The Best Ski Poles of 2021-2022

The Best Ski Poles of 2021-2022


Our team of mountain-loving experts has found the best ski poles of 2021-2022.

Though high-quality materials and innovative design have improved the performance of today’s ski poles, the basic concept remains the same. A pair of ski poles is helpful for balance, rhythmic turning, and propulsion on flat terrain.

On this list, we have compiled the best ski poles of the 2021-2022 winter season. From resort-friendly downhill poles to lightweight and minimal touring poles, we have included models and styles to suit all sorts of skiers. For in-depth advice on how to select the best poles for you, be sure to check out our buyer’s guide at the end of the product list.

The Best Ski Poles of 2021-2022

Best Overall Downhill Pole: Leki Detect S

Leki Detect S

The Detect S poles ($100) from Leki feature a simple and sturdy classic aluminum design. For all-mountain downhill skiing, these poles are lightweight workhorses.

Though the Detect S is slightly heavier than similar poles made from carbon fiber, it more than makes up for this with an affordable price tag and long-term durability. Leki’s Trigger S system allows you to remove the wrist strap from the pole, which can come in handy while getting on and off the chairlift.

An integrated spring automatically releases the pole from the straps in case of a major fall or impact in order to reduce injury risk. It’s a minor feature, but we appreciate the innovation and bonus convenience.

Overall, we strongly recommend this pole to all-mountain resort skiers of all levels.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 1 lb. 2 oz.
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Baskets: Powder
  • Sizes (cm): 120 130, 135
  • Tip material: Unknown
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Innovative
Cons:

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Runner-Up Best Downhill Pole: Black Crows Furtis

Black Crows Furtis

The Furtis poles ($150) from Black Crows are made from premium carbon composite material. As a result, these poles are lightweight and very sleek-looking. Like all carbon poles, the Furtis is more delicate than an aluminum pole, but its 22mm diameter gives it enough structure to handle plenty of abuse.

We like that the baskets on these poles pivot to accommodate steep terrain. Black Crows claims the Furtis poles are ideal for soft snow and powder, though we find them excellent in just about any conditions.

The only real downside to these poles is their price tag. All carbon poles are pricey, but the Furtis is near the very top of the scale at $150.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 1 lb. 1 oz. (120 cm)
  • Shaft material: Carbon
  • Baskets: Powder
  • Sizes (cm): 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135
  • Tip: Tungsten carbide
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Durable for carbon poles
Cons:

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Best Budget Ski Pole: Black Crows Meta

Black Crows Meta

For just $50, the Meta from Black Crows is a high-functioning and aesthetically pleasing ski pole. These poles are made from impressively strong aluminum. If you plan to launch off side hits and drops, the Meta poles are more than capable of handling the abuse.

Black Crows outfitted these poles with wide powder baskets that thrive on soft conditions. If you tend to ski on hardpack and ice, you may want to look elsewhere. Overall, the Meta is an affordable and well-rounded all-mountain ski pole.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: Unknown
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Baskets: Powder
  • Sizes (cm): 110, 115, 120, 125, 130, 135
  • Tip: Steel
Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Nice looking
Cons:
  • Actual color isn’t as bright as advertised

Check Price at REICheck Price at evo

Best Bamboo Ski Poles: Meier Handmade Ski Poles

Meier Handmade Ski Poles

With the compression strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel, bamboo is impressively durable. Though many brands make ski poles from bamboo, we love Meier’s ($98) customizable and U.S.-made product for its overall high quality.

These poles feature an ergonomic soft rubber grip, recycled polyester strap, and simple 4-inch baskets. Upon purchase, you can select your favorite grip and basket color from a wide variety of options.

From a sustainability standpoint, bamboo has an impressive profile. Compared to most trees, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide and produces more oxygen. Though bamboo poles don’t offer the precise performance characteristics of carbon fiber, they do possess a nice balance of flexibility and rigidity.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: Unknown
  • Shaft material: Bamboo
  • Baskets: Standard
  • Sizes (cm): 95, 100, 105, 110, 115, 120, 125, 130
  • Tip: Unknown
Pros:
  • Customizable
  • Well-made
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Not the most durable straps

Check Price at Meier Skis

Best Overall Backcountry Ski Pole: Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro

Black Diamond Razor Carbon Pro

When touring in the backcountry, lightweight and adjustable ski poles are hard to beat. With its innovative combination of aluminum and carbon fiber components, the Razor Carbon Pro pole ($170) from Black Diamond finds the ideal balance between durability, weight, and overall performance. The Razor Carbon Pro is one of our favorite backcountry poles on the market.

