Hands-on Gear Review

Compare trekking poles ratings side-by-side >

Black Diamond Ultra Distance Review

   
Top Pick Award

Trekking Poles

  • Currently 4.5/5
Overall avg rating 4.5 of 5 based on 7 reviews. Most recent review: October 11, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $105 - $160 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros:  Incredible weight-to-solidity ratio. Ergonomic strap, and for sure the best fold system that we tested. Overall durability is only slightly less than the Micro Stick, at nearly half the weight.
Cons:  Only one possible basket configuration (small). For heavy handed or clumsy hikers, carbon is more likely to break than aluminum if accidentally kicked or fallen on.
Best Uses:  Climbing, backpacking, hiking, BASE jumping.
User Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0 of 5) based on 6 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (5/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Matt Gerdes ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ April 3, 2012  
Overview
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance was the clear winner for the Best Lightweight Trekking Pole and gets our Top Pick award. In terms of weight, it is significantly lighter than the Leki Micro Stick, with not much (if any) compromise in durability. Although it is bulkier and heavier than the Raidlight Foldable Trail Pole, its vastly greater durability more than made up for the weight. Also, we found that the slightly elevated rigidity and strength was an asset on the trail and mostly outweighed the hassle of a slightly longer folded length and bulkier handle when compared to the Raidlight.

Overall Black Diamond has really scored with this pole, and I'm looking forward to a second full season of use with mine. The feel on the trail is very solid, with almost no rattle (similar to the Leki, and vastly superior to the Raidlight), and provision of a very stable platform of support.

View our complete Trekking Poles Review.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Grip & Strap
The asymmetric hand straps are very comfortable and add to the feel of support. The grips are average and feel a bit too featureless compared to the Leki (even if they are far superior to the Raidlight). I would have preferred a better form or texture on the grips, but it's a small niggle in light of the overall design quality.

Shaft
More and more of my outdoor gear is becoming carbon as the years go on, and for good reason. BD seems to have chosen an ideal diameter and thickness for these poles. They have a solid feel and a pleasant swing weight.

Fold & Lock System
The folding system is space-age compared to either the Leki or Raidlight and lasted an entire summer of use with little sign of wear. The poles lock into hike position with a very solid and reassuring click, and switch back and forth from folded to extended faster and easier than the other poles tested. BD has years of avalanche probe design experience to apply here, and they did a good job of it.

This pole is not adjustable. You need to pick the right length and you are then limited to that.

Tips
Poles come standard with both a rubber and a carbide tip, which is great. I have little use for the rubber tips and switched straight to carbide (pliers needed to make the change) for all applications.

Baskets
The baskets are not interchangeable, which limits the pole's use to three seasons plenty for most of us.

Value
These poles are pricey, but they aren't outrageous.

Other Versions
The plain Black Diamond Distance ($100) comes in 10cm increment sizing from 100-130cm and has no range of adjustment. It is $50 less but 33 percent heavier.

The Black Diamond Distance FL ($120) have a FlickLock mechanism and 20cm of adjustment range. They are 50 percent heavier than the Ultra Distance.

The Black Diamond Ultra Distance was the clear winner for the Best Lightweight Trekking Pole and gets our Top Pick award, $160.

Tangential Note: Dream Backpacking Gear List
The Ultra Distance Poles are one of many items featured in our Dream Backpacking Gear List. Check it out to see other top-tier "dream" backpacking items.

Matt Gerdes

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

Where to Buy?


Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 11, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 75%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 6 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Oct 11, 2013 - 06:51pm
dustin · Backpacker · AZ
schifferj, I don't know if this will be of use to you, but I recently added a 6" section of a 3M tape called Greptile tb400 immediately below the foam grips on my Z poles. Grips like velcro even with sweaty palms. Helps with steep climbs when the foam grips are just unreasonably high to be useful. Got it off Amazon for about 6 bucks if I remember right.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Sep 9, 2013 - 01:05pm
Stevee B · Climber · Oakland
To change the tips out in order to be able to install a larger powder basket:

Unscrew the threaded tip.
Boil a pot of water.
Soak the tips in the boiled water for a minute or two.
Remove the tips with pliers.
Slide powder baskets into place.
Reinstall tips.

