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

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Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Review: Best Light Travel Pole

Best Light Travel Pole

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

Price: $170

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

What We Like: Lightweight, great for trail running. Easy to unpack

What We Don’t: 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

If you’re already a fan of Black Diamond’s Distance Z poles and ready to spend a few extra dollars to shed some ounces, look no further than the Distance Carbon Zs. These three-season carbon fiber trekking poles have a lightweight, three-section foldable shaft built for fast adventure athletes and a comfortable foam grip. Their impressive weight and pack size make them an easy winner for Best Light Travel Pole.

The Distance Carbon Zs have 100% carbon fiber shafts, making them around 3 oz. lighter than their equivalent length in the Distance Zs. These claimed weights are 263g (9.3oz) for the 100cm trekking poles, 275g (9.7oz) for the 110cm poles, 283g (10oz) for the 120cm poles, and 295g (10.4oz) for the 130cm poles.

Carbon fiber shafts mean that the Distance Carbon Zs are both light and relatively durable, though not quite as durable as its aluminum competitors (or its aluminum counterpart, The Distance Zs). As far as lightweight trekking poles go, the Distance Carbon Zs are a very decent choice. Carbon fiber is by no means a flimsy material and these poles should be able to handle just about anything you throw at them. Like all poles in the Distance series, they can only tout three-season support, so if you’re looking for something to ski with, you may want to consider the Alpine series instead. However, if you’re a trail runner or simply love going the ultralight route, these will make an excellent addition to your arsenal.

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

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

  • 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

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

If you’re already a fan of Black Diamond’s Distance Z poles and ready to spend a few extra dollars to shed some ounces, look no further than the Distance Carbon Zs. These three-season carbon fiber trekking poles have a lightweight, three-section foldable shaft built for fast adventure athletes. Better yet, they’ve got a comfortable foam grip. Their impressive weight and pack size make them an easy winner for Best Light Travel 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, they can help you scale the world.

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

Comfort

The Distance Carbon Z poles have lightweight EVA foam grips and grip extensions, along with what Black Diamond calls a distance strap that’s light but also comfortable. Some hikers will argue that cork is the most comfortable grip material, while others will say that foam grips are better for wicking away moisture and work better with gloves. In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. A rounded top on the grip makes it very comfortable to palm, and the foam grip extensions are excellent for tackling deep descents. A streamlined grip and narrow wrist strap sacrifice a small degree of comfort to cut down on weight.

Weight

The Distance Carbon Zs have 100% carbon fiber shafts, making them around 3 oz. lighter than their equivalent length in the Distance Zs. The poles weigh in at 263g (9.3oz) for the 100cm trekking poles, 275g (9.7oz) for the 110cm poles, 283g (10oz) for the 120cm poles, and 295g (10.4oz) for the 130cm poles. This makes them around 6 oz. lighter than both of the Black Diamond Alpine poles on this list as well as the LEKI Micro Vario Carbon poles—and those will cost you an extra $30. Ounce for ounce, the Distance Carbon Zs are an absolute steal for ultralight enthusiasts.

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

Packing

The three-section folding-style collapse system makes these significantly more compact than a telescopic pole like the Trail Sport 3 or even the Gossamer Gear LT5. The speed-cone deployment—utilizing SlideLock technology—means that they can easily pack away and deploy rapidly. The folding collapse style is also easier on the poles over time. By not sharing a locking and adjustment system they are less likely to wear out over time, which can sometimes be an issue with telescopic poles. Unlocking the poles is accomplished by pulling upwards on a spring-loaded slider, which is relatively easy to do even with gloved hands.

The Distance Carbon Z’s collapsed length varies depending upon your choice of length. The 100cm trekking poles fold down to 33cm (13in), the 110cm poles fold down to 36cm (14in), the 120cm poles fold down to 40cm (16in), and the 130cm poles fold down to 43cm (17in). The folding-style collapse system is noticeably superior to traditional telescopic systems like the Trail Sport 3, which collapses down to only 64cm.

