My hands get cold. Like “Still can’t feel the tips a day later” cold. At first I thought it was just an issue of gloves. And yeah, it is an issue of gloves, and circulation. But there’s another reason you wouldn’t think about — poles with those hard rubber handles and below them metal, sucking in all the cold and sending it into your hands. That’s the first thing I noticed with Black Diamond’s Expedition 3 — a foam wrap starting at the handle and running a good 6 inches down the top section of the pole, where hands go on steeper sections of a booter.
That was just the start, literally. In the market for new split poles, these blow away the competition on all fronts.
Black Diamond Expedition 3 Review
You’re traversing out of the back of Avalanche Canyon. Board split, going without skins to help the glide. You get to that first up and putz through a V or side-step. After half an hour of that, you might start leaning heavy on your poles to pull yourself up. That’s where you really test out your poles, when you’re dragging your meat uphill as your arms shake and your poles stress. Those superlight skinny poles bend quite a bit. The carbon ones, you feel like they’ll break any second (though supposedly they don’t…). The Expedition’s thick cylinders and beefy construction never lacks for confidence. Though that’s also how you test the FlickLocks.
Black Diamond FlickLock
BD has upped their FlickLock game in the past few years. From small fingernails, they’ve become easy little wings. The old model would take a bit of finagling, especially when frozen, while the new ones are easily popped open with just your thumb. And you need to be able to change length on the fly depending on terrain, activity, mode of transport. The Expedition 3 has this dialed. And for a splitter, when the fun really begins you need to be able to pack your touring poles up real small. I was able to fit them inside my pack, preferable to the standard lash-to-the-outside-of-your-pack technique where they catch on tight trees or maybe even escape when you take a heavy beater. Nah, these guys shrink so small they all but disappear when you need them to. A packed weight of 1-and-an-eighth pound completes the portability package.
I’ve seen complaints about the basket coming off, though mine never has (as an aside, why do you really need to change up to trekking baskets, I mean really? Sure, wider baskets catch on trees or shrubs or whatever but if you’re using trekking poles you’re likely on a trail wide enough to accommodate powder baskets; it just seems like the function benefits are negligible). And some people said snow freezes to the handles but I never had that happen to me, including during tours in actively-blowing wintry mix. In fact, I was trying to think of something they could improve but really couldn’t. I guess everything can always be lighter?
Yes, these have plenty of uses other than for splitboarding. Supposedly using poles for hiking downhill greatly reduces the impact on knees. Some people need them for long flat hikes too, these’d probably be decent for that. But we really only care about splitboarding poles. And the Expedition 3 nails it. Innovative handles that repel cold. Stiff construction for extra support on tough tours. A strong FlickLock. And perfect packability and weight savings.
Some people have jumped into the folding pole craze but these pack up almost as small as those and in my opinion are more reliable, an attribute invaluable for the backcountry junky who needs gear that can last long seasons in rowdy conditions (not to mention they’re more adjustable, which I love to play with depending on whether I’m booting vs. skinning vs. if I have a long sidehill). After months testing them on sunny and spitting bootpacks and skins, on long tours and quick pre-work speed runs, the Black Diamond Expedition 3 Poles ($99) have set a standard other poles can only try to surpass.