Ski poles aren’t just accessories to your skiing adventure. Choosing the appropriate ski poles is just as crucial as selecting the correct ski size. They’re an integral part of your ski gear that boost your performance and comfort on the mountain.
Whether you’re conquering powder or exploring the backcountry, finding the perfect pole with the right materials and design is key to unlocking your optimal balance, technique, and pure joy on the slopes. For your convenience, you can check out our comparison table, ski pole size chart, and the buying tips below the picks for a quick guide.
So what makes a ski pole perfect for your skiing style, budget, and performance needs? Read on to discover the perfect pair, either for alpine skiing or backcountry skiing.
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Best Ski Poles for Downhill (Alpine)
LEKI Detect S 2024 ($99.95)
Material: Aluminum HTS 6.0
Grip/Strap: Trigger 3D ProG / Trigger S Frame Strap
Basket Type: Powder
Length/Size: 110 cm-135 cm (in 5 cm steps)
Pros: Very easy to adjust; has safety release mechanism in case of crash
Cons: Straps get disconnected sometimes, and the strap system can be difficult to get in and out of
The Trigger 3D Pro G pole is a robust yet lightweight solution crafted from high-strength aluminum, ideal for enduring the intense sun at park laps or delving into side-country terrain. It boasts a Trigger S ProG Grip paired with a Frame Strap, enhancing your control and touch. The grip is designed to be slim, with a soft rubber texture that provides both comfort and confidence without adding unnecessary heft. This pole comes with two interchangeable baskets, facilitating your adventure across the mountain in diverse conditions.
For maximum comfort and a multi-directional release, the Trigger 3D Pro G features a soft, slim construction. The Trigger S Frame Strap is both light and supportive, providing a broad area for better support and efficient power transfer. The aluminum shaft ensures the pole’s durability and rigidity, making it a reliable choice as downhill ski poles. On powder days, the Big Mountain Basket comes into play with its tool-less setup, while the Cobra Basket serves as a handy replacement for resort skiing, also boasting a convenient tool-less setup.
Volkl Phantastick FR Poles ($109)
Grip/Strap: 2k Grip (Rubber + PA) Transparent
Basket Type: Standard, Powder
Length/Size: One Size (109-139cm)
Pros: all-around winter pole
Cons: do not fit into a backpack
When it comes to fixed length ski poles, one downside is transportability. Fitting in fixed poles can be challenging if your ski bag is already full.
Therefore, adjustable poles like the Volkl Phantastick are a great alternative. Not only do they fit in any ski bag, but their adjustable length can also help you customize the length of your pole for different terrain.
The Volkl Phantastick is made with an aluminum alloy that makes it lightweight and durable, so you won’t have to worry about sacrificing quality for convenience.
With the Volkl Phantastick, having the right size pole is as easy as a twist to hit the slopes without worry. It offers versatility and ease of use for various skiing styles and conditions.
EVO Refract Ski Poles 2024 ($64.95)
Material: Aluminum Alloy
Grip/Strap: Rubber grip / Adjustable Nylon Webbing Strap
Basket Type: Powder
Pros: Light and durable
Cons: Do not grip well. The straps must be used.
The Evo Refract Ski Poles 2024 is a versatile and affordable ski pole that is perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers. It is a durable pole and lightweight 7075 Aluminum Alloy built with comfortable rubber grips and all-mountain winter baskets for skiing in all conditions.
The Refract poles are adjustable in length, making it easy to find the perfect fit. They also have a comfortable grip that is easy to hold onto all day long. The all-mountain winter baskets are ideal for skiing in all types of terrain, from powder to hardpack.
Overall, the Evo Refract Ski Poles 2024 are a great value for the price. They are durable, lightweight, and versatile, making them a good choice for skiers of all levels.
Grass Sticks Original Bamboo Ski Poles ($109)
Grip/Strap: Soft rubber grip / recycled polyester
Basket Type: Standard
Pros: Customizable and sustainable
Cons: The long-term resilience of this product is yet to be fully established
Bamboo poles, renowned for their strength comparable to steel and greater than concrete in compression, form these ski poles, which strike the ideal balance between rigidity and flexibility. This ensures they won’t snap or kink like their aluminum pole counterparts. Skilled artisans sand each pole by hand and coat it with a clear finish that protects against UV rays, moisture, and cold. The bamboo poles feature comfortable, grippy rubber handles that remain secure in your grip, along with fixed-length straps crafted from 100% recycled polyester that you can interchange, though additional straps are sold separately.
