ContentsQUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SKI POLESSKI POLES REVIEWSLEKI SPARK SLINE POLLARD’S PAINT BRUSHBLACK DIAMOND EXPEDITION 3ROSSIGNOL STOVE PIPE SR.K2 POWER 5BLACK DIAMOND RAZOR CARBON PROBLACK DIAMOND HELIOLEKI AERGON 2 CONDORSWIX NORDIC STANDARDROSSIGNOL EXTRA CARBON 30COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST SKI POLESHOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SKI POLESPURPOSEALPINE SKIINGOFF-PISTE/POWDER/BACKCOUNTRY SKIINGRACE SKIINGPARK AND FREESTYLE SKIINGCROSS-COUNTRY SKIINGMATERIALALUMINUMCARBONCOMPOSITESHAFT LENGTHELBOW HEIGHT/STANDARDSHORTLONGADJUSTABLEBASKETSMALL/ALPINEPOWDERRACESTRAPGRIP 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. For more of out top snow sports gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: Skis | Ski Poles | Ski Bindings | Ski Boots Snowboards | Snowboard Bindings | Snowboard Boots Goggles | Helmets | Cameras | Bags Jackets | Pants | Socks | Gloves | Hats cloud-downloadCLICK HERE to Download our FREE Quick Starter Guide to Snow Sports. Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/marcoscisettiPhoto by istockphoto.com/portfolio/wojciech_gajda QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SKI POLES Leki Spark S Line Pollard’s Paint Brush Black Diamond Expedition 3 Rossignol Stove Pipe Sr. K2 Power 5 Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro Black Diamond Helio Leki Aergon 2 Condor Swix Nordic Standard Rossignol Extra Carbon 30 SKI POLES REVIEWS LEKI SPARK S Check out the latest price on: Amazon | REI 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 | REI 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 | REI 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 | REI 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 | REI 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 PICTURESKI POLESBEST USESKIING TYPEMATERIALSHAFTPRICERATING PICTURESKI POLESBEST USESKIING TYPEMATERIALSHAFTPRICERATING Leki Spark SOverallAlpineHigh-grade aluminumFixed$$4.2 Line Pollard's Paint BrushOverallAlpine/PowderAluminumAdjustable$$4.5 Black Diamond Expedition 3OverallBackcountry/Ski mountaineeringAluminumAdjustable$$4.3 Rossignol Stove Pipe Sr.BudgetAlpineAluminumFixed$4.5 K2 Power 5BudgetAlpineAluminumFixed$5 Black Diamond Razor Carbon ProBackcountryBackcountry/Ski mountaineeringCarbon and aluminumAdjustable$$5 Black Diamond HelioBackcountryBackcountry/Ski mountaineeringCarbonFixed$$$4.9 Leki Aergon 2 CondorBackcountryBackcountry/Ski mountaineeringAluminumAdjustable$$$4.6 Swix Nordic StandardCross-CountryCross-CountryAluminumFixed$5 Rossignol Extra Carbon 30Cross-CountryCross-CountryCarbon and aluminumFixed$$4.8 Gear up for snow adventures, without breaking the bankGet the Latest Deals on Snow GearSent right to your inbox...GEAR UP 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. SNOW SPORTS RESOURCESTABLE OF CONTENTSSNOW SPORTSTABLE OF CONTENTS 1. BASICS 5. SKIING 2. SNOW CLOTHING 6. SNOWBOARDING 3. ACCESSORIES 7. SNOWSHOEING 4. SNOW SAFETY 1. BASICS 2. SNOW CLOTHING 3. ACCESSORIES 4. SNOW SAFETY 5. SKIING 6. SNOWBOARDING 7. SNOWSHOEING Disclosure: The Adventure Junkies is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. We also use other affiliate programs like REI, LeisurePro, Diviac and Liveaboard.com.