Black Diamond Alpine FLZ Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Rad cork handles, packable design, durable locking mechanism, relatively versatile
Cons: Heavier than average
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Alpine FLZ is a foldable pole that features aluminum construction and cork handles. Durable and highly packable, we find the FLZ to be a versatile pole for most uses.
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, but 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 or for steep climbs.
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 find that the durable aluminum and comfortable cork handles are 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 into 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 small, dexterous tasks. 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 foldable 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.
The Alpine FLZ is a foldable pole. This gives it an edge in packability as it can break down much smaller than a standard 3-section telescoping pole. The FLZ breaks down to 15 inches, standard for this style. The trekking baskets that come with the pole have small cutouts which allow it to snap into place when broken into its packed state. We found this to be handy to keep the pole together no matter where it was: jammed in a pack, strapped to the outside of a bag, or thrown in a duffel. It also allows the folded shaft sections to be packed very closely together.
Due to its aluminum construction, the Alpine FLZ is a durable pole. That said, while it's held up well in our tests, it is not as durable as the 3-section telescoping poles. Still, 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 consider them to be a good choice for most heavy-duty trekking and off-trail travel as well.
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 makes them useful for summer mountaineering, snowshoeing, and even backcountry skiing.
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, a packable design, and strong aluminum. Black Diamond also has an excellent warranty, making these poles a safe investment.
The BD Alpine FLZ is a great overall pole and 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.
— Jeff Dobronyi, Ben Skach, & Graham Williams