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Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Review

A lightweight pole that also allows some length adjustment
Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ
Photo: Black Diamond Equipment
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Price:  $190 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, packs small, adjustable
Cons:  Not as strong, durable, or comfortable as other options
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 21, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 16
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Locking and Adjustability - 15% 7
  • Packed Size - 15% 10
  • Durability - 15% 5
  • Versatility - 15% 7

Our Verdict

We love Black Diamond's trekking poles, and the Distance Carbon FLZ is no exception. Here, they have crafted a lightweight carbon pole that packs down extremely small, yet also allows for some length adjustment. To keep the weight down, however, the pole sacrifices some refinement in comfort and durability. These compromises are acceptable to the user who demands lightweight performance and only wants to carry extra weight from the adjustable length feature, and nothing more. This pole is geared towards mountain runners, ultralight backpackers, and alpine climbers.

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Pros Lightweight, packs small, adjustableComfortable grip, locks securely, packs small, highly versatileComfortable, easy to adjust, small packed size, lightweight, versatileLightweight, short collapsed length, surprisingly durableDurable, comfortable grip, packs small
Cons Not as strong, durable, or comfortable as other optionsCarbon is less durable than aluminum, on the expensive sideExpensiveNo length adjustability, average grip comfortHeavy, less versatile due to weight
Bottom Line A lightweight pole that also allows some length adjustmentA simple, elegant, and well-built trekking pole with versatility for all usesThis pole is comfortable, easy to adjust, lightweight, and highly packableDurable with a short collapsed length, this is a fantastic value for a lightweight poleA highly affordable pair of poles with all of the features of more expensive models
Rating Categories Black Diamond Dista... MSR DynaLock Ascent... Women's Micro Vario... Black Diamond Dista... Trekology Trek-Z
Comfort (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
9.0
4.0
Locking And Adjustability (15%)
7.0
9.0
10.0
3.0
7.0
Packed Size (15%)
10.0
9.0
8.0
10.0
8.0
Durability (15%)
5.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Versatility (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Black Diamond Dista... MSR DynaLock Ascent... Women's Micro Vario... Black Diamond Dista... Trekology Trek-Z
Measured Weight Per Pair (ounces) 13.4 oz 17.0 oz 16.0 oz 12.5 oz 26.0 oz
Shaft Material Carbon Carbon fiber Carbon Aluminum Aluminum
Collapsed Length (inches) 13/15/17 in 14.25 in 15.5 in 13/14/16/17 in 15 in
Max Length (inches) 49.2 in 47 in 51 in 39/43/47/51 in 47 in
Pole Design Foldable Collapsible Foldable Foldable Foldable
Grip Material Foam Rubber / Plastic / Foam Foam EVA foam Foam
Locking Mechanism FlickLock DynaLock Speed​​Lock 2 Speed Cone Deployment Lever lock
Baskets? Tip Attachments? Yes, carbide tips, rubber tips, trail baskets and snow baskets (sold separately) Yes, winter and summer baskets Yes, tips and baskets Yes, rubber and carbide tips Yes, powder and trail baskets, boots, and narrow tips
Size Tested 105-125 cm 100-120 cm One size 110 cm 100-120 cm

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Distance Carbon FLZ is light, packable, and useful for a variety of activities. The only difference between this pole and the barebones, unadjustable carbon poles on the market is a small amount of length adjustment.

Performance Comparison


The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ is a versatile and adjustable...
The Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ is a versatile and adjustable pole for activities requiring lightweight equipment.
Photo: sam willits

Comfort


The Carbon FLZ features a foam handle with a ribbed grip area for extra friction. Foam is a good grip material for hot weather and fast travel because it absorbs sweat better than other materials. The grip continues down the shaft past the normal palm placement, allowing users to choke up when crossing loose and steep hillsides. However, when choking up, only half of the hand is on foam, and the other half rubs against the lever lock mechanism. This works, but it's not as comfortable as other options. The grip is minimally contoured, and the thin wrist strap is not as comfortable as other straps.

The Carbon FLZ's ribbed foam grip and thin strap are comfortable...
The Carbon FLZ's ribbed foam grip and thin strap are comfortable enough, especially for the weight savings they help achieve.
Photo: jeff dobronyi

Weight


The Carbon FLZ weighs 13.4 ounces per pair, making it one of the lightest poles on the market. A minimalistic foam grip, narrow wrist straps, full carbon shaft construction, and tiny trail baskets all help shave grams off the overall weight. These poles are designed for users who are concerned primarily with keeping weight to a minimum, like mountain runners and advanced alpine climbers. If you are looking for a robust cork grip and ultra-comfortable wrist straps, look elsewhere, and be prepared to accept a higher weight. The only area where these poles add weight (compared to the lightest competitors) is in the adjustability realm, allowing for 8 inches (20cm) of length change. This capability adds 3 ounces of weight.

Carbon shafts help keep the FLZ's weight down.
Carbon shafts help keep the FLZ's weight down.
Photo: jeff dobronyi

Locking and Adjustability


This pole locks into its extended position by simply pulling the pole sections apart. From there, a push-button snaps into place, preventing the pole from collapsing. A plastic lever lock then allows 8 inches (20cm) of length adjustment. We prefer this type of combination design for most uses, which provides a light weight with plenty of adjustment potential. For the ultralight crowd, this adjustment is unnecessarily heavy, while other users might want more adjustability — especially those newer to using trekking poles. The lever lock can be tightened with a screwdriver and works well.

The locking mechanism is a spring loaded push button, and length...
The locking mechanism is a spring loaded push button, and length adjustment is achieved by a field-adjustable lever lock.
Photo: jeff dobronyi

Packed Size


The Distance Carbon FLZ packs down to a tiny 15 inches in length, thanks to its foldable design. This is small enough to fit onto the outside of a backpack or inside the main compartment, which is critical when using your hands to move over scrambling terrain or when carrying up and over a multi-pitch climb. This short length is also a nice attribute for poles that will be packed into luggage for air travel or long road trips.

The Carbon FLZ's pack very small, easily fitting inside or outside...
The Carbon FLZ's pack very small, easily fitting inside or outside of a pack without getting in the way.
Photo: jeff dobronyi

Durability


Carbon fiber poles are usually less durable than their aluminum counterparts because aluminum doesn't snap, chip, or crack as easily. That said, we had no problems with the Carbon FLZ during our testing. Over time, the joints between the pole sections may begin to wear down and crack or chip, and these poles won't stand up to heavy abuse in boulder fields or being dragged along rocks while strapped to the sides of a backpack. But for their intended use in the hands of mountain runners and ultralight backpackers, durability shouldn't be an issue. The same users generally prioritize lightweight construction over durable, heavy materials anyway.

Versatility


We found these poles to be relatively versatile, exceeding our initial expectations. They are great for the most lightweight pursuits and are also good for light hiking and ultralight backpacking. They are even compatible with snow baskets for early summer snow and glacier travel. We would, however, reach for heavier and more durable poles for extended backpacking trips, rugged cross-country travel, and international treks. These poles come with both rubber and carbide metal tips for different rock and trail types.

The Carbon FLZ comes with both rubber and carbide tips for use on a...
The Carbon FLZ comes with both rubber and carbide tips for use on a variety of surfaces.
Photo: jeff dobronyi

Value


These poles are expensive, but for those who want the lightest adjustable length pole, the price is justified. If you value a light weight above all other factors, yet want some length adjustability, these are the ticket. On top of that, Black Diamond has a great warranty program to protect your investment. If you don't care about saving a few ounces, and prefer to save money instead, you will find plenty of high-performance options at lower prices.

Conclusion


For the ultralight crowd, there are few better pole options than the Distance Carbon FLZ. They feature a lightweight carbon construction and 8 inches of length adjustability in a 13.4-ounce package. There are lighter options, but none of those offer any length adjustment, meaning that the Carbon FLZ fills a niche for the uncommon user who wants both lightweight performance and adjustability. These are great for mountain runners, climbers, and ultralight backpackers, but the extra three ounces might be a dealbreaker for ultralight users.

These are great poles for mountain runners and other gram-shaving...
These are great poles for mountain runners and other gram-shaving enthusiasts.
Photo: sam willits

Jeff Dobronyi