The WildSnow crew is all over the map this month. Lou and Louie are ski touring in Greece while I’m in Salt Lake attending the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show with some of our favorite guest bloggers.
Every year, Outdoor Retailer kicks off with an on-snow demo day, this winter held at Solitude ski resort. It’s a fun way to check out new skis and boots but admittedly it’s hard to evaluate backcountry gear during one day on resort hard pack. Luckily many companies support WildSnow’s model of long term testing and we look forward to thoroughly evaluating innovative new products throughout the season.
Once in a while a new product comes out and it’s immediately obvious that it is a stunner. After our cruise around the booths at demo day, the prize goes to Black Diamond for their Helio ski pole. Fully constructed of balloon molded carbon fiber, a pair of Helio poles weighs under a half pound. Pick up one of these poles and you truly will be amazed at how silly light they are.
Balloon molding or vacuum bagging is a manufacturing process that puts mechanical pressure on carbon fiber during its cure cycle to remove air between layers, compact the fibers, and squeeze out excess resin. The process is common in aerospace and racing industries to produce composite materials that are exceptionally light and strong.
With this technique, Black Diamond was able to contour the thickness and shape of the Helio poles. It’s thicker in places that encounter more stress. They say it’s one of their strongest poles. Indeed, I whacked it on the ground several times with all my might and it didn’t even flex.
Helio poles are non-adjustable and come in various lengths (100, 110, 120, etc).
Shop for Helio carbon pole here.