Best Ski Poles Reviewed & Rated for Quality

When preparing to go skiing you want to have all of your necessary items including a warm, waterproof coat, a snug hat, thick gloves, non-slip ski boots, and a sturdy ski pole. Ski poles are the perfect addition to any ski trip due to how versatile and resourceful they can be. However, not many skiers know how to properly use a ski pole or how to purchase the right one for their specific needs. In fact, many ski lovers tend to overlook the benefits of having a ski pole as part of their ski trip necessities.

There are multiple different ways to use a ski pole; some skiers use them as a second source of security for added balance, while others use them to gain momentum when needed. Furthermore, a skier that prefers downhill skiing will use them to help them execute a turn or navigate through the thick snow. In all reality, they make skiing that much more efficient and enjoyable. They key is knowing what you want to achieve with your ski pole, how much you want to spend on them, and how durable do you need them to be. Choosing the right pair will not only help you ski a whole lot easier, but it will allow you to finally make those tricky twists and turns you have been wanting to try.

Last Updated: September 25, 2018
By Krystal Polonia:

In this update, we have added ski poles that not only will help you navigate through heavy snow, but they are the perfect addition to your next skiing trip. Furthermore, we have answered important FAQ’s to help you decide which ski pole would work best for you.

Featured Recommendations

Vive
  • Vive
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Adjustable Length
  • Price: See Here
Enkeeo Country
  • Enkeeo Country
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • High-Quality Baskets
  • Price: See Here
Leki Stealth S Ski Pole
  • Leki Stealth S Ski Pole
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ergonomic Grip
  • Price: See Here

The first evidence of this equipment dates all the way back to the caveman, over the years the materials used to make them has changed drastically. Some of the earliest forms were made from pine or bamboo. Changing to steel once the 1930’s hit. From there they shaved off some weight by making them out of a lighter weight aluminum in the 1950’s. As the times have changed, so have the materials available to manufacturers.

Choosing the right set will depend on what type of skiing you will be doing. A downhill skier will need different types of equipment than someone who is planning on going cross-country skiing. No matter what type of skiing you plan to do, the number one goal for any situation is the durability. I mean let’s face it we all lose balance from time to time. So we need something that is durable enough to withstand a few falls.

Lucky for you, we have gone ahead and made a list of what we found to be the best products for you to consider. Within the list, you will find a short review for each of the ten options. Here we will also highlight a couple of strong points for each of the products as well. You can use this information to make a more knowledgeable choice when selecting a set.

 

10 Best Ski Poles

 

1. Vive

1. Vive
The first set that we have on the list will supply you with endless possibilities. These can be used for several different activities and not just in the winter months.
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Adjustable Length
The shaft for this option is adjustable for the length. This allows you to switch the lengths when you need it the most. Headed into an uphill climb? No problem, with this choice, all you have to do is adjust them.

Attachments
As we stated earlier, these can be used over any terrain you are up against during your travels. You can use them for hiking through the woods or mountain trails. Bring them along on your next ski trip as well. The versatility of this option is due to their ability to have the attachments changed out. You simply need to match the attachment to the terrain you will be traveling.

Cost and Value
Making a purchase such as this one can be of value to all your sporting goods equipment. The attachment variety alone can reduce the amount of gear that you need on hand for all of your activities. These can be made to match the terrain you are traveling. Eliminating the need to purchase another set.
Pros
  • The length is adjustable.
  • These come with plenty of attachments.
  • Good for all terrains.
  • These have a soft grip.
Cons
  • Some reviewers have complained that the lock does not hold the shaft in place.

2. Enkeeo Country

2. Enkeeo Country
This next set is made from a different type of material than some of the others that we have seen on the list so far. The different material option will hold different potential for both the product and the user.
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Carbon Fiber
Made from carbon fiber are said to be one of the most durable options on the market. Carbon fiber has the ability to flex under pressure rather than bend like aluminum. This gives them the ability to withstand a few more bumps and bruises.

Multiple Uses
People who have purchased these are known for using them for more than just skiing. The basket construction is known for its durability, so it will hold up against all terrain types.

