Though it’s a bit heavy, the Black Diamond Expedition 3 is a reliable ski pole that won’t break the bank. It’s a bit sluggish but is still tough and has a simple, easy-to-operate design.
- Where to buy: Amazon, EVO
- Best for: Skiers who need an affordable-yet-solid pole that can stand up to tougher conditions.
- Pros: The Expedition 3 has a simple design that’s easy to get used to. The tough construction is durable, and the grip is as comfortable as they come. It’s easy to adjust too.
- Cons: This pole has a slower swing weight than many will like. It may also be too basic for some skiers and doesn’t pack down as small as other modern options.
- Alternatives: Leki Tour Stick, Black Diamond Carbon Compactor, Swix Techlite
Why Trust Me
I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I have spent ample time researching these poles and analyzed how they stand up to the mountain.
The Black Diamond Expedition 3 is a reliable ski pole that’s stripped bare. You don’t get a lot of extra features, but the ones it does have, including a comfortable grip and sturdy aluminum construction, are nice and reliable. It doesn’t collapse down as small as some may like, but it has a 3-piece design that gives you the ability to use it in the summer. For some people, that functionality will be enough.
Strength and Durability
When reviewing poles, I find that durability is the place to start. The Expedition 3 scores solid marks in this category. It has a reliable design that you’ll be able to use without worry. However, it’s important to note that the three-section build will not be quite as strong as two-section models. They simply tend to snap more. That’s not something you’re going to see a lot (or at all) with the Expedition 3, but it’s something to know when making the purchase.
The rubber grip also doesn’t quite hold up to similar options. While it’s definitely comfortable and won’t give you any trouble during a long day of pushing through snow, the rubber does seem to wear down or chip more than I would have liked.
Going off that durability, this pole sits right in the middle when it comes to weight. It’s not particularly heavy, but it’s not the lightest option either. You’re also definitely going to feel all 19-ounces during your swings. Most won’t notice that too much, but it does come up when trying to make quick turns.
Adjustable and Easy to Use
Unfortunately, while the Expedition 3 does pack down, it doesn’t quite pack down far enough. The pole collapses to roughly 23 inches in length. That’s not a lot, but it’s not as easy to store as you might think. For that reason, this isn’t the pole for splitboarders.
That being said, the locking system here is great. This three-section pole can easily be adjusted with any small device, such as a coin or a key. Once switched, the lever locks snap into place and give you a lot of stability.
As great as that is, the Expedition’s 3-section design means you have to adjust two-level locks at each transition. That can be annoying, but it also means you get a nice amount of adjustment. In my opinion, the more tweaking you can do, the better.
Comfort and Grip
One aspect I particularly enjoyed about the Expedition 3 was its comfort. Many modern poles go with a sleek style that looks cool, but doesn’t necessarily translate to the slopes. As the Expedition 3 is a bit more simple, you don’t have that problem. Rather, you have a nice foam grip that can fit just about any hand size. Not only that, but the extended padding length means you can choke up or down as you need.
Something else I like about this pole is the small rubber pad at the top of the handle. That gives you more grip and enables you push straight down during steep climbs without any extra discomfort. Even with the heavier swing weight, the grip gives you a nice feel that’s easy to control as you move around.
Price, Versatility, and Value
There’s no doubt the Expedition 3 has its flaws. It’s rather simple and has a heavier swing weight that most will like. Even so, it still has decent value for a backcountry pole. The durability is there, and you’re not paying a ton for the reliable performance. Black Diamond has a nice warranty program as well.
Adding to that, while the Expedition 3 does quite a bit in the snow, it goes far beyond that. As many outdoor enthusiasts know, 3-piece telescoping poles don’t have to only be used in the winter. This model can also be taken on hikes during the warmer months of the year. Though that isn’t directly related to skiing, it’s worth mentioning because if you’re like me and enjoy hiking, you’re saving some money on having to get an extra item for the warmer months.
What I Like
If there’s a stand out feature with the Expedition 3, it’s the locking system. While it does take a bit more work than what you’ll see in two-piece designs, the construction is definitely reliable and will keep your poles firmly in place. It also doesn’t take much to use, which I find quite functional.
The three-piece design is a definite bonus for me. Yes, it isn’t as sturdy as a two-piece design, but the flexibility of using the poles in different conditions is something I really enjoy. All outdoor enthusiasts will value using the Expedition 3’s as hiking poles when things warm up during the summer.
What I Dislike
Overall, I wish the Expedition 3 packed down more. It’s not a super bulky model, but it would be nice if you could just toss it into your pack without thinking about it. As it stands, it’s still a bit too long for certain skiing styles.
The Expedition 3 also swings a bit too slow. It’s not so heavy that you’re going to get a ton of fatigue when using it, but it has enough weight that you’re going to notice the poles as you try to take a quick turn or maneuver in tight areas. I just wish it was easier to move.
As simple and intuitive as the Expedition 3 is, there are many other options that give you more characteristics at a comparable price. If you want another strong pole, the following models are worth a look:
- Leki Tour Stick – Though it’s more expensive than the Expedition 3, the Tour Stick is worth the extra cash. This option is incredible for splitboarding and has one of the most comfortable grips on the market. It feels solid as well. While it’s not the best for those who need to transition quickly, the Tour Stick gives you more than enough power.
- Black Diamond Carbon Compactor – Another solid Black Diamond offering, the Carbon Compactor poles give you a simple option that’s easy to use and light weight. These are easy to carry, which is great for skiers who hate fatigue. You lose some strength, but that’s a small price to pay for their versatility.
- Swix Techlite – If you want a reliable pole that’s comparable to the Expedition 3 and comes in at a much lower price, this is the way to go. The Techlite has a strong aluminum construction that’s backed up by a sturdy-yet-comfortable handle. The baskets are also nice, and the light weight makes them easy to maneuver.
How heavy are these poles?
The Black Diamond Expedition 3 poles weigh 1 pound, 12 ounces per pair.
Do these stay in place once locked?
Yes. The Expedition 3 uses a solid and reliable locking system that ensures they don’t slide or move around once you’re on the slopes.
Do these have removable baskets?
Yes. You have the option to use either powder or small trekking baskets right out of the box. There is a medium option you can buy, as well.
How compact are these poles?
They collapse down to 23 inches in length.
The Expedition 3 is a solid pole that works well for skiers who aren’t too focused on flashy extras. While it won’t give you a lot in terms of traits, the level locks hold up, it has a good amount of power, and the grip is comfortable. There isn’t too much beyond that, but minimalists likely won’t need much more.
At the end of the day, the Expedition 3 is a solid, reliable pole that can take a lot of use in shifting conditions. That longevity, along with the price, ensures you’ll be able to get value from it for years to come. If you want a sturdy backcountry pole you can use in the summer and winter but don’t want to pay too much, this is worth checking out.