Best Ski Poles
When an average person thinks about hitting the slopes or the snow-covered terrains, he/she will probably think about the skis and the snow conditions. However, a slender pair of ski pole is an important part of skiing that shouldn’t be overlooked. While some intermediate level maneuvers can be executed without ski poles, but for what it’s worth, it still aids in providing additional balance on the slopes and helps in mastering the basic ski moves such as climbing, walking, turning and more. A set of poles adheres the racer to the ground for balancing counterweights and precision bodywork. They help you to shift weight properly to promote better maneuverability, especially at higher speeds. Plus, they can help you reduce joint impact and minimize fatigue so that you can save some strength on the slopes.
Best Ski Poles Reviews 2017
With so many options out there, choosing the right pair of ski poles seems like a daunting affair, but with proper guidance and the right informational guide, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. Ski poles serve an ample of purposes, from helping you set up, to setting a rhythm for turns, to propelling you along the toughest trails. We’ve reviewed a handful of ski touring poles designed for running laps down groomers to poles specifically designed for women. Choosing the right ski pole is all about finding the right combination of features and construction to suit your skiing style and terrain. Check out our picks for the best ski poles for the 2017 season.
- K2 Power 8 Alpine
- Great flip jaw system
- Excellent grip
- US Freestyle
- Sturdy poles
- Graphite technology
- Leki Checker X
- Durable aluminum
10 Best Ski Poles
K2 Power 8 Alpine
- Great flip jaw system
- Excellent grips
- The baskets might run a bit small
Zipline combines all the necessary requirements for a mogul pole to be quick, durable and balanced. The poles will not break under any circumstances even under the high-performance requirements of the skiers.
- Comfortable grip
- Sturdy pole construction
- A bit on the expensive side
Leki Checker X
Strong steel tip can pierce through the snow easily and is built for heavy-duty performance. The Hard Snow Basket measures 90mm in diameter and snaps on tightly so you do not have to worry about it popping off after some nasty crash.
- Durable aluminm construction
- They scuff easily
Black Diamond Razor
The all new SwitchRelease breakaway technology allows you to ski tight trees without worrying about that dreaded jerk and the pop sensation in your shoulder. All in all, the Razor Carbon provides the best of both backcountry-pole worlds.
- Rubber grip
- Pretty stable
Winget Carbon Fiber
- Ergonomic grip
- Not too comfortable straps
K2 Chic Style
- Secure hold
- The baskets are not included in the price
The fact that it’s made with Aircraft Grade 7075 Aluminum and extremely lightweight carbon fiber that ensures better durability, less breakage, and higher precision than the regular ski poles. The grip with strong polypropylene base with thermoplastic rubber ensures better control and gripping, plus the user-friendly design is a great deal.
- Aircraft Grade 7075 aluminum
- The straps might be too small for some users
- Versatile baskets
- Secure grip
- Adjustable strap
- Low quality straps
- Aluminum construction
- Ergonomic design
- Suitable for beginners only
No matter your ability level, a perfect pair of ski pole is an absolute necessity. The above-mentioned reviews are just to help you sort through the different choices, but you have to assess your own needs and preferences and finally make a good decision that you’ll be confident about. They may seem like a pretty simple accessory to go along with the rest of your equipment, yet find the right one can actually make you excel at this wonderful sport.
- Trigger S comfortable grip
- Cobra shaped basket
- The grips might be small for some users
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
Why Do You Need Ski Poles?
If you’re into skiing, you must know you can’t hit the slopes without a good helmet, goggles and a pair of ski poles. In addition, it aids in releasing bindings, timing the turns, stabilizing hands, skating and hiking, maneuvering the steep slopes, but the most important use is to help initiate the new turn and actively carry energy between different turns. When you extend the new turn, your pole swings and touches the snow to the side and slightly ahead of the boots. In short, a pole is a great link between turns.
Think of your poles as an extension of your arms. When the pole comes in contact with the snow, it gives a little sensation that goes all the way through the arm and ultimately into the body. Stabilizing your upper body while your legs are moving actively and independently, is crucial to good skiing. It’s all about timing and rhythm – the pole movements will happen naturally as you advance further. A perfectly-timed pole swing keeps your body perpendicular over the skis and moves in the direction of the new turn.
What are the Types of Poles?
