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Best Ski Poles

Best Downhill
Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles (110cm)

Best Trekking Poles
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles

Best Backcountry Ski Poles
The FitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

Written by James Cooper
Last Updated
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Ski poles could be easily overlooked, as some people might find it unnecessary to use. However, this piece of equipment is essential in giving balance, assist in taking turns, hiking, skating, and for you to easily move around mountains. Basically, ski poles give protection to users while skiing, and it is not something you should take for granted just because of its simplicity.

If you’re new to skiing or using a ski pole, you may find this piece of gear bulky and may opt not to use it altogether, but ski poles, especially for beginners, help in small stabilities even on hard, thick snow or icy conditions.

While waiting for things to open up due to the pandemic, you could take a look at some of the best ski poles in the market so you would be ready for your first or next ski adventure.

You may also like:

Best Ski Boots
Best Ski Goggles
Best Ski Helmets

  • 1

    Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z Trekking Poles (110cm)

Doing alpine or downhill skiing has never been fun and safe with Black Diamond Distance Trekking Poles. Geared with 100% carbon fiber construction, new and old skiers will definitely appreciate and enjoy Distance Carbon Z-Poles. The improved folding-pole performance of Distance Carbon Z is now more durable and offers joint support for ease while trekking.

These poles contain lightweight EVA foam grips that provide exceptional cushioning to keep your hands comfortable and to avoid getting blisters and sores from miles of adventure. These downhill poles also have moisture-wicking properties that wick away sweat build-up for a cool and dry feeling. Using this Distance Carbon Z, you will be more focused on going downhill without any discomfort or distraction. You also have options of these poles being adjusted to increase or reduce the length with the three-section foldable shaft that comes with speed cone deployment to meet your personal needs. The ability to be folded into three parts also means that these ski poles could be easily put away, and while you are not using the poles, it is secured in a folded section with a stopper basket with shaft catcher.

The Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Pole is a perfect companion not only for downhill skiing but also for any kind of terrain and has guaranteed durability for joint and weight support due to the added aluminum ring to protect carbon.

PROS

Quick and easy to set up

No slippage due to fixed length

Comfortable foam grip

Basket attaches to pole when folded

CONS

Could be quite pricey

Straps tend to fray easily

  • 2

    TrailBuddy Trekking Poles

Tougher than carbon fiber and one of Amazon’s choices, The TrailBuddy Trekking Poles tough aluminum can withstand pressure and impact whether you’re hiking on rocky terrain or supporting a heavier weight. It is made from aluminum shaft (aluminum 7075), an aircraft-grade aluminum, that’s durable and stable at 9.7oz making it also lightweight that’s not fragile and won’t snap easily. This strong aluminum offers stability on any terrain any season.

These trekking poles from TrailBuddy have heights that are easier to adjust thanks to the lever locks technology. So even when you’re wearing gloves or trekking in wet conditions, adjusting these telescoping poles from 24.5 to 54 inches is a breeze. It also comes with interchangeable accessories for all terrains and weather conditions: no tip, two mud baskets, four rubber tips, and two snow baskets. These trekking poles have cork handles that are comfortable whether you use it in hot or cold temperatures making it a perfect travel companion. It also comes in padded straps to prevent chafing on hands, with a cork grip that molds to the shape of your hands making it easy to hold, and a moisture-wicking handle that absorbs sweat to keep your hands dry to stay focus and enjoy your trekking adventure.

These poles from TrailBuddy come with complete ski gear: a carrying bag, 2 pairs of rubber tips, 1 pair of connectors, mud baskets, and snow baskets. There are also 8 colors to choose from: black, blue, red, yellow, green, pink, purple, and aqua colors.

PROS

Easier to adjust than twist lock

Also suitable for kids 7 and up

Great for all heights

Great for maintaining balance

CONS

Snow baskets could only be used for light snowshoeing only

Shock absorption is not available

  • 3

    The FitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

These collapsible and telescoping poles from The FitLife promise to be a great helper on any adventure. So whether you’re walking on flat ground, uphill, or downhill, these best backcountry ski poles will help you establish and maintain a consistent rhythm while increasing your speed to get you further on the trail. It is made of shock absorbent and high quality 100% carbon fiber that’s sturdy and durable while reducing impact on knees, legs, ankles, and feet.

