Why I use trekking poles

I use my trekking poles for not only in aiding walking but also for supporting my shelters. Therefore my poles need to be both robust and lightweight. Trekking poles give you more stability on the trail, providing an upper body workout, and take pressure off your knees and back. One of the main reasons that I started using trekking poles was to aid my arthritis damaged back. However, improperly adjusted poles can cause muscle pain and or soreness, so it is important to adjust your poles correctly. I am 175 cm high and I find that to correctly set and use my poles I adjust them to 120 cm so that my forearm forms a 90 degree angle to my body. This is the correct way to adjust them.

Carbon or Aluminium

I don’t buy carbon fibre trekking poles. I need my trekking poles to be reliable and I defiantly do not want to find myself in another country somewhere on a long hike with a broken pole that just snapped in some peat bog. This is the reality with carbon poles; I have heard and read this on SocMed many times. I know that I’ll get hit with a lot of negative comments about this statement and that people will say that aluminium poles will snap too, but I’ll stick to my aluminium poles thanks. I have only purchased aluminium trekking poles to date and they have proven to be both reliable and durable.

Skåneleden SL2 - Sections 3 & 6
I use my trekking poles for not only in aiding walking but also for supporting my shelters

Straps and baskets

The first thing that I always do when I purchase new trekking poles is remove the webbing straps and the baskets. For my usage the baskets are not necessary so I always take them off. Wrist straps are so unnecessary. I can understand that they have a use when skiing but for walking they are overrated. I always chuckle to myself when I see other hikers using trekking poles with the wrist strap just dangling down not even attached to their wrists. Why don’t they just cut them off?

On a recent hike in Sweden on the Bohusleden Trail I only packed a Ruta Locura 600 carbon fiber tent pole 152cm (60’’) for my HMG Ultamid 2 shelter instead using of trekking poles. As the afternoon progressed the rain and wind persisted and the trail became slippery and wet. Especially the exposed tree roots were very slippery and at one stage my hiking buddy took a fall. He is fine, but I regret that I didn’t pack my trekking poles; I won’t leave them at home again.

Fizan Compact Trekking Poles

My set of Fizan Compacts were purchased in December 2015. They were the first trekking poles that I have ever used and owned. At first I only used one of the poles as I didn’t think that I could manage to grasp the pole in my right hand which is slightly deformed and handicapped from arthritis. However, I found that when using the trekking poles correctly it is not required to have a tight firm grip on the handles. I sort of let them sit in my hands and then when placing the pole on the ground I tighten my grip on the handles. After the first couple of hikes I started using both poles.

Hiking on Ærø Island - NOV 2015
Hiking on Ærø Island Denmark November 2015 with one trekking pole

Fizan’s Description

Featuring some of the lightest compact poles on the market, the Fizan Compact Series is great for hiking, backpacking, and any outdoor adventure that requires added stability and support. The Compact poles are made from aluminum and come with two types of baskets, removable neoprene wrist straps, and rubber tips for traction on rocks. Each pole weighs 158 grams, with three collapsible sections that extend its length from 58 cm to 132 cm. The Eva grip sits comfortably and securely in the hand, while the carbide tips ensure durability over time and reliable performance on any terrain.

Fizan Compact 316 g

Tech Specs

  • Material: Aluminum alloy 7001
  • Basket: 2 in (5 cm)
  • 3 telescopic sections: 1.7, 1.6, and 1.4 cm thick
  • Extension: 22.8 – 52 in (58 – 132 cm)
  • Flexy Locking System
  • Eva grip with neoprene strap
  • E-basket with carbide tip
  • Weight per pole: 5.6 oz (158 g)
  • Made in Italy since 1947
Camønoen Trail, Møn, Denmark
Camønoen Trail, Møn, Denmark September 2016

Conclusion

I used these poles for about one year. Although extremely light and durable, the twisting for tightening method didn’t work for me. I have arthritis in my hands and I just didn’t have the strength to use them. Especially, in the winter months the Fizan Compacts were a real challenge for me. I also have noticed that the print on the poles showing the measurement settings seems to wear away quickly. I only used the poles for less than one year so this is an issue. Other than the locking mechanism and the print for the measurement settings the poles do their job and I have no other complaints about them.

Photos on Flickr here (Fizan Compact Trekking Poles)

Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

I purchased my set of Black Diamond Trail trekking poles in November 2016. My pair weigh a total of 480 grams and that is of coarse without the baskets and wrist straps.

The King's Trail (Kungsleden)
Using the Black Diamond Trail Trekking poles in Lapland August 2018

Black Diamond’s Description

From casual weekend jaunts to extended backpacking trips in the mountains, the Black Diamond Trail Trekking Pole expertly balances comfort, features and affordability. Dual FlickLocks offer complete adjustability to suit the terrain, while our interchangeable carbide Tech Tips are easily swapped for our rubber Tech Tips (sold separately) to accommodate changing trail surfaces.