Black Diamond’s FlickLock Pro adjustment system makes it easy to change the length of these poles without concern for slippage. With or without gloves, the Razor Carbon Pro poles choke up or extend with ease.

The 14mm upper aluminum segment of these poles is thick and very sturdy, but the 12mm lower carbon section is far more fragile. Though these poles are strong and solid for their low weight, users should be careful not to allow the carbon section to come in contact with rocks and trees.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 1 lb. 2.4 oz.
  • Shaft material: Aluminum and carbon fiber
  • Baskets: Powder
  • Sizes (cm): 125, 140
  • Tip Material: Unknown
Pros:
  • Easy to adjust
  • Lightweight
Cons:

Check Price at REICheck Price at evo

Runner-Up Best Backcountry Ski Pole: Rossignol Freeride Pro

Rossignol Freeride Pro

While adjustable poles are certainly ideal for backcountry skiing, they tend to be more expensive than their fixed-length counterparts. If you’re looking for a reliable touring pole on a budget, check out the Rossignol Freeride Pro ($70). These aluminum poles come with simple yet useful features including rotating powder baskets, easy-to-remove straps, and comfortable grips.

Compared to most carbon fiber poles, the Freeride Pros are a bit on the heavy side. However, if you’re going to be skiing in rough terrain with lots of exposed obstacles, these poles certainly have a durability advantage over most of their competition.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 1 lb. 2.8 oz.
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Baskets: Powder
  • Sizes (cm): 110, 115, 120, 125, 130
  • Tip material: Unknown
Pros:
  • Durable
  • The rotating basket works well on steep terrain
Cons:

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Best for Skiers With Small Hands: Leki Stella S

Leki Stella S

Leki has combined slimmed-down grips with all the high-end features of a regular pole to create the ultimate piece of gear for skiers with slender digits. The Stella S ($100) is the perfect ski pole for those with smaller hands.

Made from high-strength aluminum, the Stella S is durable enough for all conditions and skiing styles. Leki’s Trigger S system allows you to remove the wrist strap from the pole, which can come in handy while getting on and off the chairlift.

An integrated spring automatically releases the pole from the straps in case of a major fall or impact in order to reduce injury risk. It’s a minor feature, but we appreciate the innovation and bonus convenience.

This pole comes in a range of relatively short sizes. For skiers with a smaller stature that still want high-end features and overall quality, the Stella S is tough to beat.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 14.6 oz.
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Baskets: Standard
  • Sizes (cm): 105, 110, 115, 120
  • Tip material: Steel
Pros:
  • Specifically made for skiers with smaller hands
  • High-quality features
Cons:
  • Basket isn’t deal for skiing powder

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Best Ski Pole for Kids: Salomon Kaloo Junior Ski Poles

Solomon Kaloo Junior Ski Poles

These aluminum alloy poles from Salomon are perfect for young skiers. We appreciate that Salomon has crafted these poles without opting for cheap materials or flimsy construction. Instead, the Kaloo Junior Ski Poles ($25) are every bit as high quality as the adult-size poles on this list.

Aside from their general excellence, these poles don’t have any exceptional features. The small ergonomic plastic grips are sturdy and properly sized. A standard basket performs well in all sorts of snow conditions.

Though these poles are mostly built for resort skiing, they’d work in a pinch for occasional backcountry missions.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 9 oz.
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Baskets: Standard
  • Sizes (cm): 70, 75, 80, 85, 90
  • Tip material: Steel
Pros:
  • Specifically made for kids
  • High-quality materials
  • Affordable
Cons:

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Best of the Rest

Black Diamond Traverse

Black Diamond Traverse

The Traverse poles ($110) from Black Diamond are a quality addition to any backcountry skier’s kit. With all-aluminum construction, these poles aren’t the lightest, but their reliable durability is unmatched. Black Diamond’s well-regarded FlickLock mechanism lets you adjust the length on the fly, and the poles can be easily stuffed away into a backpack if need be.

Ski poles don’t need to be overcomplicated, and the Black Diamond Traverse is simplicity perfected. We appreciate the comfortable grips, which feature a large flat area on top for pushing down on steep sections of skin track in order to generate uphill power.