The 4-inch medium baskets, suitable for powder and designed to prevent snagging on terrain, are also interchangeable; however, additional baskets are not included. For stability on the iciest of slopes, the poles are equipped with premium nonslip carbide tips.
Unlike traditional ski poles made from carbon fiber and aluminum, which necessitate mining and industrial manufacturing, these bamboo poles are a more environmentally conscious choice. Bamboo grows quickly, producing three times the lumber of trees per acre, and surpasses other plants in CO2 absorption and oxygen production. A team of dedicated ski bums in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, handcrafts these poles with a commitment to ecological responsibility.
Committed to excellence and customer confidence, the manufacturer backs these poles with an unlimited 2-year warranty and a 30-day fit and satisfaction guarantee, details and registration for which are available on their website. Proudly made in the USA, these ski poles reflect a commitment to quality and support for local industry.
Atomic BCT Freeride SQS ($120)
Material: Top-grade aluminum
Grip/Strap: Wrapped FR Grip / Touring strap
Basket Type: Powder
Pros: Highly versatile, suitable for various skiing conditions; come with large, functional baskets
Cons: not compact/ not adjustable
The Atomic BCT Freeride SQS pole stands out as the go-to choice for deep powder skiing, featuring an SQS safety release system that instantly detaches the strap under tension to minimize injury risks. Climbers will appreciate the cool, extended tape grip reminiscent of bike grips, where the upper shaft of the pole is wrapped in tape and finished with a rubber top for a customizable, non-slip handle.
Crafted from lightweight aluminum, this pole boasts both a low swing weight and a high tensile strength, making it a robust companion on the slopes. It’s equipped with extra-wide powder baskets that ensure you stay atop the fluffy snow, enhancing your freeride experience.
Material: Patented G-Carbon Fiber
Grip/Strap: Dual Density / Woven nylon
Basket Type: Standard
Pros: Stable and provides some shock absorption
Cons: More brittle than other materials used in ski poles
Goode G-Carbon poles are one of the best all-around ski poles on the market. It’s light, strong, and durable pole—allowing for easy maneuvering in the snow without sacrificing power or control.
With its ergonomic design, it feels comfortable in your hand while providing a secure grip. The G-Carbon also features an adjustable length and interchangeable powder baskets to match whatever terrain you may encounter.
With its sleek design, the Goode G-Carbon poles look as good as it performs! The carbon fiber construction is lightweight and durable, making it a great choice for park skiing.
The innovative and flexible shafts leverage the inherent shock-absorbing capabilities of the carbon blend material. They offer a perfect combination of lightweight design and firm performance while minimizing “kickback” for improved balance. Additionally, they provide enhanced comfort and reduce strain on hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders
Black Crows Furtis 2024 ($179.95)
Material: Carbon composite
Grip/Strap: Extra long grip: 38cm, EVA foam / Mountain style
Basket Type: Powder
Pros: Comfortable grip and lightweight
The Furtis stands out as the beast of ski poles, boasting a minimalist design that doesn’t sacrifice strength or lightness. Crafted with a 22mm diameter tube made entirely of composite, it achieves outstanding durability and is remarkably lightweight. Its elastic structure discreetly absorbs impacts, enhancing its resilience.
The pole features a long, streamlined top grip for effortless handling and comes with a harness-like hand strap connected to a robust cap for added security. A flexible basket at the base of the pole seamlessly adjusts to changing terrain conditions. With oversized carbon composite shafts, reinforced aluminum top caps, and tungsten carbide tips, the Furtis poles are engineered for long-lasting, rugged adventures.