  • Dual-density grip top and 360-degree padded webbing strap
  • Non-slip foam grip extension
  • Double FlickLocks
  • Interchangeable carbide Tech Tips, low-profile Trekking Baskets and Powder Baskets
Black Diamond Trail 480 g

Tech Specs

  • Series :   Mountain
  • Weight Per Pair :   489 g (1 lb 1 oz)
  • Usable Length :   63.5-140 cm (25-55 in)
  • Collapsed Length :   63.5 cm (25 in)

People often complain about lower-end trekking poles having terrible grips as they are often made of cheap materials and they don’t hold up to the usage with sweating etc. The non-slip foam grip extension on these Black Diamond Trail Trekking poles are one of the best features of the poles. In rain weather the poles are easy to grip and without wrist straps I’ve never had an issue like the poles slipping out of my hands.

The locking mechanism is known as the FlickLock and this was the main reason that I converted to this type of pole compared to the twist lock from Fizan. With my handicap I find the poles a pleasure to use.

Møns Klint Circle Trail
Møns Klint Circle Trail, September 2018

Conclusion

I find these poles very durable and manufactured well. I have trusted these trekking poles enough to take them on a 130 km hiking expedition above the Arctic Circle in 2018. They were my only shelter support and walking aids. These poles have taken a beating from me for nearly three years now. If I have anything negative thing to say about them it is that they are not compact enough and they are slightly too heavy. I want some poles that are easier to store when travelling on public transport and if they were lighter then that would be a bonus.

Photos on Flickr here (Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles)

Black Diamond Distance FLZ Trekking Poles 125 cm

These trekking poles were purchased in October 2018. With these poles I believe that I have reached the balance between lightweight and functionability. The small baskets are permanently attached which are also used as a stopper that catches the shaft to secure the folded sections when collapsing. So on these poles I do not remove the baskets like I did on the two previous ones. I can only find one disadvantage with these poles for me and I will explain in the conclusion.

Skåneleden SL5 Sections 5, 6, 7 & 8
Using the Black Diamond Distance FLZ Trekking Poles on the Skåneleden Trail SL5 – February 2019

Black Diamond’s Description

Like a good adventure partner, the Distance FLZ is strong when you aren’t, supportive when you’re bonking and easily adjustable when the terrain calls for adaptability. Now combining our new SlideLock technology, which makes locking and collapsing the pole even easier, with FlickLock® adjustability, the Distance FLZ is a mainstay for hard-hitting mountain adventurers. The upgraded Distance FLZ is also 30% stiffer with improved joint support. The pole’s three-section foldable design allows for fast-response deployment, making the Distance FLZ the ultimate, adaptable three-season pole with durable aluminium construction.
 

  • SlideLock technology improves ease-of-use when locking your pole
  • Improved joint support and stiffness
  • Lightweight EVA foam grip and breathable, moisture-wicking strap
  • Non-slip EVA foam mini-grip extension
  • Three-section foldable shaft with speed cone deployment and FlickLock® adjustability
  • Aluminum construction
  • Interchangeable, non-scarring rubber Tech Tips and carbide Tech Tips
  • Stopper basket with shaft catcher to secure folded sections
Black Diamond Distance FLZ Black White 125cm 437g

Tech Specs

Weight Per Pair :
[105-125 cm] 445 g (15.7 oz)

Usable Length :
[105-125 cm] 105-125 cm (41-49 in)

Collapsed Length :  
[105-125 cm] 37 cm (15 in)

Skåneleden SL5 Sections 9, 12, 13 & 14
Using the Black Diamond Distance FLZ trekking poles to support my Zpack Duplex shelter in March 2019

Conclusion

I love these trekking poles! I want to take them on all my hikes. However, there is one catch with them; I can’t use them on my latest shelter which is the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2. The Ultamid requires two trekking poles which have been joined together by two HMG pole straps.

2 ea HMG UltaMid Pole straps 36 g
2 ea HMG UltaMid Pole straps

When I try to preform this exercise with the FLZ’s they collapse because of the release mechanisms catching on each other, which becomes deployed with contact. This is disappointing. I could just pack my Ruta Locura 600 carbon fiber tent pole but then I would be penalised with an extra 180 grams added to my packing list.

Photos on Flickr here (Black Diamond Distance FLZ Trekking Poles)


To sum it all up I use trekking poles to aid walking relieving some pressure on my back and their second use is to hold my shelters up at night as I normally don’t use tent poles. Aluminium trekking poles are my preference but I admit that I have never used carbon poles. The Black Diamond Distance FLZ poles are my favourites but I use the Black Diamond Trails when packing my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 shelter.


Disclosure:
Product(s) discussed in this article were purchased by myself from a retailer or manufacturer. I do not accept compensation or donated product in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage without clearly denoting such coverage as an “ADVERTISEMENT” or “SPONSORED CONTENT.”