These poles also come with a rubber secondary grip that comes in handy while traversing across steep snow-covered aspects. The basket is plenty wide for soft conditions, but it’s also flexible enough for uphill travel.

Specs:
  • Weight per pair: 1 lb. 6 oz.
  • Shaft material: Aluminum
  • Baskets: Powder
  • Sizes (cm): 95 (collapsed length), 155 (maximum length)
  • Tip material: Unknown
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Rotating basket works well on steep terrain
  • Good value
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Long collapsed length

Check Price at REICheck Price at evo

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Ski Poles

Most skiers — especially beginners — don’t put a whole lot of thought into their pole selection process. When it comes time to purchase ski gear, poles are often an afterthought.

While your poles may not be quite as important as your skis or boots, they’re an essential part of your kit that can truly make or break your time on the mountain. Fortunately, picking out the right pair of poles is a fairly simple and straightforward process.

Ski Pole Length

It’s essential to select a ski pole that fits your height and preferred skiing style. If you end up with poles that are too long or too short, your skiing ability and experience will be compromised.

Properly fitted ski poles are essential for feeling balanced and smooth while moving down the mountain and transitioning between turns. Most manufacturers provide charts that will recommend a ski pole length based on your height. While these charts are helpful guidelines, they lack a bit of nuance.

If you plan to primarily ski groomers, your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle when the poles are straight up and down and the grips are in your hand. If you need to determine your ideal pole length without using an actual pole, assume the position and use a measuring tape to find the distance between your hand and the ground. We recommend wearing ski boots while you measure for maximum accuracy.

In the backcountry, skiers commonly use slightly shorter poles. For this reason, many backcountry skiers prefer adjustable poles. While hiking uphill, the slope of the terrain demands a diminished pole length. When it comes time to enjoy the thrill of gravity, poles should be extended back to their optimal downhill length.

In the terrain park, most skiers prefer poles that are shorter than the standard downhill length. When setting up to hit a rail or huck a backflip, long poles simply get in the way. If shredding the park is your thing, we recommend poles a few centimeters shorter than normal.

skier going downhill with pole
(Photo/Black Crows)

Adjustable vs. Fixed-Length Ski Poles

For classic downhill skiing at the resort, fixed-length ski poles are the way to go. If you plan to use your poles for backcountry touring, we recommend a pair of adjustables.

When hiking uphill, the angle of the terrain calls for a slight decrease in pole length. Adjustable poles typically have a simple mechanism that allows you to change the total length in an instant.

When traversing across the fall line of a steep slope, you may want your downhill pole to be longer than your uphill pole. When it comes time to go downhill, quickly adjust your poles back to your default length and send it!

If you plan to use your poles for ski mountaineering or other activities that may call for you to put your poles away entirely from time to time, be sure to select a pair that can fit into or onto a backpack for easy storage.

Most adjustable poles feature relatively fragile carbon fiber components, so remember to avoid major impacts.

Ski Pole Weight

All of the ski poles on this list are pretty similar in total weight. With that said, even an ounce can make a difference in an object you’ll be carrying in your hand all day long. In general, we recommend you go with the lightest poles that fit your needs and budget.

Total pole weight depends on the diameter and material of the shaft. Thin carbon fiber poles will be the lightest but also the most fragile. Thicker aluminum poles represent the heavier, more durable end of the spectrum. Ultimately, the right balance between durability and weight depends on your personal skiing preferences and objectives.

Parts of a Ski Pole

Shaft

For the 2021-2022 winter season, almost all ski pole shafts are made from aluminum, carbon fiber, or bamboo. Each of these materials has its own pros and cons.

Thanks to its convenient balance of durability and relatively low weight, aluminum alloy is by far the most common ski pole shaft material. However, not all aluminum poles are created equal, and some are much less durable than others. In general, aluminum bends before it breaks, and aluminum poles can often be repaired after skiing-related damage.

The strength and weight of aluminum poles depend on the grade and thickness of the material. High-quality aluminum offers a better strength-to-weight ratio than the cheap, fragile, and heavy stuff.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of aluminum is its low cost. For $50-100, skiers of all levels can purchase a high-quality pair of aluminum poles.

Carbon fiber ski poles are becoming increasingly popular — especially among backcountry skiers. Of course, carbon fiber is extremely lightweight, which makes it ideal for long, arduous days in the mountains.