With so many variations and styles, finding the right pair of ski poles seems to be one of the deciding factors that might affect your decision, one way or another. Poles vary dramatically from one discipline to another, so we took the courtesy of listing the most common types of ski poles to help you understand your needs.
Alpine is one of the most preferred choices among the pro level skiers but is equally recognized among the beginners. They are perfectly designed to suit an average skier, regardless of his/her skill level. It basically boasts a straight-designed shaft, a standard hard-hitting basket, and an easy-grip handle for better grip and control. In alpine skiing, poles are used to push and to help with better timing on the steep turns. Some poles feature extra snow baskets, which are not standard for Alpine ski poles.
The sky is the limit in cross-country skiing and where glazing sunshine awaits you under the deep blue skies for a more recreational skiing experience. Not all areas are fit for cross-country skiing which requires techniques. The skis are usually lightweight and narrow with a relatively larger snow basket. It prevents the skis from plunging into the snow. They also have a thicker shaft with adjustable lengths to protect you from hitting trees or rocks in the backcountry. The differential length adjustments make them transport-friendly and easy to move around as well as adjusting them for varied terrain.
Freestyle takes on a more recreational approach to combine skiing with acrobatics and skiers looking to go freestyle don’t usually prefer using poles while there are also many freestyle skiers who wouldn’t mind poles at all for improving their balance and stability on the slopes. The ski poles are comparatively shorter than their potential counterparts. The streamlined design with a thinner shaft makes sure it won’t get in the way while hitting rails or boxes. When it comes to sizing guide, they are much more subjective than other ski poles and completely depends on your personal preference. We recommend you try a few different sized pools to get a feel for what you exactly want.
Race poles have their own unique distinctions. They feature the best and most durable materials such as carbon and fiberglass that can be shaped for aerodynamics, especially in speed events. The ergonomically shaped poles bend around your body while in a tuck position to reduce drag, allowing you to ski faster. They usually come with smaller, cone-shaped baskets that eliminate the chances of getting hooked up on the gates. High-grade carbon and materials ensure a stronger and lighter design than traditional aluminum poles for better control and stability on the slopes.
How is Ski made?
How skis are constructed can vary quite a lot, however, the basic components generally stay the same. Different manufacturers use slightly different materials and methods to make their skis stand out from the rest, all claiming advantages over others, but at the end of the day, all skis are built to basic principles. The basic construction of a ski features a laminated wood at its center which is surrounded by composite layers. A top sheet is then attached to the top and the edges, and the base is attached to the bottom.
In the modern skis, the integral part of the construction is the inner core, which can be made from a variety of materials. The core determines the characteristics of a ski, and this is exactly where the most of the longitudinal strength comes from. The core’s material seemed irrelevant back then when skis were used to be constructed entirely of wood. But with the introduction of metal, the core determined the strength of the ski. The outer part of the ski is made from a wide variety of materials, most common being aluminum, carbon fibers or fiberglass.
Aluminum is the most commonly used core material in the construction of ski poles. It’s extremely lightweight which makes it vulnerable to bending and denting upon hard impact. The most common alloys used in the construction are silicon, magnesium, and zinc. Though it’s light and strong, it’s quite expensive and has reduced damping capabilities. The metal in skis with aluminum cores is usually fashioned into a honeycomb pattern. They retain an excellent tensile strength but are also more flexible than wood cores. They vary in thickness and quality, depending on the manufacturer. High-grade aluminum not only guarantees strength but also feels good in the hands.
The high-performance ski pole often touts a lightweight design and retains its shape quite well even after bending. Carbon is often considered as a pinnacle of ski pole construction, offering the highest strength to weight ratio. But it’s more prone to snapping rather than bending like aluminum poles. They often blend in other materials to improve the characteristics of the pole, making them more elastic. And the best part is that they are literally unbreakable. In short, they are light, strong and very good under compression, but very expensive. It’s an ideal gear for someone who’s hard on the gear and wants to make the most out of skiing.
Fiberglass is hardly used in the construction of ski poles, which is mostly because it doesn’t quite stand against the durability and stability of its more potential carbon and aluminum counterparts. That being said, fiberglass has its fair share of advantages over other materials like this is the strongest ski pole to date that offers a high level of strength to weight ratio. This allows the fiberglass poles to be slimmer and lighter without compromising performance. It’s often blended with carbon to improve the qualities of the materials, eventually making them less expensive than other materials.
