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Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles Review

At outdoor exhibitions, I paid attention to the carbon sticks, weighed them in my hand and gradually prepared myself to try them.

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles for hiking

For three years I walked with Italian Gabel Escape XT Ultralight sticks. Almost everything was great: two types of locks for sure, a soft handle, a hard tip, a relatively lightweight (the stick was 200g) and a high-quality, durable alloy. Altogether I walked much more than 1000km with them. Hundreds of times, they saved me from falling and, surprisingly, never broke. Although repeatedly under the load, they bent so that I mentally said goodbye to them. The only drawback was the handle, which peeled off at the beginning and in no way wanted to cling to its place. I didn’t have a guarantee because I bought them on the forum, so I just tied the foam to the plastic with a rope. Walked like that for another two years.

At outdoor exhibitions, I paid attention to the carbon sticks, weighed them in my hand and gradually prepared myself to try them.

The moment has come. Our fellow local gear shop brought me one of the lightest sticks to date, a Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z weighing 295 grams (a pair!).

I decided to choose the option without a variable-length out of curiosity: I really wanted to know if it is comfortable to walk with a fixed size of sticks. As a bonus, the fixed design has an additional weight gain: sticks with a constant length are 70 grams lighter than the telescopic model.

Another feature of Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z sticks is the main material. Carbon fibre, or, as it is fashionable to say, carbon, is super light and super strong, but not everything is as iridescent as it seems at first glance. All the insane strength of carbon fibre lies in one plane. And even then, to a certain extent. When the allowable load is exceeded, the carbon does not bend smoothly, like aluminium, but is instantly destroyed.

In the transverse plane, the carbon is very brittle and will break at much lower pressure or impact. That is, returning to the sticks, the vertical load on them can be very big. But you can neither bend them nor throw them on hard surfaces in any case. In addition, every deep scratch on the surface of the carbon is an increase in the probability of its breakage in this place. And now look at your aluminium track sticks and think how many times you would have already broken the carbon ones.

The manufacturer’s comment on the packaging of the sticks reminds everyone of the unique properties of carbon fibre.

In addition to the unusual material, Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z has a special design. The stick is made of four separate parts, which are connected by an elastic cord hidden in a material similar to polyurethane. The upper joint is telescopic, and the lower two parts are simply inserted into each other like tent arches.

Assembling the sticks looks like this: with one hand we take the handle, with the other the next section and stretch them in different directions until we hear the ‘click’ of the latch and see it from the outside. It is not necessary to keep the stick upright. It will decompose from any position. And the whole process of unfolding the stick takes no more than half a second!

When unfolded, the tent between the two upper sections is visible, where the telescopic connection is. This coat adds a lot of doubts about the reliability of the sticks when you first pick them up. But, fortunately, in no way affects the comfort in the mountains.

Folded sticks are super compact. The 130 cm model takes only 45 cm in length! This is what it looks like in hand.

Carbon was not enough to make record-breaking sticks. The ring, handle, and the sling was also forced to ‘go on a diet’. Interestingly, the relief not only did not take away comfort or functionality but, on the contrary, expanded them.

For example, let’s check the handle. It is made of a single piece of foam and, unlike my previous sticks, will not slide down or come off. It lies greatly in hand and has an extension for the lower grip, which is a must in fixed-length sticks. But how to lighten such a handle? Remove the interception? It is possible, but due to such savings, the user will be scolded every time he goes uphill or traverse the slope. What did Black Diamond do? Cut out the excess foam so that grooves are formed, which only improves the ventilation of the palm. Good decision.

By the way, when using the lower intercept, it is not necessary to lower all fingers under the lower ledge. It is better to leave a protrusion between the index and middle fingers. This will significantly increase both control and comfort.

Next – the sling (the strap that is attached to the handle of the stick). The approach is the same: use light materials and remove excess where possible. The result – a third of the width – ventilated.

At the ends of the adjusting strap, you can find the manufacturer’s recommendations for what hand the stick if for. This is only due to the convenience of adjusting the strap: when its ends are directed towards the body, it is much easier to reach them with the other hand, and the adjustment takes a second: remove the Velcro, pull to the desired length and glue it back. The handles of the sticks are exactly the same, and the left is no different from the right.

The last element we haven’t looked at yet is the tip. The rings on it, apparently, are smaller in diameter than in the typical sticks and are fused with the tip. It is impossible to remove them. Due to the small size of the rings, the sticks sometimes get buried in mud, so to pass through the roads broken by timber trucks after the rain is inconvenient.

The working parts of the tips are replaceable. Original ones are rubber, in the additional set there are carbide-tungsten. They are hidden in a small pocket on the sling, which holds the sticks during transportation.

In the mountains, the most carbide-tungsten variant is considered. You can replace them in a minute. To do this, you can use a piece of cloth for better grip, and some finger teeth. The wavy shape contained in the combination will prevent it from twisting during the hike.

Carbon in use was very similar to aluminium. It was only on the stones that I forced myself to be more attentive to my movements. But, contemplating the condition of my previous sticks, I think that carbon fibre will not survive such a life. Most likely, their service life will be shorter. As for the fixed length of the sticks, with the presence of the lower interception, I never felt the lack of adjustment. Therefore, I consider Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z a successful purchase.

The only noticeable inconvenience was found during the passage through the thickets of blueberries. Sticks of greater weight due to inertia push the sprouts of plants growing on the side of the road, and jump on. And carbon, due to its lower weight and, consequently, lower inertia, needs to be pushed forward, straining the wrists.

Conclusions. I would not advise buying such sticks to every tourist, only for those who like to lighten their backpack to the maximum and are willing to spend $ 160 for it. And count on shorter service life. For myself, I noticed that the fixed length in the presence of the lower interception is not a disadvantage. But for fans of variable length, Black Diamond produces the same model with a movable upper knee and the abbreviation FLZ (FlickLock) in the name.

Also, keep in mind that carbon sticks should not be taken on serious trips away from civilization. In case of breakage, it is absolutely impossible to repair them during the campaign, and it is difficult to call them without support who knows where.

If you do decide to buy a Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z, you will find the following photo useful, which has tips on how to correctly determine the size of the sticks.

Pros

insanely lightweight, compactness, thoughtfulness and additional functionality of each detail, speed of decomposition, additional working parts of tips in a set.

Cons

  • special properties of carbon fiber
  • the price.

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