Each pole weighs only 0.44 lbs making it lightweight but still able to maintain balance in any difficult terrain. These poles also come with a flip-lock technique for an adjustable length that allows any user to extend the poles quickly from 24 inches to 53 inches and could be easily collapsed to its original length for storage when not in use. The poles have an ergonomic grip through the cork handle that’s anti-slip and could fit any type of grip; it could also absorb sweat to keep your hands comfortable and dry for the entirety of your hike.

One of the things that makes these poles great for backcountry skiers is its adjustable wrist straps safety feature where you can hang your wrists during steep scrambles, it also has EVA foam sleeves making switchbacks and abrupt changes in terrain easier.

The backcountry ski pole comes with a free water-proof bag to pack, carry, and store all its accessories when not in use. It is also easy to collapse and small enough to be stored in your backpack. If you’re a backcountry skier and you’re looking for a pair of poles that’s handy and a great company for all your terrain needs, the FitLife Carbon Fiber Trekking Pole is the right fit for you.

PROS

Comes with a full set of rubber accessories for trekking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, etc.

With free water-proof bag and rubber accessories

Ultralight at 0.44lbs

Made from high-quality material

CONS

Rubber tips at the bottom could be loose easily

Really thin

  • 4

    Barnett XC-09 Ski Poles for Nordic and Roller Skiing

If you’re a beginner and looking for reliable poles on the market, the Barnett CX-09 is the right fit for you. These cross-country skiing poles are designed for all skiers looking for a high-quality product. The pole’s carbon construction ensures stiffness for quality performance. Its lightweight carbon also adds comfort whether you’re new at skiing or already a professional joining a competition.

The Barnett XC-09 is best not only for cross-country but also for rollerski skiing because it is very light and has a great swing weight. These poles are of good quality at a very affordable price with very good service. So if you’re a beginner and are looking for poles that are easy to use, this ski pole is recommended for you.

PROS

Has a great swing weight

Could be used for cross-country skiing and rollerski skiing

Affordable price

Lightweight but very high performance

CONS

Strap adjustment is made of soft plastic

Poles need to be recut for a shorter length

  • 5

    Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles (120cm)

This model from Black Diamond has the new SlideLock technology, making your ski poles easier to lock into position. These poles from Black Diamond is best for trekking and contain lightweight EVA foam grip with breathable and moisture-wicking properties, and also provides exceptional cushioning for a comfortable grip, minimizing injuries. These aluminum poles are best for walking, hiking, and backpacking and effectively offer stability and support.

These ski poles are extremely helpful when it comes to balance, propulsion, and climbing out of deep snow when it collapses under you. Each ski pole also snaps in half when you need them, while still sturdy and effectively absorbs shock. Compare to carbon poles, these aluminum poles from Black Diamond would not easily break.

Some reviews of this product were great, as some users took the ski pole to cross-desert hike where there are no trails. It gave them a trip and a slip-free experience. These ski poles are also lightweight and compact when folded making it easy to carry anytime, anywhere. These poles also do not make much noise or vibration compared to cheap pairs.

PROS

Super lightweight and compact when folded

Sturdy without much noise or vibration

Versatile and could be used on any kind of trail

CONS

The foam grip is a little distracting

Difficult to get the hard rubber tip-off to use in snow

Velcro strap doesn't hold them together

  • 6

    LEKI Spitfire S

Armed with Pro-G Grip with slim design and Trigger S release system, The LEKI Spitfire S is one of the best poles on the market. The ski poles’ carbide tip helps in precise planting and uncompromised grip. The Spitfire poles are lightweight but sturdy and made of strong aluminum that’s perfect for park and backcountry skiing. It also features the new Pro-G and Frame Strap for precise control and feels making these ski poles top of the grip. It also offers comfort and confidence while in use without the bulk due to its slim grip with a soft rubber texture.

