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Black Diamond Carbon Z Poles

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July 135 minute read

It’s the end of the day and we are heading down. Packs that were once light grow heavy as our bodies tire. The rocks are slippery, wobbly and still the descent continues.

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We have hiked enough to know, that for us, enjoyable hiking means light packs. This had meant that due to their weight and questionable benefit, poles had moved over to our “maybe list” for our hike across Tasmania’s Overland Track. After finding the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Pole that weighs in at around 290g we gave it some more thought. Some strong encouragement from a friend was enough for us to decide to pack poles. Besides we thought these ones were compact and light enough to not be a burden if they only received limited use.

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Much to our surprise as we slowly made our way to Lake St Clair, the poles barely left our hands. With seemingly endless descents they became a saviour of knees as we stepped down and down some more. As the wind tried to blow us sideways and across the grassy highlands a timely placement kept us poised. At times we felt more like skiers navigating moguls than hikers! Through slippery sections of rock and evil tree roots, the poles again kept us upright.

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We are advocates of well-built gear and the ethos of acquiring quality equipment over time, and these poles from Black Diamond fit that bill. The carbon whilst lightweight is stiff and sturdy. When you lean on them hard the feedback is solid, offering confidence. The rubber handles are comfortable and retain their grip in the rain. The straps are a minimalist yet strong webbing.

The Z style of pole allows for the tube diameter to stay thin the whole length. With traditional telescopic poles the tube diameter must size up for each section to allow for the lower portion to nest inside. Along with the carbon fibre material this design is where the majority of weight is saved. These poles do not have adjustors, so it’s important you choose the correct height for you (there are four sizes available). 

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So simple to put together we just hung the pole by it’s handle and slid the top section down and the handle up until the pop button keeper clicked in place. The joints have a really tight fit and nothing wobbles around when locked together. To pack them up is just as quick – press the button and fold them up like a tent pole.

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The four sizes are 100cm [280g], 110cm [285g], 120cm [290g] and 130cm [295g]. They pack down to 33cm, 37cm, 40cm and 43cm respectively. The poles themselves are 100% carbon fibre and they have both non scarring rubber and carbide tips.

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At this size and weight, they move from maybe to yes on our packing list. After really enjoying using them on this hike they will be coming along on many more!

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Mike Collister has spent his life outdoors. He has represented Australia as a slalom kayaker, guided whitewater expeditions in Nepal, and taught outdoor education and wilderness medicine. He’s paddled the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River in the wet season and across the Bass Strait and is an avid photographer, overlander and camper.