Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z ($180)

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Incredibly lightweight and folds down small.

Pricey and carbon is more brittle than aluminum.

With a weight of 9-10 ounces per pair, based on the dimensions The Distance Carbon Z is Black Diamond’s tiniest trekking pole. It’s perfect for those who are minimalists (they are lightweight and easy to carry that they’ve become popular for long-distance runners). We like the Z-Pole technology It’s a sleeve that’s at the top of the pole moves away to the handle, while the sections slide in and join to form a compact unit, and a tiny button puts everything in the right position. From compacted to deploy takes just two seconds, and when they are collapsed the poles are 10 % shorter than other Telescoping designs. This can be a huge difference to everyone from travellers and hikers who want to keep the poles in their backpacks to ultra-distance runners who take their poles on long lengths.

What are the disadvantages of these poles? Carbon is more light than aluminum, however it is also more costly and more brittle (it’ll snap under pressure instead of bending as aluminum). Furthermore to that, the Carbon Z comes in five length choices, but it isn’t adjustable. The ability to alter your trekking pole’s length when you go upward or downward slope is a great feature however, the fact that they are fixed limits them from being flexible in terms of the ability to let other people use the poles. If you’re interested in adjusting the length, Black Diamond makes the Carbon FLZ which comes with only one FlickLock Pro lever at the top of the line for just $20 more with a slight weight penalty. Also, you sacrifice some stiffness due to the BD’s collapsed design, therefore thru-hikers who want to have better long-term durability should consider the telescoping Gossamer gear LT5 below.