Cost and Value
These come with a high level of value. Made from carbon fiber you will get a huge amount of durability from these. The basket construction will hold up to all different terrain types. Which allows you to use them for more than one activity.
Pros

Carbon fiber makes it durable

Poles can flex without breaking

Can be used for more than just skiing

Basket made to withstand different terrain

Soft & comfortable handles

Cons

Tip is short and thin

3. Leki Stealth S Ski Pole

3. Leki Stealth S Ski Pole
Constructed with a durable 16 mm aluminum pole that was perfectly paired with a hard carbide flextip, these ski poles bring forth the perfect blend between durability and efficiency. They are durable enough to withstand multiple bangs and bumps, yet they are lightweight to ensure carrying them around is a breeze even in the heaviest of snow. One thing is for sure, Leki designed these with convenience and durability in mind.
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Ergonomic Grip

One of the best features this ski pole has to offer is its ergonomic grip- it allows you to separate the strap from the pole. We found that having this versatility was quite convenient when it came to getting on and off the chairlift. However, there wasn’t much of a time-saving difference just a convenient way to separate your straps. Furthermore, the ergonomic grip comes with a safety element as part of the design: a built-in spring that releases the strap when there is upward tension. Having this feature prevents potential hazardous swinging ski pole.

Carbide Flextip

The carbide flextip works as an extra layer of stability as it offers precise grip on any surface including multiple layers of snow. This is always a good feature to have as it gives an additional touch of security.

Cost and Value

While the Leki Stealth S Ski Pole is on the pricier side, it is one well-constructed ski pole. With that being said, they are reasonably priced when you put into consideration how long-lasting and convenient they can be. Additionally, keep in mind these do offer a safety feature, which is not very common to come across in ski poles.

Pros
  • Carbide Flextip
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Comes in multiple different colors
  • long lasting
Cons
  • On the pricier end of the spectrum

4. Zipline

4. Zipline
This is the first set that we come to that is not of the adjustable variety. For some, this is a positive thing, as not everyone will like that they can adjust their length. Here you get to choose which length will best suit your needs.
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Swing Weight
The shaft has a tapered design, which lowers the swing weight of the product. This makes it easier to travel further distances while skiing. Let's face it lugging heavy equipment around can certainly become a drag.

Fun Colors
Sometimes the best part of skiing is the ability to accessorize. If this fits the bill for you, then these are for you. They are offered in five different colors. Each color is bright and shiny, so you will be able to set yourself apart from the rest.

Cost and Value
All good things come at a price, these are no different. For some, the benefit of having a non-adjustable equipment will outweigh the cost in itself. The light swing weight will please your arms on those extended ski weekends. While the bright colors will have you standing out in the crowd.
Pros
  • The shaft has a tapered design.
  • These have a lighter swing weight.
  • Can be purchased to suit several different lengths.
  • Available in five different colors.
Cons
  • Some users have stated that the tips can snap off easily.

5. Black Diamond Trail Trek

5. Black Diamond Trail Trek
Here is another look at an adjustable length variation. Options such as these will suit your needs for hiking, skiing, or even snowshoeing. The possibilities seem to be endless for these.
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Dual Lock System
To do away with the issues seen with other adjustable options on the market. These will include a double lock system, which is known for holding the length you set them at. It eliminates the stress of it sliding around.

The Grip
Designed for your comfort, the handle will include a foam to keep your hand comfortable while using them. This foam has an added non-slip protection to ensure your hold on the grip is a solid one.

Cost and Value
With these will come a quality design and construction. With that quality will come an added cost, but keep in mind that good things come with a higher price tag.
Pros
  • Have a dual length locking system.
  • Comes with snow baskets as well.
  • Length can be adjusted.
  • Foam has been added to the grip for comfort.
Cons
  • Some users have questioned the durability of the product.

6. Line Skis Grip Stick

6. Line Skis Grip Stick
One of the most free-spirited ski brands- Line, designed these midrange ski poles with the idea of having a pair of flashy ski poles that are fun yet functional for those that enjoy skiing at different ranges. You get a sturdy aluminum pole with a killer design for a much more personal feel. The Line did an excellent job bringing a unique touch to a rather simple sport.
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Baskets

The Line gives their customers the option of using powder, or hardpack baskets by providing both with each purchase. This allows you to easily screw off and swap out your preferred basket, depending on where you are skiing, this is an excellent option to have if you enjoy skiing in different weather conditions.

Multiple Uses

As stated above, these ski poles are a great option for those that enjoy using a durable set of poles that will get the job well done regardless of how steep or light the snow may be. They are flashy, durable ski poles that simply work.

