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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 | $100.67 at Amazon
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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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 3
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 7
  • Packed Size - 15% 10
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Alpine FLZ is a staple trekking pole in the Black Diamond line up. Although it isn't an award winner, it still gave a reliable performance for those looking for a dependable pole. It remains one of our higher scoring poles as it has durable aluminum construction, comfortable cork handles, and a z-design that allows a small packed size. 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.


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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 most uses.


Comfort


The Alpine FLZ features Black Diamond's standard cork grips. They are very comfortable, and get better with time, because the cork eventually molds to the shape of your hands. There are more comfortable grips in our review, not by much. 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.

Showcasing the cork handles.
Showcasing the cork handles.

Weight


The Alpine FLZ weighs in at a hefty 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. For heavy-duty uses like long-distance trekking and cross country travel, this weight is worth it.

Locking and Adjustability


To lock the folding pole sections in to place, there is a sliding spring-loaded lock that replaces a classic push-button lock. This sliding piece makes it easier to unlock and fold the pole sections if you are wearing gloves or have trouble with normal push-button locks. Once the pole is extended, the FlickLock Pro lever lock system adjusts the length of the pole. This design allows 8 inches (20cm) of length adjustability. Poles that feature this combination of z-design collapsibility with one lever lock for length adjustment have been our favorite poles so far. They pack down small and offer plenty of length adjustment.

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

Packed Size


The Alpine FLZ is a break apart style or Z-style pole. This gives it an edge in packability as it can break down much smaller than a standard 3-section telescoping pole. 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.

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. It also allows the folded shaft sections to be packed very closely together.

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 3-section telescoping poles. That being said, we also don't think you'll be breaking this pole anytime soon, thanks to its robust construction. 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 great option for major treks or hikes where technical terrain might be encountered. These poles will support your weight in the gnarliest cross-country travel, then fold up and disappear into your pack when the terrain requires you to use your hands. Their heavy weight makes them less useful for shorter approaches to alpine climbs, but for longer approaches or multi-day climbing expeditions, the extra durability is worth the weight. They also come with snow baskets, which make these poles useful for summer mountaineering, snowshoeing, and even backcountry skiing.

Value


This is a relatively expensive pole, but the strength, comfort, and versatility are well worth the price. It features comfortable cork handles that get better with use, packable design, and strong aluminum design. Black Diamond has an excellent warranty, making these poles a safe investment.

Conclusion


The BD Alpine FLZ is a great overall pole and was a strong contender in our review. We think that it's priced well for the features that you get, and offers lots of options to a multitude of users. Furthermore, it is built to last. If you need a strong pole that also breaks down small, this is a great option.


Graham Williams & Ben Skach