Do you want to polish your skiing technique and spend less time face down in the snow?
Of course, you do!
With that in mind, you need to buy the best ski poles you can find – and we’re here to help!
We’ve reviewed a selection of the best options around, and you can see everything we found out in the guide below.
Why do you need ski poles?
First and foremost, what’s the point of ski poles? Do you really need them?
The answer to the second question is yes and no. Technically, you don’t need ski poles to ski. But, they are extremely helpful at improving your timing and getting a good rhythm going.
Contrary to what you might think, ski poles aren’t there to propel you forward. Instead, they’re all about gaining control – especially when turning or navigating tight areas.
Essentially, you need them to become an all-round more competent skier!
How do you choose the best ski poles?
Choosing the best ski poles is all about understanding what to look for. So, here are the key things we picked out when reviewing multiple products:
Ski pole size
The size of the ski poles are in inches or centimeters, and they basically depend on your height. The average person who is around 5’10” – 6’0” will usually need ski poles that are 50 inches in length. We suggest checking our a ski pole sizing guide before you buy, so you can figure out what size you need.
Ski pole types
As you can imagine, ski poles come in different varieties for different uses. Through our research, we found they got split into these three categories:
- General use: These ski poles are for all skiing conditions. Primarily, they’re for casual skiers who aren’t looking to be competitive.
- Race: These ski poles are specially made for racing. They come with added features – like protective handguards. And, you won’t need these unless you’re a competitive skier.
- Powder: Powder poles are lighter than the general use option. They’re ideal when you’re skiing across a lot of powder snow. For example, during cross country skiing or backcountry touring. They help prevent the poles from sinking into the snow.
Ski pole materials
Manufacturing of ski poles uses a diversity of materials. They have to be lightweight, but not too brittle. More often than not, you’ll find one of these three materials making up your skis:
- Aluminum: A cheap option that’s very durable, yet not the most lightweight.
- Fiberglass: Another relatively cheap option and these tend to be lighter than aluminum.
- Carbon Fiber: The lightest option on the market, but not as durable – and more expensive.
Generally speaking, if you find ski poles that aren’t made out of any of these materials, then they’re probably not of very high quality.
What are some key differences between the best ski poles?
Obviously, we’re looking at the best ski poles in our reviews. So, there’s not going to be a lot separating the very best from the rest.
But, we did identify a few critical features that are worth being aware of:
- Baskets: Firstly, you’ll see this term a lot in the reviews. It refers to the little flat bit at the bottom of the ski pole – just above the pointy end. Some skis come with bigger baskets than others. And, some let you remove and replace them with or without tools. This is a prominent feature of ski poles, and some have larger surface areas than others. The larger the area, the better it is at stopping the poles from sinking. This makes them better suited to powder snow.
- Grips: The grips at the top of the ski poles are also very important. You need something easy for you to grasp and hold as you ski. If the grip isn’t up to scratch, then you’ll soon see your ski poles flying out of your hands as you head down the mountain.
- Straps: Along with the grip, the strap will keep the pole in your hand. Ideally, the best ski poles have adjustable straps that can fit over your ski gloves. For a real luxury product, you may even find some with added padding for comfort.
- Adjustability: some ski poles come with telescoping features. This means you can adjust the length depending on where you’re skiing. Shorter length skis work best when going uphill, while longer ones are ideal for downhill or flat skiing. It’s not an essential feature, but it’s something you may want to consider.
What are the benefits of buying ski poles?
Skiing is already an expensive hobby. So what do you get out of investing in some poles on top of all your other equipment?
As we touched upon earlier, they’re used to help complement and improve your skiing. In fact, when you use ski poles, you may witness the following:
- Improved balance when turning
- Better rhythm in your strokes
- Easier to make parallel turns
- More control over rougher snow types
- Makes it easier to ski uphill
You see, ski poles have a lot of benefits and can help you turn into a better skier. Now, we can tackle the big question; what are the best ski poles your money can buy?
If you have a look below, you’ll see reviews for the following products:
- Zipline Ski Graphite Carbon Composite Lollipop Ski Poles
- LEKI Stealth S Ski Pole
- LEKI Peak Vario S Ski Poles
- Fischer Unlimited Ski Poles
- LEKI Speak Lite S Ski Pole Pair
My rating –
The Olympic and World Cup US athletes have used Zipline Ski, so this is a very good-quality brand. We found that these carbon composite skis were very robust and sturdy to hold. And, we really got a lack of vibration when planting them in the snow. This made them feel even more comfortable, and they were so easy to use.
The grips were also very pleasing. They’re made with non-slip technology, and we didn’t have any issues with them slipping out or getting loose.
While these poles were definitely not heavy, we felt like they weren’t as lightweight as carbon fiber poles should be. We’ve definitely used lighter aluminum ones. This might annoy you as the key reason to buy carbon is for the lightness. Also, the strap attachment wasn’t too secure and started falling apart after just a few runs.
