A skier is naked without their poles as these crucial accessories help create balance, better rhythm and an ideal body position. But with so many types of ski poles on the market, how do you know which ones you need? Finding the best ski poles means understanding how they differ and what they’re used for.

Not only are poles made for different types of skiing and terrains, they’re also made from a variety of materials. Small differences with ski poles can make a surprisingly big difference when you’re out on the snow.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’ve made it simple for you to find exactly what kind of ski poles will suit your skiing and get you ripping up the mountain. The right ski poles aren’t just equipment, they’re extensions of your body and enhance your slope side abilities.

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QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SKI POLES

  1. Leki Spark S
  2. Line Pollard’s Paint Brush
  3. Black Diamond Expedition 3
  4. Rossignol Stove Pipe Sr.
  5. K2 Power 5
  6. Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro
  7. Black Diamond Helio
  8. Leki Aergon 2 Condor
  9. Swix Nordic Standard
  10. Rossignol Extra Carbon 30

 

 

 

SKI POLES REVIEWS

LEKI SPARK S

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Alpine and racing

MATERIAL: High-grade aluminum

SHAFT: Fixed

PROS: Unique Leki Trigger S strap system for quick release, comfortable molded grips, lightweight

CONS: Quite pricey for aluminum, some people may not like the strap system

 

 

 

LINE POLLARD’S PAINT BRUSH

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Alpine and powder

MATERIAL: Aluminum

SHAFT: Adjustable

PROS: Includes two baskets for piste and powder, adjustable length for all types of downhill skiing, eye-catching design

CONS: Straight grip rather than ergonomic which may not be to too comfortable on long days or tough powder

 

 

 

BLACK DIAMOND EXPEDITION 3

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Backcountry experts

MATERIAL: Aluminum

SHAFT: Adjustable

PROS: Super comfortable foam grip, highly adjustable for all-round backcountry and off-piste, includes powder and trekking baskets which are easy to change

CONS: Not the lightest poles out there, pricey for aluminum

 

 

 

ROSSIGNOL STOVE PIPE SR.

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Alpine beginners and intermediates

MATERIAL: Aluminum

SHAFT: Fixed

PROS: Simple, sleek with an ergonomic grip and a great price tag

CONS: May not withstand rough usage or serious off-piste

 

 

 

K2 POWER 5

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Alpine piste-only

MATERIAL: Aluminum

SHAFT: Fixed

PROS: Cheap, unassuming, ergonomic grip with adjustable strap

CONS: Dull colours, small basket won’t be good for any amount of powder

 

 

 

BLACK DIAMOND RAZOR CARBON PRO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Touring up and skiing down

MATERIAL: Carbon and aluminum

SHAFT: Adjustable

PROS: Lockable quick-release strap for added safety in a fall, ultra thin 0.5in (14mm) tapered to 0.4in (11mm) shaft, powder baskets

CONS: Quite heavy at around 1lb 6oz (623g), only mildly ergonomic grip

 

 

 

BLACK DIAMOND HELIO

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Expert backcountry and ski-touring skiers

MATERIAL: Carbon

SHAFT: Fixed

PROS: Pure carbon and moulded as a single piece for added strength, very lightweight at 9oz (255g), the sleekest poles you’ll ever see

CONS: Expensive and possibly overkill for many backcountry skiers, fixed length may mean perfect on the ascent but too long on the downhills

 

 

 

LEKI AERGON 2 CONDOR

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry

BEST FOR: Backcountry experts

MATERIAL: Aluminum

SHAFT: Adjustable

PROS: Very easy to adjust with gloves on, comfortable ergonomic handles, one pole includes mountaineering blade for ice-ax self-arrests, powder baskets

CONS: For experts only, one size range only so possibly unsuitable for very tall people

 

 

 

SWIX NORDIC STANDARD

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Cross-country beginners

MATERIAL: Aluminum

SHAFT: Fixed

PROS: Comfortable and soft grips, very affordable, good for groomed tracks and some powder

CONS: Not particularly light, suited to hobby cross-country skiers only, may not withstand heavy use, not much to look at

 

 

 

ROSSIGNOL EXTRA CARBON 30

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Cross-country intermediates and advanced

MATERIAL: Carbon and aluminum

SHAFT: Fixed

PROS: Looks pretty cool, lightweight with 30% carbon and 70% aluminum, adjustable strap, cork grip is comfortable and light

CONS: A little pricey, mainly white making them harder to spot if dropped

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST SKI POLES

PICTURE
SKI POLES
BEST USE
SKIING TYPE
MATERIAL
SHAFT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SKI POLES
BEST USE
SKIING TYPE
MATERIAL
SHAFT
PRICE
RATING
Leki Spark S
Overall
Alpine
High-grade aluminum
Fixed
$$
4.2
Line Pollard's Paint Brush
Overall
Alpine/Powder
Aluminum
Adjustable
$$
4.5
Black Diamond Expedition 3
Overall
Backcountry/Ski mountaineering
Aluminum
Adjustable
$$
4.3
Rossignol Stove Pipe Sr.
Budget
Alpine
Aluminum
Fixed
$
4.5
K2 Power 5
Budget
Alpine
Aluminum
Fixed
$
5
Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro
Backcountry
Backcountry/Ski mountaineering
Carbon and aluminum
Adjustable
$$
5
Black Diamond Helio
Backcountry
Backcountry/Ski mountaineering
Carbon
Fixed
$$$
4.9
Leki Aergon 2 Condor
Backcountry
Backcountry/Ski mountaineering
Aluminum
Adjustable
$$$
4.6
Swix Nordic Standard
Cross-Country
Cross-Country
Aluminum
Fixed
$
5
Rossignol Extra Carbon 30
Cross-Country
Cross-Country
Carbon and aluminum
Fixed
$$
4.8

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SKI POLES

PURPOSE

The type of ski poles you need will depend on what skiing you do.

