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Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles

10.23.18

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Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles

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  • The Expeditions are ideal snowshoe poles. They are stout, they have good powder baskets, and they pack down to a very small size. - Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • With heavy loads, backpacking poles are amazing. They massively help with balance, and they take a good deal of strain off your knees going downhill. The sturdy expedition poles are perfect for this terrain, though you may want to buy the summer baskets.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • On steep boot packs, adjustable height is a really nice feature. It's also a great feature when your pint-size sister forgets her poles and needs to borrow your spares. - Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Scoping out lines with the Expedition 3.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Personally, I love trekking poles for mountaineering. They add a little extra balance, help on descents, and the Expedition 3 poles are easy to carry because they pack so small.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Ripping the gnar in Rogers Pass. These aren't the best ski poles, but they are good just the same. - Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • The adjustment points.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Tightening the buckles is easy. You can actually use a knife to do it. - Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Size comparison with a Nalgene for reference.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • One complaint I have is that the soft material of the pole absorbs water, and it gets wet when you plunge it into snow. I like to plunge for informal snowpack analysis, so this precludes the Expedition from being my go to ski touring pole.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Being used as a tension point for the MSR Mesh House 3.- Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • The pole in shelter mode. Having an adjustable pole is really handy because you can fine-tune the height while it's set up. - Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
  • Being used to create a stabilizer for mock broken leg. Durable enough to be used with a tarp for carrying a large 200-pound person. - Gear Review: Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles
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Pro Contributor

Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles specs

  • Weight per pair: 520 g (1 lb 2 oz)
  • Series: Touring
  • Usable length: 
    • 57 to 125 cm (22.2 to 48.8 in)
    • 62-140 cm (24.2-54.6 in)
  • Collapsed Length:
    • 57-125 cm (57 cm to 22.2 in)
    • 62-140 cm (62 cm to 24.2 in)

Where to get it

The Bottom Line: The Expedition 3s are superb and durable multi purpose poles for all season activity. The multiple parts allow quick and easy collapsibility so you can pop them away when terrain gets more vertical, or you need a quick size change. I've had the Black Diamond Expeditions for two seasons, and they've been used ski touring in the Selkirks and Coast Range as well as two days snowshoeing. In summer they were my go-to backpacking pole and what I used for mountaineering trips. They've been used on a first-aid training course to practice creating a stretcher for a person who weighed over 200 pounds.

Skiing Roger's Pass with the Black Diamond Expedition 3 Ski Poles. Photo by Tam McTavish.

The Black Diamond Expedition 3 Trekking Poles are a three-piece multi-purpose pole. They come standard with powder baskets, and they are really designed for the multi-season types. 

The handles are made of foam grips, which can wet out easily (avoid dropping them in snow while they are warm); on the other hand, they are far more comfortable to hold bare handed than other poles that are touring-centered. There is a lower grip, so holding the pole lower on the shaft on your uphill side is still warm and comfortable. It keeps your hands warm on those days when you're traversing steep snow slopes. This is really appreciated on those days where you're working hard enough that you aren't wearing gloves but don't want to grab cold metal. It's also awesome in rolling terrain where constantly changing the length would be a hassle. The foam also makes these comfortable to use in the summer on backpacking trips. The wrist straps have some foam padding as well, so if you're using them properly, they are very comfortable, if a bit warm. 

The height is locked in with Black Diamond's FlickLock system. It's straightforward and can be tightened with a knife or a screwdriver. It's a solid system that I have never struggled with. I must say, though, for pure skiing I find that adjusting the poles can be annoying. I normally keep the lower section longer and slide the upper up and down to minimize height adjustments when transitioning from tour to ski mode. 

The big perk of these poles is that they collapse down to just over a foot in length. If you need a pole for packing down to stuff into your pack before you hop on a climb, these are ideal. I also use them for mountaineering on more moderate sections. I find the extra balance goes a long way. 

For people who ski tour a little, snowshoe, backpack, and maybe do a couple other mountain activities, these poles are ideal. They are a true jack of all trades with a emphasis on durability. 

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