By Damien Denis. Trekking Poles. Published at Tuesday, March 05th, 2019 - 08:43:09 AM.
Check out any hiking or outdoor store and you’ll see a dizzying selection of often brightly coloured, high-tech poles. Some, like my Black Diamond Distance FLZ trekking poles, fold up into a small package that’s great for travelling.
I’ve been hiking and trekking with poles for 16 years. That includes trips on the Sea-to-Sea Route (7,775 miles, 11 months), the Great Western Loop (6,875 miles, seven months), the Alaska-Yukon Expedition (4,700 miles, six months), and a half-dozen high routes in the Mountain West. Fortunately, in those years, I’ve seen pole manufacturers shift away from models made from heavy aluminum, uncomfortable plastic grips, and squeaky, heavy “anti-shock” springs.
My eight-year-old poles are still going strong, and I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from others who have purchased them. (I did have to rebuild the grips with Aquaseal, but that’s reasonable after nearly a decade of use.) At 8.5 ounces per pole, they’re slightly heavier than the Cascade Mountain Tech poles, and I’d love to see these an ounce or two lighter. But I don’t see how Black Diamond could cut weight without sacrificing strength, durability, or a few features—in other words, the things that make these poles great. If you can justify the extra expense, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles are worth it.
From a performance-only perspective, Ultimate Direction’s FK poles are the best I’ve ever used. Designed with a wide, single-piece shaft—20 millimeters thick, versus the standard 16- or 18-millimeter diameter—the FK poles are the stiffest and strongest I have ever used, and my measured weight of 3.8 ounces per pole (in the 115-centimeter length, without straps or baskets) is simply dreamy. After using them, it’s disheartening to use any other set of poles.
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