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Aug 13 2012

Review: BD FlickLock® Pro ski poles

 

BD’s new FlickLock® Pro. Leaner and meaner.

When it comes to chosing an adjustable ski pole for backcountry skiing, one can hardly go wrong with the Black Diamond’s FlickLock® series, the most popular adjustable pole seen on skin tracks throughout America. In recent years a number of competitors have come up with some worthy alternatives, but the flicklock concept is a significant part of their appeal. Although the FlickLock® mechanism is more reliable and easier to use than twist-lock adjustable poles, even BD’s FlickLock® concept could be improved upon (see K2 & Leki), so they did.

FlickLock® Pro opened up.

It must be with some measure of relief that Black Diamond introduces their second generation of FlickLock® poles for this season. The new FlickLock® Pro clamp is leaner, 20% lighter, and meaner, with twice the gripping force of the original design. Instead of a bulky plastic housing that squeezes the outer shaft on to the inner shaft, a svelte stainless steel ring is pulled tight to constrict the circumference of the outer shaft. The result is clamping force applied throughout the perimeter, not just tangentially across the diameter. Think of it as a clamping force that is applied over roughly 360° instead of maybe only 90°. In addition, the FlickLock® Pro uses a dual-axle design to increase the clamping force, without increasing the thumb force needed to latch it tight.

Carbon Probe Pole

That’s the most significant improvement. Then there are the incremental improvements to the features that BD’s ski poles have already earned a solid reputation for quality with. Aside from easy adjustability that you can count on to not collapse, the most noticeable feature of BD’s poles is the grip for their FreeRide poles. It has a nice contour that your hand naturally wraps around when skiing, and a comfortable top for palming when skinning. This upper platform comes with a solid lip for easily switching modes on a Fritschi Freeride, flipping up the climbing post on most telemark bindings, opening the clamp on NTN binders, or opening a boot buckle.

The webbing straps for the Touring or FreeRide series have a wishbone configuration that naturally opens to make it easy to fit your hand through. The straps are 30mm longer, and easy to adjust. The webbing for the FreeRide series is beefier than for their Touring poles, but either is sufficient. Personally I avoid using straps except on an icy traverse when I don’t want to risk dropping a pole, so my sense is the wishbone configuration makes ‘em easier to put on, but causes ‘em to get in the way for normal use when I’m not using them.

There are seven FlickLock Pro models to chose from. Three FreeRide poles, and four Touring poles, including the Z-pole technology that compacts down super short, perfect for splitboarders. The FreeRide poles have larger diameter poles, a grip with the larger lip mentioned above, and a thick, wide webbing. By contrast the Touring poles have a lighter weight grip, the lip isn’t as thick, the strap is a thinner, lighter webbing and there is a grippy material on the upper shaft for choking up on the uphill pole while traversing.

Besides those upgrades, the Whippet will be sold as a single pole this season. In theory you only need one, so why pay for two?

Black Diamond
FlickLock® Pro Ski Poles

FreeRide Poles
Model Adj. Length Collapsed Weight Comments MSRP
Carbon Probe 100-125 cm 95 cm 610 g 18mm Al upper shaft, 16mm carbon lower shaft. Lower shafts combine to form 182 cm probe. $ 130
115-140 cm 110 cm 625 g
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Expedition 57-125 cm 57 cm 615 g 3-section, all Al, 18mm upper, 16mm middle, 14mm lower. $ 90
62-140 cm 62 cm 630 g
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Boundary 90-140 cm 90 cm 620 g 2-section, all Al. 18mm/16mm $ 80
Touring Poles
Model Adj. Length Collapsed Weight Comments MSRP
Compactor 105-125 cm 38 cm 625 g All Al 3-section, Z-pole with FlickLock® adjustable upper shaft. $120
115-135 cm 40 cm 640 g
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Razor
Carbon
100-125 cm 92; cm 580 g 14mm Al upper w/11mm carbon fiber lower shaft. $120
115-140 cm 105.5 cm 590 g
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Pure Carbon 95-145 cm 94.5 cm 600 g 2-piece, all Carbon pole. 16/14mm diam. w/grip xtension. $140
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Traverse 95-145 cm 95 cm 585 g All Al 2-section FlickLock® w/16/14mm diam. shafts. $ 80
105-155 cm 105 cm 600 g
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Whippet
SA Pole
97-140 cm 97 cm 420 g 2-piece, all Al pole. 16/14mm diam. w/Self Arrest Pick. $100
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All photos above courtesy Black Diamond Equipment, Inc.

© 2012

  • Matt Sanger

    And these poles are heavier (old pure carbon: 1 lb. 4 oz.; new: 1 lb. 5.oz). WTF???  Get a clue BD…

  • Dostie

    Can’t say for sure but I did double check to make sure I didn’t insert a typo on the weight of the Pure Carbon. I didn’t, but nonetheless am having a hard time believing the Razor (Al/Carbon) is lighter than the Pure (all Carbon) so maybe BD gave me specs with a typo and it really isn’t heavier. No – I don’t have one to measure independently. I’m not worried about 1 oz., but you do raise a good point and I think the answer is just bad data. We’ll see.

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  • ArchAngel

    “Personally I avoid using straps ” Straps are a very important part of your ski equipment that are designed to be used at all times for important reasons. Research and find out what you have been missing and start using them.

  • skier6

    Regarding the Razor Carbon poles (I have a pair right here) they have a 14mm upper with a 12mm carbon lower. Weight on the postal scale is 298 gm per pole, or 10.5 ounces with BD powder baskets. So 596 grams per pair.
    They are a bit lighter than my old razor Carbon poles (alu/carbon lower) with the plastic/nylon flicklock mechanism (630 gms a pair). Which would slip from time to time.
    Locking mechanism on the new Razor Carbon poles is much better. They feel more solid to rotate my Vertical ST heels on the fly.