Expert Review: Black Diamond Distance Plus FLZ Poles

Published on 11/06/2022 · 4 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I tested for 4 days in October of 2022.
Octavio Rivas, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Octavio Rivas

All photos courtesy of Octavio Rivas

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the trekking poles, which I tested for 4 days in October of 2022.

My take

Black Diamond Distance Plus FLZ Poles are a great, affordable option for users looking into purchasing a compact and foldable hiking pole that will be durable and easily deployable.

About this gear I tested

  • Model: 2022 Black Diamond Distance Plus FLZ Poles
  • Size: 120-140cm

Test conditions

  • When I tested these: October 2022
  • Days tested: 4 days
  • Where I’ve used them: Desolation Wilderness, Mt. Rose, Marlette Lake-Tahoe
  • Average elevation change on hikes: 2,400 ft.
  • Hiking boots/Trail Runners: Salomon Speedcross 6
  • Terrain: Rocky, dirt, snow, mud
  • Types of treks used for: Day hikes, backpacking, and trail running

About me

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 200lbs
  • Experience: 16 years of hiking/backpacking

How they perform

Ease of Use

What I was looking for

I was looking for a foldable pole that could endure several miles of abuse and had the capability to switch baskets with ease. I wanted a pole that would be great in four-season conditions with a grip that is comfortable throughout any adventure.

Why I tested this gear

As a pole that has interchangeable baskets I could use during hiking season, with a powder basket for snowshoeing adventures, this matched what I was looking for. It is also able to fold nicely into a backpack when snowboarding the backcountry.** **Other options I looked at were the Leki Makalu FX Carbon poles which are foldable, durable, and made out of carbon fiber to reduce weight.

What I love about them

  • Weight: At only 1lb 3oz (per pair) this is a pretty lightweight trekking pole. Black Diamond keeps the pole’s weight low by using 7075 aluminum shafts. This material also increases durability.
  • Adjustability: FLZ poles are easily adjustable. This is due to the four section segments it uses, as well as the SlideLock technology that helps them lock in place with ease.
  • Durability: The FLZ is a great pole that will provide tons of durability no matter the abuse thanks to the 7075 Aluminum shaft.
  • Baskets: These poles come with a 60mm Alpine Z-Pole and a 100mm Compactor Powder basket, so they can be used in all four seasons.
  • Size: Black Diamond sells these poles in two sizes. The 105-125cm and 120-140cm versions will fit different users’ heights and preferences.
  • Packability: What stands out is how easily packable the pole is. It folds so nicely that it can fit comfortably in a backpack if needed.
  • Versatility: Thanks to the baskets provided by Black Diamond, users will be able rely on this pole no matter the conditions faced.
  • Day Hiking: It’s a great pole for day hiking. The FLZ can easily be folded down when trail running for a bit, or when in a section of the hike that doesn’t require poles.
  • Backpacking: With its lightweight construction, this is a great pole to take backpacking—users won’t notice it’s even there. It’s not light on benefits though as it will provide extra stability and reduce fatigue on knee joints.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Grip comfort: While I love the concept of the lower part of the grip having slits on the EVA foam, I disliked the feeling on my hands after a few hours of hiking with them. It’s a great addition for those with sweaty hands because it creates a better grip, however, when in a dry environment the cuts on the grip will feel more noticeable.

Favorite moment with this gear

While doing a sunrise hike at Captain Pomin-Lake Tahoe with a photographer friend, I was carrying 25-30 lbs of equipment, including a drone. These poles helped me keep my pace and were able to easily fold up into my backpack when I needed to store them. This was especially useful during some Level 2 rock scrambling where I needed to use my hands to grab onto rocks.

Value for the money vs. other options

In terms of value, the Black Diamond Distance FLZ Poles were great because it is rare for a brand to include a pair of powder baskets with their poles. It’s more likely that users will need to buy them separately. For other great options similar to the FLZ poles, I would look at Black Diamond’s Carbon version of the FLZ, which is a lightweight alternative, or the Alpine Carbon Cork WR which offers additional features with the Whippet attachment.

Final verdict

I really enjoy the Black Diamond FLZ Poles for their foldability and their capacity for easy storage in my backpack when needed. I also like that the baskets have an opening in which the poles can be attached and grouped together to make them very packable. Overall, they would be a great addition for someone wanting a fully-adjustable, folding, and durable pole for all the adventures in which they might find themselves, like hiking or snowshoeing up a mountain with friends.

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