Pros and Cons:
|Excellent design||Not as lightweight as expected|
|Sharp carbon tip that punches well into the snow||Straps are of a much lower quality than the rest of the product|
|Strong and sturdy|
|Can withstand heavy impacts|
My rating –
This offering from LEKI features an aluminum shaft that’s 16mm thick. Instantly, we realized that we were holding something that could withstand a lot. The poles didn’t bend, despite a lot of pressure when turning, so they stand up to the task very well.
The best thing about these ski poles is the Trigger S grip/strap. Trigger S is a technology invented by LEKI, and it basically means the straps clip onto the grip. The grip is comfortable with finger grooves – and additional space for more comfort. But, the real beauty of the Trigger S system is that it automatically unclips the straps. This happens when the ski poles are under a strong tensile load. Basically, if you crash, the straps unclip. This could help prevent some nasty arm and wrist injuries.
You get two baskets with this product as well. Also, you can chop and change without needing any tools – which is so useful if you want to save time on the slopes!
Overall, this is a very impressive product with only a couple of flaws. Firstly, there are just five sizes available, so you might not find one that fits you. Secondly, aluminum is an outdated material, so if you want some modern ski poles, then be aware of this.
Pros and Cons:
|Strong poles that don’t bend under pressure||Limited sizes available|
|Toolless basket removal||Aluminum pole makes them not that lightweight|
|Two baskets in the box|
|Unique Trigger S grip and strap system|
|Carbide tip for precise planting|
My rating –
The next poles on our list are adjustable to two lengths. They feature both aluminum and carbon materials. The upper shaft is of aluminum, while the lower boasts the carbon. As such, you get the best of both worlds as they’re not overly heavy, but they are nice and strong.
Again, the high-quality grip on these poles impresses us. This one has five finger grooves, and our fingers easily fit into them for a comfortable and secure grip. The strap is adjustable, but it is stuck to the frame. So, you do have the annoyance of unstrapping and strapping whenever you get on or off the lifts.
Unfortunately, you don’t get any extra baskets, and you will need tools to remove the ones on there already. Speaking of which, these are quite small baskets, so they’re aimed at maybe more advanced skiers.
Pros and Cons:
|Telescoping capabilities to adjust the size||You can’t remove the baskets that easily|
|Made from both aluminum and carbon||You can’t take off the straps attached to the shaft|
|Really nice and sturdy grip|
My rating –
The Fischer Unlimited could be a fantastic choice for entry-level skiers. There’s nothing flashy about it, and we enjoyed the simplicity of the design. The pole is of very impressive aluminum. You definitely feel the strength when you pick up and plant the poles. They’re 18mm thick too, which just adds to the strength and safety of the poles.
We were a bit confused about the grip, and we still are. It’s not bad, but we think it could be better. It’s marketed as a ‘Sports Handle,’ and it is ergonomically pleasing. The problem is that it perhaps lacks a little bit of grip to make it ‘stick’ in your hands.
There’s an adjustable strap too, which is essential. However, you can only get this ski pole in two different sizes – 46in and 50in. So, unless you’re one of the two lucky groups that fit these sizes, you’ll have to miss out.
Pros and Cons:
|Simple design that’s excellent for beginners||The grip is slightly slippery|
|Very strong and durable||Lack of sizes available|
|High-quality adjustable strap||Quite heavy for a ski pole|
My rating –
The Spark Lite calls upon LEKI’s impressive Trigger S technology again. Unsurprisingly, we really enjoyed it the second time around as well! The way your fingers slip into the grooves, and the easy clip-on, clip-off function is so convenient.
Constructed out of aluminum, so you lack the lightweight of carbon, but make up for it with durability. Having said that, we didn’t experience any issues when using the skis. They were comfortable in the hands and easy to move around without tiring out our arms. The steel tip at the bottom is very efficient at punching through some of the more icy snowdrifts. And, they offer lots of sizes too.
We had a tough time criticizing this product because it ticked a lot of our boxes. Again, if we’re being picky, then it would perhaps be even more comfortable in carbon form. Purely because of the lighter material, but we’re really being critical there!
Pros and Cons:
|Easy-to-use Trigger S grips||The design makes them feel heavier than most carbon alternatives|
|Steel tips to punch through tough snow|
|Does a great job at handling impacts|
|Toolless basket removal|
You’ve read the reviews, and now it’s time to see who the ultimate winner is. In our opinion, the best ski poles on the market right now are the LEKI Spark Lite S Ski Pole Pair.
If you go back to the first part of this guide, you’ll see that these poles tick pretty much every box in what to look for in great ski poles. They come in different sizes, made out of strong material, and are ideal for general use. The grips are also outstanding, and you can interchange the baskets.
It was a tough decision to make, but after trying out each product, we’re confident that we’ve made the right choice!