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Black Diamond Compactor Ski Poles

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Black Diamond Compactor Ski Poles alpine touring/telemark pole

Lighter, faster, and easier to use than other poles, yet worries about durability linger. Despite the worries, I really like these poles.


  • SUPER quick to deploy
  • Simple to adjust
  • Solid powder baskets


  • Possible durability issues


Summary: From Black Diamond: "The aluminum compactor pole adjusts between popular pole lengths and uses an internal Kevlar cord to instantly break down to packable size and redeploys in a flash. One, rock solid, point of adjustment means you can keep moving instead of being the one always fiddling with your poles."

I trek on my ski poles. Or maybe I should say that I ski on my trekking poles. Either way I use them all for both. I don't want to have a ton of single-purpose gear so these appealed to me as a possible do-it-all pole. I've been pretty satisfied so far.  

These were an impulse buy for me because I’d left my old poles at the trailhead and I REALLY needed something NOW. So I went to REI and tossed down 85 bones for these, hoping they’d be okay.  

Of course I got them home and, being a big shot, semi-pro gear reviewer, I immediately looked them up to read reviews and tips for using them. “What I found out next really worried me.”

Every place I looked at LEAST 1/3 of the reviews were negative about these poles and they all said the same thing; these poles eventually fail and are not durable. To which BD writes back with a promise of replacement, their recommendation of the Expedition 3 poles as a more suitable option and the cop-out that the Compactor poles aren’t meant to ski on but are for split-boarders while they are skinning up only. I’ve been worried since I saw these negative reviews, but I’ve had nothing but great results from them. 

p.jpgThis adjuster stays put!

r2.jpgThey tell you not to ski with these downhill but I did, I lived, so did the poles.

Weight: 1 lb, 6 oz. If that is too heavy for you, skip a meal or two and you're down to the weight you'd have if you'd dropped $200 for carbon. 

Features: Rapid deployment, Flicklock Pro stays locked and never slips. They break down to packable length.  Good powder baskets.

Test Conditions: I skinned and skied Mt Hood with these poles. I also climbed Mount Baker, Rainier, and took a second day trip up to Camp Muir with them. I took them on a couple overnight ski camping trips. I also got some early season touring with them on White Pass.

If they were going to break on me I think they would have already. Maybe I'm not a rad enough skier but dang it, I like them. 

o.jpgUsed on a trip up Mt Rainier and Mt Baker

r11.jpgSkinning up the backside of White Pass

What I like: They are easy and simple to fold up. When you do extend them they are already the length you intend them to be for use. With telescoping poles you need to re-find the proper length every time you take them out, not with these.

Drawbacks: They are only adjustable within a 20cm limit. They may not be good if you use your walking poles as tent poles for your tarp tent because they have limited adjustability.

I worked pretty hard packing the ukulele up to Camp Muir and the poles worked great.

Who needs these poles: Uphill travelers who don't ski down too aggressively. Slow-shoers and split-boarders take special notice. I like them as trekking poles on alpine snow as well.

You can spend a lot more and get a lot less. 


I've owned, used, and abused five or six pairs of similar poles. I'm an alpine climber who fancies himself an occasional up and downhill skier.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $85 used

I love these poles.


  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Easily adjusted
  • Stay at the height you set them


  • Need something to hold them into a compact package without the powder baskets.

I use these poles for everything, skinning with my splitboard, snowshoeing, and backpacking. They are awesome. Lightweight and they collapse down really small.  

The only downside I can think of is that the powder baskets need to be on in order to keep them from flopping around. The baskets have two notches in each one that snaps onto the pole shafts to hold them together into a compact package.  

Without the baskets (used as a trekking pole) they will flop around on your pack because of the way they collapse down. I use elastic cord ties to hold them together on my pack, works fine.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $65 at The Gear Exchange

Love the trekking poles. I use to hike a lot, but with aging my pace has really slowed down. These poles are so much better than using a cane for any walking you do. Because of the perfect balance they create you can move easily wherever you use them.

However, I have lost my manual and I need advice about how to put on the powder baskets. Help???

Source: bought it new

Awesome product fo sho!


  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Durable


  • I don't know

When your trail is slippery, rocky, unstable or challenging in any way, bust out these poles for sure footing. Also, if you have pain in knees/ankles from impact on the trail, these will offer much needed relief to keep you going.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $50

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The Compactor Ski Poles replaced the Black Diamond Contour Compact.


105-125 cm 115-135 cm
Price MSRP: $169.95
Current Retail: $126.99-$169.95
Historic Range: $0.01-$169.95
Reviewers Paid: $50.00-$85.00
Weight Per Pair 588 g / 1 lb 4 oz 610 g / 1 lb 5 oz
Lengths 105-125 cm / 41-48.8 in, 115-135 cm / 44.9-52.7 in
Collapsed Length 41.5 cm / 16.3 in
Series Technical Touring
Product Details from Black Diamond »

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