While running in the McNaughton 200 miler this year I noticed that all the other runners there had trekking poles. Those that didn’t start with them ended up using theirs by the end. I talked to a few of them about this cause it was really obvious that I was missing something. In hind sight I wish that I had a pair with me, I’d have used them every step of the way. The most common pole there was the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-pole. As soon as I got home I ordered a pair and have been using them the last few months. Over all I love these poles and think they are perfect for trail running. My buddy and stud ultra runner Steve recommended these while at the race, glad I listened to him.
Weight (pair): 9.2oz-9.7oz
Lengths: 100cm, 110cm, 120cm, 130cm
Carbon Fiber shafts
Black Diamond designed them with three sections, hence the Z-pole name. When broken down these are very compact and easily fit on a hydration pack out of the way. Deployment is fast and simple. You grab the top shaft and pull the handle up till it locks in place. There is a
coated inner cable that aligns the sections and tightens it up till the push button locks in place. Takes only a few seconds to deploy both poles.
The largest size (which is what I have) weights only 9.7 oz. Brooks Cascadia 7s trail shoes weigh 12.2oz! These poles weigh less then a lot of running shoes. You barely feel them in your hands and when lashed to a pack you won’t know they are there.
When broken down these poles fits on both my main hydration packs without noticing they are there. The Z design gives them a very small compact envelope that lends it self to the pack sizes used in ultra running.
It comes with two tips, rubber and carbide. The carbide digs in and grips any surface I’ve tried it on so far; gravel, bedrock, creeks, mud, dirt, grass and pavement. I put this tip on initially and have only swapped out to try the rubber tips. I used the rubber tips for some Nordic Walking on pavement, I wore off about 20% of the material after 3 miles. I haven’t put the rubber tip on since then. I also picked up the trekking pole tip protector and that’s what I use on pavement. It’s large and super grippy, makes it an ideal tip for Nordic Walking on a hardball surface. If you get these poles put on the carbide tips and purchase the pole tip protectors ($4.95).
These poles aren’t adjustable. Uphill a shorter pole is better, down hill a longer pole is better. Many poles out there can be adjusted by sliding the sections in and out of themselves. This pole doesn’t have that feature, I’m good with this. Making it adjustable would add to the weight and complexity of this pole. Black Diamond left that feature off this pole for a reason and I agree with them.
The basket on this is integrated so there is no swapping it out for a larger diameter if you need it. Adding a swappable basket would mean adding weight and complexity to the design. It was engineered to be stripped down and made as simple/light as possible.
I think this pole is perfect for trail running and fast packing. When you want light, reliable (fewest working parts), quick deployment and stashing this is the way to go. I’ve also used this for some real hiking and it does great, but it’s not designed for it. When I put a lot of weight into it the pole flexes enough that I get worried about snapping it. If I was to do any long back packing trips I’d probably get a pole just for that. A pole that is more rigid and adjustable. Again, trail running, fast packing and minimalist hikers are what this is designed for.
This Ultra Distance Z-Poles are great for trail running. It’ll add stability in technical sections, take some strain off the quads going up and relieve the knees when going down. Any technical or mountain runs I do from here on out will be with these poles.