Ahhh, new gear, does it get much better? Yep, having that gear perform well for years and maybe still look decent too. The Tried and True Review highlights those awesome pieces of gear we have used, some for many years, while suggesting new gear from the same manufacturer based on our observations that will get you through a few more seasons.
Black Diamond Expedition Ski Poles
Being a snowboarder you wouldn't think I would put too much thought into having ski poles. However, I am on a splitboard in the backcountry more often than at a resort. Thus, being required to hike to my destinations has proven that having poles is almost necessary and that they come in handy more times than you might imagine. The first few years of touring I used the Black Diamond Traverse ski poles with a single collapsing section. While they were great poles, I really wanted a set of poles that would fit inside my pack. The next poles to land in my quiver were the Black Diamond Expedition ski poles, featuring a double FlickLock system, splitting the pole into three sections. This gives you the option to collapse the pole down to a mere 57cm and extend them out to a full pole length of 125cm, or 140cm on the longer version. Full aluminum construction means they'll take as much abuse as you want to give them while the FlickLock system ensures tight clamping and better releasing than TwistLock options, especially when temperatures sink to pole-freezing levels. Other favorite features of the Expedition pole include: curved nose on the handle for leveraging climbing wires on touring bindings, compatible use with Black Diamond snow saws for extending length of effective sawing, and quick adjustability for changing terrain. Black Diamond is known for making gear that lasts and the Expedition poles are no exception. I have had these poles for five seasons now and while they are not even close to being worn out, Black Diamond has introduced some new technology into their pole lineup that will make these poles my new loaner pair.
Available now for the upcoming season, Black Diamond is offering their new FlickLock Pro adjustability system, resulting in a 50% increase in clamping strength. Another improvement to the Expedition pole is a more sleek design of the FlickLock clamp itself. As my riding has progressed to include more complex terrain I find myself riding with the poles collapsed in my hand for flat areas or for quicker transitions and the more low-profile clamp design will be welcome. While it seems these are the perfect tool for backcountry snowboarders, some skiers may also appreciate the collapsability of the Expedition pole. If you find yourself combining your ski touring with challenging mountaineering routes, being able to stash a more compact pole is nice when you need to wield an ice axe or two. The FlickLock Pro and refined clamp are not exclusive to the Expedition pole, but are available on all new adjustable Black Diamond poles.