The Alpine FLZ from Black Diamond is one of the latest offerings from the reputable and dependable brand.
It is the aluminium version of Black Diamond’s carbon break-apart pole and scores well in all categories without necessarily shooting the lights out.
The aluminium construct provides much needed durability that some tent-style poles lack and Black Diamond’s proprietary Z style folding mechanism is easy to use and gives you a pole that folds down to just 40cm – perfect for any daypack.
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Overall we scored the Alpine FLZ poles 4/5, which placed it in the middle of the pack for trekking poles we have reviewed this year.
The combination of a premium cork grip with a foam lower gives the pole a nice feel and professional touch.
The grip is fairly round and isn’t moulded to your hand in the same way other grips are, but the foam lowers prove to be a useful add-on when wanting to choke down on the pole in tricky situations.
One drawback of the otherwise solid pole is its weight. At over 560g it is the heaviest pole we tested in our top 10 trekking poles wrap-up and may not be to the fancy of hikers looking for the latest ultralight set-up.
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Black Diamond equipment is known for its superior quality and poles such as the Alpine Carbon Cork and Distance Carbon Z are among the toughest poles in the market. While the Alpine FLZ doesn’t quite outperform the other two poles from Black Diamond, its aluminium build allows it to be a versatile pole that will stand up to almost anything you can throw at it.
Being a tent-style pole tends to compromise the strength of the shaft, but the Alpine FLZ with its updated locking mechanisms feels sturdy and secure in hand. It is clear that Black Diamond have worked hard to strike a fine balance between portability and durability that seems to have paid off.
With a premium cork grip that we have come to know well, scoring well in the comfort category was no problem. The cork gives the handle a luxury feel and allows to pole to remain comfortable well into the hike. The cork deals well in hot and humid conditions with the ability to absorb moisture and remain grippy unlike completely rubber grips.
The lower portion of the cork grip flows seamlessly into a black foam portion, which is just thicker than the actual pole itself. This provides a nice alternative to the cork when your hands get a bit tired or sweaty and we found it to be especially useful when wanting to grip down on the pole when navigating uneven terrain.
The Alpine FLZ is definitely on the heavy side although we didn’t find this detracted significantly from the performance of the pole. The ideal weight for a pole typically depends on how it intends to be used and therefore the needs of the hiker.
For longer hikes, climbs or thru-hiking a lighter pole tends to be the preferred choice for both portability and comfort reasons. It is important to consider that any piece of gear taken on a hike has to be carried and will contribute somewhat to fatigue over time – even a few hundred grams can make a difference.
We viewed the Alpine FLZ as a relatively versatile and not specialist pole, so is suited to those wanting to use it for a variety of hikes and terrains. For those looking at more specialist hiking that requires minimal weight, we would advise looking at carbon poles.
The weight of the Alpine FLZ is completely overshadowed by its packable length when it comes to portability. As with most tent-style poles, the Alpine FLZ folds into three pieces giving it the impressive folded length of just 40cm – far shorter than any telescoping pole on offer.
The length of the pole is ideal for daypacks and means the pole can be stored and used on the same hike depending on the conditions. A handy addition to the Alpine FLZ is a small notch in the basket which clips onto the pole when folded, preventing it from getting tangled when ruffling for it at the bottom of your bag.
As stated above, we viewed the pole to be of a non-specialist nature meaning it can be used for a variety of hikes and on most terrains. While we wouldn’t recommend the pole for large ascents, the Alpine FLZ will perform well in all weather conditions including snow, made possible by the inclusion of attachable snow baskets.
All-in-all the pole is perfect for those looking to day hike and want something sturdy but easily packable to get them through the day.