Best Ski Poles for Backcountry (Touring)
For backcountry skiing enthusiasts, the best backcountry pole requires lightweight materials, adjustability, and comfortable grips for extended use. They feature comfortable padding on the handles and adjustable straps to ensure a secure fit. The length of these backcountry ski poles can be adjusted to suit different terrain, from steep slopes to flat hillsides. Featuring extended tips with steel spikes for gripping the snow, these poles provide superior stability during even the most extreme conditions. Backcountry ski mountaineering poles will help you have a safe and successful outdoor experience!
Leki Helicon Lite ($99.95)
Grip/Strap: Evocon PAS grips
Basket Type: Powder
Pros: lightweight, easy wrist strap adjustment
Cons: some users reported that the basket breaks easily
The Leki Helicon Lite stands out as the best backcountry ski poles of 2023. Our experts highly recommend it for outdoor skiing trips. Key features of the Leki Helicon Lite include:
35 centimeters of length adjustment
Comparatively low weight
This pole is ideal for backcountry skiing adventures, especially in deep snow. Additionally, the Helicon Lite features an ice/snow scraper on the powder basket, providing added convenience during your backcountry ski touring excursions.
While adjustable ski poles offer optimization for uphill and downhill use, packability, and hands-free convenience, they come with a higher price tag and a less resilient construction due to their lightweight materials.
Telescoping poles, such as the Leki Helicon Lite, strike a balance between weight, strength, and versatility, making them an excellent choice for backcountry skiers.
Dynafit Speed Vario 2 ($169.95)
Material: Carbon fiber
Grip/Strap: 2K foam grips with EVA grip
Basket Type: Powder
Pros: The locking mechanism operates smoothly even with gloves on
Cons: The strap is a bit odd to adjust
The Speed Vario 2 carbon poles are the perfect choice for all of your activities. It features a lightweight and durable construction that will last you for years to come.
With adjustable length settings, an ergonomic grip, and an easy-to-use locking system, this pole offers maximum comfort and flexibility in any terrain. Whether you’re hiking, trekking, or skiing, the Speed Vario 2 is sure to give you the support you need. And with its matte black finish, it adds a touch of style to any outdoor adventure.
The Speed Vario 2 also features an advanced shock absorption system that helps reduce the impact on joints and muscles. This is especially beneficial when trekking over rough terrain or during long days of skiing. With an anti-shock spring that can be adjusted based on the terrain you are traversing, the Speed Vario 2 ensures maximum comfort and stability even in the most demanding conditions.
To top it off, its adjustability also means that the pole can easily accommodate different heights and preferences for a personalized fit. So go ahead – push your limits with one of the top choices for backcountry poles.
Black Diamond Expedition 2 ($144.95)
Grip/Strap: Four-season extended foam grip / SwitchRelease strap
Basket Type: Powder
Length/Size: 95-145cm, 105-155cm
Weight: 521g, 533g
Pros: sturdy and lightweight
Cons: not that packable even when collapsed
The Black Diamond Expedition 2 Pro is a versatile two-section touring pole, perfect for backcountry and suitable for year-round mountain activities. This model boasts the enhanced FlickLock Pro system, now more user-friendly and robust with its forged aluminum build, ensuring swift, reliable adjustments.
It also features SwitchRelease technology in the wrist strap for added safety, preventing entanglement in vegetation. Durable with its all-aluminum construction, the pole includes a comfortable foam grip with a dual-density grip-top for easy handling of buckles and bindings.
- Extended foam grip suitable for all seasons.
- SwitchRelease™ strap with breakaway technology.
- Improved FlickLock® Pro adjustability with lightweight aluminum.
- 100 mm Powder Baskets and indexed ferrule for basket compatibility.
MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon ($189.95)
Grip/Strap: EVA foam grip
Basket Type: Powder and Trekking
Length/Size: 100-120cm, 120-140cm
Weight: 470g, 500g
Pros: Lightweight, single adjustment for length, compact size
Cons: might not be that reliable for forceful ski techniques
The MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon poles are an excellent example, offering a lightweight, portable, carbon-fiber construction with secondary grips, comfortable wrist straps, 20 cm of length adjustability, and large powder baskets. It is a great choice for riders who want a lightweight, reliable pole that won’t weigh them down.
The design is simple yet effective, and the adjustable length allows you to customize the size to your preferences.
