As the lightest offering by Black Diamond and, in fact the lightest pole we tested, we were eager to see if the ridiculously low weight of this pole had any effect on its performance.
Surprisingly given how lightweight this pole is Distance Carbon Z performs quite well in both on and off-trail hikes.
Overall we really like the Distance Z.
The pole is great for light usage on day hikes or trail backpacking as it can be stored and deployed almost instantly when needed.
We found it bridged the gap between the heavier and more robust Alpine FLZ and the top-of-the-range Alpine Carbon Cork, both in terms of performance and price.
In fact, it performed better than expected in most categories and its ‘Z’ style folding mechanism meant it occupied almost no space when packed away.
However, the Distance Z poles aren’t the most durable out there. Being super lightweight, the pole doesn’t come with many attachments and is not adjustable at all, however you can purchase it in three different sizes for different heights or preferences.
Finding the correct pole for your needs and budget remains a tricky task and sifting through the troves of reviews can be time consuming and confusing. To make things easier, check out our expert review on the top 10 trekking poles of here.
The durability of such a lightweight pole is never expected to be amazing, but the Distance Carbon Z held up very well during testing in both on and off-trail hikes. The quality of the carbon fibre used allows the pole to be both light and relatively strong, although we wouldn’t recommend the pole for heavy-duty hiking and would point to an aluminium pole, such as those offered by Black Diamond, as a better alternative.
Beyond the material of the shaft, the small basket and rubber hybrid tip make the pole more geared for trails and light cross-country hikes, as opposed to alpine hiking or off-trail hiking.
The Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z features foam handles along with a few other poles in the top 10. Unlike the other handles, Black Diamond uses a heavily textured grip with large circular in-cuts. This provides added grip, but may not be to the taste of hikers who prefer a smoother feeling grip such as the more traditional cork.
The feather-like weight of the pole made it enjoyable to use and made it feel as though you weren’t carrying an extra piece of equipment at all. While not as solid and comfortable as other poles, the Distance Carbon Z held its own and performed well above average for its weight class.
Where this pole really excelled and grabbed our attention was its weight. At just under 300g, the pole is almost half the weight of some of the heavier poles we tested and over 125g lighter than the second lightest pole.
Without a doubt, the unique selling point of this pole is its lack of weight. People who buy it will be doing so because they are looking for the lightest pole on the market, which they can fold away into their backpacks and forget about when not using it, but still have it perform well when used.
For just 60g more, you can get the Distance Z (aluminium), which offers a more durable alternative than the Distance Carbon Z and also shaves off a hefty portion of the retail price.
Like Black Diamond’s other ‘Z’ poles, the Distance Carbon Z is a tent-style pole that folds up to a length of 43cm. This makes it ideal for backpackers and travellers looking for a pole that takes up little to no space or weight.
When compared to other tent-style poles, the differences in length are negligible but the pole is still considerably shorter than the telescoping poles, which typically start at 60cm.
When deciding what priority to give to the length of your pole you need to think of how and where you intend to use it. For local hiking and through hiking, a portable pole is not of much use and you would benefit more by using a sturdier pole.
The pole is not very versatile and isn’t suitable for use in snowy conditions because of its one fixed basket. We saw the pole as filling quite a specific need of hikers and so didn’t expect it to be the more versatile of the bunch. It is clearly geared towards ultralight weight hiking and its design and features reflect this clearly.
That’s why it is important to understand what you are looking for in your poles before you set out to buy them as you don’t want to compromise on essential features in favour of redundant features. Our expert top 10 review details the main characteristics one should look for in poles and so is a good starting point for potential buyers.