New Gadgets from Black Diamond

Post by blogger | August 19, 2010      

We love innovation. If any company makes a business out of gear tweaking, it has to be Black Diamond. Witness every trade show and the new products they come up with (e.g., a complete line of backcountry ski boots created out of thin air to compete with the Italians on their own level; the Avalung; decades of climbing gear improvements and inventions). A few highlights from this summer’s Outdoor Retailer event:

Is this the ultimate in packable ski poles?

Is this the ultimate in packable ski poles? Not really a ski pole, but rather a trekking pole...

Check out the Zpole trekking poles shown above. This has to fall under the “why didn’t I think of that?” category; a trekking pole that folds up like an avalanche probe or tent pole. If you’re a hiker or a walker, these things will fit in the side pocket in your car doors! Not recommended for skiing, but I bet they’d work in a pinch.

It could be said that Black Diamond’s DNA was formed when Chouinard forged his first carabiner so many years ago. Lots of companies make nice biners these days, but BD still holds its own. The Hoodwire carabiner is snag resistant like a keylock biner, but it’s a wiregate.

Black Diamond Biner

Black Diamond Hoodwire biner. For alpinism and backcountry skiing, it is key to use a carabiner that doesn't snag. I'm not sure this is a better choice for gloved hand work over a keylock type snagless biner, but it is certainly something to look at.

I’ve done quite a bit of glacier travel over the past couple of years, and noticed that it’s critical what type of carabiner is used as the primary harness attachment point in a glacier rig. Most biners are easily flipped around sideways and may end up in the weak “cross loaded” position, this also results in the biner tending to flip back to normal alignment with a disconcerting jerk when loaded.

Enter BD’s new Gridlock biner. As you can see in the photo below, it’s got a small eye in one end with an internal gate that keeps your rope or harness from slipping around the circumference. A big eye on the other end has room for a couple of rope loops; nice for roped travel with rigs such as Kiwi coils. I’m looking forward to trying this out.

Black Diamond screwgate biner

Black Diamond Gridlock biner

Until I can spend summers in Alaska and winters in Antarctica, I’ll continue my love affair with headlamps. Here is one for your dance card: New Black Diamond Storm head “torch” is said to have the most lumens (100) per buck: $49.95 MSRP. More importantly in my view, it is waterproof. After seeing the demise of Wildsnow progeny Louie’s headlamp after a season in the PNW, and having mine disabled by a puddle of melting snow in my backpack this past spring, I’m thinking that with today’s technology as demonstrated by the Storm, nearly all headlamps should be waterproof. One less thing to worry about. One less thing to go wrong. Come to think of it, same goes for cell phones and avy beacons? All that stuff should be waterproof.

Black Diamond Storm headlamp for backcountry skiing.

Black Diamond Storm headlamp for backcountry skiing as waterproof and affordable.

For a look at the new Black Diamond “Efficient” series skis and boots that’ll be available this winter, CLICK HERE.



17 Responses to “New Gadgets from Black Diamond”

  1. Steve August 19th, 2010 11:25 am


    The standard for avalanche transceivers is to pass a test of being submitted under 15cm of water and transmit for an hour without signs of water intrusion.


  2. Greg August 19th, 2010 11:27 am

    Waterproof electronics can actually cause more water related problems in the winter. If you replace the batteries in your warm, humid house, then let the device cool down in your backpack you’re sure to have condensation buildup inside the waterproof housing. Not that waterproofing is bad, just not always the answer.

  3. Rob August 19th, 2010 3:41 pm

    Does it look like the Zpole would be strong enough for the up? They look like a GREAT option for those of us who choose to be sans poles for the winter backcountry down (i.e. splitboard or tele).

    Will “snirt” work for the anti-spam question? If not, some CO users still thinking about the spring might be excluded . . .

  4. Lou August 19th, 2010 4:24 pm

    Rob, they look fairly strong but are definitely a compromise between weight and strength. I’m hoping they make a beefier version, but I think they’d work on the up for the average size and strength person.

  5. Lou August 19th, 2010 4:27 pm

    Rob, for the anti spam question, give it a try (grin).

  6. Lou August 19th, 2010 4:31 pm

    Interesting point Greg! I’ve never had a problem with that and do use some mil-spec waterproof devices, but I could see it happening in really humid environments combined with big temperature differences. I guess the less is change batteries in colder/dryer environment if possible. A little sack of silica in the battery compartment would take care of any possibility of a problem, eh?