The powder baskets are large enough to provide stability in difficult terrain, and the secondary grips allow you to have a secure grip when traversing steep slopes.
The DynaLock Ascent Carbon poles are an excellent choice for any backcountry enthusiast looking for a reliable, lightweight pole.
Atomic Backland FR ($130)
Material: Aluminum Alloy
Grip/Strap: Freeride Grip / Padded premium strap
Basket Type: Powder
Pros: it has a screwdriver at the end of the grips which is great for adjusting bindings
Cons: too short for some
The Atomic Backland FR is a telescopic ski pole, ideally paired with Atomic Bent Chetler and wider Backland skis, developed in collaboration with freeski icon Chris Benchetler. Emphasizing lightness and agility for freeriding, it features lightweight aluminum alloy construction and a bike-inspired Freeride grip for a non-slip hold.
It includes an 85mm powder basket to enhance floatation. This pole is versatile, adjustable from 110cm to 130cm, and has a built-in ski-binding screwdriver for on-the-go adjustments. Equipped with a durable carbide tip and a robust, efficient locking system, it’s designed for performance and convenience during climbs. The top-tier 5* aluminum pole are made from high-tensile 7075 aluminum, ensuring durability and reliability.
Salomon MTN Carbon S3 ($199.95)
Grip/Strap: S3 Rubber and foam grip / S3 auto-release strap
Basket Type: Ski mountaineering basket
Pros: Stiff, lightweight, good grip
Cons: can be hard to deal with warranty/ customer service
Salomon’s MTN CARBON S3 poles are the epitome of lightweight durability. Tailored for arduous terrains, they feature a long EVA Ball grip for a steadfast hold. These poles are adjustable from 100 – 135 cm, making them perfect for explorers venturing into the mountain’s hidden areas. Constructed from 100% carbon, they are among the stiffest and lightest available.
The S3 Rubber and foam grip, with integrated safety technology, enhances handling, while the S3 premium strap offers safety and convenience. The shaft is reinforced with Kevlar, and the easy lock system allows for swift length adjustments. The design includes a foam extension beneath the grip, a carbide/widia tip for icy conditions, and an interchangeable basket system, including a ski mountaineering basket, catering to different terrains.
g3 Via Ski Poles ($113)
Grip/Strap: ergonomic dual-density plastic grip / Backcountry strap
Basket Type: All-mountain basket
Length/Size: 95-125cm, 115-145cm
Pros: Easy to adjust, overall has more strength
Cons: The aluminum shaft doesn’t provide a solid grip for your uphill hand
The VIA pole by G3 is a lightweight yet remarkably sturdy option crafted for the rigors of backcountry travel. It comes with an ergonomically designed dual-density plastic grip for comfort and precision. The QuickFlick Utility Tab is an innovative feature, facilitating easy heel lift and buckle manipulation, along with aiding in precise pole plants. The pole includes a hard plastic eyelet for dual-purpose utility, such as drying gloves or attaching tent lines.
Its backcountry strap is soft, lightweight, and removable, enhancing safety in avalanche-prone areas. The 85mm all-mountain basket is adept at handling diverse snow conditions, particularly steep and technical terrains. The pole’s lower side hill touring grip and the robust forged Aluminum lever with an offset cam ensure a sturdy and reliable connection between sections. This model is compatible with all G3 Baskets, excluding the PIVOT Magnetic Basket.
Buying Guide: Ski Poles
- What is the right length for ski poles?
- What is the best material for a ski pole?
- How much does a ski pole cost?
- Grip Design and Comfort
- Strap Features and Functionality
- Shaft Diameter and Strength
- Basket Varieties and Snow Conditions
- Popular types of Ski poles
- How To Care For Your Ski Poles
What is the right length for ski poles?
Selecting the appropriate length is crucial for achieving equilibrium and fluidity while progressing down the mountain and transitioning between turns. You can reference general size charts or visit the website directly to find the best-fitting option. The general principle for selecting the right length is to ensure that your arms are positioned at a right angle on the grips when the poles are upright.
Different skiing styles may require different ski pole lengths. For instance, backcountry skiers may prefer slightly shorter poles for better maneuverability, making adjustable poles a popular choice.
