This is a guest review by Alf Alderson, an award-winning adventure sports and travel journalist and gear review editor at OE magazine. You can check out Alf’s website here.
I’ve been using these poles for about three years now, and they’ve become a bit like my grandad’s famous old broom (“Eee lad, I’ve had this broom fifty years – six new heads and four new shafts and it’s still like new”) in that during that time I’ve broken at least two of the pole sections and one of the baskets has been lost (all due to my incompetence) so what I actually have is but a part of the original items.
But they’ve been so good I haven’t minded the expense of replacing broken or lost bits (pole sections broken when I fell on them; basket lost after massive off-piste wipe out) which says a lot about the quality of the Expeditions.
They’re designed primarily for skiers looking to hit the backcountry, where an adjustable pole is useful for skinning up slopes and (obviously) for skiing down ‘em. The large powder basket also helps when poling through deep snow, and Black Diamond’s excellent ‘FlickLock’ system means you can quickly and easily adjust the pole length even in ski gloves, but although designed as a ski touring pole I’ve been using the Expedition for everything from off-piste skiing to summer mountain walking.
The FlickLock system is excellent – the poles slide smoothly in and out and it’s simply a case of flicking open the lock until you get the adjustment you require, then flicking it back down. This can be performed with gloved hands, which is obviously a boon on cold days.
As a three-section pole the Expedition is shorter than conventional two-section poles, which is another advantage when travelling with them on your pack or in your bag.
The grips work well – I’ve used more comfortable (ie softer) ones but have never had any problems with these either with gloved or bare hands – and the straps are easily adjustable and will comfortably contain the largest gloved hand.
The wider powder baskets are good when poling in deep snow as they don’t sink as as far as regular (i.e. smaller diameter) baskets, and they can be removed if you want to use them in summer for hiking; and although it makes no difference whatsoever as far as performance is concerned, I do quite like the powder blue finish.
SUMMARY: Excellent poles – the only downside is that the Expedition is heavier than a ‘regular’ ski or walking pole, but the trade-off is remarkable versatility and durability.
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More info: Black Diamond