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Reviews > Trekking Poles > Poles > Black Diamond Expedition Poles > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Black Diamond Expedition Poles
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW
November 06, 2007

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrella@hotmail.com
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bdel.com
MSRP: US $79.95
Listed Weight: 1 lb 5 oz (600 g)
Actual Weight: 1 lb 6.2 oz (629 g)
Length listed: 125 cm (49 in) Also available in 140 cm (55 in) model.
Collapsed length listed: 57 cm (22.5 in) Verified accurate
Longest length: 127 cm (50 in) at the line marked "stop"
Color: Blue

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Product Description

The Black Diamond Expedition poles (hereafter called the Expeditions or poles) are winter ski and trekking poles. They are not grouped with the company's Trekking Pole line but are in a separate Poles category (should it prove to be difficult to locate on their web site).IMAGE 2

They are made of three telescoping sections that slide into the next larger section to allow them to collapse to an easier length to carry and handle. (A funny thing that the manufacturer says about the benefits is it makes them easier to carry in European rental cars. Wow, they must be small indeed…)

The sections of the poles are made of aluminum, the first of which is anodized blue with Black Diamond's name on it. The two lower sections are clear coated and have adjustment marks printed on them. The marks are printed in 5 cm (1 in) increments from 85 cm to 125 cm (33.5 to 49 in). A "stop" is printed 1.2 cm (0.5 in) above the last mark to keep me from extending it too far.

Attached to the lower ends of the top and middle pole sections are the FlickLocks, Black Diamond's patented locking system. In the picture to the right one of them is in the open position, the other is closed. The body of the FlickLock wraps around the shaft, and when open offers little resistance. When the curved lever is rotated in to snap against the shaft a cam action tightens the body of the lock, securely holding the sections of shaft in place.

The baskets screw onto the bottom of the shaft and then snap over a groove to keep them from unscrewing. The ¾ baskets are in this picture but I have all the optional baskets too. They consist of a small trekking basket and a large powder basket. All of them may be seen below.

At the very end is an aluminum tip with a press-in, replaceable carbide point. The carbide is concave instead of knurled at the tip.

At the other end of the Expeditions are the dual-density handles. The sections that are blue are a hard plastic material. The areas that are black are very soft rubbery feeling material. After three years this material is still very soft and grippy. Some adjustable straps top off the poles. The straps can be removed by taking the locking screws out of the top of the handles.

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Field Conditions

I have used the Expeditions on every snow related trip from early 2004 until winter of 2006. This includes trips to Mount Shasta, White Mountain, Mount San Gorgonio and San Jacinto (and neighboring peaks) and many places in the eastern Sierra Nevada. Conditions have ranged from beautiful sunny winter days to a few full-on blizzards and everything in between. The temperatures encountered have run from a low of 4 F to 50 F (-16 to 10 C) and elevations to over 14000' (4270 m). The terrain included snow, ice, rock and occasional bare dirt, though not often. Here is a shot of them in action near the Round Valley Ranger hut in San Jacinto State Park.

IMAGE 4

Observations

I bought the Expeditions for one reason. I needed to find a trekking pole that would not collapse constantly when used on snow and ice. The two pair of poles I had at the time would both loosen from the slight twisting motion I make when planting and pushing off. I had read about the Black Diamond FlickLock system and decided to give it a try. I ordered a pair for my brother-in-law Dave at the same time.

They worked wonderfully. I have probably used these poles for 200 miles (320 km) or more of hiking and have never had them slip a single time. The FlickLocks hold very well and are easy to adjust. I am able to easily adjust them even with gloves on.

They are very strong also. Mine are pretty scratched up from banging into rocks and such but show no signs of wear besides the cosmetic. I have used the poles as stakes and snow anchors. Once I anchored my sled with the poles to keep it from blowing away during the night. Yes the winds were that heavy. (My ice axe was anchoring the deadman point on my tent that night.)

As mentioned earlier the grips are still in good shape. My only complaint about the poles is that the grips are a bit narrow for my liking. Wearing gloves helps a bit, but I am a very warm-blooded hiker and lose the gloves every chance I get to help keep me cool, as can be seen in the picture below taken near Mount Shasta in California.

IMAGE 5


The tips are still in very good shape also. They stick into, and grip, ice quite well and do nicely on rock too. As they have only been used in winter conditions the tips have not been in many places to be dulled though.

I rarely use the straps while hiking. I will put them on when skiing. I have a randoneé set-up that I use on long trips pulling a gear sled. I leave the straps set in a very open position.

I do not use the Expeditions much any longer. Not that there is anything wrong with them. It is just that I switched to Black Diamond's Alpine CF poles for the lighter weight.

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This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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