Gear We Use: Black Diamond Z-Poles

On a recent backpacking trip we ¬†found out that we’re ‘pole people’. And even more surprising is that there are ‘non-pole people’. Pondering that on a 5,000-ft rocky descent into the Grand Canyon, those folks must have knees of steel! We’ve been big fans of using poles for a while. Such a simple tool saves wear and tear on your joints (hips, knees, ankles) and allows for your upper body to share in the up hill work. For ultralight trips, they’re part of the shelter system. Last month we ended up using a trekking pole in place of a hopelessly broken tent pole. And finally poles can help steady your camera when shooting in very low light (think gorgeous dusk light out on the trail). OK, stepping down off the soap box.

Over the last five years, we’ve probably used and/or photographed trekking poles from nearly every company that makes them. Firm, light, adjustable carbon poles have long been our favorite. But that has changed since we got the prototype Z-Poles from Black Diamond in the spring of 2010. We pretty much fell in love with these collapsible 12 oz sticks on our first day shooting with them. Since the three sections lock together, they feel much more stiff than BD’s other aluminum flick lock poles. We also like their skinny profile; they don’t feel or look clunky.

The unique way they come apart and go together is our favorite feature. This is a great system for running in the mountains or steep trails as the Z-Poles pull together in a second for use on the up/down areas. Then they collapse just as quick for less awkward running on the flats. We’re about average size and find the collapsed bundle easy to carry with the wrist loops still on. Traveling with them is also easier due to how they break down. Good thing ’cause we’ve photographed them on trails all over the Western USA, Alaska and the Himalaya. But even when we’re not carrying them for shooting BD work, they’ve become our go-to trekking poles.

Pole people check them out here on Black Diamond’s site. And non-polers would be wise to give them a try. We’re just sayin’….

Matt & Agnes