  7. Lou August 19th, 2010 4:34 pm

    Steve, that must be a new standard or one not always adhered to? I’ve known for a while that some beacons were quite water resistant, but perhaps up till recently not all of them?

    Sometimes, stuff like this proves that I’ve been around way too long (grin).

  8. Jonathan Shefftz August 19th, 2010 6:46 pm

    [So does ice work for the spam q is you’re in New England?]

    ETSI EN 300 718-1 V1.2.1 (2001-05)

    7.4 Immersion test
    7.4.1 Method of measurement
    The equipment shall be immersed into water for one hour in a horizontal position at a depth of 15 cm. The equipment
    and the water shall both be at room temperature. The device shall be transmitting while immersed.
    7.4.2 Requirements
    The equipment shall be able to transmit during and after immersion. The requirement shall be checked by interacting
    with another sample of the same equipment to form a transmitter – receiver pair.

    also of interest:
    7.2 Drop test on hard surface
    7.2.1 Definition
    The immunity against the effects of dropping is the ability of the equipment to maintain the specified mechanical and
    electrical performance after being subjected to a series of drops on a hard wooden test surface.
    7.2.2 Method of measurement
    The test shall consist of a series of 6 drops, one on each surface.
    During the test the equipment shall be fitted with a suitable set of batteries and it shall be switched on in transmit mode.
    The test shall be carried out under normal temperature and humidity conditions.
    The hard wooden test surface shall consist of a piece of solid hard wood with a minimum thickness of 15 cm and a mass
    of 30 kg or more.
    The height of the lowest part of the equipment under test relative to the test surface at the moment of release shall be
    1 m.
    Equipment shall be subjected to the present document configured for use as in operational circumstances.
    7.2.3 Requirements
    After the test, the equipment shall be fully operational in both the transmit and the receive modes. The requirement shall
    be checked by interacting with another sample of the same equipment to form a transmitter – receiver pair.

  9. Lou August 19th, 2010 6:50 pm

    Jonathan, when it comes to beacons you are the man!

    As for ice as one of the question answers, I did put rock and snirt in there, among others, but don’t know if I have the heart to add “ice.” Then again, after Denali, perhaps I should have ice in there. We shall see (grin).

  10. Lou August 19th, 2010 6:52 pm

    Um, I just added more question answers so it’ll be more intuitive… I’m thinking we lost some comments over the past few days since I changed the question. Apologies to those of you who that may have frustrated.

  11. Mark W August 19th, 2010 8:21 pm

    I found out today that some cell phone makers employ a color-changing internal button that alerts phone techs if a phone has gotten sufficiently wet. Apparently enough people drop their phones in water, dry them out, and take them in for service saying, ” My phone doesn’t work,” while playing dumb. Perhaps we who need water proof headlamps (Princeton Tec makes some) also need waterproof phones?

  12. Lou August 19th, 2010 9:08 pm

    Mark, yeah, I was in the Verizon cell store the other day and a guy came in and tried to pull that exact stunt. In his case it was the battery that had the indicator. Too bad he didn’t just swap in a cheapo aftermarket battery before taking the phone in. Or perhaps even that voids the warranty?

  13. Wes Morrison August 20th, 2010 5:54 pm

    The Zpole is actually not a new idea, Grivel Mont Blanc has made the foldable Trail Himalaya for some time now. Liberty Mountain imports it, and was amused by BD’s pole at OR.

  14. Lou August 20th, 2010 5:57 pm

    Wes, thanks, egg on my face! And I even went to the Liberty party…

  15. Wes Morrison August 20th, 2010 6:25 pm

    Fun party, I did not see you there, otherwise I would have introduced myself.

  16. Jacob August 21st, 2010 9:37 pm

    waterproof or not, I still prefer the basic mechanisms of physical switches rather than electrical buttons. I worked for a camp that had a bucket full of the old Petzl Zoom headlamps set under a leaky pipe, with batteries in em even, for a month before we realized what was going on. Took out the batteries, scrubbed em, dried em, and every single one of em worked. Forget the electrical switches and keep with mechanical.

  17. Biggsie August 23rd, 2010 12:29 am

    BD efficient boots are already on sale on Got my Quadrants last week!

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