Black Diamond carbon Z-Pole hiking poles

My Black Diamond carbon z-poles have trekked and run 3, 500 miles and are still going strong. I love them. Several people including my PCT partner John, wife and friends have used them at my urging and everyone is effusive. I’ve used many different poles over the years and these are definitely the best – light (17 oz.), strong, collapsable for travel, great handles and comfortable straps. They come with a very light case and rubber tips for street use. When you acquire them new you will need to put on the hiking tips with the metal carbide tip

One of the best parts of the design is the handles and straps. They are superior to straps on other hiking poles and ski poles I have used over the decades. They are comfortable, warm in cold weather and don’t fatigue your hands and forearms. Good straps allow you to easily and comfortably use your poles to push off with your full upper body and do not require clinging with your hand and forearm muscles.

After several thousand miles there will be some wear and tear to any hiking pole. A tip may break. It’s wise to have a spare tip in your First Aid and repair packet ($5 and less than one ounce). The straps will eventually wear out, especially if you correctly use them to “hang” from versus unnecessarily gripping the handles too hard to hang on. My hiking partner replaced his after two thousand miles of trail. They became frayed, but never actually broke. I’m still on my original straps.

Black Diamond, Leki and REI all offer a variety of models and prices.  Check out what fits your needs and price range. For a full on comparison of all types of hiking poles check out REI’s “How to Choose” .

Outdoor Gear Lab has a 2016 comparison of trekking poles that is also useful for comparison shopping. They rated the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork (adjustable & 17 oz.) as “Editor’s Choice.” The Black Diamond Carbon Distance Carbon Z as the “Best Lightweight Pole” (fixed & 10 oz.). Leki also has top rated hiking poles with similar features and weights.

A couple of big choices to make are:

  • Flexible vs. Fixed – Some hikers like to shorten their poles for uphill, especially steep uphill. Then lengthen them for downhill and a mid range for the flats.
  • Weight – You can go as light as 10 ounces to over one pound with stronger, lower cost and adjustable features.

The bottomline is there are many good choices out there that will do the job and match your personal preferences.

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