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

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Black Diamond Distance Z Review: (Runner-Up) Best Overall Pole

(Runner-Up) Best Overall Pole

 

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

Price: $99.95

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

What We Like: Excellent price for folding poles. Very light for aluminum poles. Collapse down small, pack/unpack easily

What We Don’t: Only three-season support, unlike the Alpine series. Lack of adjustment for changing hiking styles. May not be sturdy enough for extra-heavy loads

If you’re looking for a pole that can do it all reasonably well without costing an arm and a leg, Black Diamond’s Distance Z trekking/running poles may just be your best option. These foldable, fixed-length unisex poles feature aluminum shafts along with a foam grip and extension, and a breathable, moisture-wicking strap. The Distance Zs come in at a close second on our list of top poles, with several very handy features that will make trekking a breeze.

The three-section folding-style collapse system makes these significantly more compact than a telescopic trekking pole like the Trail Sport 3 or even the Alpine Carbon Cork. The speed-cone deployment, utilizing SlideLock technology, means that they can easily pack away and deploy rapidly. Unpacking your Distance Zs to take on the trail is quick and easy thanks to the SlideLock system. The Distance Zs utilize Z-pole’s fixed-length construction, so make sure you know what size pole will fit you best. The four-length options include 100cm, 110cm, 120cm, and 130cm (39, 43, 47, and 51in).

Much like with any purchase, there are pros and cons associated with Black Diamond’s Distance Z trekking poles, however in this case they essentially cancel each other out. They are not the cheapest nor are they the most expensive; they are neither the lightest nor the heaviest. The fixed-length construction means they can’t be easily shared amongst hikers of differing heights but it does mean they will always be ready to go for you. Since equipment sharing isn’t exactly a typical practice amongst hikers – at least when it comes to poles – this should likely be a non-issue. I’m personally a big fan of the folding-style collapse system; it seems vastly superior to the telescopic system when it comes time to pack these away.

All in all, I really do like the Distance Zs. These jack-of-all-trades trekking poles check all the important boxes for everyday use, as they are well built with a reasonable price and weight. Just make sure that if you are buying these as a gift for the hiker in your life, that you know their height.

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

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

If you’re looking for a pole that can do it all reasonably well without costing an arm and a leg, Black Diamond’s Distance Z trekking/running poles may just be your best option. These foldable, fixed-length unisex poles feature aluminum shafts along with a foam grip and extension with a breathable, moisture-wicking strap. The Distance Zs come in at a close second on our list of top poles, with several very handy features that will surely make trekking a breeze.

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 will help you scale and traverse the world.

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

Comfort

These trekking poles have lightweight EVA foam grips and grip extensions, as well as what Black Diamond calls a distance strap. 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, this choice 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.

Weight

The Distance Z shafts are composed of 7075 aluminum, which is heavier than its carbon fiber counterparts but also more durable. It makes these poles near-average when it comes to weight. They’re two ounces heavier than the Distance Carbon Z but much lighter than the Trail Sport 3. The weight of these poles will vary depending upon the length you select. These poles weigh in at 323g (11.4oz) for the 100cm trekking poles, 343g (12.1oz) for the 110cm poles, 362g (12.8oz) for the 120cm poles, and 402g (14.2oz) for the 130cm poles.

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

Packing

The three-section folding-style collapse system makes these significantly more compact than a telescopic trekking pole like the Trail Sport 3 or even the Alpine Carbon Cork. 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 in the long run. 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. However, this removes the overlap in the pole sections that you’d find with a telescopic pole, making it more likely that the pole will wobble or bend when it is presented with a greater deal of weight. 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 Z’s collapsed length varies depending upon your length choice (100-130cm). 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 on par with other Black Diamond folding poles like the Alpine FLZ and Distance Carbon Z, and it’s noticeably superior to traditional telescopic systems like the Trail Sport 3, which collapses down to only 64cm (25in).

Unpacking your Distance 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, and 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; this will loosen the cord and enable you to fold the pole into the Z shape.

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

Adjustability

The Distance Zs utilize Z-pole is a fixed-length construction, so make sure you know what size pole will fit you best. The four length options include 100cm, 110cm, 120cm, and 130cm (39, 43, 47 and 51in). According to Black Diamond’s sizing chart, the 100cm trekking 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 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

At 11-14oz, the poles’ aluminum shafts make them heavier than going the carbon fiber route, but it also makes them more durable. You’ll find that aluminum can bend without snapping and generally holds up better against the everyday dings and cracks associated with navigating rocky outcroppings and the like. Although the Distance Zs may not be the ideal poles for heavier loads, they are surprisingly versatile and should more than meet the needs of everyday hikers.

You’ll find more durable aluminum trekking poles out there, but with that additional sturdiness comes more weight as well. I should note that there were a handful of complaints about the reliability of the SlideLock systems when I perused the Amazon listing, but there were also several glowing reviews. Something to make note of if you’re looking further into these poles as your top option.

Price

At around $99, the Distance Zs fall down the middle of the road on price at just over half the price of the Distance Carbon Zs but $30 more than the Trail Sport 3. They’re also $60 cheaper than the Alpine FLZs, another pair of folding poles sporting aluminum shafts. As far as folding-style collapsible poles go, it’s a relatively easy price to swallow when you consider the value you’re getting out of it.

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

Other Features

Included with your Distance Z trekking poles are a standard carbide tip that’s ideal for hiking as well as a non-scarring rubber tip, which is 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, making them excellent for alpine climbing but not quite sturdy enough for downhill skiing.

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

The Bottom Line

Much like with any purchase, there are pros and cons associated with Black Diamond’s Distance Z trekking poles, however in this case they essentially cancel each other out. They are not the cheapest nor are they the most expensive; they are neither the lightest nor the heaviest. The fixed-length construction means they can’t be easily shared amongst hikers of differing heights, but it does mean they will always be ready to go for you. Since equipment sharing isn’t exactly a typical practice amongst hikers—at least when it comes to poles, this should likely be a non-issue. I’m personally a big fan of the folding-style collapse system. It really seems vastly superior to the telescopic system when it comes time to packing these away.

All in all, I really do like the Distance Zs. These jack-of-all-trades trekking poles check all the important boxes for everyday use, as they are well built with a reasonable price and weight. Just make sure that if you are buying these as a gift for the hiker in your life, that you know how tall they are so you can get the right fit.

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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!