There are more choices in ski poles these days than ever before. The many different styles and types of poles you'll find offered online or by your local ski shop retailer can make picking the right poles both challenging and time-consuming. Instead of doing hours of research on your own, read on to discover the top ten ski poles, rated by our experts after careful and lengthy consideration.
First, let's take a look at the basics in choosing the best poles for your individual style and level of expertise.
Ski Poles FAQs
1. What Are Ski Poles For?
Many skiing maneuvers can be done without poles, but they are helpful—and for beginners or nonexperts, necessary—in performing basic moves like stationary turning, walking, or climbing. Skiers will frequently find themselves using poles for balance, and a fast downhill can be slowed a bit by touching the poles to the snow.
2. I’ve Heard That Ski Poles Have Swing Weight. What Does That Mean?
Swing weight refers to the amount of energy or strength it takes to move the poles without sacrificing performance. Skiers should familiarize themselves with the swing weight of a given set of poles to find a set that feels comfortable and doesn't require a lot of energy or put the skier off balance. Many factors determine your ideal swing weight, like your height, physical conditioning, etc.
3. Which Is Better, a Lightweight or Heavy Pole?
That depends on what you find comfortable and easy to hold. Ski poles that feel too heavy can interfere with your balance and cause unnecessary drag while poles that are too lightweight won't stand up to the normal wear-and-tear that poles commonly encounter. Ski poles are made from many different materials—aluminum and fiberglass are traditional, while newer, lighter poles made of carbon fiber, graphite, or composite materials are now on the market. Each type of pole will have a different weight—a good rule of thumb for beginners is that you should choose the heaviest pole you feel comfortable with.
4. Are Lighter Poles Less Durable?
Usually, but not always. Ski poles made of composite or carbon fiber materials are very lightweight but not as durable as the more traditional aluminum poles. You can find some poles that combine different materials to balance durability and weight. Again, much of this decision is up to personal preference, and you may want to purchase an inexpensive first pair of poles until you know what you're comfortable with and how long they'd hold up with your individual skiing style.
5. Are Lighter Ski Poles More Expensive?
Usually. Lighter poles are generally made with carbon fiber or are hybrid poles made with carbon fiber, composite, fiberglass and/or aluminum. As carbon fiber is a specialty material, it can drive the cost of a set of poles up. If you're looking for something less expensive, keep your selection limited to aluminum, as these poles tend to be more durable, less expensive, but can be much heavier than other poles.
How We Reviewed
Our team of experts spent over forty hours considering twenty-two different poles made of various materials from the best manufacturers in the business. Through careful consideration and head-to-head tests, we narrowed our selection down to these ten best. This list represents an unbiased look at some of the most sought-after poles on the market, carefully selected for weight, durability, price, and availability with skiers of every skill level in mind. Whether you're a beginner or a double black diamond professional, you'll be sure to find something on this list that will fit your needs and your budget.
Overall Price Range of Ski Poles on This List
The ski poles reviewed here range in price from around $25 on the low end all the way up to as much as approximately $225 for longer poles featuring the latest in materials and manufacturing. While the cheaper poles are generally aluminum, even the bargains among this list shouldn't be dismissed. What they lack in lightness they make up for in durability, and it's important to strike a balance—unless you know you're ready for the feather-light carbon fiber models.
What We Reviewed
The high-strength 7075 aluminum used in these poles promises long-lasting durability and a swing weight that allows a skier to use the poles as breaks or for stick-and-swivel high-speed maneuvering. While this may be seen as more of a beginner's pole, it shouldn't be overlooked by seasoned pros—these poles are designed for the freeride aficionado and are made with a larger, more durable shaft appropriate for those with a more gonzo, over-the-top skiing style. They're not unbreakable, but they're close.
- 50% Carbon fiber shaft. Light weight but completely sturdy, portable.
- Shaft diameter: 16:9mm(0.63":0.35"). Length: from top to tip: 1350mm(53.1").Great for skiing and training in the winter.
- Straps with great grippy for comfortable handling. Durable and anti-wear manganese steel tip. With removable mud basket.
Zipline is an official supplier of the US Ski Team, and the quality of these poles proves why—2018 Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise uses these poles, and he's in good company, as many other Olympians, as well as World Cup skiers, rely on Ziplines. Made with graphite carbon composite, these feather-light 14mm poles give generous flex but impressive strength, are suitable for skiers of any terrain, and were designed with free riders, half-pipers, and park skiers in mind. Zipline Lollipops are available in a wide variety of colors to match or complement your skis.
