We have been using hiking poles for many years and they are an indispensable tool. When you hike they set a cadence that you will walk to. This helps in controlling your speed and cutting down on the fluctuations in our stride and you walk faster. We use them to rest on when we stop for a short time. Leaning our upper bodies on them. I’ve used them to lift and move rattlesnake out of my path. Not the best thing to do but there was no way around it. We also use them as our tent poles. All in all a very useful item.
We have used many types of poles and have found that the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Poles are our favorites. They are one of the lightest poles on the market. We like the size and shape of the hand grip. I will not say that these are the best constructed poles. Between the carbon and the aluminum version, we have owned seven pairs. Because of a design deficiency they all have failed the same way. As the pole is used the small aluminum connector between the upper and middle section will come loose. As you hike it will slide down and the two sections will separate, and the pole will fold up. I would then have to loosen the handle and reinsert the connector. This would fix it, but only for a short time. On the CDT one of Whisper’s poles failed by the time we reached Lordsburg, 85 miles into the trip. By Pie Town (mile 324) both of her poles had failed. After spending an afternoon trying to fix them, I epoxied all the joints together. Even epoxy will break over time; in the end, I epoxied both Whisper’s and my poles on 6 or 7 different occasions. I will be experimenting with drilling a hole through the pole and insert and using a cotter pin to hold the joint together. This way, Black Diamonds glue will not matter.
Update on installing a cotter pin. Experimenting with an old set of poles I was able to drill through both the pole and insert. The problem I faced is the cord that holds the pole sections together runs up the inside of the pole sections. If I accidentally cut that cord, while drilling, the pole will fall apart. I have not figured out how to replace the cord. For the AT, I have decided to not install the cotter pins.
The Distance Carbon Z Pole does not come with a tip that will take a snow basket. I replaced the tips on all Black Diamond poles with the Flex Tech Tips and added the snow baskets as we near snow country.
Ann and Will did not have any of these problems because they used a different hiking pole. We had one set from Montem and another from Costco (Cascade Mountain Tech). The two types of poles were almost identical in weight and function. They weighted about 8 oz more than the Black Diamond poles. Their gripes were made of cork and were a bigger circumference. Ann and Will did not like the grips. The only problem we had with them was the tips; they are not replaceable. Their tips did not last as long as the ones on our Black Diamond poles. With all the road walking, we ate right through their tips and worked our way up into the carbon fiber pole itself. You can purchase the bottom third of the pole, including the tip and we did have to do that. By the end of the trip, Will had ground away about 5″ of the pole. Those ended up in the trash.