LEKI’s patented Alpine Trigger S Grip & Strap release system still provides skiers with the best ski of their lives by maximizing all their abilities while reducing unnecessary injuries and accidents to the fingers, hands, wrists, and elbows and shoulders. Each ski pole also has Integrated Grip Lines and Four Finger Notches for a comfortable grip without slipping for the best ski pole experience.

Each pole comes in 16mm aluminum shaft material with lengths available from 110-135cm. The LEKI Spitfire S weighs 240g per pole making it lightweight and easy to carry and use anywhere.

PROS

It comes with Trigge S Frame strap

Carbide tip for precise planting and uncompromised grip

Sturdy and lightweight

CONS

Loops tend to be hooked off from time to time

  • 7

    Zipline Ski Poles Graphite Carbon Composite

If you’re looking for one of the best pair of poles on the market, might as well choose the one from the official supplier of the U.S. Ski Team, Zipline. The Zipline ski poles are designed for skiers of all abilities and are super light, leaving any user with a great feeling, and durably made with lightweight graphite carbon that replaces most poles made with aluminum that results in a reduction of vibration with every pole plant. Its durability is also out of the question and provides effortless swing weight.

These ski poles come with the Zip Touch dual density grip for a better feel. The signature “trigger finger” ZipGrip is built with thermoplastic (TPU) and molds perfectly to any hands to prevent gloves from slipping. These poles also have streamlined straps that could be adjusted easily and free of plastic. This Zipline model also has Zip Tip that has teeth that allow a skier with precise pole plants and a secured grip in any condition.

The Zipline Ski pole shaft material is 14mm that runs from the handle to the tip for effective and efficient balance. Each ski pole is made with super light material that comes in a variety of vibrant colors. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to get the same performance; use this pair of the best ski poles for any condition or terrain and experience the best ski of your life with Zipline Ski Poles.

PROS

Comes in different colors and sizes

Used by the U.S. Ski Team

Grip is shaped to prevent a gloved hand from slipping down

CONS

Maybe too flexible for some users

Quite pricey

Could be too thin

  • 8

    Salomon Kaloo Junior Alpine Ski Poles

For athletes and enthusiasts, this pair of ski poles from Salomon is a perfect match. The aluminum construction of the poles makes it lightweight but high quality and strong, and also provides stiffness. One of the best ski poles for downhill skiing, Salomon Kaloo Junior is kid-friendly and has the right size and shape perfect for their grip. This aluminum pole, weighing 130g, is the best way to introduce kids to skiing and be the best at it.

PROS

Kids and family-friendly

Made with high-quality material

Aluminum construction makes it lightweight

CONS

The supplier delivers only one ski pole instead of a pair

  • 9

    LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Pole Pair

LEKI delivers another best carbon poles that have excellent thermo foam grip material giving extra comfort. These carbon ski poles are also lightweight and provide insulation in colder weather. The Micro Vario Carbon Pole from LEKI has the Speedlock 2 lever locking mechanism which is considered the strongest external locking system in the world, and the only locking system to meet the minimum holding force recommended by TUV.

LEKI’s carbon ski poles have the smallest pack size and are ideal to be taken for climbing, trail running, or small tours, while the carbon shaft material is lightweight that helps with the performance in all conditions. The production of these ski poles is also environmentally-safe as it uses only water-based paint systems and emission-free varnish technology protecting the atmosphere from harmful chemicals. The coating and printing of each pole are also free of compounds containing heavy metals and harmful AZO dyes.

These poles also come with an External Locking Device (ELD) that gives easy access to release the assembly tension of each pole for a quick knockdown and for easy storage and packing. Thanks also to its offset threads, the interchangeable basket system allows a variety of different sized LEKI baskets to be easily screwed on and off for different seasons and uses, and also keeps it securely in place for stability.

