Ever heard the rapid clickity-clack of a trail runner descending into the valley with the help of trekking poles and wondered what they’re up to? Or are you already a pole convert and you’re wondering if the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ trekking poles are worth a look? Trail runner Meike Knieling has been testing out the pole-life on her local trails, and she might just be the latest convert…
As a trail runner, I didn’t know what to expect from Black Diamond’s Distance Carbon FLZ trekking poles – I’d never used poles before. Maybe they’d be too heavy, or maybe I’d get blisters? Or would they feel great and give my upper body a great workout? Lots of questions and no answers. So off I went with an open mind, curious about the outcome of my first adventure with poles.The Distance Carbon FLZ is the top of the range trekking pole from Black Diamond. They’re super light (a pair weighs between 345 and 365 grams depending on size) thanks to carbon construction and they fold down into thirds using the “Z-pole rapid deployment system”.
While these features are useful for trekkers, for runners they are almost essential, particularly the ability to neatly pack the poles away. I was keen to see how they performed.
My initial impression was that the poles didn’t look very spectacular. But who cares right? It’s not a fashion parade. The blue touches on the pole body and the wrist strap make them a bit more interesting but they are very dark. It made me think that some reflective stickers or stripes would be great so they can be seen at night. Anyway, onto more important things.
The Distance Carbon FLZ poles are adjustable to any height in a 15-20cm range (my small poles could go between 95 and 110cm). The blue FlickLock® clip is easy to use and you can quickly adjust up or down to your preferred height. The grip is made of hard EVA foam and it’s very comfortable. The wrist strap is also adjustable with a velcro strip.
To collapse the poles you press in the little silver button and slide the top part of the shaft down to swallow some of the pole. Then you simply pull down the middle and bottom part of the pole and they detach from each other. The pole folds up into a ‘Z’ shape and is held together by a kevlar cord that runs through the pole.
Once collapsed my poles were just over 30cm long, about the length of most backpacks. The best thing about this process is that it’s very quick in both directions. Putting the pole back together can be effectively done in 3 or 4 movements after some practice.
Little baskets at the bottom of the pole help to not sink into mud and the tips are interchangeable.
I used the Distance Carbon FLZ poles for running on all kinds of different ground including rocks, sand, grass and steps. Poles are a pretty simple item but these definitely didn’t disappoint me.
I was concerned on the rocks, especially wet rocks, but they didn’t slip or slide either uphill or downhill, allowing me to confidently shift weight on technical trails. When running on technical trails they helped me with balance and to make bigger steps or jump over things more efficiently.
I also hiked with these poles and found them just as useful, if you’re after a trekking pole that you can also run with, these will easily do both.
At $280, they’re definitely not on the cheap side, but you get very good quality and I expect that they will last a while. You need the confidence to be able to put your weight on poles while trail running and despite being the lightest poles on the market, Black Diamond’s construction feels solid and reliable.
Are poles for me?
So here I am a couple of weeks later, still using the poles. I know with a lot of things the novelty wears off quickly but not with the poles. When I go out on the trails I’m still getting excited to use them. They help me up the stairs and of course up the hills. But even downhill they help when my legs are tired (it feels a bit like using crutches). And whenever I reach a flat part of the trail I can easily fold them up, chuck them in my pack and keep on running.
I would recommend the Distance Carbon FLZ poles to anyone who is looking for a great whole-body workout and some fun on the trails. They also take pressure off your legs and knees and save energy.
Photos by Karl Reynolds | magiccloud.com.au
Hit The Trails