Picking the best ski poles is essential if you want to have the best possible skiing experience.
Keep in mind the ski poles are something you’ll have to carry with you all over the mountain. Even if the poles might feel light when you first hold them, they might feel heavy and uncomfortable at the end of the day. So, make sure to go for the right ski poles.
To help you choose the perfect poles, we created this guide, so you know what to look for in a skiing pole and which one to get.
If you that are in a hurry and just want to see the best products now, check out this table:
How to pick the perfect ski poles
Finding the right grips is one of the most critical parts in choosing a ski pole. Avoid plastic grips, because holding a plastic grip will get uncomfortable for a whole day of skiing. Instead, try to pick a pole with a comfortable material like rubber or leather.
Some grips have a forward facing angle. This allows for a more natural and ergonomic hand position and will cause less wrist fatigue.
Some of the more high-end poles on the market offer shaped finger grips. This gives the poles even better comfort.
The last thing to be aware of with the grips is that if you are a woman with large hands, avoid women specific poles as they have a smaller grip diameter.
The straps will help you from losing the poles if you accidentally drop them. This is especially useful if you’re a beginner or you like to ski in the backcountry.
One feature that some poles have is called a trigger grip. This means that you can press a button to release the straps. Once you are ready to put them back on, you can easily slide it back in. This is convenient when you have to get in and out of the poles, for example when you are taking the lift up the mountain.
There are two things to be aware of when it comes to the shaft of the pole, the, and the material. I’ll cover how to pick the ideal length in just a moment in this guide.
The material of the shaft is the number one thing that will have the most significant effect on the price of the pole. More expensive materials will increase the strength and durability and decrease the weight of the pole, but it will also raise the cost of the pole.
A standard pole is often made of aluminum. It’s a durable and economical material, but it’s a heavier material than the more high-end options, and you can feel a bit fatigued at the end of the day.
There are some poles made of higher grade aluminum. These ski poles are more durable with an excellent strength to weight ratio. They are great in packed snow and has a stiff feel.
If you instead are looking for lighter and more flexible poles, the materials to look for is Composite or Carbon. Poles made of those materials are really lightweight and can bend a lot without breaking. The downside is that carbon or composite poles are often more expensive than a conventional ski pole.
There are two types of baskets and depending on your ski style you should pick the most appropriate.
If you are someone who loves powder and will be skiing a lot in the backcountry get powder baskets. They are larger and helps the poles from sinking into the deep snow.
If you are skiing mostly prepared or packed snow, get standard baskets. They are made to be as light as possible, so you don’t have to carry unnecessary weight.
A telescopic pole is a pole that you can adjust the length of. If you are a powder skier, telescopic poles can be a good option as they can be easily collapsed and fit in your pack better.
The 90 Degree Rule- How to Choose The Correct Ski Pole Lenght
If you have a ski pole near you, turn the pole upside-down and hold your hand under the basket. If your elbow forms a 90-degree angle, it’s the right size. Here’s a video illustrating the concept:
If you don’t have ski poles at home, take a tape measure and hold your arm, so it forms a 90-degree angle like on the video above. Then add 5 centimeters to the length of the top of your hand, and you have the correct ski pole length.
Choosing a ski pole as a beginner skier
If you are a beginner skier, the material of the shaft is less important. What matters is that you pick a pole with the correct length and a comfortable and ergonomic grip.
Ski poles for advanced skiers
If you intermediate or advanced skier, you can start looking at poles with more high-end materials. If you are not a park or powder skier, the general rule is to follow the 90-degree rule and get a nice lightweight pole with a good grip and a durable design.
Best powder ski poles
Backcountry skiers generally get a little bit shorter poles than the poles you would get on packed snow. Get a pole with powder baskets, and padded straps in case it get’s caught in a tree or stuck in heavy powder. Lastly, consider telescope poles if you are doing ski touring.
Best ski poles for park skiers
If you are a freestyle or park skier, get a bit shorter poles than ordinary. Shorter poles have the benefit of lower swing weight, and you can keep them more close to your body. Another advantage of shorter ski poles for a park skiers is that they won’t get in the way when you are skiing switch.
Best ski Poles 2019-2020 Reviewed
Best Downhill pole – Leki Spark S
If you are an intermediate or advanced skier that usually skis on packed or well-groomed conditions, one of the options is the Leki Spark S.
If you are a freestyle skier or a backcountry skier, there are other options, but if you prefer skiing on the pistes, then the Spark S will do excellent.
It’s a pole made of higher grade aluminum and comes in either a red or a lime color scheme. The grip of the pole is excellent and will let your arms and hands relax. Another big advantage of the Leki Spark S is the Leki S trigger system:
If you look at the straps of the pole, you’ll see that it’s probably not what you are used to. Thanks to its unusual shape, it fits right on your glove and with the trigger system, you can with a click remove the straps with ease. It’s as simples as sliding the straps back in when you are up from the ski lift again. And if you happen to fall, the patented technology makes the straps release if they happen to get too much force. This technique is very similar to how ski boots behave when you fall.
The most significant disadvantage of these poles is the weight. They are still lightweight poles but if you want a truly light pole, go for carbon or composite poles. The pricing is reasonable, but it’s not the cheapest ski poles out there.
