Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro Review
Cons: Not as durable as some, doesn't pack small enough for splitboarders
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro
|Price||$150 List||$169.95 at Amazon||$154.95 at Backcountry|
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|$199.95 at Amazon||$110 List|
|Pros||Comfortable grip, lightweight, good features||Packs very short and slender, lightweight, simple and fast to use||Nice grip features, relatively light, easy to use||Very comfortable to hold, packs small for splitboarding, good length adjustment||Simple design, good durability, comfortable grip|
|Cons||Not as durable as some, doesn't pack small enough for splitboarders||Fixed length, not as strong as other poles||Not durable, grip only works for large hands, doesn't pack small||Some play in the pole sections when extended, relatively heavy, expensive, slow in transition||Sluggish swing weight, doesn't pack as small as we hoped|
|Bottom Line||These lightweight poles are great for big days in the hills||The right choice for splitboarding, this pair is simple to use and packs small||A good carbon pole for users with large hands||A high-performance pole for splitboarders or skiers with some room for improvement||An unremarkable 3-section backcountry ski pole, but can double as a trekking pole|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro||Black Diamond Carbon Compactor||G3 Via Carbon||Leki Tour Stick Vario Carbon||Black Diamond Expedition 3|
|Ease Of Use (35%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond...||Black Diamond...||G3 Via Carbon||Leki Tour Stick...||Black Diamond...|
|Size Tested||140 cm||120 cm||Long||135 cm||140 cm|
|Measured Weight Per Pair (oz)||18 oz||18 oz||18 oz||19 oz||19 oz|
|Shaft Material||Carbon||Carbon fiber||Carbon||Carbon, aluminum||Aluminum|
|Min Length (cm)||115 cm||120 cm||115 cm||115 cm||62 cm|
|Max Length (cm)||140 cm||120 cm||145 cm||135 cm||140 cm|
|Pole Design||Adjustable||Z-Pole||Adjustable||Adjustable||Double Adjustable|
|Locking Mechanism||Flick Lock||Z-Pole||Flick Lock||Speed Lock 2||Dual Flick Lock|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Razor Carbon Pro performs well across the board, excelling at ease of use, comfort, and weight. It doesn't pack small enough for splitboarders, and isn't as durable as aluminum options, but these minor drawbacks don't deter us much. From the grip to the carbide tip, this pole is excellent.
Ease of Use
The BD Razor Carbon Pro has plenty of features that make life easy in the backcountry. The top of the handle features a contoured tab that easily grabs toe piece locks and heel risers, making them simple to manipulate without bending over. The flick lock mechanism that controls the length adjustment closes with a solid snap and is easily tightened with a very small Allen key that is included with purchase. The pole baskets are large enough for deep snow but small enough to stay out of the way.
These poles also offer a game-changing feature in their releasable wrist straps. In general, users don't wear wrist straps while skiing downhill in the backcountry mainly because they can lead to a dislocated shoulder if the pole gets snagged on a tree. On the Razor Carbon Pro, one side of the wrist strap attachment releases under moderate force, meaning that users can now wear their wrist straps when skiing downhill without worrying about shoulder injuries. This is an innovative design consideration, and we are fans.
The Razor Carbon Pro weighs in at 18 ounces per pair, which is about average for carbon poles in our test, and as light as fully-featured backcountry poles get. In fact, other poles that are as light or lighter had major durability defects that we did not find in the Razor.
These poles manage a competitive weight despite a heavy rubber grip and an aluminum upper shaft, largely due to the smaller diameter of the pole sections. This thin diameter require less thickness of the actual shaft material to achieve the same rigidity as thicker-diameter poles. Furthermore, the poles save weight with a minimalist secondary grip, which consists of a small metal stopper and different anodized finishes on the aluminum surface to increase friction, rather than a rubber or foam secondary grip.
This upper portion of this pole is made of aluminum, while the lower section is carbon fiber. Despite the lower shaft's carbon construction, we found no durability issues during our testing period, and testers noted how sturdy and solid the pole feels. The metal flick lock also seems durable and solid, and the rubber grip can take a beating compared to lighter foam designs. Still, we don't expect these poles to stand up to a beating the way aluminum poles do, and we wouldn't recommend whacking the snow off ski bases indiscriminately or smacking dead tree branches.
Carbon fiber is stronger than aluminum in compression, but unlike aluminum, it won't bend when weighted from the side. This means that it is more likely to break than aluminum when stressed laterally, which includes the motions of striking dead tree branches out of the way or tapping ski edges to remove snow from skis. While it may seem like these actions are unwise in the first place, they happen with some regularity in the backcountry. Our poles are meant to be versatile tools to make our days easier, in addition to their roles in upward progress and downhill skiing balance. So, using carbon poles for everyday use is a risky proposition. If you are willing to be discerning and gentle, the weight savings that carbon provides are worth the durability sacrifices.
The Razor Carbon Pro poles pack down to a minimum length of 41 inches (104 centimeters), which is relatively large compared to other poles in the test. They are clearly not designed to be easily stashed into a backpack or small luggage for ski trips.
This large packed size is forgivable, considering the weight savings that are achieved by omitting elements that enable small packing, like three-section telescoping pole shafts or multiple folding elements. These poles are designed to be used as extended ski poles all day, either on the skin track or in downhill skiing mode.
We are impressed by the comfortable grips on the Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro. In general, BD has a very comfortably-contoured grip design, and they don't miss on this pole. The grip fits all hand sizes with ease and is comfortable using either the uphill or the downhill. The wrist straps are wide and comfortable as well. The top of the grip features a wide platform for the palm to push on when skinning steeply uphill. Furthermore, the weight of the pole is mostly focused on the grip and upper shaft, making for a light and nimble swing weight that is a pleasure when skiing.
One small detraction from the comfort of the pole is the minimalist secondary grip. Instead of a rubber or foam grip, the Razor Carbon Pro uses a grid pattern in the aluminum anodization that makes for a slightly higher-friction surface, compared to smooth aluminum. There is also a small metal washer that acts as a stopper for the lower part of the hand when choking up on the pole. This secondary grip saves weight, but isn't as comfortable as a standard rubber or foam secondary grip.
These poles are expensive, but the performance attributes make it worth the price for experienced and discerning users. Fully aluminum poles are generally cheaper, heavier, and more durable, and for most, the weight savings aren't worth the higher price. This pole provides lightweight performance for big days but also has a high-end design that gives it all the features you need, a lovely swing weight, and a svelte and sleek feel. For experienced backcountry skiers looking for a light pole for bigger objectives or are willing to be a little more careful with their poles during daily use, this pole is worth the money. They are the best poles we've tested.
The BD Razor Carbon Pro is a lightweight, fully-featured backcountry ski pole that impressed us with its comfort and ease of use. It is as light as other carbon ski poles, but still comes with a durable, aluminum upper shaft and burly rubber grip. We also love the releasable wrist straps. In general, we are hesitant to recommend carbon poles for everyday use, but in this case, we are confident enough in the durability of these poles to recommend them as a quiver-of-one option, provided the user isn't going to treat them like aluminum poles. If you are looking for a light, high-performance pole, we highly recommend this model.
— Jeff Dobronyi