Cost and Value

Considering that you are getting two different baskets, these ski poles are priced at an exceptional cost. They are quite affordable but having those added baskets make them an even better idea.
Pros
  • Unique design
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Constructed to last
Cons
  • The aluminum could be better

7. Rossignol Stove Pipe

7. Rossignol Stove Pipe
This option is designed to withstand a high level of punishment. These can be used by the beginner or by even the most experienced skier. Quality materials go into the construction of the product so you know they are made to last.
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Every Skill Level
This design has features that will suit all skill levels from beginner to expert. The baskets at the bottom will handle even the hard snow found on the steepest of hills. When this is more than you can handle, no need to worry these are equipped to handle the bunny slope as well.

Handles
The handles have a very user-friendly design, allowing you to place a firm grip on your equipment. This is great for those instances when you accidentally take a tumble to the ground. The strap and the grip will keep these within your grasp, so you won't be searching the snow for lost objects.

Cost and Value
These will hold a potential amount of value to the right user. No matter what your skill level these will provide you with a sense of self-esteem while hitting the trails or slopes.
Pros
  • These will suit any skill level.
  • The handle has a user friendly design.
  • The strap prevents you from losing them.
  • The shaft is made to be durable.
Cons
  • Some people have had issues with using the strap while wearing gloves.

8. Leki Checker

8. Leki Checker
This set has been designed to cut the extra weight without cutting the benefits the product has to offer. Whether you are a beginner or someone with experience these will hold plenty of benefits.
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Shaft Design
The shaft has a design that will shave some of the extra weight off of them. The design is tapered making it smaller toward the tip of it. No need to worry, this does not affect the durability.

The Snow Basket
The bottom, or snow basket, is designed for harder packed snow. Which you will typically find on the slopes, but the basket will also get you through the soft snow when it is necessary.

Cost and Value
These will come to you at an affordable price while holding a decent amount of value. These work well for beginners or for those who are more experienced cruising down the slope. The snow basket is easy to assemble and holds well even in the hard snow.
Pros
  • The shaft has a tapered design.
  • These are lighter in weight.
  • These will come in three color options.
  • The grip offers the user comfort.
Cons
  • Some have complained that the shaft will scuff easily.

9. WSD

9. WSD
Here we have another adjustable length shaft to take a look at. These will travel well, as they can shorten and the basket can be removed for easy packing when you are on the go.
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Removeable Basket
The basket portion can be taken off when you need to pack them for your next ski trip. When you are ready to hit the slopes, simply screw the baskets back into place. Just be sure they are screwed all the way in so there are no chances that they will come off.

Adjustable
Since the shaft is adjustable you can set the length that you need. The locking mechanism is secure so there is no need to worry about the shaft slipping. Once you have the length set, the shaft will stay in place.

Cost and Value
This can be a beneficial option to the user no matter what your skill level is. The length can be adjusted to suit the user's needs. The locking mechanism will hold the shaft in place once you have the length set.
Pros
  • The shaft is adjustable in length.
  • The locking mechanism is strong. 
  • The handle provides good grip.
  • Easy to pack for traveling.
Cons
  • Some have questioned the strength of the lock.

10. Salomon

10. Salomon
The last set on the list is a lightweight design that allows you to cruise downhill with a new sense of balance. Don't get weighed down with heavier versions that are on the market.
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The Grip
One of the most common complaints that people have when using this type of equipment is that the grip is too wide. Often times people with smaller sized hands will struggle to hang on to them. The smaller diameter of the handles on these will allow for better grip.

Lightweight
We all know that heavy equipment can become a burden to use. You maneuver them around for the entire trip. This set has cut some of the weight down so your arms will thank you later.

Cost and Value
These won't break the bank should you choose to purchase them. They are lighter than some of the other models on the market. The handle design will allow you to keep a comfortable grasp. These could be the next skiing possession that you value.
Pros
  • These are lightweight.
  • The handle offers a comfort grip.
  • These come in different color options.
  • You can purchase these in varying sizes.
Cons
  • Some users have questioned the durability of the product.

The next section you will come to holds the criteria we used to choose the ten that we have for our list. We include this information so that you, the reader, can see for yourself what goes into choosing the correct fit. It allows you to decide for yourself whether or not the products we have chosen are indeed the right option for you. At the end of your reading, you will come to the section that includes some of the most commonly asked questions. We include these questions to hopefully ease your mind when it comes to making your decision.

