Black Diamond Z-Poles: Ultralight AND Collapsible Hiking Poles
Ordinarily, hikers and backpackers have to pick and choose conveniences. On the one hand, ultralight poles that weigh a few ounces are the friendliest in terms of packed weight, and on the other, collapsible poles are the friendliest in terms of size and stuffability. Since telescoping and locking hardware typically add weight to poles, it is hard to get both.
*Was hard to get both.
Black Diamond recently launched a new set of poles that combine both ultralight design and collapsibility into one conveneint (and not overly expensive) package. The Blue Diamond Z-Poles weigh under 5 ounces a piece and break down into three individual segments. Instead of typical telescoping system used on other poles, the Z-Poles include a simple, push-button release that allows them to fold into three pieces. An inner kevlar cord holds the poles together, and a one-pull system snaps them into place when it's time to trek.
The poles are made from carbon fiber or aluminum and come in three separate models--the lightest being the carbon Ultra Distance poles designed for thru-hikers and fast packers. That model weighs between 8.8 and 9.8 ounces per pair and costs $150/pair. The Distance FL is designed for more serious, demanding backpacking trips, weighs in at 14 to 16 ounces/pair, includes Black Diamond's Flick Lock locking hardware and retails for $120. The Distance model weighs between 11.2 to 13 ounces and costs $100.
Gear Junkie Stephen Regenold voted these one of his "Best in Show" from this year's Outdoor Retailer, and it's hard to argue with that. You can get these poles here.