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Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Review

The Black Diamond Alpine FLZ is a strong, versatile pole that features a few extras like cork handles.
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Price:  $160 List | $119.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Rad cork handles, packable design, durable locking mechanism, and relatively versatile
Cons:  Heavier than average
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Graham Williams & Ben Skach  ⋅  May 14, 2018
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 18
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 7
  • Packed Size - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Alpine FLZ is a staple trekking pole in the Black Diamond line up. We were psyched to get our hands on it after reviewing the Carbon version, the Alpine Carbon Z, last year. Although it wasn't an award winner, it still gave a solid performance for those looking for a dependable pole (that we've come to expect from Black Diamond products). It remains one of our higher scoring poles as it has durable aluminum construction, comfortable cork handles, and a Black Diamond's Z style break apart pole style. The Alpine FLZ was one of our more versatile break apart style poles, complete with snow baskets. Combine that with its durable aluminum construction, and we'd venture to say the Alpine FLZ can handle just about anything you throw at it. However, it is on the heavier side of our pole review this year, and at 20.2 ounces, it's the heaviest pole in our fleet.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Rad cork handles, packable design, durable locking mechanism, and relatively versatileLightweight, packs compactly, comfortable grip, easily disassembledComfortable, easy to adjust, small packed size, light, versatileVery durable, versatile, comfortable, and lightweightTough, comfortable, FlickLock mechanism is stellar, and long lasting
Cons Heavier than averageExpensive, may be less durable than some aluminum modelsExpensiveNot as small in packed size as the Leki Micro VarioNot as light or packable as other poles
Bottom Line The Black Diamond Alpine FLZ is a strong, versatile pole that features a few extras like cork handles.This pole made of lightweight carbon is our top-ranked trekking pole.This pole is the shortest to pack, is lightweight, the most comfortable, and easy to adjust.These poles are among the most durable tested. They are also comfortable, versatile, and easy to adjust.This is one of the top ranked poles in our review thanks to strong, durable construction, and its comfortable cork grips.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Leki Micro Vario Carbon Women's Micro Vario Carbon Alpine Carbon Cork Alpine Carbon Cork
Comfort (20%)
10
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8
10
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10
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10
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10
Weight (20%)
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4
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8
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8
10
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8
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8
Locking And Adjustability (15%)
10
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7
10
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10
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10
10
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8
10
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8
Packed Size (15%)
10
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8
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10
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10
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7
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7
Durability (15%)
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7
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9
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10
Versatility (15%)
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9
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9
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10
Specs Black Diamond... Leki Micro Vario... Women's Micro... Alpine Carbon Cork Alpine Carbon Cork
Measured Weight Per Pair (Ounces) 20.2 oz 16.4 oz 16.0 oz 17.0 oz 17.0 oz
Shaft Material Aluminum Carbon Carbon Carbon Carbon Fiber
Min Length (inches) 14/15/16 in 15.5 in 15.5 in 25 in 24 in
Max Length (inches) 43/49/55 in 47 in 51 in 51 in 51 in
Pole Design Foldable Foldable Foldable Collapsible Collapsible
Grip Material Cork Foam Foam Cork EVA foam
Locking Mechanism FlickLock Pro Speed​​Lock 2 Speed​​Lock 2 External Lever Lock Dual FlickLock Pro
Shock absorbing? No No No No No
Baskets? Tip Attachments? Yes, Only Baskets Yes, tips and baskets Yes, tips and baskets Yes, rubber tips, trekking baskets, powder baskets Yes, Only Baskets

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Alpine FLZ is a break apart style pole that features aluminum construction and cork handles. This adds to the durability of the pole but keeps it small for packing away. For this reason, we found the Alpine FLZ to be a versatile pole for some outdoor sports.


Comfort


The Alpine FLZ features Black Diamond's standard cork grips, the same found on the Editors' Choice Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork. Black Diamond's cork handles are comfortable, and get better with age, just like a fine wine. We still felt that the Leki Corklite DSS Antishock and the Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec had more comfortable cork grips, not by much, but enough to give them the edge over the Black Diamond models.