Composite refers to a blend of materials being used in the construction of a ski pole depending on their specific properties. This may include aluminum, carbon fiber, fiberglass, resin, and others. The most common materials used in the process are carbon fiber and fiberglass. They serve the rider well in more intense snow conditions and bumpy rides but they are not as heavy-duty as aluminum and are more prone to breaking plus they are more expensive than their aluminum counterpart.
How to Choose?
Yet they are widely recognized as standard gear with the vast majority of skiers using poles for every outing. There are several features that set one ski pole apart from another.
It’s vital to find the right length ski pole before hitting the terrain to get maximum performance. You should take the time to choose a pole that seems of proper length for your height and skiing style. To find your proper size, measure the height of your arm with your elbow bent at 90-degrees. Ski poles are generally sized in 2-inch increments. Take the pole and turn it upside down, putting the handle on the floor, and grasp the pole just below the basket. If it’s the correct size your forearm will be parallel to the ground. You can find your ideal size using a simple measuring tape – and put on shoes (or ski boots) for a more exact number.
The weight of the pole is just as important, especially when it comes to backcountry or cross-country skiers. The weight of a pole often relates to the material type, but that doesn’t mean carbon fiber is the best option for a ski pole. Let’s say, if you’re just starting out, aluminum poles are just your thing to start rolling and are moderately priced. Like many action gear, lighter means more money. Lighter poles will generally cost more and the added features will make little difference to the performance. The thickness of the pole also plays a role. In some cases, a narrow shaft of any material type tends to be less durable and with less stress tolerance, so you’d probably want to avoid choosing the lightest pole available.
The snow baskets are so designed to prevent the pole from sinking significantly into the deep snow. A larger basket will come in handy when it comes to conquering powder. However, if you prefer to ski on hard-packed, groomed trails, a smaller basket would be useful for better performance. Some poles come with more baskets so that you can switch easily to powder without sacrificing your performance. Baskets can also be removed from many poles so that you can easily unscrew one as per your convenience.
Straps keep the poles wrapped around your hands for better control and stability. Most poles come with an adjustable nylon strap with pull-through locking system, which is very easy to use and quite effective. Cross-country skiers prefer the straps with lots of padding which is more forgiving on the wrists. The inexpensive models use plastic straps, though the expensive versions will use padding to prevent the risk of injury.
Plastic, cork, and rubber are the most common materials used on the grips of ski poles. With so many options out there, choosing the right pole comes down to personal preference and just how well the grip fits in the gloved hands. After all, there’s no grip better than another. Rubber is comfortable of all and some poles feature dual-density foam for extra comfort and control. Some high-end variations come with grip extensions, which are usually found on cross-country poles.
Dual-density handles seem to be more comfortable as they feel lighter on the hands and usually grip better than others. Yet another cheaper alternative is the mono-material handles, but it doesn’t feel as comfortable. Women’s specific ski poles sometimes have a smaller handle.
The tip of the most of the ski poles is usually made of steel to provide a good bite on the toughest snow conditions and strength to resist knocks and bangs. The carbon-based tips are a bit expensive but are exceptionally capable of cutting into the firm snow with ease.
The downhill poles are ideal for all kinds of scenarios and are capable of taking the hard hit. They will last for many years under great conditions, but they are more prone to bending or snapping upon hard fall. The sturdier the pole the better.
Different levels of skiers use different types of ski poles – a beginner would go for a basic ski pole while a downhill skier will choose a pole designed for multiple disciplines. An adjustable ski pole can be great for downhill skiing, but you’ll want a longer length for the flat sections. Using fixed-length ski poles is absolutely an option, but may require little tweaks and modifications, allowing you to hold the poles at varying lengths.
Getting a Good Deal
Getting a nice deal is imperative to your selection but at the same time, it should satisfy your needs to the best of your interests. That being said, aluminum is probably the most preferred choice of material, especially for the beginners. For those who’ve just begun, it’s not wise to spend a hefty sum on high-end poles. You can get a good deal without spending a fortune and that best serves your interests. For your basic skiing needs, mid-range poles will do just fine and that too, without burning a hole in your pocket. They are not only the best budget-friendly alternative to high-end ski poles but they also perform well on cross-country trails.
