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Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles

RRP: £120 per pair
Weight: 285g per pair (110cm length)

I had thought my previous go-to trekking poles were lightweight until I picked up these carbon poles from Black Diamond. Weighing in at a mere 285g for the pair the weight is truly featherlight, you genuinely don’t notice them when stowed in a pack and barely notice them in use or carrying them in one hand. I was therefore very interested to find out how these spindly-lightweights would perform in Scottish conditions.

The main trade off on the weight v. features is the lack of adjustability. These poles come in four fixed lengths (100cm, 110cm, 120cm, 130cm), I’ve been using the 110cm length (I’m 5’3″) and haven’t missed the ability to shorten the poles for steep uphills, in fact the fairly long handle grips means it’s comfortable to hold them lower down and effectively shorten them by 7cm or so. I’ve quickly got to appreciate the very rapid assembly – the shock-corded three section pole is locked in place by a button that pops out at the bottom of the handle. This push button is awkward if wearing gloves and some users have reported rusting here, although I have had no sign of this despite wetting them on every outing and leaving them to dry in a cold room or car. The cord is made from robust Kevlar and there are no issues with it loosening which is often experienced with screw type systems.

The grip falls midway in the comfort level of poles I’ve tried. It could have a little more give but it’s a lot more comfortable over long distances than the hard plastic handles on cheaper poles. The handles are well shaped with grooves for extra grip. The surface has shown little sign of wear and tear and appears to be unaffected by hand lotion/sun cream to date. The lightweight strap is adequate and easily adjustable although there’s a strip of velcro which may rub on bare wrists if worn for long days.

The poles are supplied with two interchangeable screw-in rubber and carbide tips. Whilst much quieter, the rubber tips are unlikely to last too long on mixed Scottish terrain, so I’ve mainly been using the carbide tips which appear tough and were very easy to change – a marked constrast to past epic struggles to replace tips on Leki poles that entailed the use of a vice and pliers.


When folded up these poles are just 37cm, enabling them to easily fit inside many daypacks for scrambles or flatter sections, a useful feature when traveling with them as well. The small basket clips to one section of pole to hold them together and they come with a separate strap (which will be lost in no time) which also holds both poles and stores the spare tips. A useful feature would be either a larger basket (this one was often getting caught in small gaps between boulders) for use on rockier ground and for snow. The basket on this model is fixed and this is limiting in Scottish conditions – I found the poles to push much too deeply into snow where I’d want a bigger snow basket. I did initially have concerns that these poles would not be robust enough, however they have always felt very secure and strong in a range of terrains. I’d probably opt for a cheaper, heavier and potentially longer-lasting aluminium pair for use in snow, or if I was only going to have one pair of poles. But these are definitely poles I’d take backpacking, or on day hikes where kit weight and packable size is important.

Pros: Very lightweight, small folded size
Cons: Small basket less suitable for snow, high price

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