PROS

All shafts are pre-grind to ensure pretreatment for further machining test

Travel storage bag included

Has the strongest external locking system in the world

Environmentally-safe paints used for materials

100% pure carbon

CONS

Too much weight could result in slipping of the locking mechanism

A bit heavier

Does not have adjustable tension

  • 10

    Atomic AMT SQS Ski Poles

Atomic AMT is one of the most affordable poles on the market but with unwarranted quality. These are versatile all-mountain ski poles that are light but strong, making it reliable whatever adventure you take on. At a glance, you may find these poles simple, but as you get a closer look, these could easily be one of the best ski poles. The Atomic AMT has one very special and important feature: the Atomic SQS. This is the new safety quick release system that will instantly release your straps under tension to prevent injuries. When you’re ready to ski again, just easily slide back the SQS connector in place. It is that easy.

Each Atomic AMT ski pole has an ergonomic grip shaped especially for all-mountain skiing. It also comes in different sizes for male and female hands, with special ridges for improved grip. These ski poles are made from 4* aluminum that is extra durable with high-tensile strength. Atomic also added padded pole straps, 60mm Piste Basket, and steel tips.

PROS

Each ski pole is armed with safety quick release system

Could be used as backcountry ski poles

Steel tip

CONS

Sharp tips are not suitable for children

Normal ski poles

A bit heavy

The Right Ski Pole for Different Use

For backcountry skiing and freeride – Use slightly longer poles because a backcountry ski pole tends to sink down on deep snow

For ski touring – Use longer ski poles as you push down with your arms when climbing. These poles are not recommended for descending, as the extra length could be a distraction.

Telescopic Poles

Telescopic poles are best for backcountry skiing. If these poles are adjustable in 2 or 3 places, they are the most useful. The extra grip underneath its handle allows to fine-tune the length of the ski pole which is best on steep climbs and descents. Some models could be extended and vertically joined together for avalanche probes. It is best to adjust your waist height when using a telescopic pole for downhill skiing above your armpit for effective striding.

Pole Fit

For a pair of ski poles to fit you, you must wear a pair of shoes of ski boots, and while holding the poles upside down, grab the pole just underneath the basket so that the top of your thumb touches the basket and your elbow at a 90-degree angle. If the angle is less than 90 degrees, you are best to use a shorter pole. However, if the angle is greater than 90, use a longer pole. If you are in-between sizes, best to choose a shorter pole. Most poles are sized in 2-inch increments.

Basics in Baskets

The purpose of the baskets is to keep your poles from sinking too deep into the snow and to maintain your stability. Always remember to use your bigger powder basket in powder conditions, and use a smaller basket on groomed slopes or hardpack conditions.

Consider the Tips

The tips of the poles practically stick into the snow. Ski poles tips are normally sharp (but not dangerous) and small enough to dig into the snow easily. Those tips from ski poles with cheaper poles are part of the shaft with a metal cap at the bottom. Those from expensive ones are often replaceable and will easily snap off when hit by a ski. They are made from plastic with metal tips that are a separate extension on the bottom of the shaft to seal both the end of the pole and offer increased grip. Having the best ski pole tips helps in effectively pushing into the snow and maintain balance.

Age

The age and gender are normal variables that not many take into consideration with ski poles. But as previously discusses, the length of the ski pole is its most important characteristic. As a result, ski poles for women are normally shorter. They come with small grips to suit their small hands as well.

Ski poles for men come in longer sizes. They feature the most robust grips which are often wider to suit their larger hands. As seen from the products above, some users notice the size of the grip immediately, especially when the ski poles’ grip is too small or too large.

Adjustable poles

Adjustable ski poles are becoming more interesting today. Many users feel tempted to buying adjustable ski poles when they don’t know which height they feel more comfortable with. Adjustable ski poles are very versatile and they can even be borrowed to family members or to friends as a result.

Those new to skiing also ask how to adjust skit poles correctly? This process is simple. There are many methods to adjust the ski poles correctly, but the practical one is with the basket upside down.

Users need to stand on level ground and hold the ski pole upside down, hanging from the hand by the basket. The elbow is then bent at 90 degrees. At this point, the tip of the grip should touch the ground. The same operation is then performed on the other ski pole.

