Best ski poles

Snow Sports

Don’t forget the pole tips. Sharpen them regularly so they can pierce the snow and keep them covered when not in use with a tip protector.

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WHICH SKI POLES ARE BEST? 

A trusted companion on the mountainside, a pair of ski poles provides stability and guidance while tackling the slopes — whether those slopes are steep and intense or flat and welcoming.

The type of skiing you’re undertaking will inform the type of pole you require, determining the weight, strength, flexibility, and style. There’s also plenty of opportunity for a personal touch, too. This guide will detail the various options and what to look for, as well as highlight a premier alpine pole in our top pick from Zipline for downhill enthusiasts.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY SKI POLES

Style

The most common ski pole is the downhill or alpine pole. These are made to be flexible, light, and sturdy, and accommodate various skill levels and slopes. Still, there are many other options available. Cross-country poles will be longer and feature wider baskets to battle against powdery or deeper snow. Park and pipe poles, as well as freestyle ski poles, will be shorter for enhanced maneuverability. Mountaineering and backcountry poles will be adjustable and may have specific features for tackling powder or ice. Racing and slalom poles will cater to those events, with the former featuring lightweight, durable construction and the latter protecting the skier’s hands from gates.

Material

You want ski poles that will endure the elements, including any rough terrain — or rough spills  —  that take place. These are the most common materials.

  • Aluminum: Durable, and affordable, aluminum is most common for newcomers and recreational skiers but is among the heavier option.
  • Composite: Carbon and fiberglass combine to offer a relatively light and durable ski pole well suited for those beginners and intermediates looking to improve their skills.
  • Carbon fiber: The lightest, and most expensive option, carbon fiber is the most durable and flexible of the choices available.

Weight

Generally, a lighter pole is a superior pole. The lightest available may be just a pound. That’s ideal because you’ll be holding the pole throughout your adventure. Balance is also important: you don’t want weight unevenly distributed through the pole.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN QUALITY SKI POLES

Basket type

The basket is located at the base of the pole and prevents the pole from sinking deep into the snow. Baskets may vary in size and be designed for use in powder or hard snow. What’s more, some poles may allow the basket to be removed and swapped with a different option depending on your needs.

Grip

Rubber grips are soft and the most common and sought after choice for downhill skiers. Plastic grips are more durable but less comfortable. Cork grips are most comfortable, and often found on mountaineering or backcountry poles, where you may not be wearing heavy gloves if any.

Detachable straps

Some poles feature straps that quickly and easily become detached from the pole. This can be much more convenient than removing your gloved hand, which may be entangled with the strap.

Color

Add some personal style when you hit the slopes by selecting the color, or even design, of your ski pole. The right color may make your pole easier to find among an array at the lodge and may help people spot you on the slopes.

HOW MUCH YOU CAN EXPECT TO SPEND ON SKI POLES

Quality composite or carbon fiber ski poles will cost between $60 and $100. Professionals may opt for something more expensive, while beginners can find some cheaper options likely made from aluminum.

SKI POLES FAQ

Q. What are dangers and risks to using ski poles?

A. You want ski poles to help guide and balance, but they shouldn’t be used to keep you supported and need to be kept from digging too deep in the snow. Poles that get stuck can become harmful to yourself and others.

Q. How important are ski straps?

A. Straps help keep the poles with you, particularly when you fall — you don’t want them left uphill. However, you may not want to use them when skiing in wooded areas where the pole may get caught on brush or foliage and possibly cause injury by yanking your arm. 

WHAT ARE THE BEST SKI POLES TO BUY?

Top ski poles

Zipline’s Lollipop Carbon Fiber Ski Poles

Zipline’s Lollipop Carbon Fiber Ski Poles

Our take: High-quality, flexible, light poles to last for years.

What we like: Terrific for alpine skiers: light and durable. Array of color options available. Comfortable grip.

What we dislike: Higher price than some other choices.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top ski poles for the money 

WINGET’s Carbon Fiber Alpine Ski Poles

WINGET’s Carbon Fiber Alpine Ski Poles

Our take: Lightweight, flexible ski pole perfect for tackling the slopes.

What we like: Carbon fiber lowers weight and enhances durability. Good for any skill level. Impressive features like interchangeable baskets and ergonomic grips.

What we dislike: Baskets may not be the most stable.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

Salomon’s Arctic Lady

Salomon’s Arctic Lady

Our take: Inexpensive aluminum pole perfect for beginner and intermediate downhill skiers.

What we like: Made by a trusted brand name in skiing. A couple colorful options. Terrific value.

What we dislike: Somewhat heavy and less flexible than other options.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

 

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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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