If you can afford to pay for a higher quality pole, with a durable and comfortable design, it’s worth going for the Leki Spark S.
|Super easy to take the poles on and off|
|The grip allows you to relax your hands and arms|
|Not as light as carbon or composite poles|
Best Powder Skiing Pole – Black Diamond Traverse
No matter if you are sidehilling up the mountain, skiing in deep powder or skiing in the woods, the Black Diamond Traverse poles will do a reliable job.
The grip is ergonomic and being slightly thinner makes for an even better grip. The included rubber grip extension is useful when you are bootpacking steep terrain.
The shaft is made of higher grade aluminum, and it’s a very durable ski pole. The locking system, FlickLock, is made of metal and allow you to lock the pole in any length you need between 100 – 140 centimeters.
The straps use a technology called SwitchRelease which is very useful if a pole gets stuck in bushes or a tree. If it gets stuck, it will automatically release the straps. One part of the system will still stay attached to the handle so you will never lose the straps. This is a fantastic feature that adds a bit of security when you are skiing in the woods.
The powder baskets can be a bit difficult to get on, but once they are on, they are fantastic for powder skiing. The poles are a bit on the higher price range, but for a pole this versatile and high quality it’s a price worth paying.
|Excellent for powder skiing|
|SwitchRelease technology for safer skiing in the woods|
|Baskets can be difficult to assemble|
Best Budget Pole – WSD Ski Poles
If the price is the biggest factor for you and you want a decent skiing pole for a low price, then go for the WSD ski poles.
The design of the poles is alright. They look cool with an appealing black and silver pattern. But they are heavier than the average aluminum pole, and the grips are made of plastic. As with most cheap plastic grips, they feel alright, but at the end of the day, they can feel a bit uncomfortable. So if you want to avoid a cheap plastic grip, look at the more expensive poles on the list for far better grip materials.
Still, they are a decent pair of poles, and when it comes to price, it’s hard to find as good poles as this for a price this cheap.
|Cheap plastic grip|
Best Freeskiing Pole – Zipline Lollipop
As a park or pipe skier, you want a skiing pole that is lightweight with good balance and a shape that makes holding them feel natural and fluid. Zipline is the US freestyle skiing team official supplier, and they make some fantastic products.
The Zipline Lollipop is a pole made for park, pipe, and freeskiers. It’s made of Graphite Composite, and it’s a truly lightweight ski pole with nice swing weight. Another advantage of the material is that it’s very forgiving in flex, so it has less of a chance of bending or breaking.
The disadvantage of these sticks is that after a season of using them, the graphics can start to peel.
It’s very well balanced pole and feels natural in every motion you do. The grip is shaped for a gloved hand, so you can quickly get a firm grip. Overall, the Zipline Lollipop is a fantastic pole for park skiers with an affordable price.
|Lightweight with a good swing weight|
|Plenty of colors to choose from|
|After a season the colors can start to peel|
Best Women’s Ski Pole – Rossignol Snow Flake
A women’s pole is specially designed to have about 15% smaller grip diameter and also a bit more narrow shaft. Most female skiers use ordinary poles. However, the smaller grip and lighter weight in women’s ski poles can often provide better grip and comfort.
One of the best poles made for women is the Rossignol Snow Flake. It’s a well-designed skiing pole made of higher grade aluminum. It’s rather lightweight, but it’s still sturdy and will last for most skiers for a long time. Most people that reviewed this pole loved it, but one person reported it broke after they fell on it.
The baskets have a width of 60mm and are designed for packed snow. It’s an excellent pole for downhill skiing, especially if you are a beginner or intermediate skier. Another plus is that Rossignol offers up to 125 cm long poles so if you are tall, these are one of your few available women’s ski pole options.
|Good grip suited for smaller hands|
|Nice snowflake graphics|
|Good value for the money|
|Not the most sturdy pole on the market|
Best High-end Pole – Leki Tourstick Vario Carbon V
If you want the best of the best and are willing to pay for premium quality, then the best choice is the Leki Tourstick Vario Carbon V.
It has everything you need in a quality pole, and you can use it all season in all conditions.
The Leki Tourstick is best in the backcountry. It has wide baskets ideal for deep powder, and it has a good balance of low weight and durability. But it will work in any conditions thanks to its long flex tip, ideal for nearly all terrains and it’s interchangeable baskets.
This ski pole is a telescopic pole that folds into three sections. It’s easy to break it down to a size suitable for your pack. You can also easily adjust the length of the pole, even with your gloves on.
The grip is made of thermoplastic rubber, and it’s easy to adjust your hand placement when the terrain changes. The straps use the Leki Trigger S technology, so you can with a press click off the straps and quickly slide it on again when you need to.
It’s also a very lightweight pole. The top of the shaft is made of carbon made for minimum weight and perfect turns. The lower segment is made of aluminum because that’s where most tear and ware will happen. Thanks to this construction you get the best of durability and low weight.
The downside to this pole is the high price. It has a premium price, but if you can afford it, you get an excellent durable, lightweight skiing pole that will last for a long time.
|Easy to carry with you|
Picking a ski pole depends in the end mostly on your ski style and how much you are willing to pay for the ski poles. If you are a downhill skier, a jibber or a powder skier you’ll have to look for completely different things in your poles.
Hopefully, this guide cleared some things up, and you know by now what to look for in a pole for your way of skiing. The poles above were handpicked after extensive research and feedback from previous customers. If you go with one of the best skiing poles above, then you got an awesome skiing pole that will serve you well for a long time.