- The Volkl Phantastick 2 Poles are high quality poles that offer great performance at a reasonable price. Aluminum has...
- The Phantastick uses a transparent Soft Touch grip. Ergonomically shaped into a five finger design, the grip is...
- Equipped with a powder basket, these poles won't punch through the snow when you're playing in the deep stuff. You gotta...
The Leki Checker-X features a black-and-white design that is a clear homage to classic vintage Vans. A very simple, straightforward design with a durable steel tip and large baskets suitable for even the deepest powder, these poles feature a low profile 621 grip on top of 18mm aluminum shafts that are as rugged as they are attractive.
- SwitchRelease breakaway technology
- 14 mm (0.55 in) aluminum upper with 11 mm (0.43 in) carbon fiber lower
- Redesigned touring grip with updated ergonomics
The Black Diamond Razor poles are a hybrid, with the bottom half made of carbon fiber for generous weight reduction. Intended for back country and touring skiers, the Razors feature a flick-lock mechanism for length adjustment, 4" powder baskets, and a rubber grip that allows for plenty of traction for gnarly uphill climbs.
Made with rugged 6061 Dural aluminum, the Stovepipe poles are among the more durable poles on our list and at a great price point. Built for both park and downhill skiing, the Stovepipes are elegant in their simplicity and make a great beginner's pole.
Marketed as a women's ski pole, the aircraft-grade aluminum used in these poles combines incredible durability and strength with a slim, 16mm shaft for the best of both worlds. Featuring a classic poly-rubber grip, these poles come standard with 60mm performance baskets. A handy feature is the nesting baskets that make riding the lift back up the hill that much easier.
- Inexpensive , Nice poles at a very good price. Light weight with a nice design model! Brand new pair with baskets! Great...
- Shaft Material: Aluminum Grip: Grippy Plastic Strap: Neoprene/Nylon Tip: Standard Baskets: Standard Groomer-Screw on...
- These poles have an adjustable nylon strap wrapped in neoprene for that super cozy comfort around your wrist. They also...
Made with hardened 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, these poles are perhaps the strongest poles on our list. They're called QuickPoles because of their patented construction that allows you to snap these poles into your bindings, making single-handed carry of both poles and skis a reality. Polypropylene-based grips topped with thermoplastic conform to the skier's hand, and these poles also feature a patented DuPont Zytel clip that remains flexible in temperatures as low as -40F.
Another pair of ski poles designed with women in mind, the Snow Flake poles are made of sturdy 6061 Dural aluminum. The slim 16mm shafts allow for some reduction in weight, and the steel tip at the end results in a nice, balanced swing weight for smaller skiers.
- Swix Techline ski poles Techlite performance aluminum Ski poles 2017 model pair New pick size from drop down menu above
- new alpine poles with baskets ready to use Swix Techline ski poles Techlite, performance aluminum poles 2017 model New...
- Techlite, performance aluminum Good functional aluminum pole with Swix single density handle and and basket for groomed...
The Swix Techline poles are an excellent choice for beginner to intermediate skiers. With 18mm shafts made of durable 6061 aluminum, ergonomic grips and straps, and a mid-sized basket intended for versatility, the Techline poles are a great choice for amateur skiers.
- Trigger S grip in compact design with thermal surface for small, fast-freezing hands.
- Trigger S Vario Strap is perfectly cut and individually adjustable for maximum comfort in the snow.
- Carbide tip for precise pole planting and uncompromising grip on any surface.
The Artena was specifically designed with women skiers in mind, with a patented trigger-style grip made with thermally reflective material for smaller hands more susceptible to the effects of cold and snow. Featuring an individually adjustable strap, these poles allow for a near-custom fit. Tipped with carbide for a tough and immediate grip, these poles maximize durability while not sacrificing swing weight.
While the "best" ski poles on this list remain a matter of personal preference, we've taken pains to present poles suitable for both men and women, beginners to advanced. If you're not sure you need the lightweight of carbon fiber poles, check out some of the hybrid models, but do be aware that what you lose in weight you also lose in durability. Think about the conditions you're likely to be skiing in and check out basket size to make sure the poles you select will be adequate for the terrain you plan on skiing. Last but not least, keep in mind that the more inexpensive models are great for beginners, and durable aluminum is hard to beat as it will be around for more than a few seasons—but the lightweight carbon fiber models do make for a faster, more exciting downhill. Happy skiing!