Regardless of your skiing style, selecting the right ski pole length is essential for optimal balance, technique, and comfort throughout your skiing adventures.
What is the best material for a ski pole?
Ski poles can be constructed from various materials, including:
Aluminum: robust and economical, making them an ideal choice for resort skiing and tackling challenging inclines. However, not all aluminum poles are of the same quality, and some may not be as strong and long-lasting as others.
Carbon fiber: lightweight and strong, providing excellent performance and durability. However, they tend to be more expensive.
Fiberglass: a good balance between strength and flexibility, offering a comfortable and responsive feel. They are also more affordable than carbon fiber poles.
Each material has unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your skiing style and preferences.
Carbon fiber ski poles are much lighter than aluminum poles. They provide a small amount of natural flexibility not present in stiffer poles. However, carbon fiber poles are less resilient than aluminum and can fracture and splinter when subjected to excessive stress. Fiberglass poles, however, provide a weight reduction without the high cost associated with carbon fiber.
When selecting, consider your skiing style, performance needs, and budget. Each material offers unique benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one that best aligns with your ski gear, preferences, and requirements.
How much does a ski pole cost?
The cost of ski poles can vary widely based on material, brand, and specific features. Basic poles made of aluminum can start as low as $20 to $40. Mid-range poles, often with additional features like adjustable lengths or ergonomic grips, can range from $40 to $100. High-end poles, typically made from carbon fiber or with specialized technology for racing or backcountry, can cost upwards of $100 to $200 or more. It’s important to balance your budget with the type of skiing you do and the features that are most important to you.
Grip Design and Comfort
Your ski poles’ grip design and comfort play a crucial role in your overall skiing experience. It is typically constructed from plastic, cork, or rubber, catering to various preferences and hand sizes. Ergonomic and extended grips are particularly popular among backcountry skiers and those who require additional comfort and support during extended ski sessions.
It is important to wear ski gloves when trying out ski pole grips. This allows an accurate perception of how they will feel while skiing on the mountain. Factors such as glove compatibility, ski pole grip material, and design will impact your skiing comfort and performance. Since skiing involves holding your pole with a glove or mitt, the choice of grip material becomes even more crucial than it does with a trekking pole.
Remember, the perfect grip for one skier may not necessarily be the perfect grip for another. Be sure to experiment with different grip designs and materials to find the one that best suits your preferences and skiing style.
Strap Features and Functionality
Ski pole straps are essential in ensuring that your poles remain securely affixed to your wrists during your skiing adventures. Some manufacturers incorporate safety features into their ski pole straps, such as a spring that allows the pole to be released from the strap in case of a snag or major impact.
Detachable straps, which separate in the occurrence of significant impact, are advantageous for intense alpine skiing, steep snow climbing, or when considerable falls are a probability. By encircling your hands around the surplus of the straps, you can also safeguard yourself from sustaining broken thumbs in the event of a fall.
Shaft Diameter and Strength
The shaft diameter and material of your ski poles directly impact their strength and weight per pair, which in turn affects your performance on the mountain.
Here are some key points to consider.
Ski pole shafts can vary in diameter, with the most common sizes being 14mm, 16mm, and 18mm.
Aluminum, carbon fiber, and fiberglass are common materials used for ski pole shafts.
Aluminum poles are durable and affordable, but they can be heavier.
Carbon fiber poles are lightweight and offer excellent performance, but they tend to be more expensive.
Fiberglass poles are a good middle ground, offering a balance of weight, durability, and cost.
You can choose ski poles that best suit your needs and preferences by understanding the different options available.
When selecting a ski pole based on skiing style and preferences, consider the type of skiing you engage in and how the shaft diameter and material will affect your performance. For instance, downhill skiing necessitates a more rigid pole than backcountry skiing.
Basket Varieties and Snow Conditions
Ski pole baskets prevent the pole from fully sinking into the snow, ensuring optimal performance in various snow conditions. The two primary types of ski pole baskets are the standard and powder baskets varieties, each designed to cater to different snow conditions and skiing styles.
