Hiking poles are a nice accessory on hikes or longer treks in the mountains. But your friendly TSA airport security agents may not take kindly to long pointy sticks. Thus, the necessity for lightweight, foldable travel companions, which is exactly what the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z poles are.

We took them along on a European jaunt in the Austrian Alps recently, which of course first mandated getting them from North America to Europe. No problem with these lightweight, foldable, compact poles. The three sections collapse quickly and nestle together tightly with the hook-and-loop strap provided. Then they snuggled into the bottom of our suitcases without a whimper – from the poles or from us. Made of 100-percent carbon fiber, the poles weigh a mere 495 grams (1 lb., 1 oz.).

Our 110-centimeter Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z poles fold down to 15 inches in length (other sizes may be longer or shorter), with a package width of about 2.5 by 1.5 inches, assuming you get the poles positioned into the notch in the baskets (easy). That makes them also super packable inside your daypack, if that’s what you are carrying, or of course strapped onto the side of a larger pack. (If any pole is going inside your pack, you may want a small bag to slip over the tip so you don’t snag or tear anything or get anything terribly muddy or dirty.)

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Poles stow easily in luggage.

Since our testing was done in pretty warm conditions, the natural cork grip and moisture-wicking strap showed off their best sides. Usually, both his and her hands can get sweaty on trekking pole grips, but not with the cork. Nor did the grip feel slippery in hand. And the moisture-wicking material of the strap breathed well too.

Deploying or collapsing them goes very fast once you have the hang of Black Diamond’s so-called “Speed-Cone Deployment” of these non-adjustable Alpine Carbon Z poles. One issue, “she” had was getting the very small silver metal button pushed in to collapse them. It is nestled smack beside the bottom of the grip’s EVA foam grip extension and is pretty stiff. Although her nails aren’t long, there is enough that a straight fingertip push didn’t work. She had to figure out how to use the side of her thumb. He of course didn’t have any issues. (Read the instructions about deployment to be sure you get them locked into place.)

These four-season poles come with both carbide or rubber tips for different surfaces (the ones not being used are stowed in a secure pocket on the hook-and-loop strap).

Although we have not yet tested the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z poles in snow (we hope this winter will bring snow to California!), these are also designed for winter treks through deep snow. Just change out the trekking baskets with the (provided) “Compacter Powder Baskets.”

HI Travel Tales Seal of Approval for Travel Product ExcellenceOne note: The storage strap that also holds your spare tips is not attached to anything so you have to be very careful to stow it safely when deploying your poles – otherwise it may end up on a rock along the trail or piste while you are on the summit.

All in all, these hiking poles are lightweight, foldable, compact travel companions that allow you to move safely, securely and quietly along the trail or through the snow.

Even with a stiffer release button, we are more than happy to award them with our HITT Seal of Approval for travel product excellence. We know they will accompany us on many more adventures!


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Therese Iknoian

Traveler at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian spent a decade as a daily newspaper journalist before launching a freelance writing career specializing in outdoor, fitness and training. All the while trotting the globe, her focus finally turned to travel. Fluent in German, Therese runs a translation business (www.ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. Also a French speaker, she loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication and the search for great travel discoveries.
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