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Black Diamond Distance FL

rated 4 of 5 stars

The Distance FL has been discontinued. It was replaced by the Black Diamond Distance FLZ.

photo: Black Diamond Distance FL rigid trekking pole

Your knees will thank you for this welcome addition to your hiking adventures!


  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Extend quickly and easily
  • Comfortable grips


  • Strap disconnected
  • Limited sizing options

I had knee surgery almost two years ago, and since that time have been under strict instruction by my orthopedic surgeon to only return to hiking under one condition: always use trekking poles. Although I began the experience as a necessary concession, I have come to truly appreciate my poles.


The Black Diamond Women's Distance FL poles have been wonderful hiking companions. The Z-Pole design allows them to fold up into a compact length that fits easily into your pack on mild sections of the trail. A storage bag is included, which prevents risk of tearing your pack or other materials you may be carrying.


The poles are lined with internal cables and include rubber cones at the point of connection, which allow them to lock into full length quickly and easily (see above photo). Using the FlickLock Pro technology, you can adjust the length of the pole as you hike. In the photos below, you can see how the FlickLock operates. It's simple and straightforward, which I appreciate when I'm on the trail. 


The grips are comfortable and the straps adjust easily. While I've had to wear gloves with other poles I've used in order to avoid blisters and chafing, there have been no such issues with the Distance FL. The one problem I've had, however, is that the strap on one of the poles completely disconnected the first time I used them — mid hike! It seems as though this was a manufacturing error, which I hope is uncommon. Black Diamond allowed me to exchange them for a new set and I've had no issues since. 


Selecting the appropriate size was somewhat of a challenge for me. I'm 5'4"- pretty average height. I generally set my poles at a length ranging from 100-115cm. This poses a problem when the two sizing options are 95-110cm or 105-125cm. This may be an easy choice for people who are either petite or tall. However, I found myself caught in the middle. As I primarily use my poles during the descent, I opted for the longer version. They have worked out well, but it is a judgement call worth considering for those like me, whose height may place them somewhat between sizes. 

I've really enjoyed using these poles. They are lightweight, which is much appreciated by my arms and shoulders. I have found that using trekking poles has completely changed the way I hike as they reduce downhill impact, placing less pressure on my knees. As an added bonus, river crossings are much easier than they were during my pre-trekking poles days! 


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $130

The Black Diamond Distance FL Trekking poles are lightweight, pack small, and have comfortable grips. With the adjustable height, they go long enough for tall people. Great for backpacking and rough trails.


  • Light weight
  • Folds up small — can fit in carry-on luggage
  • Adjustable


  • Perhaps not quite as strong as heavier models.

After looking at a number of poles, and borrowing some others from friends, I ended up buying these and couldn't be happier with them. I was surprised how compact they are when folded, which is great for travel. I'm 6'5" and they adjust plenty high for me. The flick lock mechanism is up near the grips and is very fast and easy to use. The baskets are very small which is perfect for me. Other poles I've used I always thought the baskets were too big, or they would fall off. Not with these.

I live close to the Appalachian Trail, which is particularly steep and rocky near me. I was pretty concerned at first by the flex in the poles and the light weight, fearing that my 245# body was going to crush them, but they have stood up to some very heavy loads just fine. I suppose it would be possible to break them, but I haven't had a problem and don't baby them.

They came with both rubber and carbide tips, and a nice storage bag. I use the rubber tips mostly, which work great. No slippage.

My biggest problem is that I always end up out with a group of scouts where someone is severely struggling, and end up loaning them out. Probably should buy a second pair. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $64.95

I weigh 190 (lean) lbs and used these poles on a 12 mi. hike to Supai, AZ. They were the perfect combination of ultra-light and strong. The ascent and descent on desert terrain while carrying a 45 lb pack was much less difficult owing to the comfort and stability of these poles.


  • Very light
  • Collapsable to TSA specs for carry-on!
  • Comfortable
  • Stable


  • Not as adjustable as conventional poles
  • Somewhat expensive (but worth it!)
  • No snow baskets are available

The grip comfort was fantastic. I never felt like they were slippery or irritating despite extreme heat. The strap adjustment stays where you put it and remains comfortable.  

The poles themselves are only minimally adjustable as compared to regular poles, but this is the trade-off for keeping the weight down. There are also no shock absorbers or accessories — other than the inclusion of metal and plastic interchangeable tips.

These poles seem durable and very well made and have served me well in desert, river, and dry mountain hikes. I bought these at full MSRP from my local dealer (Appalachian Outfitters in Peninsula, Ohio) because I want to keep these guys in business.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 95 USD

The folding design is innovative and greatly reduces the stowed length of the poles. They're easy to deploy, easy to collapse and easy to store.

I fly a lot with poles and the collapsed length of these poles makes them easy to pack in checked luggage. However, I wouldn't pack them in carry-on luggage because TSA may or may not allow them to pass depending on the screening agent. At least that's what I was told when I checked with TSA.

The adjustable length makes these poles great for hilly terrain if you adjust pole length like I do. The famous BD flick locks allow me to adjust the length in seconds.

The poles are reasonably light but the grips and straps can use some improvement.

The grips are a little small and the straps sometimes chaff the back of my hands. Leki's grips and straps are far superior to Black Diamond's.

Despite the convenience of these poles I sometimes find myself wishing I had packed my Leki Carbonlites instead.

Price Paid: $95

I busted mine a couple of inches from the tip after four day hikes. They're light and a great concept, and probably just fine for a casual hiker on easy trails, but if you put in the big miles on rocky, muddy trails (as in White Mountains and Adirondacks), these are just too wimpy to survive. 

By contrast, my Leki and Komperdell poles are still going strong after many years of use.

Price Paid: $100

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Price Historic Range: $59.94-$129.95
Reviewers Paid: $64.95-$100.00
Price Historic Range: $64.95-$129.95
Reviewers Paid: $130.00
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