I broke my old Life-Link adjustable poles and needed new ones right away. I was going to buy the Life-link adjustable poles without even shopping for others, but the only Life-Link poles I could find were around $95. First, let me say this: you DON’T NEED TO PAY MORE THAN $60 for adjustable poles. You will see all kinds of light-weight poles made from carbon fiber, titanium, non-obtanium, etc. And if you were to believe Backcountry and Coolwar, you’d think pole “swingweight” was really important and worth spending $180 to get it. I seriously doubt that you have ever thought, “If I just had lighter poles, all my skiing, or rather falling, problems would be over.” Ski pole swingweight is the least of your problems!
I checked out the Black Diamond FlickLock Traverse Adjustable Poles ($59.95 at REI) and bought them on the spot. When I first saw the flick lock mechanism years ago, I was in love with my Life-Link poles and thought the flick lock mechanism was difficult to operate, especially with mittens on. The flick lock mechanism is still the same, but after a little practice, it is quite easy to use and never freezes up and never takes two people to change the pole length, something that happened a few times with the Life-Link twist/cam mechanism and with the original Chouinard adjustable ski poles.
Also, Black Diamond has cut out 1/4 of the basket. Sounds crazy, but when you’re pushing off at a low angle with a regular pole and full basket, the basket often prys the pole tip out of the snow thus making the pole slip. These Black Diamond 3/4 backets eliminate this problem. Plus they eliminate cracking baskets due to the low-angle pushing issue. See the image below.
Finally, these poles have a great hand grip on them and they are easy to grip without using the straps.