- Sep 11, 2017 at 11:04 pm #3490495
Andrew PriestBPL Member
I seem to have lost my old MSR carbon trekking poles and with a planned walk of Wainright’s Coast to Coast Path in the UK coming up next year I need to do something about poles. Massdrop has Black Diamond’s Distance Carbon Z poles as a drop at a pretty reasonable price of ~AU$132 delivered. These poles weigh 142 grams each.
However these are fixed length poles which I have no experience of; hence curious to know what more experienced users of poles think about going with say these Carbon Z poles or an adjustable pole such as Black Diamond’s Distance Carbon FLZ which weighs in at 173 grams each and cost ~AU$175. To be honest I cannot remember every adjusting the length of my adjustable poles when walking so maybe would be happy with a fixed length but …
Thoughts?Sep 11, 2017 at 11:57 pm #3490498
I’m pretty happy with my fixed length Carbon Z poles. I got the 120cm poles about 18 months ago. They don’t fit my Tarptent Notch perfectly – they are a little tall, but it’s been adequate since I don’t need to batton down the hatches too often.
I’ve had adjustable poles in the past, but I never stop to adjust them, and I use them on every hike I take. I don’t really feel the need to shorten uphill or lengthen downhill as some have suggested.Sep 12, 2017 at 1:53 am #3490500
Andrew PriestBPL Member
Thanks Bob. I cannot recall ever feeling the need to adjust the poles I have had in the past either. I think the Z poles at this price are worth a shot for sure.Sep 12, 2017 at 6:35 am #3490518
If they are used strictly as hiking poles, fixed length offer simplicity, low weight and great strength. I have and can recommend the BD ultra distance z-poles. But if they also serve as shelter support I find adjustability to be valuable if not required for pitching in all conditions. My BDs now stay home in favor of MYOG adjustables.Sep 12, 2017 at 6:40 am #3490520
i started with fixed length poles and then switched to adjustable because of shelters. I realized over time, gradually, that I like my poles shorter than I thought I did. I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t switched to adjustable poles.Sep 12, 2017 at 8:01 am #3490527
Kenneth KeatingBPL Member
@kkkeatingLocale: Sacramento, Calif
Lot of it depends on what kind of terrain you typically hike on and if the shelter your using requires poles and adjustability. I hike a lot of varied terrain and I’m always adjusting the length depending on the steepness on the trail, short lengths going up, and more importantly long lengths going down which helps out with the knees and stability.Sep 12, 2017 at 9:18 am #3490554
Matt DirksenBPL Member
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
” I’m always adjusting the length depending on the steepness on the trail, short lengths going up, and more importantly long lengths going down which helps out with the knees and stability”
Lengthening the poles on a decline makes a noticeable difference on my ligaments. There is also never a trip I’m on where I’m always lending a pole to my kids (who are still quite smaller than me.) So while I know they are heavier, I very much prefer the versatility of adjustable poles.
Sep 12, 2017 at 9:34 am #3490556
- This reply was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by Matt Dirksen.
James IBPL Member
I’m pretty anal about trying to use poles as properly as possible with one exception, I don’t lengthen the poles on the declines typically unless it’s > multi-thousand foot distance decline or maybe some really crazy technical elevation drop. I find that more often than not just holding them properly on declines gets most of the intended effect. Realistically when with other people I’m not stopping every time the terrain changes to adjust my pole and I don’t see others doing that either.
When going up, instead of adjusting the poles down I use the wrist straps as a guide to position about -10 cm under and just grab there. I find this technique to be way more effective than stopping and adjusting my poles because I can do it for those short > 100′ stretches of nice technical uphill with no effort and thus actually get the full intended benefit of the pole going up where I normally wouldn’t.
If there was a compelling reason to go fixed I’d do it and find another way to pitch my tarp at the height I want, it’s a tarp, and there’s usually trees.
Bottom line is as with any gear, we all have our own quirks and opinions so everyone’s mileage varies.
tl;dr – I personally only rarely adjust my poles for anything other than pitching a shelter and from observation think most others are the same way.Sep 12, 2017 at 10:29 am #3490567
Don AmundsonBPL Member
@amrowincLocale: Southern California
FWIW I’ve used the BD fixed length poles since 2011. Originally I bought them for plane travel since they really fold up into a compact package. My adjustable poles were sold after I found the zpoles much more to my liking.
I have a zpacks hex and to get the pole to the right height I use a carbon fiber pole jack available from Ruta Locura and Zpacks. Of course a rock would work too!Sep 12, 2017 at 11:19 am #3490579
I realized over time, gradually, that I like my poles shorter than I thought I did.
