Light as Heli-o-um! Yet somehow stronger than your average carbon pole. The Black Diamond Helio Poles are inflation-molded into single, streamlined poling machines. The “grip” is simply part of the molded design, obviating the need for weighty or complex hand holders. Ditto for the touring rest that allows you to choke up on the pole when side-hilling or booting. The wrist straps are minimalist webbing for lightweight support. The Helio poles demonstrate that innovation is not dead; a truly novel and robust design from Black Diamond.
- Single-piece construction is 100% carbon fiber molded into an ultralight and strong shape.
- Grip and touring choke are integrated into the mold and keep the poles simple and sleek.
- Stiffened baskets have a hooking point to operate binding risers and feel for snow layers.
|Lengths (cm)||115, 120, 125, 135|
|Weight (pair)||288g 
|Grip||Molded into the carbon fiber|
|Basket & Tip||Stiffened with hooked point|
|Skimo Co Says|
|Usage||Technical ski mountaineering|
|Notes||Inflation-molded carbon goodness|
|Bottom Line||Super light carbon pole|
|Compare to other Fixed Length Ski Poles|
Questions & Reviews
In the winter environment, tape can be quite tricky, as some tapes like to collect snow. I have personally had luck with tennis tape. It does not have a backing, but seems to stay in place quite well.
The other alternative that comes to mind is baseball bat grip tape. Let us know how the experiment goes!
None of my gloves have any problem getting a nice sticky grip on the bare carbon and it doesn't conduct heat at all so I've not really found any reason to wrap them, even though I constantly change grip height, but I can see why some people might want to add some foam/cord/rubberized wrap down the handle for extra grip.
The strap feels pretty flimsy. I'm sure it's made out of climbing-grade sling webbing and will last, but it's very soft and thin and picks up dirt and salt stains easily - should have been black instead of light silver. That and the ridiculous price tag are the only reason I'd give them 4 instead of 5 stars, but given that I paid less than half retail for mine and still get excited about using them almost a year later, I have zero complaints.
BD Helio Poles are very light, my 120s are 142 grams each. I did wrap some Petzl ice tool tape on the choke grip section. Straps are easy to adjust size.
Baskets work in powder, don't "lift" snow up, so I will break the habit of clicking baskets together to shed snow. Baskets are stiff enough to lift, flip heel risers too.
I usually push down on toe lever, with grip end of my poles, to switch to ski mode, after ripping skins. Well, these poles don't have enough mass, to bang down on Dynafit Rotation toe levers ! Work with ATK toe pieces though.
You can't bang your heel towers, either, with the grip to rotate same to ski mode, like you can with a heavier, stronger pole.
They ARE fabulously light, for skinning up, and skiing down.
Second question: is the choke grip effective?
Third question: What is with the lugs on the tops of the baskets? Is it to keep snow from sliding off?
Fourth question: Is the hook at the top of the grip grippy or slick? Grippy is good for manipulating bindings.
Fifth question: Nat's review cautions against using the poles for knocking snow off boots or whacking dead branches. Are they that delicate, or is Nat just being over-cautious? I routinely do both things with every touring pole I've ever had and have not broken any.
1) Carbon is a very, very good insulator (far better than aluminum, which is a good conductor) and thus tends to stay at a more neutral temperature than most metals.
2) The choke grip is definitely effective, but only if your gloves are grippy, or you grab tight, or if you just don't pole plant terribly hard (maybe just choke up on side-hills rather than during aggressive descents if you're worried about it). Better yet, do all three! If you have wet, slippery gloves and don't grab onto the pole tight when you're choked up, you'll likely slip. I wish there was more of a grip there, but I think it has more to do with the gloves than the pole itself in this case.
3/4) The arms on the baskets are incredibly stiff and the lugs are designed so you can manipulate risers and toe levers instead of using the grip.
5) Carbon fiber is really good for a lot of things, but sharp/focused impacts are not its strong suit. I'd definitely advise against knocking snow off of your skis with any carbon pole. We haven't ever seen any broken Helio poles for what it's worth, but the vast majority of warranties we file for carbon poles are from user error. You get to the top of the climb, knock snow off of your skis and boots by whacking them with the lower third of your carbon poles, transition, start to head down, put your weight on it for the first pole plant of the descent and bam, the pole fails in the same place that you hit your ski with. Happens all the time. Carbon poles are awesome for just about every single other situation you could put a pole in except for a focused impact and rarely, if ever, do we see them fail because of a manufacturing defect. Because they're so light (less kinetic energy) you'd either have to hit a tree branch really, really hard or hit something sharper (like a ski edge) just right. But yeah, like I said earlier, maybe they nailed it with the Helio construction because we just haven't seen any of them break which is awesome and confidence inspiring.
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