Ski poles can be expensive, depending on the different manufacturers and shaft properties. But if you don’t want to spend a significant amount of your hard-earned money on something that you’re not so sure about, you might want to wait for the seasonal sales or those fancy end-of-season sales for a better deal. This is a great way to get a new set of poles if you’re not so fussed about getting your hands on the latest color scheme for the coming season. Rental shops in the slopes or ski resorts often auction their stock at the end of every ski season too.
Purchasing a new set of ski poles is a big investment, especially for beginners, and should not be underrated. Ski poles are the second most important piece of equipment (after the ski boots), and is probably the only piece of equipment that you physically hold onto. That’s why your decision is very important when selecting the right pole for your swings and lifts.
Q: What length pole should I choose?
Ski poles come in different lengths and sizes, so it can be confusing at times, finding the right length. Poles for cross-country skiing are generally longer than poles for downhill skiing. Remember the thumb rule: ski poles should be slightly shorter than your armpit height. Longer poles are needed for skiers with short arms, and vice-versa. Poles that are too long can create problems during turns. A mid-length pole, on the other hand, is more stable and maneuverable. Decide what areas you’ll be skiing and choose accordingly.
Q: Do I really need ski poles?
Actually, there are many uses for them, least of which is to propel you around flat areas. In simple terms, poles come in handy while hitting snow out of your bindings and helping you up when you fall. Many skiers think of their poles as an afterthought, but they are in fact one of the most important equipment in your skiing arsenal. They affect your stance as you ski, so it’s important to choose a pair that best suits your height.
Q: Do Poles come assembled?
All sets of pole come completely assembled. If your gear does not include the sled, you may have to install the hardware that comes with the pole onto your sled. All systems that include a sled are assembled and good to go.
Q: What’s the difference between classic and skate skiing?
Classic skiing is the traditional way of cross-country skiing, while skate skiing is more like ice-skating or roller-skating which leverages the side to side motion to propel. Classic style requires a higher poling cadence and if done properly, a pole should always be planted.
Q: What bindings should I buy?
Personal preferences and style aside, there are only subtle variations across different models of bindings. All bindings from recognized brands are tested and developed to the same standards. Different factors serve to distinguish different bindings, but the correct setting is determined by your size, skill level, and boot size. But if you don’t have any idea regarding what to do, ask for a professional to help them adjust them for you.
Q: What is swing weight and how it impacts my skiing?
Just like pro golfers feel about the ideal swing weight for the poles, skiers need to be concerned about the swing weight of their poles. Swing weight refers to your poles’s resistance to being swung when in use. It determines how good a pole feels when you swing it and the ideal weight refers to the amount of energy you actually need to swing the poles without sacrificing your performance regardless of the snow condition and the slopes. It not only relates to the pole’s weight but also promotes proper weight distribution thereby improving your skiing techniques.
Q: Heavy or super-light pole – what should I choose?
Most of the modern-day ski poles are made of aluminum, graphite, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and composite materials – each varies differently in weight, cost, and performance. Several models use a combination of these materials to draw the benefits of each. A pole that feels too heavy can interfere with your balance on the slopes, whereas an extremely lightweight pole won’t be able to withstand average wear and tear. So choose wisely before making the decision.
Q: Where to find ski poles?
There are a number of places to shop for ski poles, but if you’re a beginner, you’d want to start with the large outdoor retailers. Certain locations have specialty ski shops and these stores are also a good source of information. You can also buy your equipment at the slopes, but they may be more expensive than other retail shops.
When searching for the right pair of ski poles, it’s very important that you spell your terms correctly and assess your needs before making any decision. A ski pole is a fundamental part of your go-to ski gear, the utilitarian ability of which cannot be ignored. A good pair of ski poles makes all the difference – whether it’s about perfecting your turns or propelling along the flatlined trails. While at first, it would all seem the same – they all have grips, a handle, a long stem, a sharp metal tip, and a plastic basket to keep the pole from sinking into the snow. However, the more you get into skiing – be it cross-country or downhill – the more you’ll get to know the major differences between aluminum and composite poles, poles for freestyle and Nordic skiing and differences in basket size.
The fact is different poles are used for many different things in the different environments. They are great for hitting snow out of your bindings, but many skiers are unsure about how to choose the right pair. Poles are often seen as an afterthought, but the perfect pair of poles can really get you into skiing if you know what you need and what to look for. Understanding the different elements and factors involved will help you make the right decision. A ski pole, like boots and head gear, is a very personal affair, but as long as you have something that you feel comfortable with, and which is equally strong and sturdy, then you’re good to go.