Black Diamond really set the bar for lightweight and packable trekking poles when they came out with the Ultra Distance Carbon Z. Now while those original poles are no longer available the new Distance Carbon Z poles have improved upon the design of their predecessor resulting in a very functional, ergonomic and packable trekking pole. Ideal for trips where the poles have to be stashed away in a backpack and weight is critical, like up-and-over type rock or alpine climbs. Of course there’s always a trade-off and in this case the lightweight design can be a bit fragile as I’ll outline below.
- Eva Foam handles, carbon fiber shaft and coated Kevlar tensioning cord
- Non-adjustable 3-segment construction
- Interchangeable points (carbide or rubber)
- Comes in 4 lengths
- Weight as tested (120cm version, rubber point): 143g each
- Collapsed length: 405mm
Because the Distance Carbon Z poles are so short and light they’re easy to pack away when not in use. They even fit into a small bullet bag and at 143g each the weight is negligible.
While they come in pairs I prefer to just use a single pole. I find that one is enough to take some weight off my knees and improve balance in tricky terrain. Besides, I typically have a lightweight mountaineering axe with me for walking on steep snow or crossing glaciers. The axe goes on the uphill side while the pole goes on the downhill.
To make the Distance Carbon Z poles so lightweight Black Diamond got rid of all the extra material, frills and gimmicks. This means that the length isn’t adjustable and the poles have a small, non-replaceable stopper baskets. If you’re willing to carry a little extra weight those features are available in other models.
The Achilles heel of the Distance Carbon Z poles seems to be the pin locking system. The hole that’s drilled into the side of the carbon fiber shaft, just under the handles, and locks the pole in the extended position weakens the pole at that location. In testing one of the Distance Carbon Z poles I fell crossing a creek and broke the shaft at the pin location. Prior to that I had the shaft split around the steel pin on a pair of the older Ultra Distance Carbon Z poles after a couple of years of use. Now they’re still great poles, just be aware of this weak spot and treat them with care.
Pros: Very lightweight and packable
Cons: Fragile at the locking pin
Overall: An amazingly lightweight and packable trekking pole that works great for any adventure where you may need to stow the pole in a backpack.
Black Diamond provided a sample for testing but this did not influence the review in any way.