OR - Black Diamond Traverse Poles - Andrea Murland
- Ok, I know it's March, but the topics haven't been posted for March, right...? We're still on February topics...?
Regardless, here's an OR on some classic poles.
Black Diamond Traverse Ski Poles
Owner Review by Andrea Murland
March 3, 2014
amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Elkford & Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada
5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
130 lb (59 kg)
I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.
Year of Manufacture:
Traverse Ski Poles
95-145 cm (37-57 in)
95-145 cm (37-57 in), 105-155 cm (41-61 in)
585 g (20.6 oz) for 95-145 cm (37-57 in) size
The Black Diamond Traverse Ski Pole is a two-section aluminum pole. The upper section is 16 mm (0.63 in) in diameter, and the lower section 14 mm (0.55 in) in diameter. The poles adjust in length using Black Diamond’s FlickLock Pro system, and the lower section of the poles have markings for length in 5 cm (2 in) increments. My poles from 2008 have the older-style FlickLock system, which is made from plastic, as opposed to the newer stainless steel design. Both the older and newer style work the same way, and the pole length is adjusted by flipping the cam lever open, adjusting to the desired length, and then flipping the cam lever back into the closed position. The Traverse poles have a moulded dual-density plastic grip and a webbing strap. The length of the strap can be adjusted with a plastic ladder-lock buckle. The orange sections of the grip are hard plastic, and the black sections feel a bit softer, but are still quite hard. 6.5 cm (2.6 in) below the grip is a rubber grip extension, which extends 12 cm (4.7 in) down the pole. This extension is textured and allows me to grip the pole securely below the handle if I need a shorter pole for a brief period. The poles come with a 100 mm (4 in) diameter replaceable powder basket. The tip of the poles is concave. The Black Diamond logo is moulded into the plastic of the handles, the FlickLock cam lever, and the powder basket, as well as printed on the shaft of the pole.
The Traverse poles are one of the types of poles that work with Black Diamond’s FlickLock Snow Saw, which attaches a saw to the lower section of the pole. My thoughts on that have been documented in my review about the saw on this site.
I bought my Traverse poles in late 2008, one of the first pieces of winter backcountry kit I bought. They have been used since then for day and overnight trips snowshoeing, hiking, and skiing. They spend most of their time from October to May in the back of my car, always ready for an impromptu excursion or Search & Rescue call. I have used them on about five overnight trips, plus a week-long hut-based trip, and about fifty day trips. They have been used in sunshine, rain, and snow, in temperatures from about -30 C (-22 F) to about 15 C (59 F).
My Traverse poles are great winter poles. I usually set them at about 115 cm (45 in) for skiing, and a bit shorter for snowshoeing or hiking. When collapsed, the poles are 94 cm (37 in) long, so still a bit long to comfortably attach to a pack. However, they fit nicely in the back of my car, are easier to maneuver with around helicopters, and I can manage with them on my pack in a pinch. The FlickLock mechanism is easy to operate and the poles extend and collapse smoothly. The tips are sharp enough to go into crusty snow, and bite into ice enough to provide some grip. The powder baskets are big enough to prevent the pole from disappearing into the snow unless the snowpack is especially rotten or I find an area with a surface crust and then a cavity underneath. I find the handles to be comfortable to hold either around the grip or with the top of the pole in my palm. I don’t usually use the strap, and have it folded over the top of the handle so that it sits in front of my palm, between my hand and the handle. I find this a bit uncomfortable if I have bare hands, but most of my use with these poles is in temperatures where I’m wearing gloves, and even with thin gloves the strap doesn’t bother me. The grip extension below the handle is wonderful. When traversing, I almost always have my palm on the top of my downhill pole, and hold onto the grip extension on the uphill pole, and then switch hand position when I switch traversing direction. I have never had a pole slip in my hand when using the grip extension. I’m using it at a kick-turn while skinning in the picture on the right above. About the only thing that I don’t love about these poles is the weight. Black Diamond describes them as their “workhorse” poles, and they are noticeable heavier than my regular ski-hill poles. I guess my arms need a workout too!
My Traverse poles are still performing admirably. I am not very good at remembering to take them apart and let them dry (read: I collapse them and put them in the car until their next use), but they still extend and collapse perfectly. The FlickLock mechanism still works well, and I think I have only had to tighten it slightly once since I got the poles. There is some cosmetic scratching on the orange sections of the poles, but they just look a bit loved.
The Black Diamond Traverse ski poles are sturdy two-section aluminum poles targeted for winter use. They operate easily and have stood up well to use. I especially love the grip extension below the handle. I plan to continue to use them for many years to come.
FlickLock is easy to use
Handle is comfortable
Grip extension – great feature!
Powder basket is a good size
A bit heavy
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