Unpacking your Distance Carbon Zs to take on the trail is quick and easy—thanks to the SlideLock system. All you’ll need to do is grab above and below the SlideLock and pull both sections away from each other. 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.

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

Adjustability

The Distance Carbon Zs utilize Z-pole’s fixed-length construction, so make sure you know what size trekking pole will fit you best. Length options include 100cm, 110cm, 120cm, and 130cm. According to Black Diamond’s sizing chart, the 100cm poles are intended for hikers less than 154cm (5’1”), the 110cm poles are designed for hikers 154-171cm (5’1”-5’7”), the 120cm poles are for hikers 172-182cm (5’8”-5’11”), and the 130cm poles are for heights above 183cm (6’). Fixed-length construction may not be the ideal if you feel the need to regularly adjust the length of your trekking poles to accommodate the terrain, but this is typically not the case with most hikers.

A general recommendation: if you’re between sizes and not sure which direction to go, consider how you’ll use them. If you’re planning to use these for trail running, go a size down to assist with uphill climbing. If these will be used for basic hiking/backpacking, choose a size up for additional stability.

Durability

Carbon fiber shafts mean that the Distance Carbon Zs are both light and relatively durable, though not quite as durable as its aluminum competitors (or its aluminum counterpart, The Distance Zs). Shaft composition is indeed a contentious topic. You’ll find people who swear by the light swing weight of carbon fiber as well as those who refuse to use anything but aluminum. The fact is that hikers typically have two choices when it comes to their trekking poles: weight or durability. The most lightweight trekking poles will utilize carbon fiber shafts and folding collapse styles while the more durable poles will be telescopic with aluminum shafts, i.e. heavier. The Distance Carbon Zs obviously fall into the first category, so keep this in mind.

Typically, I’ve found the latter—who swear by aluminum— are those who have had an unlucky trip with a set of carbon fiber trekking poles at some point. Unlike aluminum poles that can be bent back into place, a snapped carbon fiber pole means you’re essentially SOL, which is a disastrous situation on a lengthy thru-hike and likely to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. The vast majority of hikers will most likely never snap a pair of hiking poles, but if you’re looking to pack heavy or have a few pounds yourself, you may want to consider looking elsewhere.

Price

At around $170, the Distance Carbon Zs are what most hikers would consider a more serious investment. They’re near the top of Black Diamond’s price charts—at $10 more than the Alpine FLZs, $10 less than the Alpine Carbon Cork, and a whopping $70 more than the Distance Zs.

When it comes down to it, spending an additional $70 to upgrade from the Distance Zs to the Distance Carbon Zs really only has one selling point—less weight, and to be perfectly honest, the nominal weight difference (around 3 oz.) may not justify the added price tag. That said, given the choice, I would personally opt for the Distance Zs. However, compared to similar light poles like the 10.6 oz. Gossamer Gear LT5s and the LEKI Micro Vario Carbons (which weigh more than a pound), which each cost around $200, the price tag for the Distance Carbon Zs is somewhat reasonable.

 

Other Features

Included with your Distance Carbon Z poles are a standard carbide tip that’s ideal for hiking as well as a non-scarring rubber tip, which are excellent for pavement and sandstone, along with places where you might not want to potentially scar the landscape. You’ll also find them handy when it’s time to pack these away and you want to avoid scratching any of your other gear. Just above these tips, you’ll find stopper baskets featuring shaft catchers to secure the pole sections when folded. The poles are also Z-Pole Snow Basket compatible (they’re attached via a notch above the included baskets), making them excellent for alpine climbing but not quite sturdy enough for downhill skiing.

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

The Bottom Line

As far as lightweight trekking poles go, the Distance Carbon Zs are a very decent choice. Though potentially not quite as durable as the Distance Zs, carbon fiber is by no means a flimsy material and these poles should be able to handle just about anything you throw at them. Like all poles in the Distance series, they can only tout three-season support, so if you’re looking for something to ski with, you may want to consider the Alpine series instead. However, if you’re a trail runner or simply love going the ultralight route, these will make an excellent addition to your arsenal.

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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!