Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles – Climbing Gear Review

Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles

The perfect ultralight poles to help carry your rock climbing equipment.

Performance *****


Value for Money ***

RRP £149.95

Poles have come on a long way, there was a time when they were the preserve of grannies staggering around the local nature reserve. Only the truly initiated had the secret knowledge that not only was it more energy efficient to use poles, but their knees would probably last 10 year longer as well. Slowly poles have begun to gain acceptance amongst the younger rock climbers and hikers and now you can see them being used in all mountain environments (but do use two poles readers,it’s so much more efficient than one).

BD Pole evolution

So how do they perform…firstly they are ultra light, really they are. A pair feels lighter than just one aluminium pole and much, much lighter than my Alpine CFs, the trusty CGRUK scales weighed one in at 125g that’s 125g lighter than an Alpine CF (half the weight); and they’re tiny too, the folded down size was 43cms, the Alpine CF was 64cms. Extended, I ordered the 130cm versions, they come in 110 and 120cms. You will need to think carefully as there is no adjustment and it’s worth remembering that the handle extends further, so try them fully extended for size. The handle is kept in position by a small button that pops out, this also cleverly locks the pole sections so it can’t collapse. The poles are held together by a strand of cord with 2 sections having a tough, flexible, plastic attachments holding the sections together. So, imagine a tent pole arrangement, held together with cord and the pole sections joined with tough, flexible plastic. When taken apart you end up with a Z shape; hence the Z -Pole tag line. Deployment is then very straightforward: slot the two sections together and extend the handle until the button pops out and clicks into place.

Easily stashed in your pack
 The poles performed very well, they had more flex than my Alpine CFs, but they didn’t flex too much and carbon fibre is incredibly tough. There was a miniscule movement in the top section, at the handle extension, but it didn’t affect the performance in anyway. The handles were hardened foam and elliptical in shape and they felt very ergonomic and comfortable, I did, however, begin to get hotspots no my thumb in very hot weather. The wrist loops were made from a Tricot backed false suede, which was ventilated with mesh, a well thought out feature for racers and fast moving activities. Adjustment was by Velcro, which was nice and fast to adjust for gloves, etc. They were signed left and right and this allowed me to easily adjust the loops with the other hand when the loops were on my wrists, very neat. They were attached to the pole with cord which I thought could be problem later if the cord or loop began to wear; it didn’t look like it would be easy to fashion a field repair either. I was also concerned they might break when applying a lot of downward pressure, but it didn’t happen.
Black Diamond Ultra Distance Poles - responsive on steep, unstable ground

The tip is fixed and comes with both rubber and carbide tips. They were easy to change, but I needed a Leatherman and I couldn’t un

do them by hand. The carbide tips performed great on dry and wet rock and the basket was also fixed to the tip, they also had a handy notch which allowed me snap the basket to the top section to make stowing more tidy. The fixed basket was a very disappointing feature as I rely on interchangeable baskets for summer and winter and even then I change between hard snow and powder baskets. So I feel they will be unusable in just the activity where I’m desperately trying to shave every gram I can from the weight of my pack. There is talk of a specific winter set, but it does mean that they are not a replacement for my Alpine CFs.

BD Ultra Distance - great for load carrying.

So, a great offering from Black Diamond that will be perfectly suited to all your mountaineering activities. The pros: does what it says on the tin, they are ultra light and easily stow in most pack sizes. They performed great, felt really comfortable to use and are objects of desire. The cons: no adjustment, fixed baskets and the loop attachment system.


  1. Expensive and lack durability, in my experience. The alloy connection between the shafts is a weak link. My pole bent after a low-force stumble down a grass slope. I weigh 60kg and was carrying about 5kg in my pack. Wouldn’t buy these poles again. Black Diamond weren’t very helpful, either.

    1. I agree, they are a more a high end ultra light piece of kit but now really suitable for long term rugged use. I reviewed the Black Diamond Alpine Cork, a much more rugged set of poles. Trekkiing into an Alpine North Face, these would be great. Going on a Himalayan three week trek. Alpine cork would do it for me. We have reviewed these.

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