Showcasing the cork handles.
Showcasing the cork handles.

As with many high-end Black Diamond poles, these also feature a lower foam grip beneath the cork handle to facilitate "choking down" on the pole in rough and variable terrain.

Locking Mechanism and Adjustability


The Alpine FLZ features two of Black Diamond's locking mechanisms to help facilitate adjustability, strength, and packability. As with the rest of the BD Z-series, these poles have the updated locking mechanism for the folding section. This new sliding lock replaces the old pin lock, which makes folding up the poles slightly easier. If you're wearing gloves, we found this update to be especially helpful. Once the pole is extended, you can use the FlickLock Pro system to adjust the length to your liking. Unlike telescoping models, the Alpine FLZ only has one FlickLock Pro mechanism, which offers about 20 centimeters of adjustability. As with other poles like the Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec we found this to be plenty of adjustment.

Alpine FLZ Pin Pop and FlickLock Pro.
Alpine FLZ Pin Pop and FlickLock Pro.

Weight


The Alpine FLZ weighs in at a pretty standard, if not a little heavy, 20.2 ounces. For an aluminum pole with cork handles, this isn't surprising. Although they are one of the heavier poles in our review, we still found that the durable aluminum and comfortable cork handles were worthy additions. What you do get is a more durable version of something like the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z, which was our pick for lightweight poles this year at 10 ounces. The Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec weighs in almost the same at 20 ounces, which also featured cork handles and aluminum construction.

Packed Size


The Alpine FLZ is break apart style or Z-style (Black Diamond's take on the design) pole. This gives it an edge in packability as it can break down much smaller than a standard telescoping pole like the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or the Leki Corklite DSS Antishock. This model breaks down to 15 inches, which is pretty standard for our break apart style poles this year.

Here we show the FLZ trekking poles collapsed.
Here we show the FLZ trekking poles collapsed.

A small extra that Black Diamond added in, which can be found on some of their other Z-style poles, is the trekking baskets that come with the pole have small cutouts which allow the model to snap into place when broken into its packed state. We found this to be handy to keep the pole together no matter where the pole was: jammed in our packs, strapped to the outside of our bags, or throwing it in a duffle bag.

Durability


Due to its aluminum construction, the Alpine FLZ is a durable pole. While it still holds up well in our tests, it is not as durable as the heavyweight Black Diamond Trail Back, which is an aluminum telescoping design, or as tough as the carbon Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork. This is due to the three section construction, plus the addition of a FlickLock Pro mechanism, which adds the potential for breakage. That being said, we also don't think you'll be breaking this pole anytime soon, thanks to its robust construction. Increasing the durability, BD claims that the new 2018 model's reinforced joints are 30% stronger. These poles can handle just about anything you throw at them on the trail, and we'd consider them to be a good choice for most heavy duty trekking and off-trail travel as well.

Versatility


The Alpine FLZ is a slightly less comfortable model than the Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec but performed very similarly. With included snow baskets, we think that this pole could be used for just about any hiking, trekking, backpacking, or mountaineering adventure you embark upon. Although they aren't the lightest pole in our review, they make up for it in being more durable and comfortable than other poles.

Best Applications


For its packable size, multiple size basket attachments, and strong aluminum design, the Alpine FLZ is a great choice for anything from day hiking to mountaineering.

Value


At $150 the Alpine FLZ is $10 more expensive than the similar award-winning Leki Micro Vario Ti Cor-Tec, which we found to be more comfortable. However, the Alpine FLZ still a great pole with thoughtful little extras like the baskets that the pole folds into. It features comfortable cork handles that get better with use, packable design, and strong aluminum design.

Conclusion


The BD Alpine FLZ is a great overall pole and was a strong contender in this year's review. We think that it's priced well for the features that you get, and offers lots of options to a multitude of users.


Graham Williams & Ben Skach