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Ski Poles

Choosing the right set can seem confusing for those who have never skied before, as there are many options to choose from. You may even find wavering opinions on whether or not to them. There are also skiers out there that will choose to use the same equipment for all their skiing varieties. While on the other hand, some will choose to have different types to suit there needs. Below you will find the different types that are available to you.

Alpine

 An alpine is typically the most popular choice among skiers, as they are suitable for different skiing styles. They offer a shaft that has a straight design, with a handle that allows for comfort in your grip. The bottom piece, or more commonly known as the snow basket, will come ready for use on hard snow. There are options out there that will come with an interchangeable snow basket. So you can change them when you need to.

Powder or Backcountry

Options labeled for backcountry or powdered snow work well in areas with softer snow for skiing. A larger snow basket at the bottom section prevents it from sinking into the soft snow. The shaft of these is typically found to be slightly thicker than alpine variety. This gives them a little extra durability for skiing in the backwoods areas. You will find that most of the powder or backcountry options will be adjustable. This makes it easier to pack and store them when they aren’t needed.

Racing

Racing options are for the more advanced skier, often times one of the more expensive types. They are made to be lighter in weight than the other options we have gone over. The design is made for speed, fitting the contour of the skier’s body when they are tucked in next to the skier. At the bottom you will find a smaller sized snow basket, this prevents you from becoming snagged, as to not interrupt the racer.

Nordic or Cross-Country

Some equipment designed for cross-country skiing are also labeled as Nordic. Not only are they great for skiing, many will use them for hiking or snowshoeing as well. The shaft is far more narrow than that of the backcountry or alpine variety. The snow basket is radically different shaped as well, with a spike as a tip at the bottom. This tip lets you plant them so that you have leverage for shoving yourself off.

The Characteristics

Now that you know what types are out there for you to choose from, we can move on to characteristics they have. This will give you a better understanding of how these can actually benefit you. Along with the types of materials, that would be the most beneficial to you.

Shaft Materials

The shaft is the long portion of the equipment, which can be made from a number of different material types. The material that the shaft is made from is where you will receive your potential benefits. Below you will find the different material types you have to choose from.

  • Aluminum: When these are made from aluminum, depending on the quality, are typically the most cost-effective choice. On the contrary to this, higher grade aluminum is a little more costly but the thicker aluminum adds to the durability of the product. Aluminum is used most often, as the material tends to bend rather than shatter or snap. In some cases, a bent aluminum can be maneuvered back into place.
  • Carbon: Equipment made from carbon materials are mainly made for higher performance activities. Due to the cost of this type of equipment, someone just starting out will want to look into a more suitable option. The carbon variety is known for their ability to flex slightly when pressure is applied. One possible downfall to a carbon material is rather than bending, the carbon is known to snap instead.
  • Fiberglass: You may notice that you have a tougher time finding these made from fiberglass. That is due to the fact that fiberglass has such a low durability rate. Since fiberglass shares the same flexibility trait that carbon does, only at a lower cost, it is often highly sought after. It is best to seek out equipment that has both fiberglass and aluminum mixed to form the shaft. That way you get a higher level of durability with a certain level of flexibility as well.

The Grip

At the top is the handle or grip, which can be made from a number of different materials. You will find that some are plastic while others might be rubber or a blend of the two materials. On rare occasions, you may even find the grip made from such materials as cork.

What grip you should choose will actually boil down to your personal preferences. What we can tell you, is that both rubber and plastic grips will not allow for moisture absorption. It has been noted that most users find rubber to have the most comfort when it comes to grip. Depending on the manufacturer you may find added layers of foam under the grip for extra comfort. Some will even include a more specialized grip pattern for your uphill battles.

The Strap

The strap is an important feature for both you and your equipment. Often times, when a strap is not in place, once dropped, you can be sure that you will be digging in the snow. You will find that most of the straps are made from nylon. A proper fitting strap will go over a hand even with a glove on. It is best to look for a strap that has the capability to be adjusted to suit your needs. Some higher-end products will have straps that can be released from the handle. Taking away the hassle of sliding the strap on and off.

The Basket

The piece located toward the bottom is known as the ski basket. This basket is the part that controls just how far down you will go into the snow. Baskets can be found in all different shapes and sizes but will fall into one of two categories.

One of those categories is called a powdered basket, They are larger in size to prevent them from sinking too far into the soft snow. The second category is the standard basket, which is sometimes known as hardpack baskets as well. You will find that these baskets are much smaller than the powder baskets and work best for downhill skiing. There are some that will come with both types of baskets. You can change out the basket according to the type of snow or skiing you will be doing.

