Skimo Co

Black Diamond Helio Pole


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
convert to ounces
144g [125]
162g [135]
Weight (pair) 288g [125]
324g [135]
Sections 1
Grip Molded into the carbon fiber
Basket & Tip Stiffened with hooked point
Specs Verified Yes
Materials   Carbon
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

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Questions & Reviews

Question from Jack
Do you know of any baskets that will fit these discontinued poles?
Answer from Emmett I

The Freeride baskets found here might work, but I don't have one on hand to check.
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Question from Ben
I'm thinking about getting these poles but would need to add some kind of tape to help with the grip, is there anything that skimo recommends for this use case? Ice axe grip tape could work, but it doesn't have any adhesive backing so it might not last as long?
Answer from Tristan M
Hi Ben,

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!
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thomc (used product regularly)
I used these for several years with no complaints. Reviews as per the above. Then I lost a carbon tip, and for some reason Black Diamond neither makes replacements for this commonly lost item (mine broke off so not sure it could have been user repaired). I thought that was very poor customer service. On top of the trouble they gave me when trying to warranty my BD and Pieps beacons, and I'm not thrilled with the customer service from a brand I've supported for years. The poles are fine, and the lightest I've used, but without the manufacturer standing behind them I can't see any reason to buy BD poles again. The only other comment is that the wrist straps are made of a very fine fabric which I thought would wear out but did not, and it did have a nice low-profile. Part of the very low rating is that an item this expensive should not have no recourse when repairing basic functionality.
Reply from thomc
Update: I managed to get a replacement carbide tip from BD. While it was not timely, at least I can use the poles. They are a sweet ultra light option which I think my son will appreciate for those times when he complains that batons give him too much wind resistance (almost always on piste). And he won't ever let me part with any gear, so best make the best of them. I also found it useful to put some ice axe grip tape below the handle. The texture of the pole is extremely smooth.
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Greg (used product regularly)
The immediate benefit I've noticed with these poles over other feather-weight poles is how unbelievably stiff they are. I swear they're made out of viagra-infused carbon. I never realized how much I appreciate the extra power and responsiveness this provides as a ski mountaineer when poling hard or at an off angle until I tried these, and now I'm completely hooked and won't use any other poles.

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.
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Raymond H (used product a few times)
Bought these as I missed my old, carbon Lifelink AC-BC poles, ; one lost in a crash off piste in France.
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.
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Question from Tim
Any possibility or recommendation for changing out the straps? They’re awefully narrow for my taste...
Answer from TSB
Hey Tim, unfortunately the straps on the Helio pole are not swappable! If you're looking for a fixed-length pole with a thicker strap check out the Ski Trab Maestro pole.
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Question from Jim
It appears the grip is carbon fiber since it's continuous with the shaft. Does that mean it conducts heat well? If so, could this be a problem in the cold?

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.
Answer from Trace Leches
Hey Jim! Good to hear from you!

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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Nat (downright abused product)
I put 50+ days on the Helio Poles touring in the 2017/18 season and they are still going strong. These poles are crazy light. Like blow away in the wind light. Be careful. They are also very strong and proving equally durable. I try to refrain from bashing tree branches on the skinner and whacking snow off my boots - otherwise I use and abuse these poles and would be surprised if I didn't get many more seasons of use to come. By far these are THE BEST poles I have ever used for touring.
Reply from thomc
How did you size them, for downhill or touring?
Reply from Nat
I ended up sizing them for downhill. My go to with adjustable poles are 130-135cm on the up and 125cm for the down. The Helio's only come in 120/130 and I went with the 120's. They've been great and I haven't noticed a difference except for how dang light they are. This was my 2nd season on the pair so well over 100 days and they continue to go strong and surpass my expectations. I'd get em again, for what thats worth.
Reply from thomc
thanks Nat. I went with the 125 and was pleased, except they are a bit slick when you choke up.
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Model: Helio Ski Pole

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