Trekking poles and trail running aren’t really synonymous with each other yet…
they are called trekking poles and not running poles after all! Traditionally trekking poles have been heavy and cumbersome, making them difficult to carry with you when not in use while trail running. Secondly the adjustment mechanisms have meant that they are also fiddly to extend and collapse quickly while trail running. And lastly these same mechanisms tend to become faulty quite quickly, whether from dirt ingress or wear and tear during use. All these factors have meant that few trail runners use or have ever considered using trekking poles, even when they present obvious benefits for the times where one crosses heavily technical terrain with lots of continuous climbing and descending combined with extreme gradients. This is where the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles really come into their own, circumventing all the negatives of traditional poles to provide a trekking pole that suites the specific needs of the trail runner perfectly.
The main advantage of the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles are that they are extremely light, quoted at only 270g per pair! Our test sample weighed in at 263g on the dot on our digital scale. This means that one barely feels them while using them when trail running and even less so when carrying them around in a pack while not in use. This light weight is made possible mostly by the 100% carbon fiber construction of the poles, as well as their basic design that does away with unnecessary features that only serve to weigh the poles down.
Carbon makes the poles much lighter (albeit more expensive) than aluminium poles, but also much more resistant to flex than aluminium and thus makes for a more stable pole. This lightness and resistance to flex is one of two features that made me choose the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles above the aluminium versions. I am not a heavy guy (I weigh around 63kg) and I could put my full weight on the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles without any perceivable flex. Don’t for a moment think that because they are light and made from carbon the poles aren’t strong. Carbon will flex before snapping where aluminium will just bend, but if carbon does fail it does so in spectacular fashion. Carbon however is not as resistant to crushing forces as most metals, so one needs to be careful when using, storing and transporting the poles so they don’t get damaged. Thus it’s important to check the poles thoroughly for damage before each use. You don’t want them snapping on you!
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles come individually packaged, so one can purchase them individually, but ideally they perform best when used as a pair; being useful for both uphill propulsion and downhill steadying. A single pole only really provides downhill steadying, still less than that of a pair of poles however.
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles come housed inside a mesh stow bag that you can attach via Velcro to the outside of a pack, allowing safe transport and storage of the poles. The mesh construction means that the poles can dry out in-between trail runs, making them last longer and preventing funky smells coming from the EVA grips. Breathable, removable hand straps are also present on the poles, keeping them from falling over or dropping down a cliff should you need to quickly use your hands for something. The straps on the poles also mean one doesn’t have to fold away and store the poles each time you aren’t holding onto them for a few seconds. Being ergonomically designed for the left or right hand, the soft neoprene straps worked really well and didn’t get in the way or chafe the back of my hands at all. Spare replacement metal tips are also included for those times one would venture into the snow or ice. Lastly instructions are also included in the package; you do actually need to read them!