Works like a charm. Used these on the Kautz Glacier on Rainier after applying this method, worked great. I weigh 140# and am 5'-5", however, so I'm not a good measure of how well they will stand up to this generally.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Sep 8, 2013 - 08:21pm
dustin · Backpacker · AZ
I wrote a review in my blog recently. Basically, the poles are exactly as advertised--only the essentials. That said, they're so perfect for my terrain that outlining the few faults feels contrived. But there are a few things that could be improved with little to no weight gain that would probably hike the price out of range of most people. So at $150 they are pretty well optimized.

First, I've never had a problem with the tips, but the integral tip/snow basket seems like an eventual broken off, unrepairable tip waiting to happen if you lever them in a crevice. Hasn't happened to me. Probably never will happen to me. Still think about it before a long trip. Solution: Hysol the threaded tip receiver directly into the lower pole section.

Next, the aluminum joiners could probably use a bit more beef so they may survive while the pole walls blow out rather than the other way around. Might as well use the strength of the layup if you're going to carry the weight a thousand miles.

These are the only two non-problems I can come up with if I was to make my own dream pole set. In real life, they are awesome, feather-light, unbelievably strong for their weight trekking poles and I recommend them to all the other weight weenies out there.

In response to one of the reviews below regarding UL tents that accept these poles: I'm not sure, but try LightHeart Gear. They have a very unique spin on integrating trekking poles into a solo UL tent. One of their tents specifically calls for 125-130cm poles. My medium Z-poles are 120s and could easily be adapted. Plus, their method keeps the poles out of the doorway. It's a silnylon example, but in Cuben or similar it could compare favorably with other UL designs.

Dustin Martin
http://trailandtravel.com/2013/09/05/black-diamond-ultra-distance-z-poles/

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

Jun 12, 2013 - 12:04pm
 
harpo · Climber · South Lake Tahoe
These have been redesigned for spring 13. Does anyone have any comments on the changes?
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

Jun 12, 2013 - 01:04am
 
schifferj · Backpacker
These are awesome trekking poles. As one would expect, carbon fiber makes them light and the rest of the materials are also light. The fold up into about an 18" length for storage but they are not adjustable in length. The lack of adjustability is good and bad. If they don't adjust then they aren't constantly collapsing as do some other poles I've used but the downside is they can't be used to pitch tents that allow for trekking pole use but require a specific length. The second drawback is the handles. The handles are two part if you will in that you can hold the top half for added length when proceeding downhill or on level ground or you can hold the bottom half for uphilling. The problem lies in the fact that you can not keep your hands in the straps when using the bottom portion of the handle for uphill climbing/hiking.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jan 22, 2013 - 10:17am
simply_light · Backpacker · Midwest, Indiana
Recently purchased a set of the Black Diamond Ultra Distance trekking poles. They are excellent poles. Very sturdy, simple design, easy to use and lightweight. The only draw back I found was that they are not adjustable.

That is what helps to make them so light, but can be a draw back if you use your trekking poles for your tent and/or tarp. Adjustable poles make it easy to get a perfect pitch every time. In some applications, fixed poles are not the right length for your tent/tarp and the ones that are the right length for your tent/tarp are not the right length for you.

Another small draw back (for me personally and has no bearing on their overall use) was that I like to use the ice axe loops on the outside of my pack to store my poles when not using them. Standard adjustable trekking poles fit quite nicely, but with the way the Black Diamond Poles fold down, they don't store easily in the ice axe loops. Of course, the plus side is that they can be easily packed into a bag because they do fold down so short.

Overall, an excellent product for its intended purpose, with a slight mark against them when attempting multi-use.

Jared M. Baker
http://www.simplylightdesigns.com

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the Black Diamond Ultra Distance?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Click to enlarge
Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles
Credit: Black Diamond
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
CampSaver $104.97  -  34% off!
REI $124.93  -  22% off!
Amazon $129.97  -  19% off!
Compare prices at 7 sellers >

*Help support OutdoorGearLab. If you click on one of the seller links and make a purchase, a portion of the sale helps support this site
Related Best-in-Class Review
The Best Trekking Pole Review For Hiking and Backpacking

The Best Trekking Pole Review For Hiking and Backpacking

What is the best trekking pole for hiking and backpacking? We took eight of the best poles and tested them head-to-head to find out.
Video video review
Helpful Buying Tips
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter