Black Diamond Distance FLZ pole
Photo: Black Diamond
The handle on the Distance FLZ's, which is identical to the Distance Carbon Z and the Distance Z, scored average during our side-by-side comfort comparison. Black Diamond designed the Distance FLZ with a lightweight foam handle rather than a mega comfortable foam grip. Our testers found it comfortable enough for extended approaches and backpacking trips and found it more durable than we expected. It wasn't as comfortable as the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork or the Alpine Carbon Z but was better than most rubber-gripped handles.
Locking Mechanism and Range of Adjustment
The Distance Z uses a combination of a pin pop locking mechanism (like Black Diamonds other Z-series of poles) in addition to a single FlickLock Mechanism near the top of the Pole (hence the FLZ: FlickLock Z pole). This FlickLock gives users around 20 cm of height adjustment to their poles. This ability to adjust the length is the primary difference between the Distance FLZ and the other Distance poles. While 20 cm doesn't sound like a lot, our testers found it is enough range of adjustment for most folks who like to extend their poles going down and shorten them going up.
At 16 ounces the Distance FLZ is on the lighter side of poles and lighter than most traditional telescoping poles with the exception of the Komperdell C3 Carbon Compact which is a mere 13 ounces. The Distance FLZ is lighter than our Editors' Choice, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork and Top Pick the Alpine Carbon Z both an ounce heavier at 17 oz. If you're looking for a light pole and don't think you need any range of adjustment, check out the fixed length (but equal in collapsed size) Black Diamond Distance (12 ounces) and Distance Carbon (10 ounces).
Along with all the other "tent-pole" style poles in our review, the Distance FLZ dominates the more traditionally designed telescoping poles in packed size, which makes them a stellar choice for any application that involves carrying or packing your poles. The Distance FLZ breaks down to 15 inches in length with only the Distance Z and Distance Carbon Z packing one inch shorter. Other than the Komperdell C3 Carbon Powerlock Compact which packs down to 21.5", the shortest among telescoping designs, the Distance FLZ packs 8-10" shorter than all other models.
We abused these poles A LOT and think they're pretty tough. They aren't quite as tough as some of the heavier aluminum telescoping poles but they are plenty durable enough for most users; even those whose trips involve substantial cross-country travel.
The Distance Z cannot be fitted with snow baskets which makes it a poor choice for snowshoeing or other wintry adventures. They are great for three-season applications.
The Distance FLZ come with a rubber and a carbide tip. Our testers found much more use for the carbide tips for nearly every application. Pliers are handy when switching the tips. One user group that might enjoy the rubber tips are Nordic walkers or anyone who uses these poles on concrete.
The lowest section and rubber coated tip option of the BD Distance Carbon Z.
Photo: Ian Nicholson
This pole is for folks looking for the most packable pole available but who still want some length adjustment. If you don't mind adjusting the length then buy the Black Diamond Distance and save yourself $30 and 4 ounces. Both of these models are great for travelers, backpackers and trekkers but climbers have the most obvious advantage because of how important it is that the poles not stick out of your pack when climbing. Climbers with arduous approaches and grueling descents easily pack these poles up and over technical routes and break them out for the descents. They fit into medium sized multi-pitch packs, which makes them great for rock and alpine climbers looking to help out their knees or looking for stability on uneven terrain. People who travel with poles also enjoy their space saving advantages and anyone looking for a more compact pole could consider the Distance FLZ. These have a cool niche, but if you are looking for a pole to do everything then look elsewhere.
These poles are pricey, but not outrageous. If you want a very packable pole that still offers some range of adjustment, then look no further. Or if you have a quiver of poles then the Distance FLZ is the one to add.