The Weight 

Weight is an important factor for both backcountry skiing and those who enjoy racing on their skis. The weight of each will vary according to the shaft material. Often times it is taken for granted that the carbon variety will be the lightest option. Don’t let the material weight fool you, you must also factor in the size of the shaft and the quality or grade of shaft materials used. In an effort to clarify this for you, if you have found that carbon is lighter than an aluminum option, check the size of the shaft. If the aluminum shaft is smaller in diameter, then the aluminum one will indeed be the lighter option.

Choosing a Length

Having the correct length is beneficial to both your skiing style and your sense of balance. Most manufacturers will have a chart available for you to select the length that you will need. You will, however, need to know what type of skiing you will be doing. Different styles of skiing will require different length variations.

Some will tell you that the adjustable, or telescoping style is the best thing to hit the market. Often times skiers will choose this type of product as their one and only type. For one simple reason, they can adjust the length of their equipment as needed. When going uphill you can shorten the length or when on a flat surface you can make them longer. One recommendation that we have seen over and over is to be sure that the lock or clamp is of good quality. The clamp is the piece that holds the shaft at a certain length. A clamp of poor quality will not hold for as long as a good quality clamp will.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are ski poles really that important?

A: Yes, next to your ski boots, this is the next most important piece of equipment. You will need them for balance and often times direction control when taking a curve or corner. You will want one that has plenty to offer you in the durability department. No one wants one that will shatter or break with only a few uses. The weight will also play an important role. Depending on the type of skiing you do, you will be swinging these for quite some time. The heavier they are the harder it will be to continually swing them.

Q: What is the best way to determine what length I will need?

A: The length you will need will depend on two different factors, the first is the type of skiing you will be doing. Often times flatter surfaces will require longer variations while going uphill requires a shorter version. The next aspect of choosing the length will be your height. It is recommended that you use the chart that the manufacturer provides for choosing the correct length. Often times the manufacturer will provide you with step by step instructions for ensuring you get the correct length.

Q: What is the pice at the bottom called?

A: The bottom portion is called the snow basket. This is the portion that determines just how far you can go into the snow. The size of the basket is determined by the type of snow you will encounter. Take, for example, a larger sized basket should be used for softer snow, while a smaller basket works well for harder snow. You can also find some that come with interchangeable snow baskets. Allowing you to swap out the basket according to the conditions you encounter.

Q: What material makes the best grip?

A: In general your choice for a grip is a matter of user preference. You have two main materials to choose from plastic or rubber. Both of these materials will block moisture from seeping into the grip. As for comfort, it has been noted that the rubber is the more comfortable of the two options. Many manufacturers will add a layer or two of foam under the rubber to provide an extra level of comfort to the grip.

Q: Do I really need to have a strap?

A: Although a strap on your equipment is not exactly necessary, it is a wise decision to have one. The strap is what secures your equipment to you in the event that you fall. Often times unsecured items will get lost in the deeper snow. This can seem tragic if you have paid a lot of money. Seems like a senseless mishap that could have been prevented with a simple strap.

Q: Why do some options have curved shafts?

A: The ones you see with the curved shafts are typically used for racing. The design of the shaft is meant to give the racer more speed when traveling downhill. This is done by the way the shaft contours to the body of the racer when they tuck them into their sides.

Q: How do I know when my ski pole needs to be replaced?

A: If you have a flex fiber ski pole you may notice that if you slam into them multiple times a dent will occur. Once you notice that there is denting, it is time to replace them. As for aluminum poles you want to keep in mind that these will last a long time; therefore, you will not need to change them as often or even change them at all.

Q: Can I only use my ski pole for skiing?

A: While many will use their poles to hike or climb mountains, it is not recommended to take your ski pole into dry land. Doing so may cause them to crack or bend along the bottom where the grip is typically placed.

Q: What is the best way to store my ski pole?

A: When it comes to storing your ski pole, you may want to invest in a ski pole bag. They’re easy for storage and convenient for transportation.

Sources

  1. REI, How to Choose Ski Poles
  2. EMS, How to Choose Ski Poles for Cross-Country Touring
  3. The Ski Monster, How to Size Ski Poles: What Size is Best for You
  4. Wikipedia, Ski Pole

 

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