Even though many of the best ski poles on the market are made from carbon fiber, the material does have some unfortunate downsides. Unlike aluminum, carbon fiber is prone to splintering and shattering under high impact. If you like to ride on rough terrain filled with obstacles such as rocks and trees, carbon fiber poles may be too fragile.

Additionally, carbon poles are far more expensive than aluminum poles. Some backcountry-specific poles combine aluminum and carbon fiber in their design to create the perfect balance of weight and durability. For a high-end pair of fully carbon fiber poles, expect to pay $100-200.

Bamboo

Skiers have been using bamboo ski poles since long before the advent of the chairlift. Still, only recently have bamboo poles enjoyed a resurgence among downhill skiers.

There are numerous benefits to bamboo. First, it just looks really cool. More importantly, bamboo poles are strong, light, and relatively low-impact to manufacture.

Though bamboo poles don’t offer the precise performance characteristics of carbon fiber, they do possess a nice balance of flexibility and rigidity. Bamboo poles typically cost $50-150.

Basket

Baskets are circular pieces of plastic that wrap around the lower part of the shaft to prevent the pole from fully sinking into the snow. There are two primary types of ski pole baskets: standard and powder.

Powder baskets have a greater circumference than standard baskets because they’re designed to be used in light and soft snow conditions. Standard baskets are better for groomed trails and hard-packed snow. While some poles allow you to swap out the baskets depending on the snow conditions, others are fixed.

Grips

Ski pole grips are made from plastic, cork, or rubber that’s been molded to fit comfortably into the palm of the hand.

Grips should fit your hand size and feel generally comfortable enough to hold on to all day long. When trying out different grips, we recommend you wear ski gloves to get an accurate sense of how they will feel on the mountain.

Some backcountry ski poles come with secondary grips located partway down the shaft. When hiking or traversing along steep terrain, these secondary grips can be quite handy.

Strap

Ski pole straps have the simple job of keeping your poles wrapped around your wrists throughout the day. Most straps are made from a loop of sewn nylon webbing.

Certain manufacturers attach their straps to the grips via a spring that will separate the pole from the strap in case of a snag or major impact. These spring-loaded designs may be a helpful safety feature when skiing through the trees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do I Need Ski Poles?

It’s possible to downhill ski without poles. However, there are a number of fundamental reasons why poles are the norm for almost every style of skiing.

Perhaps the most important benefit of ski poles is improved balance. For beginner skiers, the downhill pole can be used as a “pole plant,” providing a fixed point to turn around when executing tight turns. As skiers progress from beginner to intermediate, poles are crucial for developing refined technique and parallel turns.

On flat and uphill terrain, ski poles can be used to push off of and generate momentum. Skiers typically use their poles to push themselves along on low-angle cat tracks and in the lift line.

Which Ski Poles Are Best for Beginners?

Beginner skiers should have properly fitted poles that are both durable and comfortable. Generally, it’s not necessary for beginner skiers to own expensive carbon fiber poles. A simple pair of fixed-length aluminum poles will do the trick — just make sure they’re the correct size.

What’s the Difference Between Backcountry and Resort Ski Poles?

Backcountry ski poles are generally lightweight and adjustable. When hiking uphill on a skin track, it’s nice to be able to shorten your poles to the length the terrain calls for. Once it’s time to ski downhill, adjustable poles can be re-extended to the optimal length.

Because backcountry skiers spend a significant amount of time traveling uphill, minimal weight is a plus. As a result, most high-end backcountry ski poles are made from carbon fiber components. Additionally, some backcountry poles have a secondary grip that can be used to choke up on the pole when hiking uphill or traversing across a steep slope.

Resort ski poles tend to have a fixed length and are usually made from robust aluminum or bamboo.

Do Carbon Fiber Ski Poles Break Easily?

Carbon fiber ski poles are generally more fragile than aluminum poles. While aluminum poles will bend before they break, carbon fiber is prone to splintering and shattering upon significant impact.

Modern carbon fiber ski poles are plenty strong for most people’s needs. However, if you plan to huck huge cliffs and ski fast between trees and boulders, you should be cautious with carbon poles.

Do I Need a Basket on My Ski Poles?

A ski pole basket keeps the pole from sinking deep into the snow. For this reason, baskets are very important, and we don’t recommend skiing without them. If you plan to ski powder, be sure to use baskets with a large diameter that will keep your poles from penetrating too deep into the snowpack.


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