 

ALPINE SKIING

Alpine skiing, otherwise called downhill, is what most people think of when they hear ‘skiing’. Almost always on piste, alpine skiing requires straight, standard length poles.

 

OFF-PISTE/POWDER/BACKCOUNTRY SKIING

Powder ski poles have bigger baskets to stop them from sinking and are often made of stronger material to cope with knocks and bumps. Many off-piste skiers prefer slightly shorter backcountry poles than if they were alpine skiing, to more easily handle rugged terrain. Adjustable-length ski poles can also be good for backcountry.

 

RACE SKIING

If you want to be the next slalom winner then racing poles will cut down weight while retaining their strength. With a curved, aerodynamic, shaft, these poles not only fit around your body but they shouldn’t catch on race gates either.

 

PARK AND FREESTYLE SKIING

An increasingly popular type of skiing, park and freestyle poles are usually shorter than alpine poles to prevent catching on rails, boxes and anything else you want to pop off.

 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Ski poles for cross-country skiing, Nordic walking and snowshoeing are much longer than the downhill ski poles above and have more acute tips.

 

MATERIAL

Ski poles are made from a range of materials that change the strength, flexibility and price of the pole.

 

ALUMINUM

Very affordable, stiff and strong, aluminum ski poles are common. This alloy comes in different grades though, and high-grade aluminum will be pricier but also lighter and stronger. Many alpine piste skiers happily use aluminum ski poles as they are cheap and durable.

 

CARBON

These ski poles might cost more but they are extremely strong, very lightweight and more flexible than aluminum. Carbon poles are probably the most indulgent to use. Experienced skiers may prefer carbon due to their lightness and narrow shaft. Anything that keeps weight down and has some flexibility can lessen strain when spending full days skiing tough terrain.

 

COMPOSITE

Ski poles that are composite are made with a blend of materials. As different materials have different pros and cons, they can be blended to create a mixture of attributes. For instance, carbon is often mixed with fibreglass. Composite poles have better shock absorption than aluminum making them good for backcountry.

 

SHAFT LENGTH

 

ELBOW HEIGHT/STANDARD

For alpine skiing and all-mountain skiing, the best length for your ski poles is around elbow height. This means that when you’re holding your poles upside-down with the basket resting on the top of your hand, your elbow will be bent at 90 degrees. REI have a ski pole size chart, suited to downhill/alpine skiers, that makes working out your pole length easy.

 

SHORT

Park/Freestyle and powder skiers usually use slightly shorter poles as do many backcountry skiers. You don’t want your poles catching on trees, rocks, park features or any other uneven terrain. If you need park or freestyle poles, you can drop 2in or 4in (5cm or 10cm) off your alpine pole length.

 

LONG

Cross-country skiers use poles that are more around the height of your armpit and ski-tourers can benefit from longer poles too when hiking up.

 

ADJUSTABLE

Ski-tourers and backcountry skiers often need long poles for hiking up and standard, elbow-length poles for skiing down. The answer? Adjustable poles!

 

BASKET

Ski pole baskets are plastic circles that sit above the tip near the very bottom of your pole and stop the pole from sinking into the snow.

Basket size depends on the type of terrain and skiing you’ll be doing.

 

SMALL/ALPINE

Small baskets are the norm for alpine piste skiers and many cross-country skiers. They stop the pole from sinking in groomed snow and don’t affect the swing action too much.

 

POWDER

Powder baskets are bigger, sometimes much bigger, than alpine baskets as they need a greater surface area to prevent sinking in powder. Backcountry skiers tend to have powder baskets, and some alpine skiers have spare powder baskets to swap out on powder days in the resort.

 

RACE

Race poles have minimal baskets or small, conical baskets to reduce weight and increase aerodynamics. Some cross-country or Nordic skiers also use race baskets if they are skiing groomed courses or don’t anticipate any powdery conditions.

 

STRAP

Most ski poles have loop straps that prevent you from losing your poles in a fall or if you lose your grip. They also help prevent hand and wrist strain as they change the force distributed from your hand to the pole.

Many straps are adjustable in length but if not, check that the strap is easy to get on and off over your ski gloves. This is important especially for piste skiers who need to remove the straps every time they use a lift!

Some brands, including Leki, have quick-release loops or clickable strap systems. While these are largely unnecessary for alpine skiing, they can be of benefit to backcountry and race skiers in the event of falls.

 

GRIP

The grip area of the ski pole is simply where your hand will hold the pole. Usually made from rubber or molded plastic, grips are almost always ergonomic to some extent with light indents for some or all of your fingers.

If you’re a mitten wearer, thumb indents and a smoother grip work well while fingered glove wearers might benefit more from more obviously indented grips. Park riders favor cleaner, less ergonomic grips to make side grabs and tricks easier.

Aside from length range, grips are also a factor in poles for specific genders or ages. For instance, children’s poles will have smaller grips than adults and poles that are labeled as women’s will normally have slightly smaller grips than poles marked men’s.

Top 10 Best Ski Poles – Best Ski Gear - Skiing Tips for Beginners -  Skiing Clothes For Women, Men and Kids
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