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Jessie Leong

Gear Review: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles

Walking poles are undoubtedly one of my essential items when it comes to long distance trekking. But finding the balance between pack-size, weight and bulk can often be an operational challenge, particularly when planning long distance trekking routes, where every gram counts.

So if you’re in doubt about whether you’d consider packing ‘granny poles’ (as my friends like to call them) for your next hiking adventure, read on…

Receiving the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles the morning before my flight to Iceland, I looked down at my carefully crammed 65L pack. Backpacking preparation often requires an unnecessarily long lead time that means faffing right up until last minute – and knowing that I would be carrying nearly two weeks worth of food on the way out meant brutal decisions had to be made when it came to saving weight.

There wasn’t much room to carry unnecessary luxuries, and investment in lightweight performance kit is often an expensive decision that isn’t always an option when money has been siphoned away on dehydrated food, gear and sufficient clothing.


Above: Sam Fryer, one of the hikers on the trip,  modelling the poles in Skaftafjell National Park.

Luckily, an opportunity to test the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z trekking poles was perfect. No stranger to Black Diamond products, I have previously been a proud owner of the Black Diamond flip-lock poles for everything from stomping down winter Munroes, routes on Creag Meagaidh to preparation treks over sketchy river crossings in Assynt.

These poles were practically perfect. Don’t be put off by the sheer mesh-like handles, nor the smurf- blue core tube running through the middle of the poles that at first glance, looks a little flimsy. Once you’ve got your head around the idea that a silver lock button at the top of each pole needs to be clicked into place, the poles are taut, extended at a fixed length of 120cm and ready to attack any scree lines that could do with a bit of extra support when you’re carrying extra weight on your back.


Over the mixed and sometimes unexpected terrain of Iceland, the biggest challenge was encountering icy river crossings, non-existent paths through very Scottish boglands and the odd post-volcanic slope…

River crossings only proved challenging when uneven ground meant taking a little extra care to not get stuck in the murky and freezing glacial melt – and to force my shocked freezing feet to continue plodding in the current with the least resistance. I found the poles were lightweight, yet sturdy enough to stand up to the test and light enough to be stowed away in the side pocked of my trekking pack at a moment’s notice.

On the return back home, these poles were small enough to be stowed away in the main bulk of the rucksack and not ‘stick out’ at the top of my bag for baggage handlers to get annoyed about.

The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles are the perfect product for oversees trekking and many more mountainous adventures to come.