alpine series but with only three-season support

Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles

May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

Weight: [100cm] 263g (9.3oz), [110cm] 275g (9.7oz), [120cm] 283g (10oz), [130cm] 295g (10.4oz)

Length: 100, 110, 120, 130cm (39, 43, 47, 51in)

Collapsed Length: [100cm] 33cm (13in), [110cm] 36cm (14in), [120cm] 40cm (16in), [130cm] 43cm (17in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Distance

Collapse Style: Folding

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Fixed

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Speed-Cone

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Amazon.com

  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 30% 30%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 40% 40%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Excellent value at a low price

Very durable, great for heavy backpacking

Cons

Large pack size due to telescopic design

Heavy

Weight: 624g (1lb 6oz)

Length: 100-140cm

Collapsed Length: 64cm (25in)

Shaft Comp.: Aluminum

Grip Comp.: Rubber

Grip Extensions: Rubber

Strap Style: Vari-width nylon webbing

Collapse Style: Telescopic (FlickLock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Flex Tip

Locking Mechanism: FlickLock

Included Baskets: Standard

The Best Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Cork - Gear Hacker
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Weight 80% 80%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 30% 30%
  • Durability 40% 40%
  • Locking/Adjustability 70% 70%

Pros

Incredible price for carbon fiber and cork

Comes With An Impressive Number Of Accessories

Cons

Doesn’t pack down small unless disassembled

Quick lock mechanism can complicate packing/unpacking

Could be more durable; entry-level hikers may want to opt for aluminum

Weight: 442g (15.6oz)

Length: 66-137cm

Collapsed Length: 66cm (26in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Cork

Grip Extensions: Foam

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (Quick Lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Tungsten Carbide

Locking Mechanism: Quick Lock

Included Baskets: Boots, Mud, Snow and Small Tips

The Best Trekking Poles: Gossamer Gear LT5 - Gear Hacker

Buy Now at Gossamergear.com

  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Weight 100% 100%
  • Packing/Collapsibility 50% 50%
  • Durability 30% 30%
  • Locking/Adjustability 80% 80%

Pros

Incredibly light

Highly adjustable

Comfortable grip/strap

Cons

Could be more durable

Expensive

Twist locks could be more elegant

Weight: 300g (10.6oz)

Length: 60-130cm

Collapsed Length: 60cm (23in)

Shaft Comp.: Carbon Fiber

Grip Comp.: Foam

Grip Extensions: N/A

Strap Style: Adjustable

Collapse Style: Telescopic (twist-lock)

Fixed/Adjustable Length: Adjustable

Tips: Carbide, Rubber

Locking Mechanism: Twist lock

Included Baskets: Standard

Black Diamond’s Alpine FLZs are combination trekking poles with cork grips and aluminum shafts. Easy to deploy and adjust, these light and durable trekking poles can tackle all four seasons with little to no issue. By utilizing both a telescopic top shaft and folding collapse style, they’ve got excellent collapsibility and adjustability, while the aluminum shafts bolster their durability. It’s no wonder these do-it-all poles have taken the crown as our Best Overall Pole.

Black Diamond has long been a well-known name in the hiking game, going back to the 1950s when Yvon Chouinard was selling his hand-forged pitons from the trunk of his car in Yosemite Valley. Since the company’s founding in 1989, they’ve established themselves in the climbing and skiing industries as well as many other outdoor pursuits. From helmets, crampons, and carabiners to backpacks, tents, and (you guessed it) trekking poles, Black Diamond can help you scale the world.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

Comfort

The ergonomic grip on the FLZ is made of natural cork with a dual-density top material. Like all cork grips, it will mold into your hand the more you use it. Below the cork grip you’ll find a foam grip extension that enables a range of gripping positions while out on the trail. The adjustable strap is lined with a breathable and soft wicking material.

Weight

If you’re planning to go the ultralight route, you might want to look elsewhere, as aluminum shafts and cork handles do no favors to the Alpine FLZ’s overall weight. These trekking poles range in weight greatly, depending upon your selected size. According to the Black Diamond website, a pair of the smallest of the three poles (95-110cm) weigh 482g (17oz), the medium poles (105-125cm) weigh 510g (18oz), while the longest poles (120-140cm) weigh 567g (1lb 4oz). Amongst the aluminum trekking poles on our 2021 list, this ranks them above the 1lb 6oz (624g) Trail Sport 3s but below the 12-14 oz. Distance Zs—both of which are significantly cheaper. However, choosing one of these two poles over the FLZs means sacrificing either the versatility of its height adjustment or its small pack size, since the Distance Z’s are fixed-length and the Trail Sport 3s are telescopic. Clearly, there’s a lot to consider, so this review aims to help you make the best choice for your situation and needs.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

Packing

The Alpine FLZ collapse length differs depending upon your choice of poles. The 95-110cm poles collapse to 34cm (13.4in), the 105-125 cm poles collapse to 37cm (14.6in), and the 120-140cm poles collapse to 40cm (15.7in).