Standard baskets are more suitable for groomed trails and hardpack, while powder baskets are designed for light and soft snow conditions. Possessing a powder and a hardpack basket on your ski poles facilitates optimal performance in varying snow conditions, allowing you to adapt your poles to suit the terrain and conditions.
Popular Types of Ski Poles
When considering ski poles, it’s essential to understand the different types available, each suited to specific skiing styles:
- Cross-Country Poles: These poles are typically longer and lighter than other types. They aid in propulsion on flat or rolling terrain. The grip and strap design are specific for the poling motion unique to cross-country skiing.
- Backcountry Poles: Designed for off-trail and varied terrain skiing, these poles are often adjustable in length to adapt to changing slopes. They usually feature larger baskets to prevent sinking in deep snow.
- Downhill Poles: Used for alpine or downhill skiing, these poles are shorter and sturdier, providing balance and support during high-speed descents. They often have smaller baskets since deep snow is not usually a concern on groomed trails.
How to Care for Your Ski Poles
Proper care and maintenance of your ski poles ensure their longevity and optimal performance. After each use, wipe and dry your ski poles to eliminate any dirt or debris. If your ski poles develop rust, use a rust remover or sandpaper to eliminate it and prevent further damage.
Keep your ski poles in a dry and temperate environment, preferably in a flat position. During skiing, utilize your poles for balance and turns by maintaining them close to your body and avoiding striking them against hard surfaces.
Taking care of your ski poles will prolong their lifespan and ensure that they perform at their best during your skiing adventures.
In conclusion, choosing the right ski poles is crucial for enhancing your skiing experience, whether you’re a downhill skier, backcountry enthusiast, splitboarder, or park skier. By considering factors such as skiing style, pole materials, grip design, strap features, shaft diameter, and basket varieties, you can confidently select the perfect ski poles for your unique needs and preferences.
We hope this comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights and recommendations for the top ski poles in 2023. Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge and tools to make an informed decision, it’s time to hit the slopes and enjoy the thrill of skiing with the perfect pair of poles by your side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do good ski poles matter?
Good ski poles can make a big difference in your skiing experience. A pole with the right length and weight can provide enhanced balance and control on the slopes while making turns and plantings easier.
Investing in quality ski poles is a wise decision that will pay off throughout your skiing career.
What is the difference between cross-country poles?
When choosing cross-country ski poles, the main differences lie in weight and material. Entry-level backcountry touring poles are generally made from aluminum, making them not very light but fairly sturdy.
Mid-range poles will have composite material such as carbon, which makes them more lightweight. High-end poles are usually entirely made from carbon for ultimate strength and durability.
Additionally, cross-country skiing poles are usually slightly longer than downhill skiing poles.
What is the importance of choosing the right ski pole length?
Selecting an appropriate ski pole length is an essential factor to consider for improving skiing technique and safety, as the poles are a fundamental support tool that aids in finding the perfect stance on the snow.
The length of the ski pole should be determined by the skier’s height and the type of skiing they are doing. For alpine skiing, the pole should reach the skier’s armpit when standing upright. For cross-country skiing, the pole should reach the skimmer.
What are the primary factors to consider when selecting backcountry ski poles?
It is important to consider the pole’s durability, ergonomic grip, locking mechanism, adjustability, and weight. These features all contribute to a successful and enjoyable backcountry skiing experience.
What are ski poles for?
It is for helping you navigate the mountain, they also help with balance and ski form. Pole planting is the act of keeping your hands up, swinging the pole forward, and using it to initiate your turn while skiing. The most important benefit is improved balance. For novice skiers, utilizing the downhill pole as a “pole plant” serves as a reliable reference point for executing precise turns. This technique enhances control and maneuverability while navigating tighter corners on the slopes.
Does Ski Pole Weight affect skiing performance?
Yes, the weight of ski poles can have a notable impact on skiing performance. Lighter poles are generally easier to maneuver, reducing arm fatigue, especially during long skiing sessions. They allow for quicker pole planting and more agile turns. However, the ideal weight also depends on your skiing style and personal preference. Alpine skiers often prefer heavier, sturdier poles for stability, while backcountry skiers might opt for lighter poles for ease of movement