As the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles are so light, you can run with the poles extended in your hands quite easily for short periods once you find the balance point. This is quite handy on trails where there are no extended sections that require the use of poles but rather short sections close to each other, where you can then quickly use the poles without needing to store or fold and deploy the poles each time in between sections.
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles come in four different sizes, in 10cm size increments, from 100cm to 130cm. The poles offer no adjustment in terms of their extended length, making them lighter and stronger than the adjustable variety. Deploying and take down is also made easier(making them more suitable for trail running), as one doesn’t have to fiddle with multiple latches when doing so. The down side to not having any adjustment is that one needs to size the poles carefully to get the correct sizing. This also means other trail runners of a different height may not be able to use the poles, so this limits the re-sale potential of the poles. Lastly the poles won’t be as useful for other outdoor activities like pitching a shelter etc. with it not being adjustable.
After careful sizing I took the 120cm size and they fit perfectly. If you’re on the edge of a sizing cusp, consider where you will mostly use the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles. Uphill propulsion? Go for the smaller size. Downhill stability? Go for the bigger size. To size the poles, stand upright with your next to your side and bend your arm 90 degrees at the elbow so that your forearm is pointing forward. Then measure the distance between the ground and the top of your hand. This measurement in centimeters is the length of pole you will need to purchase.
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles come standard with Z-Pole rubber tips which provide excellent grip on rocks and dry ground. I have not had the poles slip yet, even on off-camber terrain. The Z-Pole rubber tips seem to be wearing well too, as I have used them only off-road. If used on man-made surfaces like sidewalks for which they weren’t designed I doubt that they would last very long. The Z-Pole tips on the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles are replaceable, whether with the same rubber tips or exchanged for the Z-Pole included metal tips. Overall the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles have shown very little wear or cosmetic damage after being used on quite a few long trail runs.
The grips used on the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles are a foam type EVA rubber with “choking” holds, which is basically a downward extended grip that allows the trail runner to grip the poles lower down, effectively shortening the poles and making steep uphill propulsion easier. As the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles come in fixed sizes, the “choke” portion of the grips are really important as one cannot shorten the poles in order to make uphill propulsion easier. The EVA grips, while hardy, did cause my hands to sweat quite a lot. Also with their firm composition, my hands needed to get used to the grips at first. Thus I would advise one wears gloves and/or tapes one’s hands to prevent blisters caused by the combination of sweat and the hard material of the grips. However my hands never slipped on the grips, even when wet.
Part of the slow uptake around trekking poles for trail running centres around the fact that they are overkill for the mostly flat trail runs that the majority of trail runners myself included) do, especially in Gauteng. But for those really long runs they do have some value, as the Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles help keep the weight off your tired legs and shift the workload to your fresher upper body muscles in the arms and shoulders. This may sound minor but believe me, when you’re really “done” the poles are a lifesaver! While that is a benefit, it also means that one needs to train with the poles to get used to carrying them and make your hands and arms stronger to prevent muscle fatigue and soreness.
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles are however mainly designed with uphill propulsion as well as downhill stabilisation in mind. This means they will be your proverbial helping hand when you have a few steep, technical peaks to summit. With the extra grip and traction provided by the poles this task will be made much quicker and easier, leading to less fatigue as more work is done by the upper body)and quicker, safer progress. On steep and technical downhills where running becomes difficult and dangerous, the poles are like a 3rd leg, helping to support the trail runner so they can negotiate the sections quicker and safer, while again helping to save the legs by taking the weight off of the quads and shifting more of it onto the arms and the rest of the upper body.
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles were provided for review by RAM Mountain, suppliers of Black Diamond products in South Africa.
The Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon trekking poles are sold individually at an RRP of R799 per pole.