Collapsed size

Users carrying heavy and large skiing gear by car are also worried about the dimensions of the ski poles. But for most of them, having adjustable ski poles might be the only method of packing the gear for the entire family in a single car. This is why the collapsed length of the ski pole can be important to a number of skiers.

The average collapsible length of a ski pole is 29 inches. This means that users should have the space to carry multiple ski poles for the entire family in the trunk as ski poles can be stored on the roof rack in many cases.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Choose a Ski Pole That's Right For Your?

Ski poles are more than just accessories, and while it is obvious that the first things to consider are the color and price, users, especially beginners, should choose the right size and model fit for the skiing they will be doing to help with the mobility and balance. Always remember to choose poles based on your height. One tip is by turning the pole upsidedown, with the tip in the air, and holding it underneath the snow basket. Put your arms against your body where your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle. If you are into backcountry skiing, use a slightly longer ski pole because they tend to sink down in deep snow.

Where and When to Use Ski Poles?

Ski poles are used to help you glide safely on flat terrains while pushing them down with your arms. When you’re skating, poles will help you to propel forward and keep your balance. If you’re into backcountry skiing, these ski poles will help you stay more balanced while descending by planting the poles. By doing so, you can pivot more naturally without the fear of falling.

What Are Ski Poles Made Of?

Every single ski pole is made from different materials, but you should be able to use a good ski pole for all-mountain skiing. However, poles are made with different shaft material for different needs:

Aluminum – Used for beginners and junior. An aluminum pole is heavier than carbon fiber but is still durable and economical

High-Grade Aluminum – Poles made from this material have a high strength to weight ratio that makes it durable while providing a stiffer feel compared to lighter composite or carbon fiber alternatives.

Composite – Ski poles made from this material are more flexible and durable compared to the standard aluminum, making it bendable without breaking.

Carbon – Ski poles made from this material are best for advanced and expert users. It has the best strength to weight ratio. Compared to high-grade aluminum, carbon is more durable while maintaining a light feel.

What Are Ski Pole Baskets?

A basket is a disc-shaped object towards the bottom of a ski pole just above the tip. Skiers should know that baskets are there to stop the ski pole from sinking too far into the snow. They come in different shapes and sizes and can be removed and changed by screwing them on and off. There are generally two types of baskets: Powder Baskets and Standard Baskets.

A powder basket is larger in diameter. Powder baskets have an increased surface that keeps poles from sinking too deep into the powder. Remember that you will sink into fallen, uncompressed snow a lot, and powder baskets will help you to be more stable and balanced.

What Other Accessories Should I Use When Skiing?

One of the most important features of ski poles is the grips. Grips are commonly made of plastic or rubber and should ergonomically fit your hand for easy-hold while wearing gloves. If you’re a simple ski pole user, the basic notch for your index and thumb to grip will do. If you’re looking for a top of the grip kind of ski poles, you may opt to buy a more expensive one with higher quality grips that are over-molded for each individual finger to help improve your grips on the poles.

Another important accessory is the pole straps that connect the pole grips and go around your waist. Ski poles straps are important so you won’t have to lose your poles when you drop them. The most basic straps are made from nylon that is woven on the poles to prevent tearing. However, the more expensive pole brands now have adjustable straps for better adjustment methods. This type of strap includes neoprene padding for additional comfort. There are manufacturers that are starting to introduce a safety release system so that injuries will be prevented quickly. Other ski gear is the wrist straps that integrate with the gloves and can be detached from the pole so you don’t have to take off awkward straps every time.

Conclusion

Ski poles are necessary accessories, especially when going on unknown adventures. It is not a nuisance but rather an essential tool to keep you protected at all times. If you're a new skier, all it takes is choosing and buying the right ones and you're ready to go. Don't forget to read our guides on what and how to buy and all the necessary accessories and tools that come with the ski poles for it to be the best performance pole. Whatever brand you choose to buy, always consider the materials, where and how you're going to use it, and its suitability according to your height and weight so that you may never have to buy poles over and over again.