Ditto. All the “sizing rules” say I should use 120cm poles and that’s the size I bought…and loved them. Since returning to adjustable I find I prefer 115 or even 110. I never adjust for terrain. I understand why I might want to, just never found that it made a significant difference.Sep 12, 2017 at 11:22 am #3490581
Luke FBPL Member
I went from 3 piece poles to 2 piece poles to one piece poles. Every time they got lighter and stiffer, and now I am using the BD fixed carbon poles that are a far cry lighter and stiffer then anything else I’ve used, I actually appreciate the stiffness more then the weight savings and this is something I find the collapsable poles seem to lack.
As Matthew K said, If I’d bought the fixed poles a year earlier I would have bought much longer poles but I’m very glad I didn’t. I just choke up on uphills and palm the tops for down. The only time I really miss adjustable/collapsing poles is in the car on the way to the trail, carbide tips can be hell on interiors.Sep 12, 2017 at 11:40 am #3490584
John VanceBPL Member
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
I hiked from 1984 to 2010 with a pair of fixed length downhill ski poles with the plastic “breakaway grip” and didn’t think about the need for adjustment. In 2010 I got a pair of Leki Backcountry Ergo Air Titanium two piece poles and set them at 46″. I haven’t changed them from this setting but I like the ability to adjust if I want.Sep 12, 2017 at 11:30 pm #3490723
Jeffrey WongBPL Member
@kayak4waterLocale: Pacific NW
Re: the Black Diamond (BD) Distance Carbon Z poles. I used them for 900 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. I wrote a review that you can find on this forum in Gear Reviews/Reader reviews or on youTube. I’ll summarize anyways:
Pros: Insanely light. Compact. The shaft must be durable if I didn’t break it–when I use trekking poles, I more often than not thrust them into the ground as if I’m killing Nazis. You’ll love this pole until it breaks. BD treated me well when I told them.
1 It broke. The upper joint mechanism retracted into the upper section of one pole 40 miles from finishing. I couldn’t fix it. Your mileage may vary.
2 The grip has horizontal grooves that abraded and the wrist strap felt like it could cut. YMMV
3 The basket is only 1.25″ from the tip compared to 3″ for most other poles. You might say so what, but that basket caught roots and whatnot on the trail leading to many “wait-a-minute” events in which the root yanked the pole out of my hand if I had the straps off the wrist or it yanked me. YMMV
4. I would have liked 115 cm poles, but chose the 120 cm pole and had no problems adjusting to that length. I saw no way to cut 5 cm. YMMV
Happy trails!Sep 13, 2017 at 5:13 am #3490743
The ONLY reason I no longer hike with the BD Ultra Distance Z poles is that I prefer an adjustable pole for use with my Duplex (now use a pair of MYOG beauties). I loved the BDs, and recommend them based on weight, performance and BDs customer service.Sep 13, 2017 at 8:11 am #3490752
Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Dartmoor, Devon
On a long trail, repeating the same movement exactly time after time is a recipe for injury.
Cam “Swami” Honan, who has covered staggering mileages, advocates consciously altering your stride length during the day to avoid over-use injury.
Cycling the length of your poles would seem to be a logical extension of this philosophy, if you’ll excuse the pun.
It also allows you to experiment with pole-length. I’ve found I do best with much shorter poles than are generally advocated, and I wouldn’t have discovered this with a fixed-length product.
Just a couple more advantages in addition to adaptability for steep ascent & descent, and compatibility with tarp shelters.
Sep 13, 2017 at 10:35 am #3490769
- This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Geoff Caplan.
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Pole are seemingly the most popular (here) for fixed length users, presumably because of the low weight and short collapsed length. That was my reasoning. I’m not a long trail thru-hiker, but want to minimize my weight.
My 120cm fixed length poles are 290g (10oz) and collapse to 40cm (16 in). I know there’s nothing variable with those weight and collapsed length specs. What are the best variable options for those of us that want to minimize weight and collapsed length?
I would be remiss to not mention cost. I got the BD poles on a pretty good sale at REI a year or so ago. BD has the Distance Carbon FLZ pole, that only adds 75g, but it would cost me another $180 list (maybe closer to $120 on sale). Are three other options to consider.
Lastly about tent usage. We’ve been trying out an MLD DuoMidXL with my older adjustable poles and a pole jack. The pole jack with the 135cm max on the poles is just enough, and I could use a little more. Also if we went with the BD FLZ – does it even work with the pole jack? BD does not seem to have the same tip size/arrangement to accept the pole jack. I’ve been thinking instead about using velcro straps holding two poles together for the variable length needed to pitch the DuoMid.Sep 13, 2017 at 11:05 am #3490775
Don AmundsonBPL Member
@amrowincLocale: Southern CaliforniaSep 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm #3490801
Gary DunckelBPL Member
One ‘variable option’ for lightening your poles a bit – remove the straps. Saves maybe an ounce.Sep 13, 2017 at 4:27 pm #3490819
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Do you need an adjustable pole to erect a shelter? If not go fixed.