Like what you’ll find with all of Black Diamond’s Z-poles, the Alpine FLZs utilize a rapid deployment system. This means that they aren’t just space-conscious but are also very simple to unpack on the trail. A tube-covered kevlar cord running through the trekking pole connects all three sections and helps them slip into place. All you’ll need to do is grab above and below the SlideLock and pull both sections away from each other. It’s so simple; you’ll hear the poles audibly lock into place. You’ll then see a lock icon on the pole below the unlock icon on the SlideLock. To unlock them, you’ll pull up on the SlideLock with one hand while shimmying the lower pole up to loosen the cord and enable you to fold the pole into the Z shape. Once you’ve fully collapsed the pole, use the included Velcro straps to hold everything in place.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

Adjustability

The Alpine FLZs come in three different sizes: 95-110cm, 105-125cm, and 120-140cm. According to Black Diamond’s sizing chart, 100cm trekking poles are intended for hikers less than 154cm (5’1”), 110cm poles are designed for hikers 154-171cm (5’1”-5’7”), 120cm poles are for hikers 172-182cm (5’8”-5’11”), and 130cm poles are for heights above 183cm (6’). This is useful information when purchasing your Alpine FLZs since those in need of a 110cm or 120cm trekking pole will have two sizes from which to choose. You’ll want to consider whether the poles you select will enable you a wide enough range to collapse or extend them as needed.

With a range of 15cm for the smallest pair and 20cm for the medium and large, the Alpine FLZs are slightly less adjustable than a telescopic trekking pole, which typically has around a 30cm adjustment range. However, most hikers would agree that 15-20cm is a fairly ample spectrum. It’s also a more streamlined system than typical telescopic poles, as you’ll only need to change the height for one pole section rather than two.

To adjust the height of these poles, you’ll use the FlickLock Pro system. Made of forged aluminum, the locks are quite robust and chunky, easily snapping into place. If you need to loosen or tighten these lever locks, you’ll need to utilize a very small Allen wrench, which might be an inconvenience should you need to make adjustments on the trail. In fact, fair warning—many users complained about losing this wrench.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

Durability

Aluminum shafts contribute to the very decent durability of the Alpine FLZs. They’re more durable than carbon fiber or purely folding poles but less than purely telescopic aluminum poles, which require beefier shafts, typically at the cost of weight. I’d feel quite comfortable putting some weight on these poles, as they are suited for more than just trail running.

Price

These particular poles will set you back around $160, which is by no means cheap but also not one of the more expensive poles on the market, and it really is a particularly attractive price when you consider the versatility of combination folding/telescopic poles. They come in at about $40 cheaper than the other combination poles on our list, the LEKI Micro Vario Carbons, and in fact the Alpine FLZs, with their durable aluminum shafts, manage to weigh in at just slightly more than the carbon fiber LEKIs.

Other Features

One small but ultimately important feature of the Alpine FLZ is its flex carbide tip. Unlike a typical carbide tip, the flex tip will (as the name suggests) bend and flex when it gets caught between rocks or stuck in other obstacles. This not only protects the rest of the pole from snapping, but it’s also replaceable, so any damage to the tip can be easily mended. For those looking to get several years out of their trekking poles—and who isn’t, this is a lovely little perk. Included with your four-season flex tips are 60mm Alpine Z-Pole baskets and 100mm Compactor Powder baskets, so you can easily transition from summer to winter.

The Best Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Alpine FLZ - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

I’m a big fan of these trekking poles, which may just be the most versatile of the Black Diamonds on our 2021 list. By combining a folding collapse style with a telescopic upper shaft, they pack small and can still be adjusted to suit your changing needs. The aluminum shaft improves durability while the cork grip dials up the comfort. So whether you’re soaking in the summer sun out on the trail or trekking through the snow in the dead of winter, you can bring these poles with confidence. Just make sure that if you’re planning to purchase a pair for yourself, you know which size will fit you best, as there are three from which to choose.

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!