For my Scottish Highlands walk in May, I took the BD fixed length poles. I only used them on the cross country bits when I was crossing bogs or pushing heather out of the way. On other days, I wanted both hands free to use my mirrorless camera and the poles remained attached to my pack.Sep 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm #3491360
Ralph WoodBPL Member
@visualscapesLocale: Northern CA
I have both. Fixed Gossamer Gear poles for my local hikes and Locus Gear for travel. I took my fixed length poles on a plane once. It was a huge pain. I had to put them in a tube and wound up shipping them home from Stehekin. I’ll never be doing that again. :)
Also, if you need to stow them during the day for climbing talus or technical sections where hands are required, I’ve found that fixed length poles can get snagged on overhead features and will take my Locus Gear poles instead.
Sep 17, 2017 at 3:53 am #3491420
- This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Ralph Wood.
Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
One ‘variable option’ for lightening your poles a bit – remove the straps. Saves maybe an ounce.
Them there’s fightin’ words, Mister! ;^)Sep 17, 2017 at 8:46 am #3491461
Gary DunckelBPL Member
So ya wanna fight, eh, Bubba? I’ll have you know that I fight dirty, and I have some secret techniques that will leave you in shock and awe. Even the squirrels will bolt from the scene and hide their children.
But seriously, in 2011 I had my first face-to-face encounter with a big grizzly in Glacier NP. It seemed to take forever to get my hands out of the straps to get the pepper spray out. When I got back to my room later, I cracked a beer and proceeded to madly cut the straps off 2 pair of poles (I later learned that there’s an easy way to remove straps without destroying them). I’ve never looked back. Now I only use straps when I snowshoe or XC ski.
And I’m not alone. A few years ago while giving a presentation for our backpacking meet-up group, a cocky alpinist/climber gave me crap for not using pole straps, saying that they were absolutely essential (an opinionated dude he was). So you might remember that I polled the good folks here on BPL about using pole straps. It turned out that about half used straps all the time and half never did. A poll posted on Thru-Hiker showed identical results. However, I expect that a climber with those heavy gear packs might need the extra uphill propulsion that straps offer. I am a bit surprised that a fellow “light forefinger/thumb grip” guy like yourself would stoop to using straps. But what do I know about such things, Bob?
By the way, I lied about that fighting thing – actually, I’m a true wuss.
Addendum (to stay on-topic) – I only use poles for (1) balance on the trail so I don’t have to look where I place every step; this allows me to look around more while hiking, which I like; (2) supporting my Tarptent; (3) help with stream crossings; (4) having something to whap a pesky squirrel with, and to clear cobwebs or brush. My fixed length BPL Stix happen to be the perfect length to support my Contrail, but for other tents adjustable poles work better (especially when I need to lash two poles together to support my GoLite SL-3).
My all time favorite poles are my beloved BPL Stix, at 8.6 oz for the pair of 125 cm length.
Second would be the Fizan poles I bought from Jen Mitol – 12.4 oz for the pair, and they collapse to a reasonable 36″.
My modified Costco poles are pretty sweet too, at 15.1 oz, and they collapse down to 27″.
The most portable poles, but also the heaviest, are my Black Diamonds (I think they are the FL Distance model). They collapse to a mere 16″, but they weigh 17.1 oz.
All of the above weights are sans straps, but with rubber tips (I like them).
Sep 17, 2017 at 2:01 pm #3491539
- This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Gary Dunckel.
My Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles at 120cm are 10.0 oz on my scale – with straps. How much would I save removing the straps? You can also just not use the straps if you wanted a quick escape – I guess you might not know when that would be. I think I’m keeping the straps.
I’d consider new poles if they are still that is light (let’s say less than 1lb) that collapses to less than 20″, but I would want to add: variable length for use pitching the DuoMid XL at various heights/conditions, and while i’m at it cork handles with the ergo tilt (and straps!). Does this unicorn exist? If not, I would love to hear anything what comes closest.Sep 17, 2017 at 2:13 pm #3491541
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
You can save weight by cutting the straps off your poles. You can save a lot more weight by cutting the straps off your pack. The cost in functionality is similar.
If you need quick access to your bear spray, just let go of the poles and grab it–no need to take the straps off your wrists. Just like taking a picture or grabbing a snack.Sep 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm #3491609
Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
I am a bit surprised that a fellow “light forefinger/thumb grip” guy like yourself would stoop to using straps. But what do I know about such things, Bob?
Like you I don’t use straps 3-season, however I do for snowshoeing. I was just anticipating the usual barrage, lol.
I’m perfectly happy with my strapless myog adjustables that weigh 8.6 oz per pair.
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